How To Use A Light Meter Photography

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A handheld light meter offers photographers greater precision and creative command over their images. Using a handheld meter allows yous to create well-exposed images even under complex lighting situations that can trick built-in camera meters. Despite looking complicated, a few elementary techniques volition have yous using a handheld light meter with ease, whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits, or nonetheless-life.

What is a Light Meter?

A handheld calorie-free meter is a separate tool for evaluating light intensity and calculating exposure. At its simplest, it calculates an aperture and shutter value that you set up your camera to for a correct exposure of a given scene. It can also provide all the discontinuity and shutter combinations that match an exposure value.

Modernistic cameras have born calorie-free meters that allow photographers to brand well-exposed photos without a separate tool. This congenital-in circuitry works well for most of the situations that a lensman may run across. Merely a handheld calorie-free meter is designed to exercise one job extremely well. That chore is to precisely evaluate levels of light and relate them to shutter and aperture settings to create a well-exposed image nether fifty-fifty the most difficult lighting conditions.

All cameras have a express dynamic range—a specific maximum level and minimum level of effulgence—that can be captured. A handheld light meter lets you know exactly where the vivid and night areas fall in relation to each other. This can tell you precisely which areas of the image will be too light or dark to hold item. Having this information will aid you lot expose for the important areas of an paradigm or let you know when to use a high dynamic range technique to expand your camera’s dynamic range.

You can employ the information from your light meter to aid you cull how calorie-free a subject is. For example, if I take a reading of a white piece of paper, it volition show up every bit heart grayness when photographed. That is because all calorie-free meters are calibrated for heart greyness. So if I want that white piece of paper to exist white, I need to overexpose it and the lite meter volition tell me how much by which to overexpose.

Types of Handheld Calorie-free Meters

There are ii categories of calorie-free meters: incident and cogitating.

Incident Light Meters

An incident meter reads the amount of low-cal falling on the discipline. You concord the lite meter in front of the subject area and the meter volition evaluate the amount of light that reaches its white dome, known as a lumisphere. By metering this manner, you will disregard how light or night your subject is and help eliminate errors acquired by a dorsum-lit subject. A born light meter is not capable of this type of metering.



Using a hand-held incident meter
An incident meter can be recognized past the white dome known as a lumisphere.

Reflective Light Meters

A reflective light meter records the lite levels that are reflected by the subject. That means light travels from its source, bounces off the subject, so is picked up by the light meter. A camera’south built-in light meter is a reflective light meter. There are unlike types of cogitating meters based on how much of the frame is metered:

  • Matrix
    or
    Evaluative Metering

    breaks a frame into zones and uses an algorithm to guess exposure.

  • Eye Weighted
    gives the center of the frame more importance when measuring exposure.

  • Spot
    metering looks simply at a small surface area of a frame to measure out exposure.

A built-in light meter can switch betwixt these patterns. A handheld light meter simply does spot metering, incident metering, or both, such as the 1 shown in the examples here. In addition, handheld meters can read an expanse of the image which is much smaller than that of a photographic camera’s built-in meter. This power to read such a small area of a scene will help you lot evaluate the relative brightness or darkness of fifty-fifty the smallest details.

Using a hand-held spot meter
Using a hand-held spot meter
Using a hand-held spot meter
To utilize a spot meter it has to exist held to the eye an looked though. In its viewfinder you will see a minor circle at the center where the measurement is being taken.

Now that nosotros’ve covered how a handheld light meter works, allow’s put it to applied use in three dissimilar scenarios. Nosotros’ll encompass landscapes, portraits, and however-life, showing how to use either the incident or cogitating spot meter.

1. How to Apply a Paw-held Meter in Landscape Photography

Incident Meter Reading

An incident meter is all you need to go highly accurate exposure settings for mural photos. The simplest technique is to hold the calorie-free meter out in front end of the camera, making sure that the same light falling across the scene also falls on the lumisphere. Then press the meter button. Read the results on the meter and ready your camera’southward shutter and aperture to lucifer. At present you accept your photographic camera set to accurately betrayal your scene.

The but matter you take to be conscientious of is not to take the sun polish direct on the lumisphere because this tin can exist too bright and crusade you to underexpose your image. I mode to avoid this is, when you see a bright lord’s day spot on the lumisphere, hold the white dome partly in your shadow. With a landscape photograph (and different the examples below) we usually tin can’t movement the calorie-free meter to all the places we’d like to measure out. Moving the meter out of direct sunlight gives a ameliorate measurement of the corporeality of light in the shadow areas in the scene, which is where it’due south most important to retain detail.

