light meter

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by STEVEP51, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. STEVEP51

    STEVEP51 Member

    Messages:
    26
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Location:
    LONDON
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    HI GUYS when i shoot landscapes where do i point the light meter some landscapes can be in the distance and cant physcally take a reading all so do i use the white cone i use a sektronic meter and a6x7 M/F camera which im learning to use before i go to the usa please can you help MANY THANKS STEVE.
     
  2. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,000
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ogden, Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    if you are using an invercone or some other device for an incident meter reading go stand out in front of the camera and point the cone at your lens and take a reading. You may want to modify the resulting reading if the distant scene is fairly dark, or fairly light...this is where bracketing helps a lot, by half-stops up and down.

    For a reflected reading, point it down at the ground, not at the sky, which is a lot brighter. Green grass is pretty close to an 18 percent gray. The advice on bracketing applies for this method too.
     
  3. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    No! Greenery (and landscapes in general) is pretty dark. That's why many people speak of "Sunny 11" instead of "Sunny 16". If you don't believe me, don't argue, just try with a light meter that allows both incident and reflected measurements. If the subject is a lanscape, the exposure from reflected measurement will be approx. 1 stop more than from incident (looking at light same as scene, i.e. opposite direction compared with reflected measurement).
     
  4. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

    Messages:
    568
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Location:
    Durban, Sout
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi Steve

    The white cone is used for incident measurements. That means that you are measuring the amount of light falling on the subject. This is done by standing at the subject and pointing the white cone at the camera.

    When you can't stand at the subject - for example, when shooting a distant landscape - you can measure the light reflected from the subject that arrives at the camera. To do this, you don't use the white cone - typically, you can either slide it away or physically remove it from the sensor. Then stand where the camera is and point the sensor towards the subject. It is usually a good idea to point it down a bit so you don't get too much light from the sky affecting the reading (unless of course the sky is the principal subject). Sky is typically brighter than the landscape, so measuring the sky brightness will result in under-exposure of the landscape, which is difficult to recover. Conversely, exposing for the landscape will result in over-exposure of the sky but this can often be recovered by burning-in the sky when printing (or by using a graduated ND filter when taking the photo).

    Alternatively, if you are confident that the light falling on a distant landscape is the same as the light falling where you are then you can measure incident light at your location (using the white cone, standing away from any obstructions and pointing the meter in the same direction it would be pointed if you were standing at the subject and pointing it back towards the camera) and then use this reading.

    Andrew
     
  5. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,331
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Geelong/Richmond Vic AU
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What other respondents have described here is correct.

    However, a much more accurate method is to spot meter distant scenes, very especially when there is mixed light (bright light, shadows, shifting light). Incident/reflective readings assume an overall average value of luminance across the scene, and this is the problem — such scenes I mentioned are not average in their distribution: there will be reflections, shadows, light areas, poorly defined areas...all have their own values.

    I do, strongly, advocate photographers diversify their metering regime and not rely solely on incident readings from afar. This cannot be emphasised enough in saving people from potentially disastrous results using transparency film in lighting conditions that can vary from marginal to extreme.
     
  6. STEVEP51

    STEVEP51 Member

    Messages:
    26
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Location:
    LONDON
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    thank you guys very helpfull where would i be without you guys i learn more from you guys then the books i read.steve
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,740
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  8. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey .
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I was messing around with Light Meter Tools, an app for my samsung galaxy s4 Android op system. My Minolta IIIf light meter just broke. Bernard is right about that the reflected reading requires one stop more even with gray card. I was surprised figuring it would be the same. Is this the app or do your meters work the same way.

    When I shoot landscape I usually bracket one stop click for negative and a half stop click for positive film in any case.
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,740
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I believe Adams had essentially the same observation you do. Gray cards don't necessarily get you a direct reading match to the middle gray or zone V that anybody might want, nor to an incident meter.

    Reference cards of any color or shade, camera bags, blue jeans, whatever we choose to use, have to be placed or held at a proper angle and in the proper light and spot metered well to get close. Needing an offset from the spot/reflected meter reading to get camera setting is the norm even with a gray card.
     
