Grey card workaround: palm reading

This is probably the oldest trick in the book, but I’ve never read it anywhere and it just occurred to me in the past 24 hours. So of course I had to blog about it. (That’s a blogging rule, right? Post immediately?)

As I was reminded in the comments to my other post (“Is the grey card obsolete?”), the grey card is useful for establishing uniform color balance in a group of pictures. But I tend to use it to check for proper exposure, since I’m not yet very discriminating about things like color balance. But getting the card out every time you have to meter gets old fast.

So it occurred to me: take a reading off your black camera bag. Then meter the grey card in the same light. Figure out the difference, and voila. You can now use your camera bag as a big grey card that is 1.66 stops too dark.

But then it occurred to me: in the absence of your camera bag, you can do the same thing with the palm of your hand. So now I know that a reading from my bag will produce a 5-click overexposure (1 click = 1/3 stop), and a reading from my palm is 3-4 clicks underexposed.

The best thing is that this simple theory works!


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