Handheld Exposure Meter

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by danac, Aug 17, 2021.

  1. I feel there is a lot of truth to this. An incident reading gives me a good mid-point exposure. Then if I feel the need, I can bias my exposure toward the highlights or shadows. So if I am photographing a steam locomotive, and the background is not too bright to become blown out by increasing my exposure, I can give an extra stop to capture some darker areas under the boiler, for example. But if I do need to render the background without over-exposing it, I can go with the incident reading, or perhaps just open up a cautious one-half stop. Then again if photographing something much brighter than average, an incident reading is good there, too, because a reflected light meter will over-react to that brightness; so that if I believe the meter, the scene will be underexposed so that it doesn't look much like it did in reality. In that case, I might stop down just a little, but not enough to ruin the shot.

    So an incident reading gives me a reliable reference point from which I can use my judgment.

    There is a reason why Hollywood cinematographers use incident meters (not saying they never take reflected readings)!
  2. I've been experimenting using my digital camera as a light meter keeping an eye on its histogram and "Zebra" clipping schemes. If shooting negative BW film, I'll favor the shadow areas and if shooting chromes I'll favor the whites so they don't clip.
  3. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    QG You'd really do yourself a huge favour if you would take the little time it takes to learn how to do it.

    Too late QG. I stopped using film more than ten years ago, my Bronicas and Mamiya 7 are sold and now I'm content with the options on my Dslrs. Being able to see a preview and a graph, together with instant reshoots are game changers for me.
  4. I'm really curious David, as to how you used a spot meter with reversal film, and how it gave (more) accurate results, than say, a grey card or incident reading.

    The usual application of spot-metering is to measure a contrast range and transfer that to a modification of development time. However, that's not feasible with E6 processing. So I'm kind of at a loss to see the advantage of a spot meter.

    I see lots of disadvantages to using one on a regular basis though.

    BTW. An incident meter should be held at the subject position and pointed back toward the camera position in normal use. Although pointing it at the light source can also be useful in some situations - rim or back lighting for example.
  5. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I've answered this question for you before Joe, and I've no interest in going through it again for someone whose interest seems to be in poking disbelief that anyone might prefer to use methods different from the ones they promote. Might be different if I hadn't sold my film equipment 10 years ago , but right now I really can't be bothered to enter a debate on which you will always insist on the last word.
  6. You do not need to be at the subject position, as long as you're in the same light.
    I told this on pnet before a long time ago, but i had a good laugh once seeing how a photographer (pro, it appeared) used a reach truck, hanging far over the edge of the basket, risking a fall from an unpleasant height onto hard stone oavement, to measure the sunlight illuminating a large structural sculpture on a large sunflooded square. He apparently did not quite understand light.
  7. Rodeo has a good point, though. Spot metering, any reflected light metering, is a more roundabout way, requiring evaluation and considered correction, to get at where incident light metering brings you instantly.
    There are situation in which reflected, spot, metering can do what is very difficult or impossible. But they are very rare.

    I too have such a spot meter that does nothing but collect dust the many decennia i own the thing. But i did use the spotmeter in a 35 mm film camera often. Point it at something green outdoors and you get the same result as an incident light reading. And there is something green almost everywhere outdoors.
  8. When determining the exposure with an incident meter for a distant landscape that has the same lighting as the camera where do you point the dome of the meter? Up, level or at the the scene to be photographed.
  9. I point the dome towards the camera, to get the same angle of the sun on the dome.
    Meaning I look at the distance subject, determine the line from the subject to the camera, then point the dome back along that line. Basically, I just turn around, looking backwards.

    However, I think (trying to remember 40+ years ago) that for slide film, I also split the difference.
    Meaning, I would also determine which direction the sun was (say 30 degrees to the right of the line above), then split the difference between the direction to the camera and the direction of the sun and point it 15 degrees to the right. I think the idea was to bias towards the sun, so as to not blow out the highlight.

    For distant subjects, what incident does not take into account is the "stuff" in the air, that reduces the reflected light from the subject.
    But back then, I got away with ignoring that, cuz I was not shooting in smog.

    Things get more complicated if the lighting at the distant subject is different than at the camera position.
    danac likes this.
  10. ... and that is where the spot meter comes in handy. Sky at sunset. Dynamic range.

    With chrome, you have to decide where you want the 18%, where you want to clip (highlights and/or shadows). Cause you can't do it in post.
  11. I never had a good solution for sunsets, other than BRACKET like crazy.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  12. Haha - that's what I did too - 35mm chrome was relatively cheap back in the day...
  13. The problem that I had/have with sunsets/sunrise, is that I could never predict which exposure I would like; sometimes it was the lighter one, sometimes the one in the middle, sometimes the darker one, sometimes the really dark one. And sometimes I would like two of the shots, with different exposures, for different reasons. It was very shot specific. Hence my need to BRACKET.
  14. When we get back from our Utah trip I will purchase a Gossen Luna-Pro SBC from ebay. It has a gallium arsenide photocell which according to AA, will not drift like a Cds cell. The 9v battery is convenient. My new/old Mamiya 645E has a center-weighted spot meter so a "second opinion" will be welcome.
    Gary Naka likes this.
  15. No doubt. I used a Sekonic 508 spot/incident/flash meter for nearly two decades, in conjunction with a totally manual Hasselblad system, even extending into digital. It got set aside along with the Hasselblad with the advent of Sony into the mirrorless A7 world. I still use the meter on the rare occasions I need multiple flash units, including coverage for large groups.
  16. So you take the reading while facing away from the distant subject with the meter pointing at the camera and in the direction of the subject. Is that correct?
  17. You do not have to point it at the camera, of course. What you need is have the same light fall on the meter the same way as it does on the subject.
    So turn your back to the subject and point the meter the opposite way, away from the subject.

    You can bias the reading, if desired, by pointing it toward the light source, or away from the light source, to favour the highlights or shadows of the subject.
  18. Since meters are built differently, and domes can be in different locations on the meter depending on what meter you're referring to, pointing the meter is confusing. You point the dome to the subject, where ever it is on the meter.
  19. An incident meter is used to measure the light falling on the subject to suggest an exposure setting for an "average" subject (18% grey). For studio work, it is also used to measure the lighting ratio of one light or flash at a time toward the flash, then the combination of all lights toward the camera. In each case, the meter is held close to the subject. Of course it can be used far from the subject, pointed to the main source of light if the subject is under the same light.

    i find it useful for taking pictures in nature, particularly flowers, which tend to be light against a dark background of foliage or earth. With an incident reading, you are less likely to over expose the subject due to a dominant dark background, or under expose reading the bright object itself. That said, built-in camera meters are getting smarter and smarter, taking the art and mystery out of setting exposures.
  20. Nope.

    Let's forget the meter for a bit.

    Imagine a line going from the subject to the camera, and beyond.
    Stand on the line, facing towards the subject.
    Now do a 180 degree, "about face." You are now facing "away" from the subject, looking down the line away from the camera.
    The light falling on your face is the same as the light falling on the subject.

    With an incident meter, the dome of the incident meter would be pointed in the direction you are facing.

    The confusing part is when you see someone using an incident meter with a rotating head.
    They can be facing in one direction, and the dome can be facing another direction. It is the direction that the DOME is facing that is important.

    Sorry, this is much easier to show in person or a diagram, than with words.

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