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.