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Inside the Home Studio

Lesson 25 of 31

Working with Sekonic Light Meter

Tony Corbell

Inside the Home Studio

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

25. Working with Sekonic Light Meter


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Lesson Info

Working with Sekonic Light Meter

I want to have this discussion about the meter uh and I want to talk a little bit about meters in general there are officially there's only two types of meters in the world and those are illuminates meters also known as an incident meter and lou eminence meters also known as reflective meters the reflective meter is in camera it's a spot meter it's it's all of that but the incident meter that's different the incident is that dome and that's the handheld meter uh I won't work without an incident meter on illuminates me because I like to think of it as my reality no matter what I do with my meter I get reality if I do with the meter tells me to do my subjects will look like my subjects look if I'm using a meter like this so but I think one of the things that that this meter has done for me uh is that it has taught me to trust my instincts and it's taught me that I never miss my exposure if I just do what this meter says and I know I talked about that in the last segment quite a bit but t...

he the the answer here is kind of like this uh consider consider this dome uh consider that this dome is where all the exposure is based and that don't has to receive full illumination the the definition of an incident meter illuminates meter is designed to measure light that strikes are falls onto your subject it never says anything about averaging in the shadow it says to measure the light that strikes her falls on your subject if I am this back this way it measures some of the light that strikes her falls on my subject if I aim it toward the light source it measures all the life that strikes her falls on my subject makes sense so for me and this is a personal thing maybe but for me personally all of my exposures taken with the dome aimed at the light source if I aim it at the camera I'm okay and my exposures were okay as long as my main light is within forty five degrees of the camera's position but if that light gets further away from the camera than forty five degrees then I've got to follow that light with my daughter you're going to hear other photographers they'll tell you the exact opposite and you'll hear other photographers to talk about the lack of importance of a meter that's okay we all are you know we're all doing okay in our careers but I'll just tell you that for me personally that's it I don't make adjustments on my exposure is very often because I just do what this thing tells me to do so the thing about this meter and let me just fire one off here and I'll show you let me just turn it just a little bit getting exposure there right there it says a plumbing teams that time okay so I'm gonna dollar into one twenty five s o one hundred and I'm taking exposure right there it says f eight point two f a toe point two I've got mine it reads in one tenth stops so right there says hey tony if you'll take a picture of hedley at one twenty fifth of a second so one hundred at f eight point two I'm going to give you a perfect exposure f eight point two is only one tenth of a stop below half nine f eight point three is eight and a third which is f nine what's after half nine another third is f ten and the next one's f eleven so those exposures aaron one third increments on your new digital cameras mostly unless you've got him set up in half stops but for the most part we've got one third stop increments so that's all it basically is telling me uh with this model this is the seven fifty eight d r and this model has in addition to the incident it also has this view through uh one degree spot meter so on the side here right there it's the incident setting and if I turn that it clicks onto that now it becomes a one degree spot spot reading for reflective values and I can view through this side and it there's a lens in there so I can hold it up to my eye and look around and fired off and test it and it will give me the reading right based on a reflecting the value of eighteen percent cause that's what a reflective meter does so I think most people know that by now but you don't want to take too much for granted what people do and what they do not know so what they're says f eight point two so I would probably shoot that after nine and I'm gonna be a third of the stop darhk I mean a tenth of the stop darhk I'm okay with a tenth of the stop okay now the esso theirs to sew buttons there has always been to I sew buttons on most of the psychotic versions comic meter models and the reason was that sort of came around in the days of polaroid test films so you'd have a photographic film that would be let's say a four hundred film but your polaroid might be an eighty so what you would do is you would take your s o number one let me just change I have so number one to number dial it up to four hundred and you can see that in the little window on top in the top right you can see that I s o four hundred then I would go in and take eso too and I'll dial it down tto s o a t so now built in the four hundred the eighty for the two till films that I'm using so I take my test and I take a meter reading and it's telling me and I s so eighty I've got to shoot that a sixtieth that f eight but if I'm shooting with my four hundred film it's sixteen point to suck I have with one button touch in and out I can see two different I have so settings for the same picture not bad we don't have polaroids anymore but a lot of times we do have separate cameras you might have an infrared camera set up with a very odd setup and a very low I s o and you may have a high speed set up for ambient light only or something like that so you wanna have both of those isos built into that meter so both of those were there and they're really really convenient to have okay um there is a memory and here you khun you can punch some values into memory if you shoot in the same place every afternoon at four o'clock under that tree and the light qualities pretty much the same punch that into the memory and then go back there tomorrow day after tomorrow hit the memory tina so yeah I'll do that you know what exposure is gonna be so that's available to you if you get too lazy to go out there and push the button again some people do uh so there's a lot of features in here one of the things that I love most about this meter and I did talk about this earlier not I alluded to it was the percentage values and I'll set this up and talk about it but before I get to that because that's probably the last thing I want to cover on that but I do want to mention one other thing and that is this dome this dome is retractable and so for me personally I always like to work with the dome out so it's in a three dimensional position some people like to work with the dome recess like that so it's it's flat it's been retracted in uh some brands have domes and you pop the dome off and put on a