Gray Card

Simple Steps For Using A Gray Card With An iPhone

The iPhone is, in my opinion, an amazing camera with a phone built into it. There are many apps and tips that can be used to create beautiful images, and I would like to talk about one.

There are many photographers today who have never used or heard of a Gray Card. This simple tool has its roots from the Zone System, and if you read about the Zone System it will make a lot of sense.

Simply put, the Gray Card is used to find middle gray or 18% gray. Our cameras today are programmed to meter for middle gray, and this also includes our iPhones and Andriods.

In most situations, our phones can capture awesome images, and they are getting better with each new model. But, there are situations where the phone fails. This happens in high contrast scenes where the camera tries to expose the highlights and the shadows evenly. This typically never turns out well.

Let’s look at a few situations, but first here are things you will need:

1. Gray Card
2. An App that can lock the exposure
3. Patience

First Scene: Single Light On Table


This image, of the lamp on the table, is good, but it has a couple blown out areas. I could choose a highlighted area and hope for a good exposure, or I can use my Gray Card. (for this illustration I am using Camera Plus)


I opened up a camera app on my phone and placed the Gray Card in the overexposed area.


Select the Gray Card by touching the card with your finger. You will see a difference in the exposure right away. You will see a + on the box because the exposure, focus, and white balance are all in one. Touch the screen with two fingers to separate the reticles.


Once the reticles are independent from each other, you can open up the reticle locks in the bottom right hand corner with the lock symbol.


Lock the white balance and exposure, but leave the focus unlocked. Once you have done this, you can compose your scene and take your shots.



Here are a couple different scenes:


This model car is sitting on a black cloth with a single 60 watt bulb above it. Use the steps above for the correct exposure.


And finally an outside scene:


I could not find a middle gray in the scene for a proper exposure, so the Gray Card fixed that problem.


Try this out, and see an improvement in your images.

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