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Mastering Your Digital Camera

Lesson 23 of 51

Metering Modes

Chris Weston

Mastering Your Digital Camera

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

23. Metering Modes
Determining exposure isn't guesswork -- the meter helps determine what settings create a balanced exposure. Metering modes determine how the camera's meter works and come in handy for tricky lighting scenarios.


Lesson Info

Metering Modes

So far, I've talked about setting exposure using lens aperture and shutter speed. But how do you calculate exposure? In other words, how do you know what is the right amount of light? Well, you have a tool in the camera to help you, and it's called the light meter. In fact, you have three of them, and although they do the same thing, they each do it in a different way. The default mode on most cameras is multi segment metering. Now. Different manufacturers call it by various names, but the process is the same. The meter takes light data from various areas of the viewfinder based on the cleverly designed matrix or grid. From this data, it forms a pattern, which it compares to a database of patterns taken from historic real life images. And it looks for a match. Imagine a policeman trying to match a set of fingerprints. The camera is doing much the same thing. Then, when it finds a match, it uses the historic exposure information to calculate the exposure for the current scene is a highl...

y sophisticated bit of technology. On most, the time is very accurate, but it does have a floor multi segment metering is designed to give you a meter reading that will record the subject almost exactly as you see it. But photography isn't about making records shots. It's a creative art, and sometimes you need a tool that lets your creativity flow. On. That tour is a spot meter now in spot metering mode, the light meter takes a reading from just a tiny portion. The viewfinder. Which part of the viewfinder depends on your specific camera but is usually linked to either the active A F sensor or the center one. This lets you be highly selective in choosing the area of the scene that you exposed for on. That's where creativity comes in. So let's see how this changes things. This image was taken with the camera set to multi segment metering. It's OK. It's a nice record short of the lighthouse, but that's about it. Here's the same scene. No photographed in spot metering mode is much more dramatic. So what did I do differently? What I've done here is using the spot meter in the camera. I've meet it off his bright areas sky in the background, knowing that the meter is going to ignore this banker shadows going up the lighthouse, causing them to under expose. And is that under exposure? That gives me my silhouette. So this is just one example of how the different metering modes help you move away from photographing straight record shots. Now the third meeting modus sent, awaited. In this mode, the meter divides the viewfinder into two areas, the center on the background, and it takes most of the reading about free quarters from the central portion. It doesn't ignore the background, but it prioritizes the light falling on the subject, which makes it ideal for portrait photography, because the set up mirrors the classic composition for portraiture with a model in the center of the frame. So it's important to choose a meeting mode that matches your vision for the subject on. Once you've done that, the next question is, what is the light meter actually telling you, Thief

Class Description


  • Set up your camera with confidence
  • Better understand shutter speed, aperture, and ISO
  • Capture perfect exposures in camera
  • Get sharp, focused images quickly
  • Understand white balance and the difference between RAW and JPEG
  • Quickly and confidently capture images “in the moment”
  • Become a better photographer by building an understanding of basic photography techniques


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course.

Turn terms like aperture, shutter speed and ISO from a bunch of obscure photography jargon to a toolset that you can easily manipulate to capture great photos. Led by landscape photographer Chris Weston, this class covers everything beginners need to know to master photography basics from exposure to focus.

Turn that camera dial off of auto and learn how to properly expose a photograph. With a few basic camera settings, get the most image quality and the best colors from your mirrorless or DSLR camera. Then, master focus modes and techniques for sharp photographs.

Learn the basics of photography in a series of short, memorable lessons. Chris' straight-forward teaching style is great for newbies that find the task of learning photography daunting, while the to-the-point lessons make it possible to spend just a few minutes a day mastering your camera with easy photography tips and techniques.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer that wants to get off automatic mode to shoot better photos


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


mark jacobson

What a marvelous course! What a marvelous teacher! When I went to college, my father would always ask me about my professors, more than the courses themselves. He was passionate about learning and although too busy with earning an income to go beyond an undergrad degree, continued to read 50 books a year. I still remember how he'd get almost visibly excited when I'd tell him about some special professor who taught with such enthusiasm and, more than just passion, evident delight and joy in the subject. 'Ah they're the best, son. How wonderful you have such a teacher." Well, he passed away decades ago but if he were still around I'd get a kick out of telling him about Chris Weston, the 'Prof' of this course. He's one of the very special ones: a teacher who's loved and lived his vocation--his avocation--since he was a boy--and still is as excited about it now as he was then. The result: a course that seems to be more a labor of love--of pouring far more energy and thought into the details then one typically finds in these courses--than anything else. Bravo Chris! I'm already on to your next one.


Chris is an amazing instructor who dissects theory giving amazing analogies that bring concepts to life. I have rarely been able to sit through most video course for more than a half-hour but watched this one from beginning to end. A good refresher course if you've been away from the camera for awhile or there are some concepts that still illude you. I highly recommend this course and look forward to watching his others. Thank you for the clarity and great explanations.

Sky Bergman

This was an amazing class. I have looked at a number of basic photography classes. This one was by far the best I have seen. Chris is an exceptional teacher. He breaks things down into digestible information and then inspires you to be creative. Thank you!