Light meters

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by rjackjames, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. rjackjames

    rjackjames TPF Noob!

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    I am currently deployed to Afghanistan. I have been reading a great deal of Landscape photography books. In almo everybook they talk about light metres for accurate exposure. As a novice do you recommend a light meter since I am trying be perfect on landscape photography.

    Would you recommend me buying a light meter?
     
  2. deanimator

    deanimator TPF Noob!

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    Since you are interested in landscapes, I would suggest learning to use the built-in spot meter.

    In addition, use RAW data, a polarizer, a tripod, and a good software such as Photoshop...these are probably going to assist your technical capabilities more than a hand-held light meter.

    Beyond that, study the works of the masters you like, and know what you want to say...but most of all, shoot a lot, evaluate and re-evaluate and...enjoy it!
     
  3. rjackjames

    rjackjames TPF Noob!

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    Deaninator@
    Thanks for the advice. I do have a good polorizer, tripod. If you look at my flickr page under Tobago pictures....you can see few of my landscape shots. They done in jpegs though.

    I am currently in Afghanistan so I am limited on practising my skills I have learnt in the books I have read.

    Hopefullly when I return I put my techniques to work.

    Thanks again for the advice.
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Depends upon what camera you use.
    But using a handheld meter when starting out is always a good idea because you have to think about what you are doing - and you can also get a handle on how exposure works.
    A reasonable meter is also usually cheaper than Photoshop - and it's far better to learn how to get your photos right in the first place than to spend hours rescuing them on a PC.
    A polariser isn't essential but would be a good idea considering where you are going, and it will protect the lens.
    A tripod is not essential as it's just one more thing to carry. You can always find something to lean on or brace yourself against. I rarely use a tripod when shooting 35mm/dSLR. It defeats the purpose of the camera.
    Lightweight tripods that are easy to carry but are a waste of time as they always wobble. A heavy tripod is the only one to use and they are a pain to lug around.
    But I would agree that a monopod that doubles as a walking stick could be useful.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with deanimator in that a hand-held meter is going to be of little value to you. Given the sophistication of today's modern in-camera meters, unless you're doing studio work, or specialized architectural, I don't see a need for one at all. I do however disagree on the use of the in-camera meter in spot.

    For most landscape work, your widest area metering is going to be your best bet. If you wanted to use a grey card to determine exposure, than yes, using your meter in spot would work, but otherwise, matrix/wide-area/whatever your camera calls it. This will avoid your exposure being off because you accidentally caught the fringe of a shadow or highlight.

    Definitely make sure you have a good circular polarizer, tripod, and also some graduated neutral density filters.

    Good luck!
     
  6. rjackjames

    rjackjames TPF Noob!

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    I use a DSLR Canon 30D, its a great camera I love it. I have been debating on the Sekonic L758 light meter which cost around $499 on B&H. I currently use Manfrotto 055XPROB great tripod with the ball head 488RC4.
     
  7. rjackjames

    rjackjames TPF Noob!

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    @tirediron

    When I went on vacation I took few landscape shots some turned out just great but others seemed off. I am tryin to learn from those mistakes and incorparate that into what I have been reading in books from great landscape photographers.
    I am deployed overseas so practicing is difficult for me.

    I looked online for graduated neutral density filters.....what do these do?

    Once i get back I hope to get some good shots.
     
  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Graduated neutral density filters are filters which have a graduate "coating" which is optically neutral (you can see through it) but blocks some light. These are most useful if, for example, you are shooting a landscape with a mountain range in the background and a very bright sky. Without the ND filter, you could expose for either the darker areas of the foreground, or the brightness of the sky, and the other would suffer. The ND filter allows you to effectively "darken" the sky by one, two, or more stops and effectively equalize the exposure between the ground and the sky giving you better exposed foregrounds and skies with deeper colour and more contrast.

    If you do decide you want a hand-held meter, than I would recommend looking for a used Gossen Luna series. These are analogue meters, most of which can be used as either reflected or incident meters, that were the industry standard for many years. They can be had from eBay for <$100.

    H V Rental makes some good points about the use of a light meter, but I would debate his comments with respect to polarizing filters (IMHO, they are absolutely essential for out door shots) and the use of tripods. Unless I'm shooting a wedding or event, I almost never handhold any camera. Especially for landscapes when you may decide you want to take a panorama of a large area, they are critical, likewise when there's less light (pre-sunsrise/post-sunset, dark, cloudy days), sure you can bump up your ISO, but why not shoot as low as you can and just increase your shutter speed?
     
  9. rjackjames

    rjackjames TPF Noob!

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    @tirediron

    I have two neutral density filter both NDX8 for my 16-35mm and 24-70mm. Do I need to have different ones or I can use these in landscape photography?
     
  10. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Regular neutral density filters are designed to block light evenly over the whole lens; their application is where you want longer shutter speeds; for instance when you're shooting waterfalls and you want that nice, smooth look. Graduated neutral density filters, as the name implies, go from a 1, 2, or whatever stop density at one end of the filter, to completely clear at the other.

    If you have a look here: http://www.cokin.com/ico3-p1-6.html you can see a whole range of graduated filters from neutral density to various colours with different applications.
     
  11. rjackjames

    rjackjames TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the info...I appreciate it.
     
  12. THORHAMMER

    THORHAMMER TPF Noob!

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    Dude,

    Use your authority or just the fact that you have a gun to get into a nice spot for some shots. Most people will never be able to get there and do that
    any hills that overlook a city or small village, and interesting things that are off limits to normal civilians, go there and shoot , what an opportunity.

    If you find any underground bunkers or caves, go through and get some good shots, years later make a book.. who knows.

    Your lucky , a gun AND a camera. :p

    About the meter, personally dont think you need it, if your shooting digital you can get instant feedback from your lcd and youll learn real fast which big mistakes to avoid. Also most of the stuff your capturing will be a mile or more in the distance, so impossible anyways to properly use the meter.

    the polarizer will help you pop clouds out nice, and anytime you get near water, or car windows, helps take away a LOT of the reflection.

    the ND is also great, just a little more setup time, but its still nice.

    i would keep the tripod with you in case you want to shoot at dusk with the polarizer. if your shooting landscapes always use the release cable so you dont wobble your tripod . dont press the button on the camera to shoot unless your shutter speed is like 1000 or more.

    Keep in mind you can setup the tripod at night where there is a litle ambient light in the distance from a city or something and do a 3-5 minute exposure shot and thats something that ive never seen a long exposure night shot from over there ? doubt anyones done that, ....

    cheers..
     

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