I can relate to that phrase "photographic explorations"...

In-camera meters are the "hardest" kind of meter to use. They get the job done, but by hiding details from you, they make learning hard. Not only that but when you want to get the information, you have to work backwards.

Say you are out on the shore of the frozen pond on a clear sunny day. Hold your hand up and point your camera at your palm and take a reading. Does it show one stop higher than "Sunny 16" (Suppose a 125 speed film, shutter speed 125 - does the camera tell you to use f/22)? It might, or you might be able to move around until it does.

Now the tough part to do in your head is ... figure out "how much darker" it is in the shady side of the trees on the far bank. When you take the picture, you will want the trees to be more than blank black silhouettes. So you have to figure out how dark that shade is somehow. You might have some trees on this side of the pond you can walk around. They'll probably have the same "light quality".

And how bright the snow or ice is. Same problem, you can find out how bright that is the same way, by walking around to it.

Ignore some of the very brightest and very darkest details. Some things are supposed to come out pure black and white.

You'll probably have more than 7 stops difference between light and dark. So that would be relatively contrasty.