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Odds and Ends

Some accessories defy easy categorization, yet that doesn't diminish their importance. In this section we dig through the pockets of our camera bags and see what other handy items we can find.

Exposure Tools

  • A white card. This is the least expensive accessory you'll ever use. In digital photography, a white card, or simply a white piece of paper, is used to set a custom white balance for the lighting of a given location. Using this you can configure the camera to account for any color variances that may be present in the light you are shooting in. The card does not have to be large, since you just need to be able to fill the viewfinder frame with it in most cases. We've found that a sturdy piece of white poster board that is 4 by 6 or 5 by 7 inches works well and fits nicely in our camera bag. We use a plastic bag to keep the white surface from getting scuffed. If the card does get a bit beat up over time, it's easy enough to replace. We cover how to set a custom white balance in Chapter 7.

  • 18 percent gray card. A gray card can be used to help determine exposure settings in tricky conditions that might otherwise fool the camera's built-in light meter. It can also be included in a shot and used for setting a custom white balance (if your camera accepts a gray target for that purpose), or for providing a target tonal value that can be neutralized in Photoshop to remove any color casts present in the image. We discuss exposure situations that might fool a camera's light meter in Chapter 7.

  • GretagMacbeth ColorChecker. Like an 18 percent gray card, the ColorChecker has been a standard in the photographic industry for many years. With digital photography, it helps you set a neutral color balance in an image after you've opened it in Photoshop. By including it in a control image taken under each lighting setup, it provides a known reference of what the colors should look like and you can use Photoshop's eyedropper features to set a specific neutral tonal balance using one of the neutral patches on the ColorChecker (Figure 5.36). Color checkers come in two standard sizes; the smaller one is ideal for carrying in the camera bag. Neutralizing an image in Photoshop is covered in Chapter 10, “Essential Image Enhancement.”

    Figure 5.36. A Macbeth ColorChecker (www.gretagmacbeth.com) has been a standard reference in the photographic industry for many years. By placing one in a shot that you take in the same lighting as the rest of your photos, you can create a “control image” that can be used in Photoshop to help neutralize any color casts that may be present in your images.

  • GretagMacbeth Gray Scale Balance Card. This card has precise tones of black, gray, and white and can be used like the ColorChecker card to help determine a neutral black, white, and middle gray (Figure 5.37).


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