ACE Camera Photography Magazine

Recommended Exposure Adjustments
for Cardboard Gray Cards and
with Incident Light Meters


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The recommendations in the table below are largely derived from a six page guide included with the purchase of Kodak Neutral Test Cards. Kodak no longer provides detailed instructions with their 18% gray card so we are sharing it with you. It does not apply to users of Fotowand gray cards.

Recommended Exposure Adjustments when using
Cardboard Gray Cards and with Incident Readings
(not necessary with Fotowand brand gray cards)

Subject in shade no adjustment
Overcast day no adjustment
Backlighting, close-up scenes reduce exposure 1/2 stop (to
avoid overexposing background)
Sidelighting outdoors increase exposure 1/2 stop over reading for front-lighted scene
Sidelighting outdoors - closeup increase exposure 1-1/2 stops (to allow sufficent shadow detail)
Sidelighting indoors no adjustment (assuming there is adequate fill lighting)
Unusually light subject
(pale skin, light blond hair)
reduce exposure 1/2 to 1 stop
(for pleasing skin tones)
Unusually dark subject
(dark skin, black hair)
increase exposure 1/2 to 1 stop
(for pleasing skin tones and increased shadow detail)

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Published February 17, 2000