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Photography Question 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens
 

Shooting B&W with a GRAY CARD


Guys -
Are there any rules or exceptions I should take into consideration when using a gray card whilst shooting in black & white as opposed to color slide??


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3/29/2006 6:08:25 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Using a gray card to measure your exposure works the same way whether shooting B&W or color.


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3/29/2006 6:24:19 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  To elaborate just a wee bit on what Chris said:

Understand Andrew, that a light meter is essentially a "gray meter" and taking a reflected reading off a gray card basically gets you into the exposure ball park but you need to interpret the reading you get in order to fine tune your exposure.

So, for black and white, if you go by the basic rule of thumb to expose for the shadow details and process (the film) for the highlighted areas, then you may need to adjust your exposures, either by increasing or decreasing them, to do that. Seewhatimeanhuh?

Color slide film, as I think you probably know, is far less forgiving in terms of exposure latitude than b&w film. Slide film gets better color saturation when under exposed by about 1/3 to 1/2 an f stop, in most situations. Color negative film, OTOH, gets better saturation when OVER-exposed 1 stop or so. Black and white works well on the I-X zone scale. For more info on that, see Ansel Adams books on "The Negative" and "The Print".

Adios
Mark


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3/29/2006 10:04:08 PM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   No, I don't see what you mean, as I've just begun trying to use the gray card. In my mind (the way I understand it to work) is that you place the gray card in the same light that your subject is in, then you adjust your shutter speed and aperture until the meter in the camera is in the middle; lock the exposure, then reframe and shoot. Am I correct???????


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3/30/2006 9:21:04 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Wellllllllllll, yes and no. Your proposed use of the gray card really kind of obviates it's need for the most part. Most 35 mm cameras have a center-weighted meter (some with spot meter capacities). That area in the center works essentially like your planned gray card use in that the area inside that circle is read as about 17-18% neutral gray providing you and your camera with exposure data based mainly on that reading but also factoring in the light it perceives in the area surrounding the center.

Zooming in on a gray card, locking in the reading as you said, and then shooting with that particular reading works in some situations but also denies you the opportunity to calculate exposure adjustments for the the surrounding areas that may be much brighter or in more shadow than the center area and your gray card reading. That's what I was talking about in my initial response.

As I said, color film has a wider exposure latitude , plus or minus about 4 f-stops (over or under exposed). Transparency film needs much tighter exposure control to gain better color balance and saturation., etc., and b&w film, where the zone system and gray card really perform well, offers all sorts of possibilities beyond what you suggest in order to gain accurate (more accurate exposures).

So, when I say you need to interpret the lighting in a scene, while it starts with the gray card reading as you suggested, to take full advantage of that process, you need to decide essentially if parts of a scene need a bit more or less exposure and how much (or bracket a bit), or whether you need to give a bit more light to open up detail in shadows or close down a bit more to prevent areas from washing out from overexposure.

Okie dokie??
Mark


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3/30/2006 11:15:57 AM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   Not okie dokie, but nothing I can get solved without just going out and shooting! This exposure stuff is bullsh*t (pardon my french) and confusing as all getout.


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3/30/2006 11:39:23 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Andrew,
I think the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson would be very helpful for you.

Chris


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3/30/2006 11:42:02 AM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   Thanks, all for your help. I have a book on the zone system, but it really covers slide film more than black and white. Hopefully, I'll find a class at one of the universities around town.


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3/30/2006 12:33:04 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Andrew: I haven't seen a book on the zone system for slide film. All the ones I've looked at are for B&W. Sooooooooooo, would you mind sharing the Title and author with us. I'd like to get that one. Thanks !
Mark


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3/30/2006 4:34:37 PM

 
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