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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 21 Dec 2009 (Monday) 16:12
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Do you use a light meter?

 
jjaenagle
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Dec 21, 2009 16:12 |  #1
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So i have a few questions about light meters.

1. How often do you use them?
2. Are there light meters that are built into flashes or cameras?
3. what kind do you use?
4. What kind of photographers MUST have one?

I am really just trying to learn about photography STILL and i think a light meter may help me get in the right track of getting a correct exposure....

i really dont know if i am even qualified enough to use one or would depend too much on it.

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111t
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Dec 21, 2009 16:15 |  #2

I used to use light meters a lot more than i do now. I've been using a white/ balance exposure target in place of a light meter lately.

http://www.photovision​video.com …DT14010&Categor​y_Code=DCT (external link)

You take a full frame photo of the target in the space where the subject will be. Then look at thje histogram. Since the target is made up of black white and gray, there are 3 distinct spikes in your histogram. If the outer spikes (highlght and shadows) are centered in the frame then the exposure is correct. What if it's not? Well then its just a matter of adjusting the camera or light source till it is.

It's great! It works with flash or ambient light, just about anything but on camera flash, unless you can zoom from the final camera position to fill the frame. Then once the exposure is good, use the last frame of correct exposure to set the white balance... good to go.

At my last wedding i went to the rehearsal and set a custom WB at the altar in the exact lighting that the bride and groom were standing in. Then the next day i used presets before the ceremony (mostly electronic flash preset) while i shot the pre ceremony shots. When I got to the church I continued up until i wasn't allowed to use flash... i just switched to the custom value from the night before... perfect.

It comes with a great DVD to explain proper use. There is a preview of the dvd on page i linked.

I still use a meter if i have to sample changing ambient light say, outside on a sunny day with puffy clouds. The exposure can change quite a bit and quickly. The photovision target might be combersome in that case.

I think the 14" target is a good general purpose size. They seem kind of pricey for what they are. In fact if you can find neutral materials there's no reason you couldn't make one. But either way they're a lot cheaper than even the cheapest meter.


All The best!
-Paul

WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON"T HAVE A LIGHT METER AND YOU STILL WANT TO MAKE INTELLIGENT EXPOSURE DECISIONS.

  
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jjaenagle
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Dec 21, 2009 16:16 |  #3
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111t wrote in post #9240485 (external link)
I used to use light meters a lot more than i do now. I've been using a white/ balance exposure target in place of a light meter lately.

What is a WB exposure target?

Also, would learning to use the histogram be as good as using a light meter?



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buurin
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Dec 21, 2009 16:22 |  #4

jjaenagle wrote in post #9240491 (external link)
What is a WB exposure target?

Also, would learning to use the histogram be as good as using a light meter?

WB = White Balance.

I think he/she meant they are using a 18% grey card to measure exposure. You can look that up.

To answer your original question, whenever I use off camera flash -- I use a light meter. I hardly ever use it for reading ambient.

In my opinion you must know how to use both the histo & light meter. Typically I take a light meter reading, take a test shot, & then adjust the exposure based on the histogram if I feel it needs tweaking.


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Titus213
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Dec 21, 2009 16:26 |  #5

I actually use a light meter every time I take a picture. It's built into the camera.

My Sekonic L-358 gets used when I can't trust my camera's meter. Or when I'm doing something the camera's meter can't handle, like manual flash.


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jjaenagle
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Dec 21, 2009 16:35 |  #6
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ok those are very great posts... thanks for that!

will keep reading and learning!



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111t
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Dec 21, 2009 16:38 |  #7

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jjaenagle wrote in post #9240491 (external link)
What is a WB exposure target?


Also, would learning to use the histogram be as good as using a light meter?

http://www.photovision​video.com …DT14010&Categor​y_Code=DCT (external link)

Right learn to read the histogram... This is essentially a very precise way to read a histogram. If you get a perfect histogram of this target... three spikes where the outer spikes are centered within the confines of the histogram... then the exposure is correct... the camera IS the light meter.
It works for multi-light setups as well. Just set your camera to the desired f-stop for that light and center the histogram by adjusting the light. Then move on to the next one... and reset the camera.

Seriously, go back to that link i posted, and find the video preview... it explains everything.

Here's another one that was 'homemade' by the equipment department at work:

get it? It's a pretty sweet trick.

And that's just the front-end use. More advanced users can use this to batch color correct files taken in RAW in something like lightroom...


All The best!
-Paul

WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON"T HAVE A LIGHT METER AND YOU STILL WANT TO MAKE INTELLIGENT EXPOSURE DECISIONS.

  
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111t
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Dec 21, 2009 17:48 |  #8

Here's a quick and dirty overview of how the system works to meter and set white balance.
I took a photo of the target in my living room. The histogram was quite underexposed.

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After a couple of adjustments i got this:
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The spikes on the histogram were now centered but since the light in my living room is tungsten the image is very red.
Bob just doesn't look right...
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So i switch the white balance to custom and select that last photo of the target. By telling the camera that the image is in fact neutral the camera "zeros out" a correction. It then applies that correction to subsequent shots. If i were to take another image of the target it would look like this:
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and necessarly, bob now looks like this:
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All right, it is a little improvement.:rolleyes:

All The best!
-Paul

WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON"T HAVE A LIGHT METER AND YOU STILL WANT TO MAKE INTELLIGENT EXPOSURE DECISIONS.

  
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ducatiwv
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Dec 21, 2009 18:02 as a reply to  @ 111t's post |  #9

In studio i always use it....it makes getting the ratios right so much easier...I have the L358 and really like it


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WillMass
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Dec 21, 2009 18:04 |  #10

ducatiwv wrote in post #9241075 (external link)
In studio i always use it....it makes getting the ratios right so much easier...I have the L358 and really like it

Ditto.


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umphotography
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Dec 21, 2009 18:29 |  #11

WillMass wrote in post #9241088 (external link)
Ditto.

ditto x 2

actually i use it all the time. i always measure ambiant. its very handly to slide the iso reading around and get an setting that i know is going to work. then i can trigger my flash and measure what im shooting at my subjets. very handy to know the percentage of flash thats hitting the subject. its just too easy to do and it take a couple of extra steps to get the exposure right v/s screwing around with the camera. since i took dons giannatti's lighting workshop, my lightmeter lives around my neck.


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B&Wlover
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Dec 21, 2009 22:25 |  #12

I use a light meter anytime I am using OCF or with backlit subjects, while exposure targets can tell you if your not clipping it is very hard to use one to set ratios or precise readings of different sections of the frame. I use WB and Color targets when shooting color exact things like products but would never want to go without my meter.




  
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airfrogusmc
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Dec 21, 2009 22:29 as a reply to  @ B&Wlover's post |  #13

All the time. It helps me get lighting ratios correct and saves a lot of time when the subject/client gets in front of the camera. I have a couple of old Minolta IV flash meters and they are both almost 20 years old and still work GREAT.

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Dec 21, 2009 23:54 |  #14

sekonic l358 Lightmeter and whitebal card helps.....here's from a recent shoot I did for Latoya Jackson

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Lightworks ­ Imaging
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Dec 22, 2009 02:30 |  #15

I use a lightmeter anytime I shoot OCF, it takes the subjects clothing (or lack thereof) completely out of the picture. I get a great starting point and tweak things from there.


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