One Shade Of Grey

on December 30, 2018
For when you're too tired to pursue 49 more of 'em... Actually, Camera Electronic has been selling grey for years - in the very early days it was grey cardboard from Kodak and now it is digital grey from Digital Grey Kard. It is not on the restricted list and can be used by people with good morals. And today I found out that it has more than one use. Up until now I've been using a Kodak 18% reflectance grey card in my field work to measure exposures when the scene before me is in chaos. If it is a landscape that has prominent darks and lights - or a car that has chrome sparkling back at me - the inbuilt meter of my camera does its best to render the whole thing to 18%...but fails - I get over or under exposure. In some cases it is way past where the sliders at home will go. I think I am coping, but I am not. Here's where the 18% card saves the day. I measure the exposure from that, then shoot whatever it tells me - and the highlights and shadows are evenly balanced even in the face of glare or gloom. Still sliding back home, but hopefully within the limits on the program. And for years that's all I've used the card for. Today I tried an experiment. I let the yellowish modelling lights from my studio strobes fall on the white scoop paper and used a custom channel in my Fujifilm X-T2 to make a custom white balance measurement for it. You have to shoot in manual focusing as there is no pattern on the paper. Then I slid the Digital Grey Kard into the measuring field and let the camera make a custom white balance in a second channel. I opened up both files in Lightroom and Lo!....the actual look of the things is as near as you could want. The conclusion: The grey plastic of the DGK is not biased to a blue or red component - you can use it with confidence as a custom white balance tool when you are caught in mixed lighting. Good news. The model of the Bell Uh-1B is in 1:72 scale so you can see what size the DGK comes out to be. We have them in smaller and larger sizes and they come with a lanyard to make it easy to haul out of your bag...and more often than you have done so before. No excuses now. The UH-1B was the crash chopper for CFB Cold Lake, Alberta in the 70's before they painted everything yellow and red.