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Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods

Lesson 13 from: Photography 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods

Lesson 13 from: Photography 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

13. Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods


Class Trailer



The Camera is Simply a Tool


How Does a Camera Work?


How to Adjust Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO


Exposure Triangle


What is a Stop of Light


Reading Exposure Via the Histogram


Blown Highlights or Clipped Details


White Balance & Color Temperature


No Such Thing as the Correct Exposure


How To Measure or Meter Light


8 Key Points to Understanding ISO and Image Quality


Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods


How to Get Perfect Exposures in One Shot


Equivalent Exposure but Different Images


Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes


Starting with Automated Modes


Auto Mode and Flash-Off Mode


Portrait Mode on a Fashion Shoot


Landscape Mode on the Beach


Sports or Action Mode


Macro Mode with Food Photography


Creative Effects Mode - Floral Photography


In-Camera Processing


A Glimpse into RAW Processing


15 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing


3 Primary Types of Autofocus


Single Shot with Portrait Session


Single Shot with Action Shots


AI Servo with Action Shots


Focus Recomposing vs. AF Point Selection


Shutter Speed and the Reciprocal Rule


How to Hold a Camera and Panning Tutorial


What Makes a Great Photograph?


How to Capture Candid Moments


How to Find the Right Light Direction


5 Basic Compositional Theories


The Power of Cropping


Color Schemes


Diving into the Narrative


If It’s Not Working With, It’s Probably Working Against


More About Your Camera and Lenses


Understanding Megapixels


Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras


Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras Demonstration


Prime vs. Zoom Lens


How the Lens Affects Composition


Dynamic Range and RAW vs. JPEG


5 Tips on Memory Cards


10 Tips on Buying Gear




The Good Karma Jar


Posing and Action Shots with Female Model


Posing and Lighting with Female Model


Posing and Lighting Couples Portraits


Lesson Info

Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods

We've talked about how to read and adjuster settings based on the light meter, but what exactly is the light meter using to get it's reading and this is where we jump into meat oring modes the meeting mode is essentially what the camera is looking at in the scene to give you a certain reading on that light meter now one of the modes is known as basically averaging okay so averaging is where the camera takes all of the bright and dark values of a scene and just imagine that scene is being presented to say black and white it takes the brightest values it takes the darkest values and averages everything together now based on say, the majority of images that are captured camera makers have come out to say essentially a scene on average should be some around eighteen percent gray if we balance out all the whites and all the blacks we get somewhere to that little middle grey point this is what the camera when averaging considers is a technically correct exposure now the problem and that is t...

