I got a fun email last week from Michael Davis, (a reader of my books), about his experience in Tanzania shooting with the gray card included in my Photoshop CS5 for Digital Photographer’s book. He wrote:

“On my way to Tanzania to photograph chimpanzees, I had ample opportunity to read your Photoshop CS5 for Digital Photographers ( I actually read it cover to cover).  It is simply fantastic and I have moved almost all of my other ref material off the shelf and replaced them with this book and your LR3 book for digital photographers (which I read cover to cover on my return trip).  Plus, if I need a chuckle in life, I read some of your intro chapters…makes me smile.”

OK, most authors would be happy that he bought two of their books, but actually what really made me happy was that he appreciated the quirky chapter intros. This guy—I like! Now, back to our story:

“I knew the chimp photography would be challenging because of not being able to use a tripod and because of the very low light situation under the dense trees.  I was right. Very high ISOs required.  But one thing I did want to do was to try to get the WB stuff right, so I tore out (hey it’s perf’d so it’s meant to be removed, right?) the swatch at the back of the CS5 book and carried it with me into the deepest, darkest jungles of the Mahale jungles of western Tanzania.  I thought you might enjoy seeing an image of my wife holding the swatch near our first chimp sighting.”

Below is a photo of his wife holding the gray card during their shoot (the mask she’s holding is a surgical mask they have to wear when photographing chimps in the wild).

On his hike back out, he had put the card into his pocket, but the heat was pretty sweltering, and by the time he had gotten back, the card had pretty much turned to mush, and he was hoping to get a replacement (which, we course gladly sent him).

Anyway, I thought the whole story was cool (especially the part about the chapter intros. ;-), and I wanted to share it with you guys, as Michael was kind enough to let me share his story and one of his wonderful chimp photos as well. Thanks Michael.

About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

23 Comments

  1. Scott, I lost my first one and a follower sent me a new one about a year or two ago. Well, I have lost that one but then I received my Cs5 book for being a walk leader. I’m going to leave it in the book and hold that up, maybe I won’t loose this one.
    K

  2. I thought that’s why everyone bought your books, Scott! Just to read the chapter intros! You can get all that other info from Matt’s books, anyways…. :D

    It would have been great if Michael had a shot of one of the chimps holding up the grey card (or your CS5 book)!! :D

    –John

    • “I thought that’s why everyone bought your books, Scott! Just to read the chapter intros! You can get all that other info from Matt’s books, anyways…. :D ”

      LOL… that was a good one. Made me laugh!
      Thanks,

      -Jan

  3. Great story, Michael. Time to get a WhiBal or similar!;-)

  4. Hey Scott

    An interesting story. I bet shooting chimps and the wildlife in general would be a totally different yet exciting experience. Having that extra bit of patients trying to get the right shot, must be a real challenge.

    Would love to see more shots from the day. :o)

  5. That’s a good i also face often WB problems! can’t wait to receive my book!

    cheers(from Austria)
    cvg

  6. That’s a good one! I also face often WB problems! can’t wait to receive my book!

    cheers(from Austria)
    cvg

  7. Let me see if I have this correct, if someone destroys a part of one your books claiming that it was during some type of photographic journey, that you will replace that portion of the book? For Free?
    If that is the case then have I ever told you how I destroyed the entire library of your works by a single, yet humorous incident while … ;-)

  8. I was curious why you need to wear surgical masks when photographing chimps in the wild.

    • Hi Nick,
      It’s because they are so close to us genetically that we suffer from some of the same diseases. The masks are to protect the chimps from any virus or bacteria that we may carry. These chimps probably wouldn’t have come in contact with some of these strains.
      mike

    • I am so glad you asked that question! I was reading the comments before posting the same question….great minds…inquiring minds….hmmm, just nosey!

  9. Nice story. I know it makes you feel great that people are reading your books (even the funny intros) and using the knowledge they’ve learned in all kind of situations. I know I would feel great if I were in your shoes. You’re a lucky man Scott.

  10. All of us who started with that stuff called film remember having a gray card at all times. It does make life easier.

  11. Hey Scott,
    I loved this blog post. Michael’s comment about if he needs a chuckle…, really hits home. Your wit and humor throughout all of your books is one of the reasons I always buy a new issue if they come out. In fact, I have incorporated your amusing tactics in my teaching. My students love it. I’m always cracking jokes and making fun of myself when technical things go wrong in class. The fun mixed in with the serious lessons of the introductory use of a computer really works as far as students leaving my course with a base knowledge.
    Thanks,
    Mike

  12. I glued a gray patch to my lens cap. That way I always have it with me. It’s small, but it does the trick.

  13. I use mine all the time. Your chapter intros crack me up!!

  14. Now I know why Moose refers to ‘chimping’ the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

  15. I was wondering if the chimp signed a model release form?

  16. So that’s how you do it! My white balance was really off, I couldn’t get the chimp to hold the card!

  17. When I first opened the blog this morning I could have sworn that was my wife’s father at the top, then I read its an article on Chimps. Silly me.

  18. The jungle trip would have been a good place for an ExpoDisk, but if you do not have one then use what you have! Glad Scott put that in his book, amazing how that can come in handy.

  19. Great Lr3 book, Scott. I only wish I had the gray card with it, since I opted for the Kindle version! Any chance of a copy of the gray card by post :-) ?!

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