Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
What I'm trying to get at is that turning the incident meters head toward the light source seems to be just as much of a guess as reading the meter normally and closing down a stop to protect the highlights.
If you turn the incident lightmeter toward the light source, in a situation like that of the OP, you will have a reading that's guaranteed to preserve highlights. No guessing game there*.

If you instead point the light meter toward the camera, in that exact situation, and then close down 1 stop, you are "guessing" that 1 stop will be enough to avoid highlights deterioration. 1 stop might be too much, too little of a correction.


* You can take the first exposure with this value, knowing that your highlights will be preserved, which is in our assumption our goal. If you don't want to bracket and want to be sure of an acceptable result, this is the one "correct" exposure to make.

From this firm ground, you can take further exposures, opening more and more, and see which is the exposure where you have more open shadows while still having acceptable highlights. That's a bit of "bracketing" (on one side only) to try to have the best possible results.