Using a Gray Card to Improve Your Photography

October 22, 2009

in DIY Photography Tips, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials, Susan Keller

Written by: Susan Keller

The Gray Card.

It’s magic. Truly it is. It takes away color cast. With one click.

So here’s the scoop: I had Littlest Dude stand in the shade and hold the gray card. He’s a good gray-card-holder. 🙂 Upon opening the image in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, one click on the gray card (in the image) simply and quickly fixes any color cast. In Lightroom, I click on the white balance eye-dropper/sampler. In Photoshop, I click on the gray eye-dropper in the Curves box.

Observe the following before (SOOC) and afters (SOOC + click):

This next one shows 1. SOOC; 2. LR SOOC + click; 3. PS SOOC + my manual curves adjustment.

And here’s where the beauty of Lightroom comes in …. if I take a series of pictures in the same place, I only have to 1. fix the first picture; 2. select the rest of the pictures (that don’t have the gray card in them); and 3. click on “sync” to fix the rest with just one click. So fast. So efficient. Just one more reason to love Lightroom.

Before sync:

After sync:

And more good news: my gray card was free. And yours can be, too :-). Get thee to a home improvement superstore. My “gray card” is a Wilsonart Laminate sample: D90-60 North Sea.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

jennifer S. September 28, 2012

Smart girl!! Thanks for sharing!


Debbie November 12, 2011

Think the Wilsonart Laminate sample: D90-60 North Sea is still available?


art September 7, 2011

Did I miss something here somewhere. I opened the pic with the gray card in it used the WB eye drop went to the pic without the gray card and the pic turned blue.

Photo CS4 don’ get it.



Chi March 14, 2011

where is the sync action in Lightroom? Can’t find it! GREAT BLOG by the way. I had no idea how cool a gray card could be!


tangie March 14, 2011

thank you for the great post!! never tried the gray card thing…always wondered if i should try it, but figured i was fine without it… love the results!! thanks for the inspiration!


Holly March 12, 2011

Wow! Thankyou! Always love to know that the simplest things from hardware stores can help improve my photography! 😀


Ashley O. March 12, 2011

Is there a tutorial on this site for using a gray card? I don’t really understand this post 🙁


Amanda Cruz March 12, 2011

I knew about the gray card, but I’ve never tried it. After looking at these I’m definitely going to start using one! The results are amazing!


DeeDee March 12, 2011

Do you know, you TOTALLY ROCK? Thanks!


Christina March 12, 2011

I love my gray card! Got it at the camera store for $6. But what I really LOVE is that tip Karen just gave to synchronize in ACR! I use PSE8 and edit in ACR through Bridge sometimes…so this is going to be SO helpful! Thanks!!


Bekah March 12, 2011

Dear Susan,

I love you. I am getting me to a home improvement store this very day. If only all of life could be so very simple.


Sarah March 12, 2011

Free is good! 🙂 Thanks for the tip.


Sheila Danuser {Beyond Beauty Photography} March 12, 2011

Love the tip! I think a grey card is in order…and thanks to you it will be free!


Karen March 11, 2011

You can do the same thing in ACR. Edit the first one, select the others that were taken in similar circumstances and click synchronize. Saves so much time!


Sandi January 31, 2011

Is there a way to “sync” in Photoshop, or only Lightroom?


Janneke Marquez January 14, 2011

I also wanted to say thanks for the free gray card tip! I actually ordered one online… just googled it and it came right up! So.. if you want one that’s bigger than the 2×3 sample, I picked up 2 8×10 sizes!


cyn August 25, 2010

thanks for the tip on the “free” grey card… stopping by tomorrow.


Jennifer August 7, 2010

That is just brilliant! Thanks ever so much!


Tammy August 4, 2010



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