- Grey card techniques
- Computational Photography Talk for the Royal Photographic Society
- Real Letters from Real Readers - Back Button Focusing (BBF)
- In the Pipeline
- Next time in Cameracraft Magazine
- Parting Shots
Using a Grey Card to Nail Exposure and White Balance
A long time ago, photographers used film and were literally “shooting blind” – they weren’t sure if their built-in reflective light meters were metering for non-average subjects properly (like brides with white dresses, or grooms with black tuxes). Nor were they ever sure if the color balance was “correct” when it came time to make prints from negatives in the darkroom. In both of these cases, serious photographers would use a grey card to nail the exposure and the white balance – and it would be perfect every time.
|Meter off the grey card to nail the exposure in photos that have non-average subjects. You can also use the grey card as a neutral surface from which to set your white balance accurately.|
Today we have digital cameras with Live View, which makes things easier but in extreme circumstances (like really bad or non-white light, or really non-average subjects like brides in white dresses or grooms in black tuxes) the grey card will still nail it. Here’s how to use this ancient technique:
· Have your subject hold the card in front of them
· Spot Meter for the grey card (here’s where assigning the AEL button to Spot AEL Toggle really comes in handy) and take a test shot for later.
· That’s it! Recompose and shoot. Brides in white dresses and grooms in black tuxes will all be exposed correctly. No exposure compensation needed. The exposure will be locked until you either turn the camera off or hit the AEL button again.
How to Nail the White Balance using the Grey Card
· Do one of the following:
o With the subject holding the card in front of them, do a Custom White Balance in your camera. The white balance will be locked until you change it.
o When you’re processing your images on your computer, use the test shot taken in Step 1. Use the White Balance Selector tool (commonly referred to as the “Eyedropper Tool”) on the grey card to set the white balance, then apply that setting to all the images in that session.
· That’s it!
In the pipeline
- Olympus / OM Digital OM-1 book and video course in the works
- Spanish version of the Sony A7 IV is now out!
- Version 1.02 of the Sony A7 IV is now out also!
My Talk to the Royal Photographic Society
I continue to get invitations to talk to photo clubs remotely. One of my best talks of all time covered the emerging topic of Computational Photography. It was given to the Royal Photographic Society, with over 500 people in attendance!
This talk is too good not to share. And so you can access it for free on youtube here! (You're welcome. :-) )
I can talk for your photo club too, even if you're not that large! The most popular topics are listed here. Shoot me an email and let's schedule a time slot.
Next time in Cameracraft
In the current issue (in the mail now), I talk with nature photographer Kyriakos Kaziras who goes to great lengths to get some amazing polar bear images. How does he do it? Does it even make sense for a nature photographer to storyboard an assignment if he's not shooting video for a documentary?
Find out more by subscribing to the last great photo magazine on the planet. :-)
Have an interesting article you'd like to pitch for Cameracraft magazine? Have you done any interesting or noteworthy projects with your camera? I know my reader base is filled with amazing talent - we'd love to hear from you and possibly showcase your work!
Real Letters from Real Readers - Back-Button Focus
Hi Gary, I hope you and your family are all well.
I bought your Olympus OM-D EM-5 mark ii book, which I refer to CONSTANTLY. So thank you again for that.
You mention briefly about how it’s possible to do “back button focusing” with a certain lever setting for this camera. I googled that phrase, but still don’t understand what it means, why/when I’d use it, etc. If it’s something I should practice doing, then I’d like to learn about what it’s for, etc.
Anywhere you can send me that explains it? Especially with regard to the EM-5 camera?
Many thanks, Robin
Great to hear from you again. Okay, here's the short answer: Once upon a time, autofocus cameras had something like 3 autofocus points (it varied by model), and high-stress photographers (like those who shot weddings) would use the "Focus Lock - Recompose - Shoot" method quite a bit. Having the shutter release button serving two functions (focus lock and shooting the picture) sometimes led to accidental shots, an expensive proposition in the days of film.
And so Back Button Focus was invented, which allowed the photographer to assign the "Focus Lock" function to another button (usually one on the back of the camera). So you would focus lock with your right thumb and then shoot with your index finger. That's all it was.
Today's AF systems from all manufacturers are so sophisticated that normal users don't really need it anymore - cameras can automatically identify the subject / the subject's face / the subject's eye and so that kind of manual intervention is less necessary. The feature is still offered on newer cameras to cater to ancient photographers like me who grew up using it and now feel more comfortable telling the camera what to focus on in situations where the camera gets confused. (That's the same reason "average" metering mode persists - modern algorithms do much better but it's still being offered for us old dinosaurs who invested quite a bit of time understanding how their unsophisticated exposure meters work.)
For what it's worth, I don't use BBF anymore. The camera does a better and faster job than I can with 30 years of regular practice. (On the other hand, I still keep the center button of the control wheel set to "Focus Standard" on my Sony bodies just in case!)
Hope this helps! Sincerely, Gary
P.S. - Tony Phillips will be thrilled to know how much you've been using his book on the E-M5 II!
in February the grandkids visited and they helped me shave off the beard. (Click on any image to view larger and sharper.)
|This look lasted a day. I've already grown it back to the way it was before the pandemic.|
Thus endeth a 2-year stretch of not caring how I looked. Here's a marvelous look back.