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  1. #31
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Most of the discussion here is about which way one should point the incident meter - toward the camera, or toward the source of the light.

    There is another issue that arises with incident meters - where should the meter be when one decides where to point it.

    If the subject is illuminated by multiple sources of light, and there is no part of the subject that receives light from all or the most important sources, than the averaging dome may not provide enough information to the photographer to permit the photographer to rely on a single reading. In that circumstance, it is necessary to read the light from each source, and to do more work.

    If, however, the light sources tend to supplement each other (e.g. a 2 light setup including a wide fill plus a main light on one side of the face) then a single reading from a portion of the subject that is illuminated by both lights will work great with the averaging dome pointed toward the camera.

    Even then, if one has something like a hair light or a separately lighted background it is important to take a reading from them, to make sure that they don't overpower the main plus fill (or are bright enough to have useful effect).
    Matt

    “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

  2. #32
    Andrew Moxom's Avatar
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    sigh... Like the Nike commercial goes..... JUST DO IT!.. .Like many others, I use Incident metering almost all the time, and I point the meter back at the camera...I am amazed at the confusion of what is really an 'average' metering system that meters what the camera sees, not what is reflected back from your subject. It gets more complex for studio work with multiple light sources, but again the main light is what you meter for. Like any exposure, if you are doing close up work, there will likely be some adjustment requiring more exposure.

    That said, ALL meters are different, ALL shutters are different, YMMV, you will need to work up tests for your own camera/lens/meter/film/development combination...
    Please check out my website www.amoxomphotography.com and APUG Portfolio .....

  3. #33
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Moxom View Post
    sigh... Like the Nike commercial goes..... JUST DO IT!.. .Like many others, I use Incident metering almost all the time, and I point the meter back at the camera...I am amazed at the confusion of what is really an 'average' metering system that meters what the camera sees, not what is reflected back from your subject. It gets more complex for studio work with multiple light sources, but again the main light is what you meter for. Like any exposure, if you are doing close up work, there will likely be some adjustment requiring more exposure.

    That said, ALL meters are different, ALL shutters are different, YMMV, you will need to work up tests for your own camera/lens/meter/film/development combination...
    Amen. Be sure to bring a friend with a DSLR, too.

  4. #34
    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    Amen. Be sure to bring a friend with a DSLR, too.
    That's cheating but it works. Andrew has it right though..and, when in doubt, the magic word is..BRACKET.

  5. #35

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    Though I am sure I know nothing, the time honoured way in studios I have worked in, is point the incident meter at the camera from the subject , then adjust the lighting output of the other lights to balance the lighting to get the effect you want, pointing the meter at the light will not be accurate as it fails to account for the fall of of the light, it is also worth noting that when using flash you nearly always drift the light across the subject and not just point it at the item you want to light ,hence pointing the dome at the camera . Though the other way of working out the light is to look at the flash output and test by instant film or shooting digital and looking at the histogram

  6. #36
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    [QUOTE=2F/2F;1158980]Collins is most correct, and it is a damned shame that so many will unbudgingly argue otherwise without even thinking about it, because it is what they have always been told and what they have always done./QUOTE]

    Listen to Collins and 2F/2F. Aim the meter at the camera. That is how it was designed. Aiming at the light source will give you a reading, but that reading is useless.

    When all else fails, read the manual!

    Steve
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  7. #37
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    If you want to average the light falling on a plane running through the subject that is parallel to the film plane, then point the dome at the camera.

    But why and how often would you actually want to do this as a matter of course?

    Yes; instruction manuals say to point the meter at the camera. What a handicap and a disservice! Sometimes it takes a thinking and constantly working independent user in the field to figure out how to use something to its best benefit, not a designer. Collins was not the first to figure out the best way to use an incident meter, and he is certainly not the only one who uses them that way. Everyone who has ever taught me anything worth knowing about metering has said the same. It is certainly how incident meter use is taught at the Art Center College of Design, perhaps the most well-renowned commercial photography school in the nation, for one.

