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  1. #1

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    Why incedent metering is very primitive.

    I was about to buy a flash meter that can only read in incedent mode, but thinking of it that can never be precise in case the main light source isn't behind the camera. How would you meter with a lot of back or side light, you can't just pick something out and expose for that... Aiming the meter at the light source would not be a solution neither since the light the subject will refelct will be different.

    But are there any cheap spot/reflective meters with a flash metering mode? The gossen or minolta thingies seem a bit expensive in that catogary.

    Would the digipro f from gossen be something?

  2. #2

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    Incident meters measure the light falling on the subject. That means you don't worry about reflection. A black cat will meter just like a white one.

  3. #3
    NikoSperi's Avatar
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    You are right - Nick has misunderstood the issue it seems. The problem of where to "point" the dome arises in backlit flash, just like it does with sunrises/sunsets. You can do both: meter facing the flash (that'll give you your highlights exposure) and then point the dome to the camera and meter for your shadows.

    Sekonic has several flash meters, although one would have to define "cheap" rather liberally. L508, 558, 608 I believe all have flash spot metering (along with a whole other bunch of bells and whistles).
    If you tone it down alot, it almost becomes bearable.

    - Walker Evans on using color

  4. #4

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    "Aiming the meter at the light source would not be a solution neither since the light the subject will refelct will be different."

    Maybe I misunderstood-) But he seems worried about reflection.

  5. #5
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    In the studio, you can do a variety of things with an incident meter.

    One is to determine the overall exposure (usually the main light plus the fill), which I do by holding the meter in front of the subject and pointing it toward the lens. Backlight and accent lights in general don't affect this reading (unless you are using an accent light on the subject's nose for some peculiar reason--perhaps you are photographing an actor playing Cyrano de Bergerac).

    The other is to determine the contrast ratio. For that I usually switch from the dome to a flat diffuser and point the meter toward the light I want to measure, but you can also do this by shielding the light with your hand or turning on one light at a time. So for most subjects you'll want a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, occasionally 1:4, between the main (key) and the fill. If you are using a soft-focus lens, you might want a relatively high contrast ratio to get specular highlights that glow. You might want the backlight or accent lights to be one half to two stops over the main, depending on how dramatic an effect you want. For a Hurrell-style Hollywood portrait, you might use only backlight and a low power or reflector fill, so the backlight could be three stops over the fill, with no real "main" light (sometimes, he would really blow out the hair, but that was the effect).

    I use a Minolta Flashmeter III. These aren't too costly these days, and there is a good range of accessories for them. An inexpensive and very compact new flashmeter is the Gossen Digiflash. I have the Digisix (which doesn't measure flash), and really like it as a field meter.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by NikoSperi
    Sekonic has several flash meters, although one would have to define "cheap" rather liberally. L508, 558, 608 I believe all have flash spot metering (along with a whole other bunch of bells and whistles).
    I use Sekonic FLASHMATE L-308 which is GREAT and quite small. Great for flash and ambient. It handles both reflected and incident readings.

  7. #7

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    This question came up after taking some pics with a borrowed flash meter that didn't seem to have a reflective mode. (the owner knew really nothing about it so I wonder why I can't keep it).
    I was shooting a friend while she looked up at a window in a fairly dark room with the sun shining truw that window, the contrast was big so I used a flash from the other side of the camera to cope with the contrast (actually only the second time I used it) but from another angel than the window. So I measured the window light while aming the incedent meter at the window and than the flas aiming at the flash. The contrast seemed okay (about 2.5 stops.) But on the picture the contast was close to 0.
    I also took some pictures with another reading from both flash and window light toghetter in one measurement while aming the meter at the camera. The pictures where underexposed (like I expected them to be.)

    With a reflected reading on the light part of the face I think the exposure would have fit (after all that was what I should expose for)

    I think the problem occured because of the different angles of light and little coming from the camera side. Most incedent light was reflected in other directions I asume...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by modafoto
    I use Sekonic FLASHMATE L-308 which is GREAT and quite small. Great for flash and ambient. It handles both reflected and incident readings.
    Thanks that one seems to have the tools, and not too expensive. I'll look at some second hand minolta's as well BTW

  9. #9
    Bob F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinten
    Thanks that one seems to have the tools, and not too expensive. I'll look at some second hand minolta's as well BTW
    But note that it is not a spot meter. I have one too - a very useful little thing.

    Bob.

  10. #10
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    Quinten,

    What you're describing is a confusion between ambient light and flash light. Try this next time. Point the incident meter at the window, make sure the dome is retracted or block all other light from the dome except the window light. Take a reading.

    Say this is 1/125s at f8. This is your ambient reading.

    Now you can play with the flash. Set your flash so that it outputs at f8 to start. Take a meter reading with the dome pointed only at the flash as close to the model as possible to ensure the flash is set at f8. Take a pic at 125s. This pic will be balanced and kind of flat since the output of the flash matches the ambient backlight of the window.

    To get a nice 'halo' backlight around the model. Reduce the flash output to f5.6. Take the pic at 1/125s at f5.6. You're going to get a nice rim highlight around the subject.

    Now set the flash back at f8. This time take the pic at 1/250s at f8. This will 'dim' the window light. In fact you 'blacken' the window light by taking a pic at 1/30s at f8.

    The bottom line is that the shutter speed controls the amount of ambient light and the f-stop controls the amount of flash coming on to your film. You can now play with the settings to get whatever contrast you want.

    Attached are two pics. One of Amanda where I metered for the window light mostly and the other of Apryll where I balanced the window and flash light to get the details in the shadow.

    Just a note: I only use incident metering when my subject is 'human' size.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    Regards, Art.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Amanda-02.jpg   Apryll-01.jpg  
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
    or my online portfolios at APUG and ModelMayhem

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