learning light metering

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by bherg, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. bherg

    bherg Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
    Location:
    sweden
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hello world,


    Do any of you have a good tip on a book for exposure metering? to learn it really good from the begining.

    I have tried to read the negative by ansel adams, but i feel the book is a bit to heavy for me.

    Are there a book that explains his book? :tongue:


    Cheers Johannes
     
  2. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,571
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Tonopah Neva
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    2 that I found useful when I crossed that bridge are Using the View Camera by Steve Simmons and a little book by Fred Picker that I think was called Zone VI Workshop with Fred Picker or something like that. Also Fred Picker had a book of example photos where he talks about how he decided to place the values in each one. Stuff like that can be really useful.
     
  3. Helen B

    Helen B Member

    Messages:
    1,557
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Hell's Kitch
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There's a book called "Perfect Exposure" by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz which covers the subject quite well. Roger is, of course, a member of APUG but he's far too shy and modest to promote one of his own books.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  4. bherg

    bherg Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
    Location:
    sweden
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    how do i purchase theese books?


    cheers Johannes
     
  5. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    2,611
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, N.Y.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Try Amazon.com

    Maybe Roger can sell his books from home?
     
  6. Sjixxxy

    Sjixxxy Member

    Messages:
    395
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2004
    Location:
    Zenith City,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I just ordered the Zone VI book for $0.86 and was excited to see it arrive today. Then I opened the package and the wrong order got shipped. :sad: Drat.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Alas, no. Postage and packing (to say nothing of storage and the fact that if I am away, the order could sit for weeks) make this infeasible.

    And Helen: thanks for the plug. 'Quite well' from you is praise equivalent to 'superbly' from some other people.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com -- where there is a little more about the book, plus, in the Photo School, some modules on exposure)
     
  8. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    Messages:
    2,099
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the guy is finding Adams' book a bit heavy - then I don't think Picker's the ticket, exactly. I'll tell you what - I'll give you my 2 cents on light metering (all you need to know in my opinion) - and it should be more than enough to get you going and making confident exposures. Others can choose to disagree with me if they wish. I don't mean to usurp any book sales here - but honestly - I think this is at least, in part what this community should be about. Sharing.

    Here goes.

    I'll give you the lowdown on the two basic types of light metering, that are, in my opinion, the most useful. Incident, and Reflected.

    Incident metering is generally the better way to go (IMO) if you don't want to clutter your head with numbers and other issues. What you are in fact measuring is the level of Illumination of a given scene. It won't work so well for very distant scenes (since it requires taking a measurement AT the subject), and assumes that the level of illumination is relatively constant. Stand where your subject is - and point the meter (make sure it's in incident mode - usually requiring fitting an incident dome attachment over the ligtht sensitive cell) DIRECTLY at the camera. The critical thing for this type of metering is making sure that the 'direction' of the meter is roughly parallel with the axis of the lens. This will give you a general measurement for the illumination of the 'scene' and will automatically compensate for shadow, highlight and dark/light colored surfaces. Something that reflected metering will not. In situations of mixed lighting, where you have objects of interest in deep shadow and also brilliantly lit areas - it's not such a bad idea to do TWO readings - one in the bright area, and one in the shadows - and take an average between the two.

    Reflected metering gives you the average of light reflected FROM the scene, and since the meter is not equipped with a MIND - that means it doesn't know the difference between a bright object in low illumination or a dark object in brighter illumination. Many people use something called a 'grey card' - which is a calibrated neutral grey tone (18% reflectance usually) that will give you an average value of reflectance of the light falling on that scene. This is physically done by pointing your meter (again - keeping the axis parallel with the lens axis - but this time AWAY from the camera and toward the subject - try to keep the cell out of any glaring light if possible - shade it where you have to - it may otherwise give you a false reading).

    Where it starts getting COMPLICATED is when you take specific measurements of an area of the scene of an object of a certain tone/color under specific lighting. This is the basis for measurement with Adams' zone system and it's spinoffs. It sounds to me like you're just getting things rolling - I wouldn't worry about this until you were actually INTERESTED in it. In my opnion (many will disagree with me!) there's no practical reason in working this way - I would MUCH prefer concentrating on good subject matter, getting good light and trying not to spoil my film.

    EXPOSE FOR THE SHADOWS AND DEVELOP FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS!

    This is a classic credo in photography - and is actually somewhat profound, as all systems of exposure aim to do this very thing. Think about this expression. It will pay off.
     
  9. Helen B

    Helen B Member

    Messages:
    1,557
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Hell's Kitch
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Exactly. Maybe I should do a simultaneous translation of Helenspeak into American, for example, to better assist international comprehension.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,081
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format


    This is like the scene at the end of the second Bill and Ted movie where the televised concert is being watched by people all over the world who are all reacting enthusiastically.... Except for the British family who are applauding politely and saying ".. quite good.... quite good"


    Steve.
     
  11. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern, Aus
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    g'day bh, it don't gotta be roket sience

    think 18% grey, meter for a mid tone, then think about what the meter reading actually means in that particular case

    is your subject darker than mid tone?

    is it lighter than a mid tone?

    how do you want to record it?
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Sorry, Ray, disagree almost completely. NO film speed system is based on grey cards; a grey card is a Munsell mid-tone, not an subject average reflectivity; and spotting an 'equivalent mid tone' in the real world is difficult to the point of impossible. Also, it gives you no idea of your overall brightness range: how much brighter are your highlights, and how much darker are your shadows? A grey card can't tell you.

