Whenever I am on a commercial flower shoot I use a gray card to help me render the flower color correctly.  It is a very simple, industry accepted neutral gray color card  that the computer can then use as a baseline to calibrate true color.

Gray card potted flowers on patio plant stand;

In my post production processing I use Adobe Camera Raw which has a simple White Balance Tool that allows you to point any part of photo to achieve a neutral color balance.  When a gray card is in the photo, a known neutral, the tool calibrates the color perfectly.

On a recent shoot for the big agriculture giant, Syngenta, at the California Spring Trials, using the gray card not only allowed me to get the color right, it saved me from an embarrassing mistake.  Instead of setting my camera’s white balance to match the studio strobe lights I was using, I accidentally set the dial to florescent light.  Not a good color choice.

Before and After Slider


The client would not be very happy to see this brand new Chrysanthemum, Williamsburg™ Purple too blue, without the beautiful magenta undertones.

It was very obvious when I opened my raw files that every photo was way off.  With the gray card though, it was a quick fix to globally change every photo to the color balance of the strobe lights. In this business, I must get the color right – why else hire a professional ?

Here is sneak peak new flower introductions, colors corrected, coming to retail nurseries in the next couple years.

There will be an entire series of Chysanthemums named for cities, like the Williamsburg Purple above.  Chysanthemum indium cultivars have an amazing variety of flower shapes, including spoon shaped petals of Fairbanks™ Purple Spoon:

Fairbanks™ Purple Spoon, Chrysanthemum indicum potted flowers; Licensed Photograph © Syngenta

Milton™ series of Pot mums:

Pot Mum Combo - Spring Milton™, Milton™ Pink. Milton™ Dark Pink, Milton™ Pink Bicolor, potted flowers on patio table - Licensed Photograph © Syngenta

Pelargoniums in the Caliope® Series.  I love the rich color of this one, known for the moment as Medium Dark Red.

Calliope® Medium Dark Red - Pelargonium interspecific potted flowers on patio plant stand; Licensed Photograph © Syngenta

Here Medium Dark Red is paired with Cascade White:

Cascade White - Pelargonium peltatum potted flowers on deck plant stand; Licensed Photograph © Syngenta

How about the color of this Chrysanthemum morifolium  ?  Chrysanthemums usually peak in the fall, so this ‘Stephany Bronze’ is sure to fit right into the season.

'Stephany Bronze', Chrysanthemum morifolium potted flowers on patio; Licensed Photograph © Syngenta

I also got a special peak at the greenhouses, where even newer cultivars are in development, but with names like P2588-14, I can’t leak any new names.

Syngenta Gilroy facilities during 2016 California Spring Trials; Licensed Photograph © Syngenta

You don’t really realize how powerfully fragrant pansies can be until you are in an entire greenhouse filled with them.

Greenhouse light is my favorite, as the whitewashing softens the direct sun but preserves the daylight color balance.  I still use a gray card in these settings since there can be a color cast to the glass itself, but getting the color exactly right is not so critical.  These photos are not for a catalog.

The main reason for me to be at the Trials was to photograph the new introductions and to bring my lights to calibrate color in a controlled setting.  Take another look at the first set up:

Gray card potted flowers on patio plant stand;

Would you know the color is horribly wrong if you did not have the opening photo to compare ?