I shoot color chromes (usually Velvia 50) which allow a smaller degree of error than negative film most of you shoot. I use a light meter and bracket as well. I"m often right with the first shot but I'm conservative so I bracket. I shoot MF 120 film so the cost is relatively cheap. Since I often shoot late or early in the day when light changes pretty quickly or when weather conditions are changing and I can be easily fooled, the meter is indespensible. For me. I use a Minolta IIIf but keep a small selenium in the case for when the batteries for the Minolta fail (or even if the meter fails totally as just happened recently).
When i shoot with my Nikon FA i usually try to make good use of the first two shots for which the meter does not work. I go with my gut feeling and once the meter goes live on frame 1 i shoot exactly the same scene and for 90% of the time im spot on. Its not a calculated and methodical approach but rather one where I trust my instincts. If i start to question my ability I start to get muddled up and my predictions are way off. So yes i think its possible. Like with anything, experience is an irreplaceable friend.
This thread comes to mind...
The link to the video appears to be dead/expired... but from my recollection of the interview... Dougas Slocombe had the experience and talent to know the light and could tell the cameraman what aperture was required without using a meter.
Now I admire him for having developed that talent over a lifetime of achievement. But I don't plan to dedicate myself to acquiring that talent for myself. I plan instead to use light meters when needed, and use my somewhat less-developed talent for judging light... to double-check the meter.
For example, I'll guess in advance what shutter and f/stop might be required... and I'll set the camera to my guess in advance. Then I'll take meter readings and set the camera correctly.
What is 'fun' is using a meter to determine one's exposure time -- say 15 minutes, then realize one forgot a watch or any other timing devise! Counting one anseladams, two anseladams, etc for 15 minutes is a bit tedious. I usually count up to a minute, set a rock or stick down, then count another minute. Generally my counting is a little on the slow side -- but that never hurts the neg quality at all.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
I frequently evaluate the light intensity without a meter, but rarely stop there.
I use the results of that evaluation as a check on what my meters tell me, and to inform my exposure decisions.
It helps me ensure that I think about my choices.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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A good meter will give you luminance readings from your subject. Even a regular spot meter can give you that, if you set ISO to 64 and f/ stop to 8, the resulting shutter speed is the reciprocal of the luminance expressed in c/ft2. Having good quantified readings, you can then interpret the results for your placements and vision.
Originally Posted by David Lyga
Placing a value at meter or x stops over/under is not really correcting your meter, it's a value judgement based on individual visions.
Your meter doesn't need to know how dark or light it should be, it's giving you an approximately 18% reference value. At least in the nominal, basic gray placement.
The real need for exact placement in most situations is IMO typically overstated. It truly depends on the film choice, subject in play, and self imposed constraints.
Originally Posted by erikg
Surely if Provia or Vlevia or similar film is used and it is going to be projected then there is very little tolerance for exposure errors and if needed to get proper subject placement within the frame one must use artificial lighting or posing or creative composition or some such thing to manage where things fall.
With negatives exact can be important if like Vaughn you are deep in the forest and have an SBR of 12 stops or some such long scale subject that may use up the whole range a negative can catch.
Those are both special cases rather than the norm.
When shooting more "normal" SBRs with negative film exact placement becomes mostly a convenience to say, save a little work in the darkroom, rather than a physical necessity.
Shooting to be exact with the camera is not without it's own cost, it requires more thought and time and effort.
When I'm just out and about with a camera I typically carry my camera set for the darkest situation I'll be in, then if something happens fast all i need to think about is focusing and composing. This type of work means I work harder when printing.
My other extreme is a studio setup, here exact matters to me. From studio setup I expect to set the enlarger once for all the work done during that whole session and not to have to do any burning and dodging. This means I work harder when I'm shooting.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
If it were so easy, light meters would never have been invented.
Maybe there are people that have "absolute luminance judgment" in the way that some musicians have perfect pitch, but if the phenomenon is as rare among photographers as perfect pitch is among musicians, light meters are not going to go away anytime soon.
I'll estimate using sunny-sixteen or even a know luminance in a pinch, but I really prefer to use my spot meter.
Same here. Using my meter gives me a starting point, and a reference for the future.
Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder
I've posted these before in various places:
Average indoor lighting--enough to read by--is remarkably consistent: f:2.0 at 1/30 sec., EI 400. Open up a stop for medium-low light or maybe even three for dark spaces like bars, and stage lighting is something else entirely.
Most floodlit buildings at night are about f:2.0 at 1/4 sec., EI 400.
Outdoors on a sunny day, open shade is about two stops darker than direct sunlight--but these are the old rules on the film box--f:22 at 1/ISO for a sunny day at the beach or in the snow, f:16 in a regular scene, and so on.