Photographers and videographers can significantly benefit from using a light meter as this type of gadget enable them to have a superior precision and control over their images. If you’ve never utilized one before, we suggest you keep on reading as we have put together a list of tips and tricks you ought to consider.
What type do you own?
There are several kinds of new light meters out there, and that’s why this is the first questions you should ask yourself. Most can be split up into two categories; incident and reflective.
An incident meter is capable of reading the amount of light that falls on your photography subject. What this means is that you actually need to hold the meter right in front of the person or landscape you want to capture, and the device will do its job of evaluating the light. It’s said that an incident meter is far more precise compared to its reflective counterpart, and that’s because it can eliminate some of the errors produced by a backlit subject.
Reflective light meters are entirely different compared to incident meters. They actually measure the amount of light that is reflected by your video or photo subject. Reflective light meters can be found in most cameras nowadays. This design can be split up into three categories; matrix, center-weighted, and spot.
Most reflective light meters that are built in any cameras can switch between these patterns, which means that you can benefit from incredible convenience. Handheld light meters, which are used by professional photographers and videographers, can only do either incident or spot metering. Some can do both.
How to use a light meter depending on the type of photography you’re interested in
Now that we have established that not all kinds of light meter models are the same and as such, they don’t speak to the needs of all photo and videographers, we can move on to the next part of our guide.
Whether you choose to use incident or reflective spot meter reading, the fact of the matter is that you have to employ the device differently depending on the kind of photography you’re most interested in performing. Landscape photography calls for different settings compared to portrait photography, and that’s just an example.
With an incident meter, you can get accurate exposure settings for all of your pictures. Just hold the device out in front of your camera and make sure that the same amount of light falls across the scene and on the lumisphere. Push the button and then read the results. Set your camera’s aperture and shutter so as to match these settings.
One mention that we do have to make in relation to this type of design and purpose is that you ought to pay attention to the sun. Make sure that it does not shine right on the lumisphere; otherwise, you’ll underexpose your image. Another tip is to use the light meter in the shadow areas of the scene.
With a reflective spot meter, you have to take readings from several places. You should be interested in getting the readings from the darkest area in the landscape, the brightest one, but also several mid-tone ones. If your light meter is outfitted with a memory button, don’t hesitate to use it so as to keep the readings and therefore, be able to adjust the settings of your camera in accordance with them.
Although we have noted this at the beginning of the article, here is where you find out that getting an incident meter is a significantly better idea than getting a reflective one. An incident meter is an absolutely invaluable tool when it comes to capturing portraits. You can use it efficiently and conveniently to grab a reading of the amount of light that falls on your human subject’s face.
Hold the meter in front of your subject and make sure that the lumisphere faces your camera. Use the measure button and then select the settings of your camera in accordance to the readings. It’s as simple as that.
As is the case with landscape photography, when you shoot portraits you should use your reflective spot meter to get readings from several key areas. Commit the readings to the memory of the device and then use the average button to make sure that you don’t under or overexpose the shot. While it does require a bit more effort, you can still use a reflective spot meter in a convenient manner as long as you choose the right settings on your camera.
Still life photography
An incident meter can tell you the average amount of light that falls on your subject even if some parts of it are reflective or not. Hold the device in front of the subject so that the lumisphere faces your camera. Once you’ve gotten the readings, you can select the appropriate settings on your camera.
The problem with using a reflective spot meter when it comes to still life photography is that you often have several subjects you want to take a shot of. Therefore, there might be several areas that are reflective while others can be significantly darker. Just like you would if you were to perform landscape or portrait photography, you need to utilize the device to get readings from several different areas, commit them to the memory of the light meter, and then get the average.
Use any resource you can find
There are heaps and heaps of websites and online resources that can assist you in learning how to use a light meter. In fact, many photographers and videographers have their own blogs, video channels, or professional websites where they often publish articles or vlogs that can help you work everything out. Check out resources like Digital Photography School, VideoMaker, and ExposureGuide.
Believe it or not, the manufacturing brand’s manual can also be of some help. Even if you might not understand everything right off the bat, the manual will more often than not contain pictures as to how you’re supposed to use the device you’ve purchased.