    I'd just suggest that anyone who is curious shoots the six test shots I mentioned. Then make up your mind about what to do based on those shots. If you always shoot negative film, metering down the middle won't kill you, though it is not ideal. Most people don't notice, and if they do, most people actually think that slightly overexposed negs look good, so think nothing of it. As I said, it ain't a big deal with negs...though I still like to have my ideal exposure when possible. But shoot this way on positive materials and you are hurting yourself.

    If you want to average main and fill, meter down the middle, of course! But think about why you want to do that first. What averaging does is to compromise between two ideal exposures for two respective parts of the image. It gets a printable neg in most situations. But if you want to preserve the lighting ratio that exists at the scene without overexposing, especially important when shooting positives, you meter the brightest light that is illuminating the part of the subject for which you want to expose.

    If you don't like what metering the brightest side does to the subject, then you probably aren't properly visualizing what the ratio of light you are shooting will look like on film. Doing so will give you an accurate exposure for the most-lit part of the subject, while causing the less lit parts to fall where they ought to fall. If you are shooting in contrasty light, you should know how your film will react to that, and expect a contrasty picture. The exposure is not wrong if it has too much contrast when shot in contrasty light. It is absolutely correct, within the limits of the film when exposed and processed normally. If you don't like it, i.e. if you want to alter the ratio that is there, and capture something different on the film, that is when you use exposure and development changes, or perhaps take an averaged reading to give you some wiggle room in printing. Just because you are using an incident meter does not mean you are "stuck" with what you've got. That is not what I am saying.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 03-29-2011 at 02:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

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  8. #38
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    Pointing an incident meter at the source rather than the camera will provide a reading that creates an underexposure.
    The big reason we use incident meters is because they do not do that! That is what reflected meters do. Pointing an incident meter at the main light source will make mid-toned things midtones, dark things dark, and light things light when we make a normal print.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #39
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    If you want to average the light falling on a plane running through the subject that is parallel to the film plane, then point the dome at the camera.

    But why and how often would you actually want to do this as a matter of course?
    Well, actually for me, almost always.

    The basic job of my light meters is to find/create a reference point in the scene that I know will fall at a certain point on the film.

    It is that simple.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Yes; instruction manuals say to point the meter at the camera. What a handicap and a disservice! Sometimes it takes a thinking and constantly working independent user in the field to figure out how to use something to its best benefit, not a designer.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    But think about why you want to do that first. What averaging does is to compromise between two ideal exposures for two respective parts of the image. It gets a printable neg in most situations. But if you want to preserve the lighting ratio that exists at the scene without overexposing, especially important when shooting positives, you meter the brightest light that is illuminating the part of the subject for which you want to expose.
    Absolutely, thinking is important, looking at a reference point for highlights can be important part of making good decisions.

    Transferring a direct reading of the main light to the camera isn't a silver bullet, it's a short cut based on personal experiences and biases.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    If you don't like what metering the brightest side does to the subject, then you probably aren't properly visualizing what the ratio of light you are shooting will look like on film.
    I disagree.

    While it is very possible to mis-understand what a given lighting ratio will give you, the relationship between the meter and the film, when the meter is used in the classic manner is very, very predictable.

    When an incident meter is used in a non-classic manner many new variables are introduced. The size of the source light being one, what else will the meter be seeing once it is turned off the axis of the lens?
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  10. #40
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    The big reason we use incident meters is because they do not do that! That is what reflected meters do. Pointing an incident meter at the main light source will make mid-toned things midtones, dark things dark, and light things light when we make a normal print.
    This depends on what you are viewing as the main source.

    I know it's not classic studio thinking, but I tend to view all of what the camera can see as the main source and the individual lights as simple fractions of that. I do this because this is what the film will see and I want to place subjects in relation to both the film curve and the context of the whole scene.

    Turning the meter's head skews the meters relationship to what the camera can see.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

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