What use a handheld meter?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Slowshooter, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    The real value of the Zone System is being able to visualize a scene and exposing to reproduce your visualizing when printing. I think Fred Pickering in his Zone VI Workbook does a good job of explaining in a straight forward manner the Zone and how to test for personal ISO. For roll film is Carson Graves' Zone System for 35mm Photographers. He shows how to test for personal ISO without needing a desnistomer. For a standard record shot an internal meter with a gray card or incident meter works for even the most tricky lighting. I have a number of meters, but last few years I when shooting large formate I use the internal meter in my Sigma SD 15, matrix mode, with a strofome cup to fit over a 17 to 55 zoom, in Spot mode and a 70 to 300 reads less than 5% of a scene, it is not much larger than my Soilgiar Spotmeter.
     
  2. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Actually an internal meter can do a reasonable facsimile of incident metering. Point the camera 180 from the subject and defocus. You'd be surprised.
     
  3. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

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    As stated above, you have an amazing tool, the Sekonic L558. I recently got one too-- it does it all, really well. For many years I used a Weston II from the late 1940's and a gray card. That worked fine as well. I think you would do well to shoot a lot of film, try some filters, take a lot of meter readings with your in-camera meter and the Sekonic and run some tests on your development. That's really the only way you're going to get comfortable putting it together. Reading is nice, but nothing beats doing the work. Plus it's more fun-- Go out and shoot! experiment!
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Slowshooter

    Slowshooter Member

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    Thanks once again everyone. I get someone else to process my films, so I'm not sure what developer he uses. I've processed film myself in the past and intend to get back to doing it. It certainly gives you more control. I suppose I'm somewhat timid in Lightroom. It's just that I feel guilty about changing the image too much from what it originally was. Then again, isn't that what every photographer (Adams included) has always done? Good old-fashioned bracketing appeals to me too. I would be happy with two or three good images out of a roll of ten. I'll definitely learn how to use the handheld meter properly and will make good use of it. Time to leave the reading aside and do some actual photography!
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    There are some before and after tone manipulation views of some of Adams' iconic photos kicking around the net, the difference in some of them is striking. He also changed his interpretation of some of these over the years.
    There is no reason not to be bold with lightroom (OR darkroom) if it suites your vision.
     
  6. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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  7. SteveT

    SteveT Member

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    Am I slow or missing the point completely? If I meter for the shadows and get a result say EV8 and the Highlights come out at EV14, if I am using ISO 100 film I should set my camera settings to EV6?
     
  8. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    If Shadows (with detail) are at EV8, and Highlights (with detail) are at EV14, then one can assume the Zone V is in the middle of the two, so simplistically the overall exposure is (14+8)/2 = EV11

    A simple average (or 'mean') of EV8 and EV14 is indeed EV11.
    But if you were averaging multiple readings, the 'average' biases the readings to be less/more than the simple mean.
    For example
    • 3 readings of EV8, EV9 and EV14 result in LESS THAN middle of the extremes EV11
    • 3 readings of EV8, EV12 and EV14 result in MORE THAN middle of the extremes EV11
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  9. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    If you measure 1000 spots equally spaced and average them all you would get the same reading at an averaging meter.
     
  10. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I'd disagree with the idea that light changes over distance unless there are shadows you need to compensate for.
    The sun is a point light source and is the same at any point over minor distance.
     
  11. Ces1um

    Ces1um Subscriber

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  12. So take the reading from a shady spot. I have done that miles from the subject with good results.
     
  13. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    I took the time to look at your photographs and I don't know what you are complaining about. Most of your material is pretty darn good. If you have to do a lot of "fixing" in the digital darkroom, then you probably need to understand exposure and development a little better. The recommended books are Adams' "The Negative" and Davis' "Beyond the Zone System" and you can't go wrong reading that material but it can get a little dense. One of my favourite books is long out of print: Henry Horenstein's "Beyond Basic Photography." There are some chapters you don't really need, but his basic explanation of exposure and development is really very clear - and all without graphs!

    You can find this book easily on ABE. If you don't know about ABE, take a look (www.abebooks.com). It is a network of a zillion used bookstores and you can pick up Horenstein's book for a few bucks.
     
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  15. guangong

    guangong Subscriber

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    Among my meters I am currently using a Weston ranger 9. A handheld meter makes one think about exposure. The meters in my Leicaflex and M5 require some thought. My Nikons are fitted with plain prism finders. Among so many cameras and meters there is enough variety to satisfy everybody. Whatever works for someone is the best. All depends.
     
  16. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    I use a handheld but have an outside company develop. I shoot MF and bracket all my shots gladly appreciating if I get two shots right out of a group of ten. I don't shoot that much. As an aside, I checked your portfolio and the photos looks good range and good contrast. Whatever you're doing just keep doing it.
     
  17. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I'm a multidisciplinary artist who has only recently gotten into photography. One thing that all of the art forms that I have pursued thus far have in common is that the best works come from a sesnsitive command of all of the elements involved.

    Photography, at its most basic, is capturing light. So being able to read and understand the light and how it's recorded is paramount. So a you can understand how a good light metering system that delivers consistent results will make you a better photographer. So whatever method of measuring light works best for you is what you should do.

    You may get confused by using two light meters. Light meters don't always agree with each other. So you may find that the best method is to just learn how to use one light meter really well, and become accustomed to all of its quirks and shortcomings. Or you may decide its best to learn how to use a bunch of different light meters, and figure out when to rely on which light meter.

    Everyone develops their own processes and preferences. You may even switch back and forth or use a hybrid of the two extremes. Go with whatever works best for you.

    My advice is: Buy some good, used light meters of each type (spot, reflective, incident) and see if you have a use for them. If you decide any of them are not for you, you can resell it/them for a minimal loss of time and money. It's worth the hassle to discover your own personal methods light writing.
     
  18. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Lots of good advice has been given in this thread. My question is: what do your negatives look like? Low in contrast or what? The appearance of the negative is what needs to be evaluated. If your film is being developed by someone other than you, that adds to the variables in solving the problem.