New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

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You are watching a free tutorial from Photography 101.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.

Getting The Perfect Exposure The First Time Around

Within Photography 101 we cover several scenarios and do several examples of Spot Metering, such as spot metering on a model’s skin to get the perfect skin tone in one try. That’s always a good use, but you can use spot metering to get the proper exposure for anything; skin, the sky, an article of clothing, or even a particular part of a scene where there’s beautiful light.

How To Get Perfect Exposures in One Shot Video

With the spot meter on your camera and the internal light meter, it’ll help you to get that perfect exposure on the first try, every single time, regardless of what you’re shooting. Just remember that when using the spot meter, use only Manual Mode, and do not use assisted or automated modes because it’s going to create all sorts of strange and undesirable exposures, depending on where the spot meter is. When using assisted or automated modes, we recommend sticking to center weighted average, or an averaging ‘type’ of metering mode.


Spot Metering Precision

Spot metering is beautiful because it only reads the tiny 3 to 5 percent of the screen and gives you that specific reading,  so it’s great for taking a reading of absolutely anything, from the sky, down to minute details. This can be particularly useful when you want to add light to a scene or just expose a scene however creatively you would like.

For example, what if you wanted to light a scene with flash, but don’t want the sky to be blown out? You would point to the sky and place the point on the desired area, and the camera would meter it and tell you what settings you would need to use in order for the sky to be perfectly exposed.


In this example, spot metering is being used to meter for correct exposure of the sky


In this example of the same frame, spot metering is being used to meter for correct exposure of the tree, and not an average of the sky and tree.

Note: Once you have spot metering selected, you’ll want to adjust your settings until the light meter is balanced in the middle to achieve the exposure being metered for.

Shooting Session Example


For the examples given in the video, we want to meter for Whitney, our model’s, skin.  If you’re taking a portrait, it’s often a good idea to meter right under the eye of your subject, and keep in mind that should your subject have fairer skin as Whitney does, it’s advantageous to go one stop over exposed of what the meter reading is.

*The lighter the skin of your subject, the camera tends to meter the exposure a little darker. If you have a subject with darker skin, don’t be surprised if it’s going to be a little bit under exposed when you meter.





Spot metering is a highly useful and critical tool you have at your disposal, that will allow you to easily achieve the perfect exposure you desire, the first time around. Using it will facilitate your creativity in almost any shooting scenario and with any subject, allowing your artistic vision to translate into your images, and on to the viewer.


Q&A Discussions

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  1. David Silverstein

    Why does this work only in manual mode.,  Many times you want to expose for your focus point.  That is the point you want in focus and correctly exposed.  If it is not, you can configure your exposure lock / focus lock button on the camera  to only lock exposure.  So you could point the focus point at the sky, hold down the lock button, then focus on the subject and take the picture.  I would think that would work in aperture priority, shutterspeed priority, or even fully auto mode. Of course I could be missing something here.

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  2. Yafete Yemuru

    What is the lens being used here?

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Assignment entries for this chapter

Photography 101