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Mastering Your Digital Camera

Lesson 24 of 51

The Light Meter

Chris Weston

Mastering Your Digital Camera

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

24. The Light Meter
White and black confuse the camera's built-in light meter. Compensate for the camera's confusion using a tool called exposure compensation to tweak the exposure.


Lesson Info

The Light Meter

or light meters have a common problem. They can't tell the difference between black and white. In other words, they cannot distinguish toes. The meters are calibrated to see the entire world is medium tone. Great. What that means is they will accurately expose a medium tone subject, such as a green leaf. But what about a swamp? In bright light, the white feathers of a swan two stops lighter the medium, but because the camera has been calibrated to see the entire world is medium grey. Unless you make a change, this one will come out gray in your photograph. Now to get from white to medium grey, the cameras taking away two stops of light where it's under exposing by two stops to get back again from medium great white or you have to do is tell the camera not to take that light away. And you do that using exposure compensation. White is two stops lighter than medium grey, so if I set plus two exposure compensation, my swan will come out looking white. The opposite applies to subject a dark...

er than medium tongue for dark tone subject. The camera's going to try and add light to make them lighter, so I have to do the opposite. I tell the camera, not add that light and gained with exposure compensation. I'd put minus one for dark grey or minus two for black. Let's try and make sure that this black swan comes out looking black. I would set minus two exposure compensation, so the light meter will give you a meter reading for a medium tone subject. It will under expose light tones and over exposed dark tones, all you have to do is ask yourself The question is the subject I'm photographing medium tone. Was it lighter or darker than medium tongue? If his medium tone, you can use the cameras meter reading, but it is lighter or darker than you have to make an adjustment using the exposure compensation. Of course, all this assumes you know how to read tonality. That is a skill in itself.

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!