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Old    Peter_C (peter_c)      Join Date: Sep 2001       07-15-2007, 9:59 PM Reply   
After reading this thread it got me wondering how many of you are using a light meter.

If you have one, do you use it all the time? What brand/model do you have?

I just bought one to help with my poor exposure. Of course knowing my camera better, along with more learned camera tricks would help. Mine is a Sekonic L-358 (Got the RF module to trigger the Pocket Wizard's also, that can trigger my camera). Not sure it would actually be able to spot on the rider enough in a situation like the other thread shows where the rider is underexposed but the back ground is bright.
Old    Scott (scott_a)      Join Date: Dec 2002       07-15-2007, 11:40 PM Reply   
Nope...I dont think a light meter is gonna help you in that situation. That's one of those times where having a LOT of experience comes in handy!
Old    Rich Dykmans (richd)      Join Date: Oct 2003       07-16-2007, 5:39 AM Reply   
I have one but don't use it much as the in camera ones are pretty good these days. Scott said it best, you just need to know your camera and how it's meters any given scene. With RAW as long as you don't blow the highlites too much there is a fair amount of latitude in the shadows.
Old    Brad B (b_rad_b)      Join Date: Apr 2007       07-16-2007, 11:53 AM Reply   
I have one that I bought at a thrift store for like $10 that I use with my Rolleicord. If I shoot digital I use the built in meter. I agree with what has been said, you just need to have experience with different situations and know your camera.
Old    Walt (Walt)      Join Date: Jan 2003       07-16-2007, 5:00 PM Reply   
I'm only using the built in meter.
Old    Bess Marine (xtremebordgurl)      Join Date: Dec 2002       07-17-2007, 9:47 AM Reply   
I use both a hand held, sekonic L758DR and the in camera light meter. The trick with the light meter is knowing how to use it. When you are reading the light normally you are exposing for the highlights, what you need to do is expose for the shadow detail. The light falling on the subject is the same as the light falling on you. You wouldn't want to use the spot meter, that is the same as the meter in your camera. Use the incident light meter for a more accurate reading and read the shadow and the high lights. See how many stops different it is, digital limited in its tonal range. On bright sunny days you'll get contrasty images no matter what. The catch is, the meter in your camera reads reflected light, and wants to make it a middle gray. Knowing that, if you have a really bright scene just open up a stop or stop and a half to compensate for the in camera meter. If all else fails use your hand held incident meter. I usually start with the hand held meter to find a base point and adjust from there using the in camera meter. When working in studio only the hand held meter.
Old    Peter_C (peter_c)      Join Date: Sep 2001       07-17-2007, 9:36 PM Reply   
Thanks for all the replies. Bess, great write up. One of the big reasons I got the light meter was to help set up multiple strobes. Of course it will get used at other times. Was hoping to hear what Mike has to say too.
Old    Mike Isler (isler)      Join Date: Apr 2003       07-19-2007, 5:11 PM Reply   
Heyhey, I'm around! Been crazy busy so haven't been on WW lately. I'm assisting a commercial photographer out of New York these days, so I've taken a step back from shooting wake stuff myself.

Bess is on the money. Light meters come in very handy sometimes, but experience is the most important. Light meters won't fix the light for you though... all they do is measure how much light there is present.

It's important as Bess says to understand how a meter works and how to read its output. Also, understand the difference between Incident and Reflected readings. Reflected readings measure how much light bounces back off of an object, and give you the exposure you'd need to dial in to make the targeted object 18% middle grey. So, if you're trying to take a picture of snow, and you trust the reading right out of a reflected light meter (like the one built into almost every camera), the snow will appear grey. Knowing how the meter works, you can open up your exposure two stops (from middle grey to light grey, and light grey to white with detail) for proper snow exposure.

Incident meters (those with the little white dome) work differently. They measure how much light hits the meter directly, instead of how much bounces off of an object. So, you can use an incident meter on a white ski slope or on black lava fields and get the correct exposure. HOWEVER, the light falling on your meter must be the same as that falling on your subject. Probably will be the same if your subject is fairly close... but for landscapes where it might be cloudy over you and sunny in the distance, incident metering won't work so well.

Incident meters are fantastic for working with strobes. They allow you to measure the light output of each strobe unit, and calculate ratios in order to set up lighting patterns, among other things. Reflected meters are fantastic when you want to make things a certain tone... for example, if you're shooting B&W film and want to make sure something in a scene is dark grey, while something else is white with detail... you can measure that. Also by taking input from both the incident and reflective meters, you can measure tonality and also difference in tonality.

This is kind of a long answer to a simple question. I hadn't seen the other thread previously, but looking at the images in it, a meter won't help much. You can expose the rider properly, but the background will be overexposed. Quite simply, a meter will just allow you to read the light with a little more accuracy. They won't however change the direction of light for you, or even out a discrepancy in light.

Hope this helps!
Old    Peter_C (peter_c)      Join Date: Sep 2001       07-19-2007, 6:18 PM Reply   
Thanks for taking the time to write Mike :-)

This is the cool thing about websites were we can interact with professionals and other like minded photographers.

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