flat diffuser is well some people call it the flat dumb flat dome as like black reflector sorry through the flatter it's dumb it's not a flat dome so but I like it I like to work with it out extended out all the way the retracted inside version was mostly designed for flat art copy so if you're going to a flat our copy of a painting on opening something brings you a forty by etienne painting to photograph what you want to do is retract your dome and then just slide that meter all over the surface of that artwork that you're trying to copy and just keep moving corner to corner and to make sure that your absolute exposure is perfect in every place it's very very critical call in the exposure if you're using a photograph in the face if I use it on hedley with it retracted and I'm right there and if my hand slips and I'm over here like this I'm off by two thirds of a stop so it's very critical so for me and forget it put that in the out position like that and it's just out now if you're working by yourself and you've got this thing these things have a little tripod mount little quarter twenty that you can manage on top of light standard tripod then you can just turn that head on a map where you want it to go so it's a very very very helpful tool they're not inexpensive they're expensive but you only need one and the last year for most of your career I've had in the last well since nineteen this is this is the truth since the late eighties eighties eighty probably eighty nine eighty eight eighty nine until now this is my second meter well that's not tried a third but a stop using it so but I've only had two meters really two functioning meters that entire time that's a long time so the last forever but it's like at first it's like oh I don't want to pay that for a meter dude you're only gonna buy one for the next twenty years wanted to get one that works and get a good one so that's my statement on that now let's talk about the combination of ambience and flash together it's a demonstration it's best outdoors but we're on we're we're doing the best we can over three days to show you everything that we can show you so if you'll notice in the let me let me lower the I s o value so I can control this a little bit better for the demo um if you'll notice in the little window appear on the top right of the little led you'll see it says one hundred percent so if our camera dude can zoom us right in there and see that you probably already up to it uh that little one hundred percent tells me that that flash exposure that I just took is one hundred percent of the exposure that's being built onto this image okay now then just for fun just just to illustrate the point I'm gonna turn this away from the flash just a little bit and read another one just so I can get a different percentage now my percentage meter out there says ninety percent right there it says you know what these ladies in the ceiling it's telling you you know flash is making up ninety percent of this exposure at ninety percent of exposure that flash is still a main light and the reading would be sixtieth at five six and two thirds which equals c five six six three that would be seven point one okay so sixtieth at seven point one I've got some influence from this ambient light in this room but most of my influences from that light source now here's the fun part we don't have to take another reading but let's check all the other values of the percentage is all you have to do with a psychotic meter is put your thumb now on the thumb wheel some of you guys don't know this and at home even to my man some of you do but a lot of you don't know this once I've read my flash with ambient combination all I have to do now is put my thumb on the thumb will and start rolling it around and as I rule my thumb around right down here at an eighth of a second at f eight and a third which is f nine at an eighth of a second now I met a sixty percent influence from the flash and if I roll my thumb will down a little bit further one more click now I'm at a fourth of a second at f eight and two thirds it's forty percent of the exposure value is flash you only have to read it once and just roll the thumb will around folks and they'll tell you what the values are so now this goes and I know you're one what this's the smartest feature that I've ever seen in any product because it saves me so much time and gives me all the creative control I want one I'm outdoors working with flash and ambience together here's the beauty of this by doing it this way I know that at twenty to thirty percent my flash outdoors is a phil flash I know that fifty percent my flash outdoor matches my ambience in the background and I know that at seventy eighty ninety percent my flashes very clearly a main light with a little influence of the ambient light how simple is that it is a smartest little feature and if you read the owner's book you'll find it it's in the owner's manual and everybody's like wait a minute I didn't know it would do that right probably eighty percent of people that use these meters don't know it's in there it's in the three hundred serious to the three fifty eight it's in the five fifty eight it's in the new four seventy eight it's in c connick meters it's built in it's there it's free no extra charge use it you will love what it does for you and all you do is just roll your thumb around what kind of percentage do you want I just want a little wink of light let's go to twenty percent okay shoot one second f sixteen with that ami in combination with that flash combination gives me twenty percent of my flash contribution to the picture one second f sixteen oh but what I want to go two hundred percent let's go back two hundred percent one twenty five seven point one I got myself a major major picture with a hundred percent flash and no influence of the ambiance I have learned all that by just rolling that thumb will up and down and it changed all the numbers relative makes sense holy toledo is that big stuff guys I don't know if the chat rooms were lighting up right now everybody's going way will know that not all of you have any comments on that miss cama well what I'm wondering is if you can just explain that again because it's one of those things where you're like ok I think I get it let's let's let's go through it again yeah yeah so so you taken exposure with your flash let's say you're outdoors you taken exposure eating with your flash and you read the flash output let me turn I'm gonna turn this off because I think I'm I think I'm done with this and if I turn it off the stand will go off there's a little automatic fan in that head uh this is that one that we used the other day in the small portable studio the delight one it's just a little fan that comes on when it gets hot and it turns off when it doesn't need any more you're outdoors there on location you got your portable flash's speed light year q flash your little he'll be four hundred you take a reading of the flash flash fires off after flash fires often you look at that percentage window to see what it says and whatever it says let's say it says sixty percent seventy percent