Setting Exposure with Gray Card... Questions

Started Sep 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Greg Nold
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Setting Exposure with Gray Card... Questions
Sep 9, 2012

Hello, I wonder if anyone can tell me if there are 'limits' to the use of a gray card for setting exposure. Reading a book by Jim Doty, he pretty much makes it seem cut and dried and very easy: You simply focus on your subject, lock in that focus, meter the gray card and lock in the exposure, then return to your subject and take the photo (after making sure gray card was oriented correctly, etc., no shadows cast on it etc.)

In practice with me however, not all comes out as expected. In sun, it seems to work very well... my exposures seem nice, with nothing to be concerned about. In shade however, things can seem a little dark.... dark grass, dark everything. I am very careful to make sure the gray card is receiving the same light and direction as the subject I'm shooting. As an experiment, I throw the camera (a Nikon D7000) on fully automatic mode (no flash) and the camera does a heck of a lot better job than when I metered the gray card using spot metering (the auto mode uses 'matrix' metering.) FYI, I'm shooting in Aperture Priority with auto ISO.

So I'm a little confused, and wondering if any of this is normal. In bright sun, metering a card for exposure seems to work well (if I don't, my images can come out looking dark... perfectly clear blue sky, vivid shadows of trees and people on grass etc., but noticeably dark, as if seen through sunglasses.... and again, on auto mode, the photos look nice.) In shade, metering a gray card doesn't always seem to bring good results.

Any thoughts on this? I'm learning all this for the first time, and whenever something has not been right with my camera, it's always been me, and not the camera. Thanks!

Nikon D7000
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