hat if you're shooting a scene as very bright say on the beach it's going to give you a very right reading the camera might tell you that it's over exposed when in reality you're just shooting a bright scene likewise if you're shooting a dark scene say someone that's wearing a dark suit well the suit itself is darker than eighteen percent gray and so again, the camera's going to give you a funky reading is going to say that it's under exposed when in reality, it's just a dark suit. So this is what averaging is doing is taking everything in the scene and just averaging it together to figure out whether the scene is correctly exposed. If it is, we know that our light meter pops right into that zero point or right where that middle arrow is in the center of the light meter. Another way of meeting is basically partial meeting and partial meeting essentially is going too well. Take a certain partial area of our scene and it's only going to consider the overall explosion that one little area now partial meeting could be, say spot meter, in which we've used a lot and spot metering is just using that tiny center point that small three to four five percent area of the image and every camera maker it does vary a little bit, but it only reads the exposure off that tiny little area. So whatever that spot meter is over at the that's, where the reading is going to come from if the spot meters over a bright area that's what it's going to be if it's over skin, which we've been using a lot? Well, you're meeting then over skin. So partial metering is on ly metering off of one small area some cameras do allow you to actually move the area based on the auto focus point some cameras don't the rebel does not actually mike finding mark three doesn't either I think it's always centered based on that center a half point when you're using the spot meter okay so we have averaging and we have a partial meeting what about the next that third primary way of meeting? Well we call it basically a multi zone metering system and this is essentially where the camera itself will break apart in entire scene it might break it into four pieces and might be sixteen pieces it could be thousands of pieces but this is known as evaluative or matrix metering on different cameras and what it's doing is it's breaking the scene up in all these different zones is running this complex algorithm that is essentially based on every single camera itself so we don't really know what it's doing canon cameras they do a certain thing rebels are I'm sorry so many cameras they do certain things icons do a certain thing panasonic the certain thing all of these evaluative or zone metering systems are all different depending on the manufacturer because of that we really don't know what they're doing now oftentimes they get the right exposure but oftentimes they don't in particular when you're basically using a type of scene in your composing your scene with saying off center type composition it doesn't expect that, so the zone metering systems are little bit kind of difficult to use. I'd recommend using our at least avoiding them for the most part, the reason is that with these different zone or multi zone type meeting systems, we don't know what it's doing. You'll never understand exactly what the cameras doing because these are all proprietary for each camera maker and each brand. Okay, so what we would stick to typically is going to be some sort of averaging or partial meeting system, and I'm going to show you now kind of the in between. So let's, go ahead and I'm gonna bring up my little dialogue here on the back of this I'm gonna cue to bring it up and we can hit this little meeting. But I love touchscreens. I'm gonna go ahead and take it and get it all grubby with my grubby fingers. So right now it's an evaluative now this is that multi zone meeting system for cannon. They refer to his evaluative nikon called there's matrix. Everybody called it something different. Next we have partial meeting on this camera now this is basically going to give us a select area it's only gonna read light from that area, but typically again, because I don't know exactly where it's reading I'd prefer something like the spot meter, which is gonna be the next one, so let's, go ahead and go to the spot meter with the spot meter it's on ly using that very specific center area that three to five percent area and this makes it absolutely beautiful for, say, meeting skin tones on a portrait for meetings, the sky or anything in particular, okay, and then finally let me go and bring that back up again. We have center weighted average now, it's kind of a mixture sent away to averages one wave kind of said, is really in between one we're using averaging where it's based going average out the entire scene, but center waited means that is going to give mohr preference or more weight to the center area. The image so it's kind of like mixing partial and averaging. Now the two that I use most when I'm shooting is basically spot metering. If I'm shooting a scene where I have complete control over the scene, like, for example, this one I always do spot metering because it allows me to dial in the meeting mode and get the perfect exposure exactly where I want it in one try. If I'm shooting say, on the gulf I'm shooting in journalistic situations where I don't have control then I'm typically using center weighted average because I know in a journalistic situation typically my subjects are going to be close to or in around that center area the frame and so that's what I want to give that media ring kind of a little bit of extra weight there okay, so those are the two that I use the most now when you're in manual mode, this is really important remember when you're in manual mode, the meeting mode is simply telling you the light reading so let's go ahead and do this I'm gonna go ahead and select my spot meter and uh let's go back to hear select spot and what I'm gonna do is bring this spot right over the center area so let's, bring up our view finder andi, I'm gonna go ahead and doing a movie motew okay, so I'm gonna move this so her skin tones are basically right over the centre of the image and generally when I'm spot meaning I do like to get a little bit closer than this gonna go on record this to make sure my auto focus is off and let's go ahead and get a zoom and just I can get a correct focus here, so I'm gonna zoom in, get the right focus, okay perfect. I wouldn't even hear. Stay still. Okay, I'm gonna get this all ready to go. Perfect. Okay, so right now, basically, if I bring up this meter and tells me that it's a little bit on the overexpose side that's because it's on ly meet a ring on her skin and that's exactly where I wanted to be. If I'm nearing for skin generally for someone that's fair skin like whitney, we typically would want it to be a little bit over exposing her between two third toe one stop over exposed now, as I bring this down. Okay, so if I slow it down, you'll see that again, it gets brighter. We can see certain areas in the background actually completely blowing out. But since the spot metering is just over her skin it's on ly giving us a reading on that skin tone area now, let's, say, if I go ahead and, uh, bring it down, gonna go ahead and go the other way, okay? So right now, the background I'm going to say that at one one thousandth of a second the background is actually correctly exposed. It's it's not blowing out it's not being clipped. But her skin tones are underexposed and that's. The exact reading that has given me its showing me, their skin tone is under so spot metering is a wonderful tool when it comes to gauging a reading directly on a particular area that you're shooting. Okay, so I'm gonna take the camera off the tripod here, let's, go ahead and I'm going to switch this now. Let's, go back, teo, just regular camera mode. I'm going to go on a spot metering and I'm gonna use after priority. Okay, so I set the after too uh too that's. Why I wanted to be its one hundred now, because I'm in this mode, the meeting mode that I select is what the camera's going to use to actually adjust the shutter speed. This is where it gets dangerous if you're using spot metering and you're shooting in a journalistic site situation, I'm just moving around and shooting wherever that spot meter is it's gonna adjust the settings accordingly so I'm gonna take one shot here. I'm just gonna back up a little bit and is primarily over her dress and her dress is white. So again, it kind of wigs out a little bit caesar dress being white remember that a minute ago we were shooting with around one, five hundred a second for our shutter speed instead, because the dress was white, the camera overcompensated it darkened it down. Tto one, sixteen hundred with second. Okay, so it under exposed. Now watch this if I step in and let's say that I shoot well let's see if I go for a hair let's say for some reason I meet her directly over her hair. Okay, we're gonna go with kind of this close up shot with just one eye actual let's go both eyes there ago crop right there. Okay, now what the camera does? Is it basically meters for the hair and when? When it meters for the hair. Because the hair is dark it goes for one one twenty three the second or one one sixteenth of a second. We get this super blown out image. This is the danger of spot metering depending on where that meter is in the scene when you're moving around and kind of shooting and journalistically it's gonna adjust the exposure that's why? When we're using assisted mode, I would highly recommend you stick with basically amore essentially general mita remote and that the one that we used his center weighted average for cannon cam this case, I'm going to do that now I'm gonna go ahead and switch back teo center weighted average remember this mode is basically going average the scene but it's going place emphasis on the center area now let me do that exact same thing I just did so with this on center weighted average now we're gonna go ahead and take that same shot the first shot it did a better job this time I went down the one one thousandth of a second remember that it's averaging it sees a lot of bright stuff in the background and so therefore it's averaging and kind of darkness exposure to bring that bright stuff in the background down but if I go in closer now and I use let's say again that same shot up close this time it went with one, four hundred a second which is exactly where he wanted to be so this is what I mean that meeting mode when you're in these assisted or automated modes are extremely important stick with something is going to be a little bit more general a little bit safer for us that's the centre weighted average because in general center weighted average when using this system modes will give you a usable image now of course for this scene well I want to go ahead and uh get a couple more shots here we've been shooting here a little bit but I want to get some more shots so what I'm gonna do is let me switch out I'm going out to an eighty five before I do that let me go back to spot metering I'm also gonna flip back into manual spot meter directed offer skin and I'm just going to bring this down right to your skin I'm gonna get close and again I wanted to be a little bit overexposed I'm going to go with one, five hundred a second which takes me to around two thirds over exposed on her skin and that's perfect right about there and now all I gotta do is just bring in my fuel light and we're solid we're going to shoot the scene a little more get a couple more variation in the shots and they were going to move forward all right guys so that is spot metering hopefully that all makes sense to y'all we got a bunch of great shots in this scene and with every adjustment that we made we just spot meter for the skin and we shot with it in manual mode and that's a beautiful part about shooting in manual with spot metering you get the first shot on the first try or you get the perfect shot on the first try and then it stays consistent throughout the entire scene so I want you all to go out and practice these different metering modes, learn them, understand them and remember that when it comes to meet a ring well we have two favorites whenever shooting manual generally will always be spot metering unless we're shooting journalistically and manual situations where I might use center weighted average. If you're using any of the assistant modes, I highly recommend staying away from spot meter, because it's going to change the exposure with every single shot based on whatever your spot meters over for those situations again, I would recommend using center weighted average or whatever. The equivalent is in your camera. That's over this video. It's, head on to the next one now.

