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White Balance Using Gray Card

A lot of people who have started photography wonder why their pictures don’t capture natural colors. The reason lies in the absence of white balance. Here is an easy way to get that right with all your images.

1. Use a gray card. You will get it at any stationery store or online stores like Ebay and Amazon. If that is hard to find, you can even use your printer to print out a grey paper. Just make sure, you don’t print it on a glossy paper. The cards come in various sizes. Buy whatever works for your camera. Too small isn’t good because you need to fill your frame with it. With the gray card, you can avoid many hours of labour in photo editing. Pray how? You can ‘batch process’ the rest of the pictures taken in the same light condition by using the first picture as the template.

2. Once you activate your camera, go to the White Balance setting and assign the one suited for the lighting situation you are in. In case, you are not sure whether it’s fluorescent, cloudy, flash and so on. But if you are unsure, it’s best to set it at ‘Auto’.

3. Now comes the easy part. Before you embark on any photographic pursuit, it’s best to start with the taking a picture of the gray card first. Either your subject could hold it or you could place it next to your still subject.

4. Start taking pictures in RAW format. Once you’ve got your pictures taken in the same light setting, it’s time to use the Adobe Photoshop plugin for camera raw. Just open Adobe Photoshop/File/Browse in Bridge/File/Open in Camera Raw. But please remember that you cannot open Jpeg images in Camera Raw. They have to be RAW. Now open your gray card picture in this application and use the white balance tool (the third icon from left in top left corner) and click on the gray card in your picture. The white balance gets activated and the right colors pop out in the picture. Now you just have to open all other pictures taken in a similar setting and batch process all the images. In one fell swoop, the white balance is effected in all these images.

~Zahid H Javali