How $10 Can Drastically Improve Your Photography

Author Recent Posts Nicole BegleyNicole Begley, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, is a zoological animal trainer turned pet photographer and educator. She created Hair of the Dog in 2012 to empower pet photographers to turn their dreams into reality by helping them improve their craft and grow their pet photography business.Nicole has authored a book “Pet and Equine […]

Written By Nicole Begley

On September 15, 2016

The Easy Button.  Staples sure does make that sound appealing, don’t they? 

While there isn’t an easy button in photography or post-processing…there is an easy button for white balance.

Enter the Grey Card.  You can find a simple grey card for $10.  *grabs megaphone* $10! 

Isn’t $10 worth hours of your time sliding that white balance and tint slider left and right trying to find the perfect white balance only to get up from the computer and sit back down the next day and realize it is STILL totally off?!?! 


You see, our brain knows what color that dog was so it will subtly ‘correct’ what your eyes are seeing.  Our eyes also adjust to the white balance on the screen, just as they adjust to the darkness taking a walk at night.  Your color can look spot on, but sit back down with those images the next day and you realize the dogs look like they belong in the Smurfs!

Not only is this white balance too affordable, it is also quick and easy!   Simply take an image of the grey card at each new lighting scenario. 


Wait.  Breathe.  Each new lighting scenario….not each new sequence of shots! 

I find that often I only need to take 2-3 white balance images throughout my entire session!  If I move from open shade to backlighting….take a new white balance image.  If I move from full sun to open shade….take a new white balance image.  If you are moving from open shade to open shade…you’re fine!  No need to take a new image, your white balance will remain consistent. 

Here is a typical before and after image adjustment with only selecting the custom white balance from the grey card image.


Simply visit the develop module in Lightroom and click on the eyedropper tool in the Basic panel.  Next, click on the grey card.  Voilà.  98% perfect white balance and tint! Of course, you are welcome to add some warmth and adjust the white balance to taste, but now you have a standard starting place.  If you want to see some of my other favorite shooting tools, check out my favorite things.



Nicole Begley

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