Light meter

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by AdrianBetti, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. AdrianBetti

    AdrianBetti TPF Noob!

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    I understand a lot of aspects of photography except the most important one, metering light. I have a light meter, and I think I kind of know how to use it, but I'm not to sure. Whats the correct way to meter light? Particularly in strobe photography.
     
  2. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    The correct way to meter?

    Well, "perfect" exposure is at 0.0 or right in the middle.

    Can you rephrase or elaborate on that?
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hardly,

    It depends on the meter. Normally for strobe photography you use an incident meter. Fire each flash one at a time shows you their various lighting power ratios, and then firing them all at once shows the base exposure for the camera, which of course needs to be biased up or down a bit depending on how high / low key you want the image to appear.

    And that is unfortunately all I know not having an incident meter myself.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The first question is what kind of meter do you have? Is it a flash/incident meter, spot-meter, old-style selenium meter, etc.

    Metering and exposure is really too large a topic for a forum reply, many, many books have been written about this. I would suggest a visit to your local library and dig through their photography section. One plus is that it doesn't matter if it's an older book; the techniques and values are the same for film or digital photography.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are we talking about metering ambient light or flash/strobe?

    A light meter is a tool, just like a camera...there isn't necessarily a right or wrong way to use them...that's why photography is an art form.

    In basic terms, you can use a flash meter to measure the output of the flash/strobe...usually you will meter it at the location of your subject. This is important because the light falls off over distance. As Garbz said, a photographer will commonly meter different lights separately, in order to come up with their lighting ratio, you can then take a reading with all the lights, to give you the aperture that you would set the lens to.

    If you are metering ambient light, you can take a reflected or an incident reading. Just about every modern camera had a 'reflected' light meter...it meters the light coming off of the subject/scene and gives you a value to expose that at 18% grey. Because different colors & tones reflect light differently, a reflected light reading will often need to be compensated for...this is where you would adjust the exposure compensation on your camera.

    Usually, an easier way to meter ambient light is to take an incident reading. In this case, you would meter the light falling on the subject, rather than the light reflecting off of them. Because you are metering the light before it is affected by the reflectivity of the subject, you don't need to compensate for that...you just take the reading and set your camera to those settings. And of course, adjust your exposure to taste.
     

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