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,305
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    yessteve, get a good spotmeter before you gothe digital pentax is my fovorite. AAused it, so ,it is good enough for me.
     
  11. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Location:
    Bavaria, Ger
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I love my spot meter. It does 1 degree, so any reasonable area can be measured. As long as you're on your camera's axis, your readings will give you what you need to determine your exposure. My meter is a newer Gossen Starlite 2, but any decent spot meter will give you what you need.

    I've been trying to find an affordable SEI, which is nearly impossible. I have a couple older Gossens from the 60's and they're almost identical in the readings to the new spot mteter, so age isn't too much of a factor.
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,811
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    You don't mention what type of film you are using, but incident readings may be more suited to transparency/reversal film and reflected readings for negative material. As to whether you spot meter and your decision to average, under or over expose, is impossible to say without seeing the subject/lighting conditions and knowing how you wish to interpret the image as a 2 dimensional photograph. Hope this helps a little.
     
  13. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,331
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Geelong/Richmond Vic AU
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would never use an incident reading for a distant landscape, irrespective of film. That's a choice learnt from lessons long ago. Everything is multi-spot metered, and that is the recommendation for landscapes where there is a clear difference in contrasts (shade, bright sun, or shadow, emerging sun) — very especially if you are using transparency film. Small errors in metering are inconsequential with B&W because of latitude, something which is not in abundance with E6.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,811
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I did say may be, but in general I beg to differ. Incident readings in general are more suited to the use of transparencies.
     
  16. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,112
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2013
    Location:
    St Louis
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Another (probably goofy) idea is to get a Nikon N80 (F80) for less money than most meters and use the matrix metering function and spot function if you like. I got a working camera for $6. They are just not that desirable. You'd need a lens of course, and it requires AF. Call it goofy, but they are small, lightweight and cheap! Obviously it wont work if you are expecting to use a lens with f64 or f.09 or something.
     
  17. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,331
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Geelong/Richmond Vic AU
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    No.
     
  18. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,811
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Yes.
     
  19. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,561
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This is sounding like two four year olds arguing...can either of you state precisely WHY you contend your side of the argument?!
     
  20. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

    Messages:
    356
    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Location:
    Bavaria, Ger
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I've never read anything bad about them. Having the 1/2 degree spot is an attractive feature, and from I've read, the range it can measure is greater than most of today's meters. That in itself is a boon for lower light levels, allowing one to shoot later into the evening. I like that it's sturdy and easy enough to hold on to while working, given the barrel shape. Unfortunately, even a broken one runs $300 when you can find it.

    Using my Starlite 2 is sweet, though. I use a process similar to what you mentioned to figure out the luminance values for my notes. Set at f/8, ISO 64, and the reciprocal of the shutter is my luminance, as you said. Once I know that, the math is simple enough.
     
  21. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,331
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Geelong/Richmond Vic AU
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Certainly, if people can benefit from education derived from 25 years of professional experience, a great deal of that taming anything from Kodachrome 25 to Velvia 50 (and a few other trophies).

    1. If you hold out an incident meter in an open landscape you are blithely assuming the scene is average, when it is not. Transparency film never sees, or records the scene, as average.

    2. A scene as an example, contains four to six areas of widely varying contrast. How does an incident meter determine the individual luminosity of these variations, their position in importance and balance them? No, we're not talking the Zone System.

    3. The scene contains areas of shadow, highlights and — oh goody — spectrals. Incident meter it. What did you miss?

    4. An incident meter has no means of knowing what it is looking at or what it is metering, and furthermore doesn't care. It's still going to interpret the scene as "average" because it does not have the ability to individually select and analyse critical parts of the scene. This is the fundamental mistake repeated by legions of photographers using transparency film. It's essential to understand NO scene can be considered average: neither with highlights, shadows, flat light, emergent light or spectrals. Certainly not with the limited span of latitude with transparency. Do what you want with B&W, you can correct it in the darkroom, but you won't be afforded that luxury otherwise.

    And now, the other side please for the benefit of those reading.

