I have perfect pitch, but I still use a spot meter for all my photographs. Though I must admit I've never tried to determine my camera exposure without a meter, so maybe I actually can do it. An interesting experiment perhaps, but in the end I'd still never work without a meter. I don't have that kind of confidence. I sometimes test myself when focusing the enlarger and I am surprised at how accurate I am without a grain magnifier. I still always check with the grain magnifier though. Maybe we'd all be better off without our gadgets and gizmos. Who knows.
That said, it is one thing to use a meter and another to really understand what the meter is telling you (at least with a reflective meter).
We should also differentiate between light meters and exposure meters.
Of course, Michael, one MUST understand that meter's parameters and its 'lack of sentience'. It has no feel for subject matter; that missing link has to be gotten from your brain.
A really good exercise to adopt that wastes no film is to practice guessing at proper exposure and then meter that scene to see if you are correct. Obviously, you have to make the adjustment for the meter's 'neutral' reading (if that scene is not so 'neutral') and come up with a FINAL evaluation as to proper EV. And an aid in this regard is to start thinking in terms of EVs, not standardized shutter speeds or f-stops. This way, only one (combined) number is needed to define the exposure needed for the scene, and, importantly, that single number can offer a panoply of choices as to shutter speeds and apertures. For example, if one resolves to use '16' for a cloudy-bright day with Tri-X, that simple number offers a range of aperture and shutter EVs that allow easy interchangeability because all that is necessary is that they 'add up' to '16'. -David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 12-29-2013 at 11:12 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I've noticed that there is a stop difference between an incident reading and reflected light reading off a gray card all in the same light. Have you guys found the same thing?
That's because the reflected light meter is not calibrated to 18% gray.
Try metering the palm of your hand and opening up a stop (place on Zone VI). And compare _that_ to an incident reading.
If its not calibrated to 18% gray, why do people use it? What's the point? Exposures are going to be different between reflected and incidence. The answer can't be read the palm of your hand. What if you're black? You should be able to use the meter to get the right exposure with a reflected meter. How do you use a reflected light meter? What is the purpose of the gray card?
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Are you following the directions for the grey card?
They are quite specific with respect to the angles of incidence.
“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
It's frustrating I know. I think it used to make Ansel Adams mad, and is the basis of a lot of internet discussions.
The gray card is a "known" reflectance, 18%, from which you take a reading and then calculate the appropriate exposure for an 18% reflectance. Circular reasoning I know.
The standard calibration of exposure meters, on the other hand, is not an arbitrary or mathematically centered gray. It's not 18%. The exposure meter is actually calibrated to pictures. Scientists studied sets of photographs. They put these photographs in front of people and asked them to pick the best ones. From the research, they established a standard that would lead to a statistically high percentage of successful exposures.
So you "are supposed to" just point and shoot.
My understanding was that both types were calibrated the same, modified for some K factor that varies between manufacturers. That K factor is part of the reason we use our working meters in film speed and developing tests.
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
It's also possible that some manufacturers use a 12% reference, as that represent middle grey on a scale of 60:1 white to black ratio, and is used by ANSI, if I remember correctly.
It would seem that measuring incident light would give a higher reading, as you're measuring the light source. It follows that a reflected reading would indicate less light, as the full intensity of the source is not involved. At least, that's my understanding.
If I'm wrong, I apologize, and am glad to learn something new.
Last edited by kintatsu; 12-30-2013 at 01:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Poor wording
There is a case to be made for scrapping that '18%' card and using a '90%' pure white one, instead. That way you get to meter more scenes' ultra low lighting environments. You simply subtract a few stops to then get your actual reading. - David Lyga
Or you can just use a LunaPro.
Originally Posted by David Lyga