Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Getting colour right in the field

Getting colour right in the lab can be helped greatly by getting colour right in the field. For evidence photographers, there are several products available to help. But what about your average investigator? Surely, we can't have every officer and inspector heading out with a Gretag card in his kit. Can we? There's got to be a better way, right? There is.

Photographers have known about WhiBal cards for some time. Having a calibrated neutral gray card on hand is great. They come in a variety of sizes, and now ... small enough to fit on your keychain. Did you spot the WhiBal card in the pic above? Check out the zoomed in version below.

It's big enough to get the job done and small enough so as to not overload your kit. Take the first shot as a reference, then remove the card and shoot the rest of your shots. Load up the shots in ACR and Synchronise the settings. It's really that easy.

Here's an evidence shot from the field, taken under less than ideal circumstances. Notice the blueish tint to the white page. Also notice the presence of the WhiBal keychain.

A quick touch from the White Balance Tool (I) on that handy neutral gray card and the colours line right up. Here's what the manufacturer has to say about it, "unlike your eyes, a digital camera does not automatically see whites as white. It sees the color of the light reflected from it, hence blue-ish in Daylight and Orange-ish in incandescent lighting. By photographing a Gray Card reference for each lighting situation that you are in, you are assured of being able to achieve a proper White Balance for all of your pictures. "

The colour's temperature before using
the White Balance Tool.

The colour's temperature after correcting;
using the WhiBal keychain as the reference point.

Skip on that cup of expensive coffee for you and your mates just once and you can afford to put this on your keychain. Once purchased, you'll see the time savings add up in your work flow, helping you to be more productive.

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