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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 15 Nov 2012 (Thursday) 05:31
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Light metres - a silly question??

 
Zebedee123
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Nov 15, 2012 05:31 |  #1

Hey folks – this might be a silly question but that’s ok – I’m used to making a fool out of myself!

So I have been shooting portraits in a studio for a couple of years now I have never used a light metre – nor do I know how to use one. I’m used to the lights and know where the settings need to be for my studio and I shoot in RAW so if a picture is slightly over/under exposed I can bring it back in processing. I’m doing so many shoots now that I need to cut down on processing time. I maybe spend 5-10 mins per image getting it just right and the background exactly as I want it. If I used a light meter would I get this bang on every time thus cutting down processing time?
•Do you guys always use a light metre?
•Are you reading this and saying “What?? She doesn’t use a light metre”!!
•Also – how long to you spend on each image when processing studio portraits for paying clients?

Thanks in advance.
Paula


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Zebedee123
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Nov 15, 2012 09:22 |  #2

LOL Must have been a really stupid question..............​.


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es07ERIC
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Nov 15, 2012 09:32 |  #3

I always use a meter in the studio! In doing so, I can batch process (in bulk) images with the same "look/pose". It literally cuts post down drastically!

Cheers,
Eric


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stsva
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Nov 15, 2012 09:38 |  #4

You should be able to get nearly "perfect" exposure in a studio setting without having to use a light meter, since you basically control the lighting and presumably don't have to worry about changing ambient light. See this post https://photography-on-the.net …hp?p=15246243&p​ostcount=6 for a suggested approach. If you need to move the lights when shooting, you could establish the various basic locations for your lights and then mark closer/further spots at 1/2 or 1 stop intervals in terms of feet to the subject so you can adjust very quickly when moving the lights (note what he says in that post about how you can vary the power by moving the light the same relative distance as a one-stop f-stop adjustment).


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BrandonSi
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Nov 15, 2012 09:39 |  #5

I use the light meter built into my cybercommander, but before that I used (and still do, sometimes) a Minolta IV F.

I couldn't imagine not using a light meter, especially with multiple lights. Although I can see it, if you use the same light setup in the same place over and over again.

I'm assuming you have a trigger for the lights. Basically you put the tigger in your hand, walk over to where you want to meter, and hold the meter up (dome towards the light.. unless you're metering the back of your subject), push the button on the meter so it's reading, then trigger the strobes. It should then return your aperture value. You can then adjust and re-meter if needed.

IMO, the meter is invaluable when it comes to metering specific parts of your lighting, for example, getting a reading on hair-light only, or just the BG, etc.. This makes working with ratios much easier, which is important when you're mixing lights of different powers / brightness. The ability to control the lights remotely is a big help, which is why I use a CyberCommander, but there are other systems out there as well for that depending on your setup.


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RDKirk
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Nov 15, 2012 09:53 |  #6

Zebedee123 wrote in post #15248001 (external link)
Hey folks – this might be a silly question but that’s ok – I’m used to making a fool out of myself!

So I have been shooting portraits in a studio for a couple of years now I have never used a light metre – nor do I know how to use one. I’m used to the lights and know where the settings need to be for my studio and I shoot in RAW so if a picture is slightly over/under exposed I can bring it back in processing. I’m doing so many shoots now that I need to cut down on processing time. I maybe spend 5-10 mins per image getting it just right and the background exactly as I want it. If I used a light meter would I get this bang on every time thus cutting down processing time?

Good use of a light meter should reduce that time spent finding the right exposure with multiple lights. Not only will it reduce the amount of time, it will also reduce what looks to the subject like "photographer doesn't know what she's doing."


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Viva-photography
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Nov 15, 2012 10:01 |  #7

Brandon pretty much summed it up.

I know I personally always use a light meter when dealing with artificial stroboscopic lighting.
I try to make sure everything is spot on technically so that I can then focus on my subject matter with my full attention.

If you're in studio, you'll definitely want to get a meter with some form of a trigger in it.
(Meaning that when you take a reading on the meter, the lights flash as if you just took a photo)




  
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Zebedee123
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Nov 15, 2012 11:20 |  #8

Thanks guys - I guess I knew the answer really - I will toddle off and buy myself one!


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aroundlsu
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Nov 15, 2012 13:10 |  #9

I have been using a light meter for years. Like anything, it will take some time to get used to. I did a very large shoot last week with four lights spread over a large area. I set the lights up to what I thought was close. Did a meter reading. Made an adjustment. Did another reading. Then pulled the camera out and made a test shot. The image was perfect. Back in post, photoshop said the levels were exactly right.

I use photoshops auto level feature in RAW to tell me how close I was to a perfect exposure. When using the meter it's within .05 of a stop to what photoshop says is correct. Quite often it's exactly on.


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dmward
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Nov 15, 2012 21:45 |  #10

I shot lots of portraits in a studio without a light meter.
We used strings attached to the lights to get them the proper distance from the subject. Naturally, the length of the strings was based on some testing. :-)

Something as simple and repeatable as portraits in a studio should not require metering every shot, or even every session, just when you do the initial setup.

One nice thing about Cyber Commander and Einsteins (or ABs with Plus receivers) Is that one can meter and setup multiple configurations, then just go from one to the next. Or once everything is setup to your liking at F11 just hit the group power to change settings on all lights for F 4 or whatever.

Meters are great tools, but that's what they are tools. Learning your lights, and how they deliver with different modifiers will save you more time than a meter.

If you're spending 10-15 minutes per image getting the exposure, brightness, contrast and tone curve adjusted to your liking you need to spend more time learning about feathering, ratios, tonal control and other things related to lighting along with using a meter.