    What is much easier to to use incident light metering or limited area (preferably spot) metering of the highlights for slides and digital (where exposure is keyed to the highlights, which you don't want to 'blow' to a featureless white), and limited-area (ideally spot) metering of the shadows for negatives, colour or mono, to ensure you have enough shadow detail. This also ties your metering to the ISO film speed criteria.

    There's a free module in the Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com which explains all this in much greater detail.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  13. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hi Johannes

    Not sure what film type you are using - techniques differ, as detailed in Roger's book and in his post above. I bought this book when first starting to use a manual camera and found it very helpful indeed.

    There have been quite a few discussions here on APUG and thus the archives have some very informed content. The metering discussions are allied with the use of Neutral Density Graduated filters (especially for transparency film) and so you might want to search for this too.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern, Aus
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i don't actually disagree with you Roger but i did write 'think about it'

    and when you write metering of the shadows, then what, use that sugested exposure, or more, or less?

    i know mid grey/18% whatever is not 'real' but use the suggested exposure from any reflected reading and the camera will more or less convert that amount of light to a middish tone

    yes it is much easier to meter the light falling on the subject, but we have 'good' meters in our cameras, why not learn to use them
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Dear Ray,

    Sorry, I may have come across as more aggressive than I intended. A common problem in cyberspace.

    Your point about 'more or less, to a middish tone' is very well taken. Many people seek more precision in metering and exposure than exists or can exist.

    The trouble is, the cleverer a meter becomes, the harder it is to correct when it does go wrong. A broad-area reflected light meter is a very blunt instrument and gives optimum results 50 to 90 per cent of the time (depending on your subjects) but you soon learn what corrections to make. A simple through-lens meter, as on a Leica M-series, is cleverer and easier but still easy to correct for. A multi-sector meter will use a really clever algorithm and you never quite know when it will let you down, or how, or why.

    They could get around this incredibly easily with a 'B+W' metering mode (maximum weighting to the darkest metered point). But they don't. Odd.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  17. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,745
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Clyde Butcher once explained his exposure system to me - he looks over a scene, determines what object he wants to render as Zone V, then meters that object and sets his exposure accordingly.

    I don't like his traditional prints so much as prints - I think he too frequently gets blown out highlights and empty shadows from his method. But then shooting in the swamp in Florida is hard. There are lots of areas with very high SBRs and lots with very low SBRs and few with anything in between. I've chosen to try to learn to tame the SBRs - Clyde has chosen another path - and has certainly sold a hell of a lot more prints than me.
    juan
     
  18. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern, Aus
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hey Roger, not taken as aggresive, it is far to easy, and not intended, to upset on the net when expressing a strong opinion

    i sometimes think people on forums don't actually want strong opinions, they want to hear what they already believe

    so Juan, do i understand correctly that zone 5 is mid tone?

    if so, this is much like my method of determining exposure

    what are SBRs?
     
  19. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    To borrow the perceived antipodean vernacular, too bloody right, sport.

    My guess on SBR: Subject Brightness Range (or Ratio)

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  20. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern, Aus
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    yep
     
  21. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Juan

    This method may be fine with experience, but doesn't really help Johannes or others new to the process of manual metering get started.

    All
    This subject is so vast and flexible that despite best intentions, I feel that each chipping in here will not ultimately be helpful. I believe that use of a number of well chosen and varied example images with notification about SBR, metered values etc is necessary - the sort of thing one would find in a well written book! Agree that the Ansel Adams book is quite heavy going, but not the heaviest. The danger of making it too lightweight is that you will incorrectly meter and thus miss that once in a lifetime image!

    When helping lead Photographic workshops, this subject causes the biggest headaches - but sound metering technique is integral to powerful image making. It is not just controlling the SBR (brightness range) through ND filters or double capture for those using Digital cameras, but making an informed choice about where to place the mid-tone......
     
  22. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    Eastern, Aus
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    so Baxter, post an image or two

    for now, check out the attached

    by metered off, i mean fill the frame with the selected mid tone, and use the suggested exposure

    the camera will reproduce the mid tone as a mid tone, any tone lighter will be reproduced lighter, and any tone darker will be reproduced darker
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2007
  23. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Ray

    I regularly post images in the APUG galleries in both colour and B+W and provide plenty of info/data especially regarding filtration.

    I do not have time to fully annotate a range of images adequately - which is why I am advocating resorting to well written text books.
     
  24. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    Messages:
    2,099
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Baxter - I'm not sure if I'm the only one who agrees with you in this... but I spend a good hour or so of my time writing out what I thought was a pretty decent description of how to do quality light metering without the zone system or any such thing on the first page. I was wondering if you'd have a quick look and see if you'd agree. I'd like to get this guy past any of the 'inessentials' and off to the races here.
     
  25. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hi Sparky

    This is the danger of web forums - it takes a minute to ask a question and then others out of the kindness of their hearts spend many multiples of this trying to provide answers, exaccerbated by the limitations of keyboard rather than being able to draw and explain as you go. My original post was trying to get Johannes to search the archives where I know the info has been done before saving us all time -

    Your post will certainly get Johannes going, assuming that he is using B+W or Colour neg film. For transparency and more precise B+W then consideration of SBR is essential. Lack of info about film type and type of metering being used in the original post hasn't helped matters. This is such a dynamic subject with so many variables that I do not feel it sensible to expend more time on it.
     
  26. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,745
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ray - Zone V is mid-tone. SBR stands for subject brightness range.

    Yes, that's possibly a bit advanced for this thread.

    But I posted to point out that a very famous, successful photographer uses his meter in a very simple way. He simply picks out what he wants to render as mid-tone, meters that object, then sets his exposure to match. That's as good a way as any to begin.
    juan