put your thumb on the thumb wheel on your meter and just roll it up and down and just watch the numbers change and what's the percentage change if I go up to one hundred percent it tells me that whatever that combination is of aperture and shutter speed that will cancel out all of the ambient light you'll see on ly the flash at those two values now let's just roll the thumb will down we start coming down come down come down come down oh there's fifty percent stop there that's going to give me pretty much reality in the background and and even influence of flash on the face of my subject as thie ambient light reads on the subject and I just keep rolling that down down down oh there's thirty percent what does that say oh that tells you that your flax is only thirty percent of the exposure and ambience is seventy percent your flashes a nice phil on an overcast day when you've got that overcast soft light coming downward it's a heavy downward caste folks that light is so nice when it's soft on an overcast day but it's still a downward casting light and you're still going to get dark under the nose under the chin and some people want to pop a little light in there I would recommend not popping a small light source but a big one in keeping with the softness of the day makes sense it's a pain in the butt in it can we just take the speed light yes you can it's gonna look like you have a little sharp small light and your subjects were pasted on this big nice soft warm background so match your surface the size area of the surface of your light source to the ambience of the day role that thumb will up and down into you pick you want is a phil that you want is an average or do you want it is the main light you pick it yourself it's brilliant it's just brilliant thank you for that yeah thank you any comments on that there were some thank you ponies can can we talk about ok well this question came in what if we don't have a flash I only have constant lights or natural light so this isn't really the percentage thing doesn't even apply then it doesn't matter here you're you're ambiance is one hundred percent all the time but the use of the meter the first two thirds of that little talk right do apply same that dome of the meter towards your main primary source you know some people talk about well I have one light to the right of the camera on my sucks and I've got one to the left of the camera and my question is always well which one of those is the main line well they're usually about the same brightness well that's a problem because now you don't have your lacking quality of light you're lacking quality of light direction because because now you no longer you're flattening your picture the only time I use forty five degree lighting is lighting a football team you know one hundred eighty five war leaders I mean a big group shot is when you need forty five degree lighting or or flat lighting to see you so you can light up every face and make him even with no shadows from face to face to face to face other than that your life should specifically have a direction and I think there's a lot of new people that start off with a couple of life's couple umbrellas and we're gonna put one there and they're going to put one there they flood the room with life avoid that trap and and fall into a little bit more of like direction just a little and then start controlling the shadow detail with either another light or with uh fill in or a white wall is a reflector or something like that but but first and foremost you need to really pay attention to the quality of light from one direction on the face you can have ten lights on the set I've had big big production shoots where we've had a lot of lights on a on a car shoot or a motorcycle shoot or an interior but there is one primary direction of light and that's what you need to make sure that you measure the light and meter for that specifically and then you can get in trouble so we had some questions around balancing the meter do you balance it once you're outside in your scenario and then in addition to that is there a difference in calibrating your meter outside weather forces in the studio worse is in the studio whether it's like a sunny winter day or a sunny summer day can you talk about celebrating our so so I'll give you a little trick this's a trick that the manufacturers probably hate when I do this because it's it's kind of it's just something I figured out one time if you think about it the old hello old old tried and true sonny sixteen rule it works if you use the s o of your camera as your shutter speed and shooted f sixteen on a front let subject do you have a great exposure in full sun with no clouds in the sky right well so here's what we figured out is that we can calibrate our meters by taking our light meter dialing in s o one twenty five dial in shutter speed one twenty five and go outside on a bright sunny day and take him eatery on ambience on ambience septum ambient reading and go outside and find the sun and aimed directly at the sun with no shadows on the dome and take a reading and that's every sixteen point oh if it reads eleven point seven there's a built in calibration on your meter that most people don't know about you have you ever heard about this you hold in I s so one and I have so too at the same time push that button let me hold this where you guys can catch this if I hold it and I'll sew buttons one and two at the same time in that little window it'll say a deejay for adjustment watch this pink a d j and you see how mine's at zero point zero I've got my unbalanced mind zeroed out my meters dead on but if yours is reading eleven point seven great then holding those two why you roll the wheel up one tenth two tenths three tents until read sixteen point no and you are calibrated and that's for outdoors that's for indoors it's for anything neat little trick the manufacturers would probably say no no you should send it back and let us calibrate it they probably take out the parking lot and go like this I'm just came they do have instrumentation to properly calibrate everything but it's just a quick down and dirty way if you're taking me rings and nothing's looking right and your exposures look like they're off make sure that you're using your meter properly and illuminating fully the incident dome with your main light and those exposure should be coming in pretty good and true but if you're aiming at the camera here and your lights really far off they're gonna be over your exposure is there going to be over they really are gonna be over because it's average in a lot of shadow when you do that so I think this I think this light meter is truly one of the most important things that we have in our craft because it really does tell us the subtleties in the nuances of everything from the brightness of the hair to the to the brightness of the shadow of the darkness of the shadow to the highlands it tells us everything so we don't have to just testing testing testing and shoot and look and shoot and look and shoot and look you don't have to do all that we just have to take a measurement it tells us everything

