Understand the Light Meter
So how do you know which settings to use? Good question well, I would say to you, trial and error is one method another method is lots of practice and experience the more experience you have, the more practice you do, the better you get at the trial and error. But the nice thing is that you actually have something in your camera built right in called your light meter. Your light meter is going to help you start with this, right it's going to give you a starting point so let's, talk about what that looks like somewhere when you look through your viewfinder, you've probably seen something like this the food basically your light meter, the numbers that you have on it may range from camera model to camera model generally you're going toe range from minus two two plus two, but I've seen some go as faras minus five two plus five, so it just depends on your model. But what this is telling you is the camera, the measuring, the light coming in okay and there's all different ways to measure ther...
e's different types of meat ary we're not going to get into that just I know that it exists, but we're just going to talk about in general so life coming in the camera's measuring it and it's showing you some sort of meter rating here and what it's doing is saying whatever settings you currently have survived in manual mode, my cameras on I take the length cap off I pointed it something the light meter is goingto tell me something paul is saying is with the current settings that I have for shutter speed after an esso I either have too much light or not enough or maybe it's just right that makes sense so it's it's based on its relative to your current settings okay, other places we see the light meter show up again on this little display on the top of your camera if you have it or you will also see it when you look through your viewfinder, if you're shooting manual mode, you're probably got your you know and you can control all the dials and everything you're probably holding the camera up here, so I would say for ease of operation if you're if you're not in the habit of shooting with the camera your eye, you probably want to get there because it just makes life a lot easier and more fluid trying to hold your camera here and then change your settings and stuff gets a little odd word, so you want to get used to looking at that let's talk now about how this works and we're keeping this really general right now because I think it's helpful because I want you to understand the theory behind this and not get caught up in what's my stop what's my exact shutter speed don't worry about it understand the concept, okay, so here's a very like simple crude graphic that I made up. All right, so let's say we're pointing our camera something and neither are setting notice there's no specific numbers were just looking at amount of light, so are shutter speed and letting in a lot of light. So it's it's a slower shutter speed we've got a lot of light coming in the appetizers somewhere in the middle esos up there, it doesn't really matter. The numbers were just talking about concepts, so our cameras pointed at a scene, our light meters telling us we are one stop remember lights measured not in cups like sugar but stops so we're one stop from what the camera thinks would be a good exposure. So the little indicators on the negative side, that means we're negative light. We're missing light, we need more light, the camera says in order to get a good exposure. So what could we do with our settings here to add more light, anybody, you could get a microphone so you can talk to me here, right? People at home are maybe let me hear you, what could we do? We could we could adjust the shutter right if we need more light and we chose to get it by adjusting the shutter what would we do with the shutter speed it up or slow it down don't we slow it down so that it's open longer and it's getting more light right so we couldn't do that trying to remember where I went with this we could adjust our aperture we could adjust our so let's just say again this is where you make choices and there's not a wrong answer let's just say that we're like really I love my shutter speed in my aperture here so I don't want to change them because I don't want to like change the way my actions being recorded and I love the exact step the field that I have right now how could we change this then with our s o two increase the light in our scene we'd anybody increase the so right so oh look at that we increase the I have low and look how happy the meter is that's right in the middle now so yeah goodjob everybody okay next example let's say oh my gosh now we're pointing our camera some scene and whatever settings we've got going on here we're looking through our view finder and the camera's going light bright right we're two stops overexposed or more it could be you know here if your meter runs out it plus two you could be at, like, really like plus five, but your meter just don't go there, so just know that so we're we're up against a wall over here, so we're at least two stops above so what could we dio with r I s so let's just say teo, shave off that extra light lower the so you either so smart there so we lowered the so and oh we it only saved us one stop we're still one stop too much light so let's pretend that this is as low as it goes so now way can't go any lower with the so what else could we dio? We have a shutter and an aperture let's say that we're shooting something that motion dependent so that's like that's like our main thing way don't mess with the shutter speed if we don't have teo so let's say, what could we do with the aperture? Tio shave off that extra light we're gonna open it up for squinted down. Open it up! If we open it up, we're going tow wide in it. So then would we be getting more lighter left? Okay, yes, we wanted to wind it down right, because right now the meter says you have to much light library, we have got one cup of sugar too much like we're going toe squint the aperture down reducing the amount of light the aperture is letting in and love now our meter is happy now let's go back so must say okay here we are again we've lowered our so so were it plus one now so we're closer but it wasn't enough now let's say okay maybe we don't want to change the aperture and we're against the wall here with s o now let's say ok well this time let's adjust the shutter speed and we need to get less light so would we speed it up or slow it down speed it up right so now we speed up the shutter which reduces the light and now the meter's happy get yeah okay let's look at like real photo but I know how this works okay? So here's numbers so now don't panic because hopefully by now you at least get the concept right so the numbers are just they're just numbers don't hang your hat on them okay? So here we have a scene in new york city and the camera says it's properly exposed so the meter's happy right in the middle and these were the settings that I used when I shot it you could have shot the same photo over my shoulder with slightly different settings or completely different settings doesn't matter but this is what I had for this and it was properly exposed and the action in the scene is frozen even just a shutter speed of one one hundred because people like they weren't sprinting toe work they're just walking so I was able to freeze the action even at one one hundredth which is not a super fast shutter speed and this was my f stop and that was my idea okay so um if we