I usually spot meter the part of the sky where I want to see color, meter the shadow where I'd like to see detail, and meter the brightest part of the sky other than the sun itself, and decide what I'm willing to sacrifice. The part of the sky where I want to see some color has to be close to the middle, and then if I'm shooting slide film, there can be a half stop either way that is potentially a "correct" exposure, but might change the emphasis. So I use all that information to decide where and how to bracket. If the horizon and lens I'm using might lend itself to using an ND grad, I add that possibility to the mix.
I took this picture last month at a sunrise photography outing. I measured the shadows on the rocks and place them on zone 3 (closed aperture 2 stops from what the meter indicated). I also measured the area above the sun that I need to be on zone 7 and figured there was a 4 stop difference. It means my highlights will go on zone 8 if I don't cut the developing time.
Conclusion is that I have to develop my film for N-1 (about 30% less than manufacturer time going by my personal exposure index). I know this sounds technical for the first time but I recommend that you read about the zone system and how to determine your personal exposure index + developing time for the equipment and film combo that you use most. The more you work the more you will understand.
I tend to meter just of to the left or right of the sun.
Thank you all for the quick reply. Firstly spot metering is out because i dont have a spot meter. I think at this point in time i like the quick point straight up method and hopefully that would be about 18% grey and at the same time bracket my shots and see how it goes.
One more question that keeps bugging me is when i use reflective metering, when should i compensate? I know for very dark or bright scenes i compensate but how dark is dark and how bright is bright. Take for example if my kids are playing in a beach and sun is going down, obviously they will all be quite dark looking because of the shadows etc. Now if i point the meter at them do i need to underexpose my shot or else they would be overexpose? Because as i understand the meter will average an 18% grey which means they will look brighter than they should therefore i should compensate. Am i correct? Or is this particular scene example not dark enough?
If the sun is not in the frame and you want to catch the beauty of the sky at sunset you just meter the scene directly and the scene will be rendered correctly. That means that everything which is not the sky will be rendered as a silhouette and you can exploit this if the shape is recognisable (a tree, a cactus, a windmill etc).
An example by yours truly, metering the sky "as-is":
You should first ask us where the sun is in relation to your kids. If the sun is behind them, as it seems as you mean your kids would be "dark looking", well, you should move the sun in front of the kids* for decent results unless you are thinking about special effect (sun behind making the hair "glow" but then you should probably "fill" with flash etc.).
Originally Posted by mingaun
If for any reason (such as strong sun and you don't want them to "squint") you wanted to take a picture of the kids with the sun behind them, then you could do the following:
- "Tabular exposure": with 100 ISO shade is EV 12. You cannot go much wrong if the sun is still around 20° above the horizon;
- Use of reflected light meter: meter the palm of your hand in the same shade of your kids' face, and open 1 stop.
- (best) Measure of incident light. You don't need to go near your children, there are no trees on a beach, you just turn yourself and measure incident light at your kids' face height (to keep account of light reflected by the sand) and that's the measure.
The ordinary considerations apply regarding negative film to be so forgiving that tabular exposure would most probably work very well.
* It is probably easier if you rotate the kids and place yourself between kids and sun.
Measure the area below the sun.
Use a flash on the kids.
And that was a nice sunset shot.
Metering from the palm seems like a good method. All i need to do is just point the reflected meter on my palm and make sure no shadow falls on it. I am a fair Chinese man and does that mean i still need to open 1 stop?
Yes. The colour of our skin doesn't make much difference as our palms are all similarly reflective. Weston meters have a pointer (marked 'C' I think) specifically for palm measurements.
Originally Posted by mingaun
I like this method. Will definitely try it out.
I actually miss a little of the good digital days where i can have instant feedback from the LCD screen. Ooops...i said the forbidden word.
I am going in a short beach trip tomorrow and i am only bringing my film camera. This is the first time going on a holiday with no digital camera. I want to use this as a stepping stone to see if i can survive with film in my more important Canada trip this August. I cant tell you how stress i am. My family members expect me to still take those nice family shots of the kids etc. At this point in time i cant even manual focus on the kids. They are almost impossible to take!! And now suddenly i worry about exposure which never cross my mind before.
Sorry for the rant .... but all these for the love of film.
Great picture. Really like it. If i gather correctly the only way i can meter your method is with a spot meter which at the moment i dont have. But thanks for the advice.
Originally Posted by naeroscatu