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  1. #1
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    Is it possible to train oneself to accurately interpret light intensity?

    I am ambivalent on this matter. I've certainly gotten better over the years (it IS liberating to walk around without a light meter), but with frustrating frequency I still manage to misinterpret many shadow-lit scenes and a dull day's true level of intensity. Subjectivity is the enemy here: The brain adapts too easily for purpose of 'accommodation' and this mitigates intensity disparities for the brain's comfort (but not for the recording medium's output).

    And real accuracy is never guaranteed with a light meter, either. We must learn to correct that 'dumb' meter and we do so by judging: 1) the reflectance value of the scene's important elements (ie, the meter does not know how light of dark an object should be) and 2) the overall contrast.

    Thoughts? - David Lyga

  2. #2
    cliveh's Avatar
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    A light meter. What's that?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  3. #3
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    You are quite funny, cliveh. Is your age such reason to cause you to be so perplexed? - David Lyga

  4. #4
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    You are quite funny, cliveh. Is your age such reason to cause you to be so perplexed? - David Lyga
    No.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #5
    cjbecker's Avatar
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    Yes its very easy to do, once youve taken the time to train yourself and have seen many different settings.

  6. #6
    dasBlute's Avatar
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    I've been playing guitar for 40 years. I can tune a guitar by ear.
    I can even use my memory of the opening strains of Stairway
    to get the A in pitch.

    When I want it to be absolutely right, I use a tuner.

  7. #7
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    The problem, cjbecker, is the 'definition' of shade and dullness. It is 'all over the place' and one's state of mind cannot pinpoint that intensity level easily. Sun is sun and accommodation can be made for it appearance according to specific time of day, time of year, etc.

    dasBlute, I studied classical piano for twelve years in my youth and never, ever had perfect pitch. Not everyone has that. But even you admit to having to use that 'iight meter' analogy: the 'tuner'. - David Lyga

  8. #8
    cliveh's Avatar
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    David, this again comes down to simplicity of MO. If you use the same film, developer and process technique again and again and again, infinitum, you don't need a light meter. Having said that, if I was doing studio/still life/macro work I would.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  9. #9
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    I am ambivalent on this matter. I've certainly gotten better over the years (it IS liberating to walk around without a light meter), but with frustrating frequency I still manage to misinterpret many shadow-lit scenes and a dull day's true level of intensity. Subjectivity is the enemy here: The brain adapts too easily for purpose of 'accommodation' and this mitigates intensity disparities for the brain's comfort (but not for the recording medium's output).

    And real accuracy is never guaranteed with a light meter, either. We must learn to correct that 'dumb' meter and we do so by judging: 1) the reflectance value of the scene's important elements (ie, the meter does not know how light of dark an object should be) and 2) the overall contrast.

    Thoughts? - David Lyga

    Ambivalent? Over lighting?
    I surmise that your theories may come from a lack of in-depth knowledge and experience with meter. Especially the commentary about the lack of accuracy of light meters. Where did you get that idea from? In skilled hands, exposures are what the photographer sought, first and foremost, provided he has the skills and experience to know. What's difficult about that? Meters certainly are not dumb. In my long experience, it is indisputable that it's the photographers that cause the majority of difficulties in exposure using meters withh a sorry lack of foundation skill in understanding a scene, and quantifying light, which is taught in all analogue foundation studies (but not digital!). I cannot see how you 'manage to misinterpret' light on dull days: objects will be darker and additional exposure will be required — no sweat with any meter. Contrast will be flatter and will need to be lifted, you can do that with the meter or in the darkroom. Easy to overcome all of these with just a meter and experience.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  10. #10

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    In the early years of photography that is all that people could do. This was particularly true for cinematographers. This lead Oscar Barnack to invent a device to expose a strip of movie film in order to determine the correct exposure for a scene. (This eventually morphed into the Leica prototype.) It is also the reason why there are so many formulas for reducers and intensifiers.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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