let's say that we want teo blur the action in this let's say we want to take this picture with motion streak okay so we're going to go and do what with our shutter we want to blur the action or we're going to slow down or speed it up slow it down so now we have more light so look our meters telling us oh my gosh plus two and I'm depicting the scene being blown out here just for your visual help here so we've think we've slowed down the center so I floated all the way to a fourth of a second I should have had a tripod I don't know that I did I held my breath and you can also try to like press your elbows against your ribs yeah so I did that because I don't do tripod I just I don't know I can't do it okay so I slowed down the center which brought in a ton more light so the light meter screaming at me plus two plus two so what can I do here? Teo adjust that well, I chose in this example toe leave my I s o where it was and I squinted my f stop no down yeah squinted my stopped down to f twenty two shaving off all that light and I got an equally properly exposed photo so not too bright not too dark but now we can see some action blur happening that makes sense so you can't even shoot the same scene in two different ways just in how you choose to combine your settings and you just keep adjusting them until you get something that eyes agreeable with the light meter. Hopefully this is ringing some bells. It absolutely is. Got a couple questions about me during do we want to go through a little bit more? Do you want me to ask them now? Um ask me now. Perfect. Eso first of all, people do talk about meet a ring and you know, what do you mean her off of is a phrase that people use. So can you explain what that means for people who may not know on dh? Then explain for laura b three thirty and one other how do you choose what to meter off of in your scene? Right? Okay, so there's different types of majoring there's something called a value value tive or matrix metering, which is basically like a big generic average of light so the camera is looking through the lens and going okay there's this much light and here's the meter reading you can also do what's called spot metering where the camera's going to meet her from the very center only so whatever is happening, if you have bright stuff going on on the side of the camera doesn't care it's only meet oring whatever is under the center of your frame on dh then there's stuff in between like their center waited mita ring, which is like centered like plus a little bigger area there's all different kinds of meat a ring so you just want to experiment and figure out what works for you and honestly like the way that I work? I don't I don't even get super obsessed with my metering mode because I'm using the meter here's my next slide actually and using the light meter only as a guide because it turns out even if you're using center meeting and whatever you're just helping the camera tryto help you with a more specific measurement. But it's still just like you're ultimately the boss, right? You either decide like yes, I like it or no, I don't so it's still just really a guide, so there are different options I would say explore them if you're really curious about it, but again, you don't have to hang your hat on it or live and die by your light meter or your meeting mode or whatever because it's really just a guide so let me show you and maybe that will help yeah that was perfect as melody arredondo into others want to know whether you'd go over metering in those different modes and when to use them etcetera I never change my metering mode if that helps like never but that's just me everyone's different that's great on dh j lo's and three others want to say one on manual mode why do people sometimes meet her on something else near the subject and then photographed the subject? Is it toe lightner dark in the image? Well your I mean the polite nor dark in the image you do that by changing your shutter speed after an esso so it may be that for example, if you're shooting ah bride and a big white wedding dress and if you're meeting off her face then you might end up making your exposure brighter well, you would and that her dress would possibly get blown out meaning it's over exposed her dress because it's white is reflective so you may not see like the lace or the beating or whatever is on it because you meet it off her face so maybe her face looks good but her big, bright white dress is now to write so sometimes people will meet her off the dress so that they're making sure the dresses properly exposed and then you know who cares about her faith I'm kidding no then you know maybe you have like a reflector something throwing some more light on her face or I never use reflectors either but maybe maybe split the difference you know if you're shooting raw you can pull back maybe a little bit of detail in the dress or you could dodger burn their face I mean there's all kind of ways to work with that andi you could also move move your subject thio more even lighting environment as well to help with some of that so good question okay so let me show you an example here again my son what do you know? Big surprise so here's a picture of him he laying on our bed and I'm shooting directly into big window so when the camera is looking at this and I again I'm not changing my metering mode so if you were in a spot metering mode this might be a this would be a situation where it would be helpful but I think mine's just in evaluative I mean I don't I never change it so whatever is in the result when I point the camera here is the image ends up being under exposed because all this bright light is screwing up the measurement so the cameras looking at this going off there's so much light you don't need tio have a lot of, you know, like a wide aperture or anything like that? Because there's so much light. So here's, what the setting of actually where so the meter was telling me this was a good combination of betty, right? And the settings I had at that moment were a shutter speed of one, three hundred twentieth I had an aperture of f to and I had an esso of sixteen hundred and the meter said, yeah, that looks good. And I said, no, damnit, right and so and this comes with experience. The more you practice in, the more you shoot in manual mode, the more you start to go, yeah, thanks for the little help meter, but I'm going to do it differently, so I know because I very often almost always backlight my subjects like this, so that means that the light is coming from behind them and I don't usually fill with the flash. So what I need to do is bright in the whole scene so that he is properly exposed, and then my backgrounds just disappear, which I like, I do that on purpose, so what ideo is re I re adjust my settings, and my meter is actually going to say light, right, light, right, it's going to be like, plus two like screaming at me. You're overexposing the senior, ruining everything, and I'm like, I know better than you meter is. Okay, so I changed my settings to brighten the scene, and I got this, and he was even smiling about it. He was like, yeah, mama that's, right, but better. So here's, what I did. So I was one, three hundred twentieth before on the shutter speed, so I didn't touch my aperture. I didn't touch my s o, I just slowed my shutter speed down, so I got more light through my slower shutter. Andan. The meter was freaking out, yelling at me, but he looks good, right? So that's, where it's really important to take test shots?