Using a hand-held incident meter for landscape photography
Using a hand-held incident meter for landscape photography
Using a hand-held incident meter for landscape photography

Cogitating Spot Meter Reading

When using a spot meter in landscape photography, you will want to take several readings from different areas of the scene. Have readings for most important areas similar the darkest shadow area, the brightest highlight area, and the mid-tone areas. Commit each reading to the meter’s memory by pressing the memory button afterward every reading. Then utilize the average push button on the meter to provide a final exposure value and put those settings into the camera. This technique allows you to take in a lot of light intensity information and chop-chop process it without tedious manual calculations. Once you get used to looking for areas of differing brightness in a scene, yous can have these readings rapidly.

Areas meaused with a hand-held spot meter
Areas meaused with a hand-held spot meter
Areas meaused with a hand-held spot meter
Spot metered areas are indicated by carmine circles.

I have converted my landscape photograph to black and white considering I think it is easier to consider exposure and tones without the interference of color.

A carefully metered landscape photo
A carefully metered landscape photo
A carefully metered landscape photo

2. How to Use a Hand-held Meter in Portrait Photography

Incident Meter Reading

In portrait photography, an incident meter is an invaluable tool. Y’all can apply it to quickly and hands take hold of a reading of the light falling on a person’s confront. All you accept to exercise is concur it in front of the subject field with the lumisphere facing the camera and press the measure button. That’s it; the meter will tell you lot how much light is falling on the subject. If you lot want the field of study lighter than middle grey, just overexpose past 1 stop.

Using a hand-held incident meter for portrait photography
Using a hand-held incident meter for portrait photography
Using a hand-held incident meter for portrait photography

Reflective Spot Meter Reading

In portrait photography, you will take a few reading from key areas of the the portrait. Meter the highlights of a person’s face, their hair and the highlights and shadows on their clothes. Commit each reading to the meter’s retentiveness past pressing the retentiveness push button after every reading. Then use the average push button on the meter to provide a concluding exposure value and put those settings into the camera.

Areas measured with a spot meter for a portrait
Areas measured with a spot meter for a portrait
Areas measured with a spot meter for a portrait
Spot metered areas are indicated by blood-red circles.

Hither is a look at my portrait. I have converted it to black and white because I think it is easier to call back almost exposure and tones without the interference of color data.

A portrait created with a hand-held light meter
A portrait created with a hand-held light meter
A portrait created with a hand-held light meter

three. How to Use a Paw-held Meter in However Life Photography

Incident Meter Reading

In still life or product photography, an incident meter is handy tool. Y’all can use it to chop-chop and hands grab a reading of the calorie-free falling on a bailiwick. All y’all take to practice is hold it in front of the discipline with the lumisphere facing the camera and press the measure button. Information technology does not matter how cogitating or nighttime your subject is, you lot will get a good baseline exposure. If y’all desire the subject lighter or darker, you tin overexpose or underexpose the photo.

Using a hand-held incident meter for still life photography
Using a hand-held incident meter for still life photography
Using a hand-held incident meter for still life photography

Cogitating Spot Meter Reading

For still life photography, you will want to take several readings from different areas of the still life. Take readings for most important areas like the darkest shadow area, the brightest highlight area, and the mid-tone areas. Commit each reading to the meter’southward memory by pressing the retentivity button later on every reading. Then use the average button on the meter to provide a concluding exposure value and put those settings into the camera.

Areas measured with a spot meter for a still life photo
Areas measured with a spot meter for a still life photo
Areas measured with a spot meter for a still life photo
Spot metered areas are indicated by ruby circles.

Hither is a expect at my still life photograph. I have converted it to black and white because I retrieve information technology is easier to encounter exposure and tones without the interference of color.

A still life photo created using a hand-held light meter
A still life photo created using a hand-held light meter
A still life photo created using a hand-held light meter

After working with your handheld light meter for these different types of shots, you won’t desire to go back to your camera’s built-in meter. You’ll besides start seeing the differences in exposure and the amount of time that y’all spend adjusting the photo subsequently information technology’s taken. Handheld light meters make a cracking tool for all photographers and should always exist in your kit.

Source: https://photography.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-use-a-hand-held-light-meter-to-make-perfectly-exposed-photographs–cms-24142

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