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Zebedee123
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Nov 16, 2012 04:06 |  #11

dmward wrote in post #15251314 (external link)
I shot lots of portraits in a studio without a light meter.
We used strings attached to the lights to get them the proper distance from the subject. Naturally, the length of the strings was based on some testing. :-)

Something as simple and repeatable as portraits in a studio should not require metering every shot, or even every session, just when you do the initial setup.

One nice thing about Cyber Commander and Einsteins (or ABs with Plus receivers) Is that one can meter and setup multiple configurations, then just go from one to the next. Or once everything is setup to your liking at F11 just hit the group power to change settings on all lights for F 4 or whatever.

Meters are great tools, but that's what they are tools. Learning your lights, and how they deliver with different modifiers will save you more time than a meter.

If you're spending 10-15 minutes per image getting the exposure, brightness, contrast and tone curve adjusted to your liking you need to spend more time learning about feathering, ratios, tonal control and other things related to lighting along with using a meter.

Good advice and thanks all for taking the time to respond. Your absolutly right I do need to learn more and buy a light metre. I think I got a little stuck because what I do gets good results and I have plenty of clients that are happy - but I need to make it easier for me and the more I learn the better the results and the quicker I will get the results.
Actually - is there a DVD for studio lessons? I learn better watching that just reading in a book.
Thanks
Paula


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cking2
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Nov 16, 2012 07:19 |  #12

Zebedee123 wrote in post #15252143 (external link)
Actually - is there a DVD for studio lessons? I learn better watching that just reading in a book.
Thanks
Paula

Hello Paula,

I understand what you mean when it comes to learning from a book. I also like to learn from a video if possible. Just posted is a FREE video from Sekonic with Joe Brady....Great guy and easy to listen to. In this video Joe explains how to set up and use a portable studio, and of course there is instructions on the proper way to meter for results.

http://www.sekonic.com …able-Portrait-Studio.aspx (external link)

If you want to BUY a dvd then another guy I like is Mark Wallace and his DVD "Studio Lighting Essentials for Portrait Photography" is availble via Amazon ($$$) or digital download (cheaper) from snapfactory (external link). You can also find Mark alot on Youtube via Adorama TV (external link)....and that is also free.

Hop these link help you out.


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Nick5
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Nov 16, 2012 07:32 |  #13

Learning how to use a light meter correctly certainly saves me and my clients time. The meter is a great tool to have in your bag.


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Zebedee123
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Nov 16, 2012 09:57 |  #14

cking2 wrote in post #15252450 (external link)
Hello Paula,

I understand what you mean when it comes to learning from a book. I also like to learn from a video if possible. Just posted is a FREE video from Sekonic with Joe Brady....Great guy and easy to listen to. In this video Joe explains how to set up and use a portable studio, and of course there is instructions on the proper way to meter for results.

http://www.sekonic.com …able-Portrait-Studio.aspx (external link)

If you want to BUY a dvd then another guy I like is Mark Wallace and his DVD "Studio Lighting Essentials for Portrait Photography" is availble via Amazon ($$$) or digital download (cheaper) from snapfactory (external link). You can also find Mark alot on Youtube via Adorama TV (external link)....and that is also free.

Hop these link help you out.

Thats great - thanks very much! I will take a look


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Grumpy_one
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Nov 16, 2012 11:50 as a reply to  @ Zebedee123's post |  #15

cking2 wrote in post #15252450 (external link)
Hello Paula,

I understand what you mean when it comes to learning from a book. I also like to learn from a video if possible. Just posted is a FREE video from Sekonic with Joe Brady....Great guy and easy to listen to. In this video Joe explains how to set up and use a portable studio, and of course there is instructions on the proper way to meter for results.

http://www.sekonic.com …able-Portrait-Studio.aspx (external link)

If you want to BUY a dvd then another guy I like is Mark Wallace and his DVD "Studio Lighting Essentials for Portrait Photography" is availble via Amazon ($$$) or digital download (cheaper) from snapfactory (external link). You can also find Mark alot on Youtube via Adorama TV (external link)....and that is also free.

Hop these link help you out.

I just watched the Sekonic video with Mr. Brady. I have the 358 with the transmitter that allows me to trigger my speedlights. While I'm still a noob when it comes to lighting, it's a great learning tool for me. Yeah, indoor once you have it set up it doesn't change much, but getting ratios it helps and not chimping a whole bunch helps with battery life of the speedlights. I've run into problems chimping with live subjects, Brady goes into detail about that. While Dave Hobby (Strobist) doesn't believe in meters, which is how I started out, I believe the meter can be beneficial, at least it has for me. When outside and your trying to match ambient with strobes, the light meter rocks. I recently did a shoot with my daughter with our new puppy and metered her and then the background, I know I wanted the background 1 to 1 1/2 stops over, and it turned out perfect without having to chimp and adjust multiple times. Only problem I had with this picture was spill from the single strobe right behind her on her right arm.

IMAGE: http://www.happyvalleyphotography.com/photos/i-6gwtw6R/0/L/i-6gwtw6R-L.png

disclaimer: had to do a screen shot from my iphone to get this image. Original image at home

So in short, it depends on your work flow, how your were taught and what makes you comfortable and confident. Good luck.

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1DX II, Canon 7D Gripped, 5D3, 24-70L II, 70-200L 2.8 IS Mk I, 85 1.8, Pocket Wizard II triggers, assorted speedlites and modifiers, 580EX, 580EXII, YN560's (6 or so) 50 1.4, t/c 1.4 MkII
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