Class Description

Working from home is a great way to minimize costs, but it can be challenging to deal with the inevitable space and light limitations and it can feel awkward to explain to clients.

In Inside the Home Studio, Tony Corbell will help you address the logistical and practical challenges of working from home. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Work with low ceilings, dark spaces, and small skinny rooms
  • Market and sell in-home shoots
  • Store and organize your equipment.
  • Work with family and client schedules

Tony will help you come up with new ways to shoot in ordinary spaces by sharing real-life examples of home studio scenarios. He’ll shoot formal and candid portraits throughout the entire house, teaching you how to leverage each room for its specific uniqueness.

Inside the Home Studio will show you how to approach different photographic genres and help you make the space you have to work for your business.



Another great course by Tony Corbell. I loved this course. Tony is a great teacher, great photographer and great business man. He's enjoyable to listen to and a great teacher. He holds nothing back and shows how to shoot great pictures even in small shooting environments or on a low budget. I would buy again Tony's courses.

Penny Foster

Wow! Tony is fantastic! So many hints and tips, crammed into this great course. I shoot portraits out of a small converted garage, about 9 ft high, 9 feet wide, and about 19 feet long. Tony has shown me so many ways to make this small space work for me, for which I am eternally grateful. What this course highlights is that whatever small space you have, there are ways of making it work. You need to buy this course and watch it over and over because, every time I watch it, I gain more and more info that I missed the first time around. Brilliant!

Kat Ciemiega

Absolutely wonderful, I cannot praise the content enough. I value Tony's stories as much as the information he is giving away, because it puts the data in the perspective and practical context of the actions we take. Thank you for this class!