Everyone, of any ability, who has taken a picture with a digital camera knows that getting the tones right will make or break your image. Choosing the right part of a scene to meter from is crucial, but how do you which part of the scene is best?
When taking a light reading you want to find a midtone somewhere in the scene, or even just out of the frame. This could be light-coloured foliage, or even a Caucasian face. However, sometimes there won’t be anything around that’s the right tone for you to take a light reading. In these instances, using grey card can help you achieve perfect tones.
The traditional method of using grey card has stood the test of time. Hold your grey card in front of a subject and take a light reading from it. Sounds simple enough, right? Only there’s a little more finesse to using grey card. Below is our step-by-step guide to taking a light reading with grey card.
How to take a light reading using grey card
Step 1: Do your whites look grey?
Shoot a white subject against a white background, and your camera’s metering system will invariably give you an image that looks too dark.
Step 2: Get out the grey card
To solve this, you need to put a grey card (or something similar) where the subject is, so that it fills as much of the frame as possible.
Step 3: Lock on the target
The next step is to press the AEL (or *) button on the back of your camera so that you can take an exposure reading from the grey card.
Step 4: Back to the main feature
Now you need to remove the grey card, recompose the scene and take the picture of your white object – the whites should now look bright and clean!
Step 5: If you grey card isn’t big enough
If you are unable to fill the frame with the grey card, you may need to change your camera’s metering mode, which is located in the shooting menu.
Step 6: Spot treatment
Using spot metering means that the grey card need only occupy the very central part of the frame when you use the exposure lock.