Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 16, Learning 16: To light meter or not

In modern photography it's tempting to say that light meters are an antiquated tool with little use.  Driven by my old-world fascination with them, I've struggled to figure out just where they fit in my work flow.  Why bother, you ask?  Just use your internal camera meter and let it do the work.

Consider the following scenario.... what looks better to a client:  taking out a fancy, mysterious and formidable looking gadget, metering their face, dialing your settings, and taking the perfect snap... or taking a snap, looking at the back of your camera, fiddling with the settings, taking another snap, staring at the back of your camera, and fiddling with the settings.  Looks a little different from the client's perspective, doesn't it.

But a light meter can do more than that.  You don't need to pull it out for every shoot, but here are some times when I think it holds an advantage:

  • High contrast locations
  • Shooting when there are 2 or 3 major light zones (for example, a portrait in the shade with the combined sunny and shadow background-- trees beneath the sky)
  • When you want to set up your lights before the shoot
  • When you want specific light ratios between your flashes

Are there other times when it's better to use a light meter than your camera's meter?  You tell me.

That's my old light meter above.  You don't need to drop $300 on a fancy meter, but you'll probably spend a $100 on a used one that can do both flash and ambient light.  My opinion: it's worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment