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Introduction to Film Photography

Lesson 4 of 20

Importance of Metering

Sandra Coan

Introduction to Film Photography

Sandra Coan

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Lesson Info

4. Importance of Metering


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:11:53
2 Why Film Duration:10:59
4 Importance of Metering Duration:04:08
6 Metering for Color Film Duration:14:31
9 Metering for Indoor Shooting Duration:18:39
10 The Differences in Film Sizes Duration:11:05
11 Purchasing Film & Care Duration:05:04
12 Professional Color Film Duration:16:39
14 Consumer Grade Film Stocks Duration:06:31
15 Pushing Film Duration:18:44
16 Know Your Lab Duration:03:41
17 What To Look For In A Lab Duration:25:35
18 How To Find The Right Lab Duration:13:10
19 How To Safely Ship Film Duration:16:46
20 Get Started Using Film Duration:06:47

Lesson Info

Importance of Metering

I control all this with the way I meter. So that's how I do it. So, metering, for film photographers, it is extremely, extremely important. It is the foundation of creating a good negative, and it all comes back to creating that good negative. That is your job as a film photographer, is to make sure you're creating a good, dense negative. And metering is the foundation of that. Metering can also be one of these things that's really confusing, because again, in the film world, there are many different opinions about how best to do this. Everybody has, I always call it their special sauce formula for how they meter. And, you know, they all work pretty much the same. I'm gonna share mine with you, but what I just wanna do really quick is just break down what metering does, why we do it, different kinds of metering, and then later we'll get into real specifics about metering, okay? So, aside from your camera, your handheld light meter is the most important piece of equipment you can have a...

s a film photographer, and I totally mean that. I wear mine like a necklace all the time. Well, not right now, but a lot. Actually, I've had the same meter for like 16 years, and I lost it briefly last week, which I was like, "Not right before Creative Live!" And I was like in mourning, because it's become such a part of who I am as a person. (laughing) I love my meter. And you'll come to love your meter too. So, what a meter does. What a meter does is it helps you find middle gray. That is the job of the meter, is to read all the light, and bring you to middle gray. So, what is middle gray? So, middle gray, of course, is a term that was going by Ansel Adams in the zone system. The zone system was created in the late 30s, early 40s, as a way for photographers to look at meter, photograph, develop a scene. The zone system, you guys, there's like entire books written about the zone system, okay? It is heavy stuff, and I'm not gonna get into it right now in this class. Daniel Gregory, right? He's covering the zone system. He's amazing, watch his class, he'll tell you everything you need to know about the zone system. For me, for this class, for a one-on-one class, all I really want you to understand is when we're talking about middle gray and you hear photographers talk about middle gray, it is in reference to this. And what middle gray is is middle gray is the exact middle point between absolute black and absolute white, all right? And every meter, and every modern camera out there is designed with that in mind. That's what a meter is doing. It's trying to read the light and get you to here, okay? So it's your meter's job to find that middle gray, and what I tell people is it's your job, then, as the photographer, to decide where in your photo you're gonna put that middle gray reading. And that's what you do with metering. So, how meters work. We are all familiar, hopefully, with the exposure triangle, right? So, this is perfect exposure, this is middle gray. So, what a meter does is you give it two data points of this exposure triangle, and it gives you the third, right? So, when I'm shooting with natural light, I'll put in the ISO and the aperture, and it'll give me my shutter speed. Or when I'm working in studio with studio lighting, I put in ISO and the shutter speed, and then it gives me the aperture. But that's just what a light meter does. That's how you can control it.

Class Description

Stop with the excuses, grab your film camera and get out there and make amazing images! If you’re comfortable with your DSLR and post processing, then learning to use your film camera is easier than you think! In this beginner course, Sandra Coan walks through how to shoot with film so that you feel comfortable, confident, and excited to take the best pictures! She’ll talk about choosing your film and how to find and work with a lab to process your images.

This course will cover:

  • The differences and similarities between film and digital
  • How a camera meter works and how to meter for film
  • The different film options and how they affect your photo
  • How to find the right lab to process your images

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of using film. Sandra will show you how to slow down during your photo shoot, focus on what you’re trying to capture, and ultimately get a great image straight out of camera.


a Creativelive Student

Sandra is a gifted teacher!!! I've been following her work for years and know what an incredible photographer she is - but to be able to teach the way she does is truly a rare gift! I've been shooting film on and off for years and was amazed at how much I could still learn from Sandra's class. She presented the information in a way that was so easy to follow that you couldn't wait to get started. It's wonderful to learn from someone who is clearly passionate about their craft - but who is also excited for others to succeed at what they're teaching.


Amy could not have said it better in her review of this class! I am also a film shooter (have been shooting film personally for 8 years and professionally for 4) and even as someone who understands a lot of what Sandra was talking about, I STILL found this class to be incredibly helpful and learned a lot. Sandra is such a great teacher and an inspiration to so many film photographers. Great class! Thanks Sandra and Creative Live for putting this together for us.


Sandra is not only an insanely talented photographer but she's a gifted teacher. I've been shooting film for weddings and portraits for 5 years and even studied it in photography school so I'm not new to film by any means. But I've allowed myself to be so intimated to create portraits with film using strobes for far too long. But not anymore. I'll be 100% honest when I say that the information she teaches in this course, to a seasoned COMMERCIAL photographer mind you, may be insanely simple. But that's the beauty of it!!! There is no reason to over complicate shooting film with strobes. It's the simplicity and straight forward, clear as day information that Sandra teaches that's essential to rejuvenate today's overly 'tech obsessed' world. Film is alive and well! Sandra's course is gold when it comes to getting that appreciation for our craft back! I'm jazzed and ready to slow my roll down! Thank you, Sandra and CL! The value of this class is far more than that of the strobe kit I finally invested in (HOURS after the class!). : )