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Is my gray card broken, or is my brain?

Mike in FL

Jacksonville, US
581 posts

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Mike in FL Silver Member Nikonian since 13th Apr 2008
Wed 27-Jun-12 02:38 AM

I've been trying to improve the color balance in my portraits, and one sure-fire method that seems to be misfiring for me is the use of a gray card.

In theory, I understand that if my portrait subject holds the gray card near them (so it's in the same light that they are) I should be able to go into Lightroom, click on the card with the white balance selector (the eyedropper), and somewhat magically all of the tones will fall into place. That is, the gray card will look gray, and the other tones in the photo (including the subject's skin) will have the "correct" color.

The problem is that when I do this, clicking on the gray card typically turns the person's face a wild shade of orange, or something other color that clearly isn't even close to being correct. I've tried a couple of different gray cards with the same results. I'm shooting RAW files with the D700 (and lately the D800), and post processing in Lightroom 4.

What is the story on this? How can something supposedly so simple miss so badly?

Mike

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