Ratings and Reviews


I watched this class "live" and was simply amazed at the amount of information Pye covered. Yes, he talks a little fast, and since I was streaming the class I couldn't stop it to review anything, but this guy really knows his stuff and explains it very well so I absorbed quite a bit. Bye is enthusiastic, clearly enjoys his craft, and delivers excellent information to students in a light heartedI and fun way. I think some reviewers are a bit harsh about his humor. Lighten up, people! His examples and the additional information his co-host provides are very worthwhile and you can tell the course was well thought out. I plan to buy the class to help me get back into DSLR photography.


I really enjoyed this class. I am not a beginner, but there were still things I learned here that I found helpful. I really enjoy learning from Pye. He is quick, gets to the point and doesn't spend a lot of time going over and over the same point. There is a wide variety of things that he covers, so really something for everyone. I would recommend purchasing this class if you want to understand your camera better, improve your technique and start taking better photos.

Joy Bobrink

I have tried to learn photography myself via the internet / YouTube but always felt like I was missing something in my foundation. Sure I can zero out my meter...but why? How do I know the settings I've selected are the correct ones? I've been circling this drain for a year until this course. WOW! Pye has SO MUCH information in every video. He doesn't just stand in a classroom and talk, he's out in the field actually putting his settings into his camera, talking about why and why not and then shooting. He's hands on the entire course. You don't just hear him, you see exactly what he's doing! I'm a visual / listening learner and this is my eureka moment! Thank you Pye! Watching the Exposure video and how you changed the settings yet maintained the exact same exposure was mind blowing. Awesome course! I would recommend this to anyone new to photography or anyone that feels like they don't have all the info.

Student Work