Stephen Johnson Tutorials: Color Balance in the Field

Encoding Color Balance in RAW Files

Establishing the right color balance can be a difficult challenge. Most color casts can be detected by looking at the balance of what should be neutral grays in the image and checking their RGB balance. Neutral should be equal in RGB. The process can be aided by taking a photograph with a patch of spectrally neutral light gray card under the same light as the photograph you want to balance. This can then be used as a source point for the white/gray balance tool in Photoshop’s Camera Raw and other editing tools. This is not the same as a traditional 18% photographic gray card. It really does need to be spectrally neutral, so that using it to balance RGB values results in neutralizing the image, not the sometimes off-color old gray cards. Additionally, cameras and Photoshop work better with a brighter gray than the traditional gray card.

Excerpt from Chapter 7: Digital Camera Techniques. Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography



My Digital GrayCap

The Digital Gray Cap provides you a method of “encoding” the actual color balance of the scene by photographing the card and then processing it in a RAW editor like Adobe Camera RAW. It is processed simply using the White Balance Eye Dropper to click on the Gray Cap within your image. The software will automatically neutralize the area to equal values of red, green and blue, making the gray cap spectrally gray, and therefore your scene neutrally rendered. The Gray Cap will not work in warm light as it will strip away the warm color of the light by encoding how to make your photograph neutral rather than the warm rendition you would be seeking. This can also be true in excessively blue light where your eyes/brain have not fully adjusted/neutralized the blue present and to then strip it all away makes the interpretation not match your memory or visual expereince.

X-rite ColorChecker and ColorChecker Passport






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