How Do I Get My Whites to Look White and not Gray?

I have a Nikon 3200 and I have it at the manual setting.
I used the gray card procedure to get the right color, but
even with the white balance my whites are gray.

Thank you for your help.



  • bigeaterbigeater Posts: 36Member
    Ignore people who say "don't use the histogram" because at this stage of your photographic journey, it's the only friend you have. In a year or two you can start dinking around with pushing the histogram past its limits but for now remember to keep it between the goal posts.

    That said, there are two ways: One is to set your camera on M (manual mode) and use your gray card to set your exposure as explained here (you'll want the histogram to show the gray card dead center or a wee bit to the right of center).

    Or if you prefer to use the camera's built-in meter add 1/3 stop of positive exposure compensation, look at the histogram and the back of your camera and if the whites aren't white enough keep adding positive exposure compensation until you like what you see. The only caveat is that you'll have to remember to turn off the compensation the minute you're done with it. With this method, use the overexposure warning in your camera. They're usually called "blinkies" and you'll understand why when you see them. Basically you want to set your exposure compensation so that you have blinkies on only the brightest parts of the highlights.

    (Third and best way: borrow your uncle's incident light meter and learn to use it. It's the meter with the little half pingpong ball mounted on it)
  • BVSBVS Posts: 440Member
    edited September 2017
    Perhaps you need to boost exposure. Underexposed whites would look grey. Try using some positive exposure compensation and see if that solves the problem.

    White balance just adjusts the color tone of the image. If your whites had a color cast to them it could be white balance, but if they're grey I'm guessing exposure.
    Post edited by BVS on
    D7100, 85 1.8G, 50 1.8G, 35 1.8G DX, Tokina 12-28 F4, 18-140, 55-200 VR DX
  • blandbland Posts: 811Member
    Can you post an example, Phil?
  • Ton14Ton14 Posts: 582Member
    Without all meter aids use a very old system now called "The sunny sixteen" method (look it up, there is a lot on internet). Force yourself to use it for a month and your first aid is always with you and the snow will be white on your photo. Start with a blue sky, in manual mode ISO 100, shutterspeed 1/100, aparture F/16.
    User Ton changed to Ton14, Google sign in did not work anymore
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    The histogram gives you an idea as to where your exposure level is, and needs to be examined when a problem exists. Post processing is where whites become "white" for me. If a highlight is blown out, this cannot be adjusted and can only be white if the overall brightness of the image is adequate following post processing.

    There are so many factors to getting whites white that it will certainly be necessary for a few examples, then a lot of folks can ofer positive suggestions.

    Also, our personal preferences as to producing a warm or cool image affects the outcome. And, the ambient lighting during post processing..... changes the end result if we are not careful.

    So, drop a couple examples and we will try to help.
    Msmoto, mod
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