    Back to work.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2013
  22. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,811
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    When we look at pictures our eyes read the lighter areas more readily than the darker areas. We have all made those prints in the darkroom, that despite many test strips, we didn’t notice that white blob when making a final print. For this reason loss of shadow detail is more acceptable to the human eye than loss of highlight detail. On a print we can burn in and/or reduce contrast. With a transparency/slide it is not so easy to correct. Therefore a slightly dense transparency is more acceptable than one where light parts of the image are literally missing. Incident readings are less likely to give over exposed highlights. However, all pictures are subjective and I do respect your point of view.
     
  23. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,740
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not true.

    You are making assumptions about the user and the use of an incident meter without basis.

    All ANY meter does is provide a reference point with each reading. It is up to the user how to position the meter and interpret the results.

    ANY meter can be used well or poorly with results to match.

    I'd suggest that incident meters require less interpretation so for the grand majority of people, regardless of film type, they will typically provide better results.

    Spot meters are very handy but they are specialty tools that require special skill and experience. Reflective meters of all types require more interpretation, even an F6 Nikon with all the fancy algorithms gets fooled.
     
  24. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,561
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thank you both, Gary and Clive, for providing some reasons for your previous one word opinions of meter suitability.

    I tend to side more with Gary in the assessment that "An incident meter has no means of knowing what it is looking at or what it is metering, and furthermore doesn't care." For that reason, if we have bright highlights which would overexpose and wash out detail in the color transparency, we end up with clear base and no details. (The same exposure with color neg would be well tolerated due to it tolerance to overexposure.) Meter the same scene with a spotmeter, and I know precisely how to expose so that the highlights will be captured best on film, and avoid the clear detailess filmbase.

    If I shoot for publication, I use the one-degree spotmeter to measure highlights and deepest shadow, to decide placement of my exposure to best capture the full dynamic range of the scene and the midpoint of the range...and that might not match what the incident meter says. Futhurmore, the spotmeter allows me to determine if the lighting needs to reduce the dynamic range to fit within which is achievable on the printed page by the offset press; you can't do that with an incident meter.
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,196
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you take your incident reading in the light that is creating those highlights, the transparency film will most likely record detail, because that is what it its speed rating is designed to ensure. The only exception would be specular highlights, where there aren't any details anyways, or other extremely reflective surfaces.

    While it is true that the range of the transparency film is limited, an incident reading will generally ensure that your exposure is well centred on the range available in the subject. If necessary, when the range is too wide for the film's capabilities, you can decide to adjust the exposure to favor highlight detail at the expense of the shadows.

    Spot meters are excellent when used by those with experience and excellent specialized judgment. If you don't have a spot meter, or you don't have that experience or the specialized judgment, an incident meter will give you a much higher percentage of good exposures than other reflected light meters.
     
  26. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,740
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The ignorance of meters is universal. Spot meters have no idea about what they are being pointed at either.

    As with all things photographic, we each decide where to point our tools and we provide the context needed to make decisions about what to do with the reading. It's the nut behind the camera that makes it work, not the tool in his or her hand.

    Way back in time before incident meters got their domes a technique was developed to address the blown highlights problem on transparency film when shooting in high contrast situations, its called duplexing.

    Classic duplexing takes two readings: one with the meter pointed "back at the lens", essentially the same as is taught in incident meter manuals today, this reading is to find the "best" exposure for the main subject matter; the other reading is taken with meter pointed directly at the main light source, sun or whatever, this is to find the "best" setting for the highlights. These readings are then averaged, just as is normally done with shadow and highlight readings from a spot meter. (This model makes certain assumptions, like "the mid-tones and the highlights are what we want to protect". If shadows are more important than say mid tones just replace that reading with a different orientation of the meter head.)

    In both cases, averaged duplexed and averaged spot readings, a compromise is made. In high contrast lighting when using say Velvia, there is simply not enough film range to get all the highlights and all the shadow detail we might want. Something is going to be lost, both methods simply do their best to find the best balance.

    Side note. After incident meters got their domes duplexing for front lit and cross lit scenes became almost unnecessary, the final camera setting is normally the same. Duplexing does still have real value though when the subject is backlit.