All meters are calibrated to Zone V or mid grey therefore when you take a reading no matter how your meter is set up, it thinks that the subject is mid grey and the exposure indicated will produce mid grey. For example, if you make three photographs of white, grey and black material using the exposure indicated by the meter in each case you will produce three identical negatives which will print as mid grey.

When exposing for shadows you must adjust the meter accordingly. My method for calculating exposure and development is as follows; meter the shadow area only, do not allow any other area to influence the reading and close the lens by ONE stop from the reading indicated by the meter. This is placing the shadow on Zone IV rather than Zone III the zone that is the generally accepted zone for shadow detail. I then take a reading of the brightest highlight and if there are three to five stops of contrast I expose and develop normally; if there are less than three stops of contrast I underexpose by 1 stop and increase development by at least one stop in order to increase the overall contrast of the negative; if there are more than 5 stops of contrast I overexpose by one atop and underdevelop for 1 or sometimes 2 stops to reduce the overall contrast of the negative. The Zone IV shadow placement is a personal preference for I like to see all detail in that area and if I so wish I can easily darken it when I make the print

This is by no means the total answer to exposure and development but if you use it as a starting point you will soon learn when to make adjustments. Depending on contrast levels, for example 10 to 12 stops of contrast, I have increased exposure by 2 stops and reduced development by 3 stops to produce a very printable negative that is very different from a negative that is exposed and developed normally in the same lighting conditions. The rule to remember is that you expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. Exposure is linear but development is not and therefore has a more significant effect on the highlights than on shadows and the same amount of underdevelopment reduces density of highlights more than in the shadows