Sunday, April 06, 2008

Light Meters

I use a light meter for some stuff. It's just what it sounds like - it tells you how much light is available. In particular this is a flash meter which is smart enough to look for a flash of light and measure it. Normally you point the little white dome at the light and trigger the flash and it tells you the camera settings. If that doesn't match the settings you actually want to use on the camera you adjust the light and keep triggering it until you're happy.

A lot of digital shooters either just eyeball it on the back of their camera (bad idea, the LCD brightness is pretty random) or use the histogram (a little chart of light to dark) which is fine for some things and not so fine for others. But even if it's the kind of lighting setup where you can use the histogram it's often faster to use the meter, and in fact you can get, say, a four light setup all ready to go before the model even shows up, so you're not paying her to stand there while you're adjusting lights.

People get very, very intense about this on photographer forums - some people think you're a moron if you ever skip using a meter, and others think they're obsolete and a waste of money. My feeling is that it's a useful tool that saves me time both while I'm shooting and avoiding having to fix bad exposures later in post processing. Generally I'd rather get it right in camera not as a matter of religion but because it's faster and easier in the long run.

This meter's pretty basic - it's the cheapest one Sekonic makes - but it works, and it's small which is useful if you want to use it outdoors (say, with an old camera that doesn't have a built in meter or not a very good one).

There's really no reason to ever take a picture of the meter, but people seem to find any kind of behind the scenes stuff interesting, so what the heck. I also wouldn't usually set one on top of a model - often you have them hold it, but if you have a model already laying down like this it might make sense as long as she's willing to humor you a bit (do ask first!).

3 Comments:

Blogger Wirehead said...

Well, for me, I keep thinking it would be really nice to have a good light meter, but need to combine this with basically being a tightwad.

9:15 PM  
Blogger lanmandan45 said...

yep, lot faster and more accurate than the built in stuff and if something helps you be more efficient, more effective, or do your job better, use it!
so, did you wind up going with these settings? i probably would have tried a little warmer lighting to bring out her skin tones more but that's just personal taste.

2:46 PM  
Blogger San Francisco Nudes said...

Actually I think I was still fiddling with the lighting including the direction when I took this - it's more just for fun.

3:44 PM  

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