Trouble measuring light. Light meter?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by gender bombs, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. gender bombs

    gender bombs TPF Noob!

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    Well, my photo course has started again, and I'm eager to take great photos. I have only been really into photography for about a year and a half now and have only taken two courses, which were both darkroom technique courses. I have a slight problem. I have trouble getting the right aperture, and some of my really good photos either come out too light or too dark. It annoys me because sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don't. When I most want it to be perfect, something seems to go wrong. I usually go by the general sunny 16, cloudy 8, and everything in between. It has not seemed to be working out too well, and I don't want to get into the darkroom to find that my photos are either too light or too dark. Now the question...Would a handheld light meter assist me in getting the right exsposure in every photo? If so, what kind?
     
  2. queen_of_scum

    queen_of_scum TPF Noob!

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    what camera are you using?
     
  3. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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    Most modern cameras have a built-in light meter that should be able to help you. Are you maybe using an older one?
     
  4. gender bombs

    gender bombs TPF Noob!

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    I have a Minolta X-700. From 1984, I believe. It shows the shutter speed and aperture in the viewfinder, and if on AE lock the suggested shutter speed. I have read the manual and don't really understand very well how to use taht meter. I feel like such a newbie :blushing: I have posted about this in the past before but am still having trouble.
     
  5. jwkwd

    jwkwd TPF Noob!

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  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    A hand held meter might help. Your in camera meter is a reflective meter, meaning it measures the intensity of light reflecting off your subject. Since it's telling you how to get middle gray, you must compensate if your subject is mostly lighter or mostly darker than middle gray.

    You can get several different kinds of hand held meter (they are often combined in more expensive models). An incident meter measures the light falling on the meter. As long as you meter at your subject, or the meter is in the same light as your subject, it's very easy to use because it just measures the light, and the tonality of your subject doesn't matter.
     
  7. gender bombs

    gender bombs TPF Noob!

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    Thank you, Ill look into meters :D
     
  8. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi;

    Click down a few threads to the thread titled 'Light reading help' [Voodoo_child].

    There might be some thoughts there which will help clear the fog.

    You can check your light meter [in-camera or hand-held] by reading an 18% gray card in full sunlight. Set the ISO to 100. Read the card. The meter should indicate an exposure of 1/100 @ f16. If it is not more than a half-stop off, you're fine. If it is a full stop or more off, you might have a battery problem or, if the batteries are OK, you might have to compensate for the error. You can easily compensate by telling the meter that the film has a different ISO. The meter won't know you're fibbing. Just change the ISO until the gray card reads 1/100 @ f16 in full sunlight.
     
  9. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    I love using a meter no matter what I shoot. If I can take it with me, I do. I usually point it toward the key light and meter. That way I will never overexpose with digital.

    I think L-358 is a good meter, which also can meter flash once you get into it. Not the cheapest one for 200 bucks, but very convenient.
     
  10. gender bombs

    gender bombs TPF Noob!

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    I just want one that I point at the subject or direct source of light, and it can tell me what aperture and shutter speed to use.
     
  11. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm kinda sad to have to tell you this, but you still have to take what the light meter tells you and decide whether to modify its suggestion for a particular picture.

    The classic example is a chess board. Half the squares are white and half are black. The light meter will provide the average exposure, setting it at middle gray. Whites will be white. Blacks will be black.

    Now change all but one square to white. Again read with the light meter. It will set the average reading to 18% gray. The white squares will be just a tad lighter than 18% gray.

    Now reverse the colors of the squares. One white, the rest black. Again, the light meter will try to set the average reading to medium [18%] gray. The black squares will be gray.

    The reason people use light meters, and not the reverse, is that the people have the brains.
     
  12. gender bombs

    gender bombs TPF Noob!

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    Thanks
     

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