September 21, 2009

The Gray Card.

It's magic. Truly it is. It takes away color cast. With one click.

So here's the scoop: I had Littlest Dude stand in the shade and hold the gray card. He's a good gray-card-holder. :-) Upon opening the image in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, one click on the gray card (in the image) simply and quickly fixes any color cast. In Lightroom, I click on the white balance eye-dropper/sampler. In Photoshop, I click on the gray eye-dropper in the Curves box.

Observe the following before (SOOC) and afters (SOOC + click):

gray card 1

gray card 2

This next one shows 1. SOOC; 2. LR SOOC + click; 3. PS SOOC + my manual curves adjustment.

gray card 4

And here's where the beauty of Lightroom comes in ... if I take a series of pictures in the same place, I only have to 1. fix the first picture; 2. select the rest of the pictures (that don't have the gray card in them); and 3. click on "sync" to fix the rest with just one click. So fast. So efficient. Just one more reason to love Lightroom.

Before sync:
gray card 5

After sync:
gray card 6

And more good news: my gray card was free. And yours can be, too :-). Get thee to a home improvement superstore. My "gray card" is a Wilsonart Laminate sample: D90-60 North Sea.

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Orange County Family Photographer


Anonymous said...

Is it a good match to a normal gray card? And when you're at actual shoots, do you ask your clients to hold the card before you begin shooting in each location?

Takin' notes here... :)

Tracy P. said...

Whoa, very cool tip! But does it come with a cute kid? I want a cute gray card holder to go with it! (Might be able to scrounge one up here if I must.)

Thanks, Susan!

SKELLER said...

I'm sure it's not *exact*, but it's close enough for my purposes. :-)

I've not yet used it on an official photo session, but I'm certainly planning to!! What a time saver. And yes, I'll either have clients hold it in just the first frame, or I'll try to position it somewhere in the frame.

And Tracy - I just know you've got a cute, potential great-gray-card-holder yourself! ;-)

Heidi said...

Okay.... now I'm really excited. Lightroom is coming in the mail today. WAhooooooo!

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. It looks awesome. I didn't know what that was, but I am going to go learn something right now! I love coming here because I always learn something and it feels like such a safe and accepting place to learn. I know that sounds corny.

Leslie said...


I never use my gray card... ever.. because oh the work for them all to match but lightroom makes that easy.. too easy.

Soon.... for me. I must.

T~T said...

oh man - thanks for the cool tip - I love LightRoom but have yet to use that feature

Courtney said...

Good idea to get a laminate sample from a home improvement store! Much better than forking out $20.

AngelaBeth said...

You can totally do this in regular Photoshop too. Just adjust it to the gray card and then save the curve. You just open the curve or match it every time. Saves a lot of time. I love Photoshop and Lightroom both. They are soooo wonderful!

And this is GENIUS! I'm totally going to get a couple of different colors of gray cards/paint samples (lol) so I can get a couple different effects! Seriously GENIUS.

Teri said...

Okay, okay, I have to slow myself down here to ask my questions. You use Mac, yes? That will be our next laptop purchase...whenever that may be.

This Lightroom - just a Mac thing? Ooooh. I like.

Boy, do I remember the days of using the 18% gray card. When I was going to art school, I would take this card to work and politely ask (force) my coworkers to hold this card so I could practice for class. I still have those shots. Hmm, not everyone was smiling. hehe I bugged them all the time.

AngelaBeth said...

ewwwwwwwww! Lightroom is DEFINITELY NOT just on Macs! It's an Adobe product like Photoshop. lol

Anonymous said...

i love learning all of these new little tips from a pro! this is a super good one! thanks!

The Animator's Wife said...

Oh, what a tip. BTW, loved your Friday fix-it version of Catie with the flare... swooning. And also trying THAT flare tip on a few others.

Thanks-- always!

SKELLER said...

I'm on a PC. My Macbook Pro died back in March. Apple gave us a new one, which Big Dude promptly sold, bought a pc replacement and pocketed the extra $700. Like AngelaBeth said, LR is for PC or Mac. And, you know, I love LR.

Emily said...

I keep hearing more and more about the beauty of Lightroom and how much everyone loves it. It really does sound wonderful and the images do look great. I think I may have to really consider this.

Tiffany Walensky said...

Great info, thanks for sharing!

Julie Rivera Photography said...

This is AMAZING! I need LR, obviously, but I also need a touch of North Sea in my life...

Annette said...

Great info. Thanks for the reminder to use a gray card. Love your photos and posts.

Zafran ali said...

oh man - thanks for the cool tip - I love LightRoom but have yet to use that feature.
Plastic Card.