How to Measure or Meter Light | Transcription

In this video, we’re going to go over the light meter in detail, and this is why: we know basically how to adjust our exposure, we can adjust our exposure with our shutter speed, our aperture, our ISO, but how do we essentially know where to start out with? I mean, how do we get that first exposure to be roughly where we want it to be? What we need to do is we need to understand how that light meter works, and then we need to adjust according to it and then get our correct exposure.
Now, let me go ahead and just show you what I mean instead of talking through it. We’re going to hit the live view button right now just so we can get our screen just to show up here. Let me go ahead and hit the live view. Right now you can see that the screen is actually extremely dark. We can’t really see anything. The first thing I’m going to do is actually go down to an aperture that I want for the overall scene. I think for this scene it’d look really beautiful at around F2 to F2.8. That’s the first thing that I’m going to do, is I’m going to adjust my aperture based on the overall composition that I’m going for.
Let’s go ahead and just go down to F2. Right now you can see that the exposure based on this live view exposure preview is actually pretty close to where we want it to be. Now, let’s say that the shutter speed is up kind of high. Let’s say that we’re at 1/1000th of a second. The camera itself is going to basically give me a reading on that light meter. You can see this light meter at the bottom of the screen. The light meter generally is going to range from -2 or -3 stops. Right now we have -3 stops on this camera all the way up to +3 stops.
Right in the middle, where that little arrow is or where it says 0, that is what the camera is telling you is a technically correct exposure. We’ve already gone over basically talking about how exposures are really about the artistry, so different types of exposures, it really just matters on the scene. Whether you’re going for something bright and airy, whether you’re going for something a little bit more dark and dramatic, is doesn’t matter so long as you shoot the correct exposure for what you’re going for artistically. What that camera’s saying is that technically correct exposure just as a grain of salt. It’s telling you this is what it thinks is technically correct based on the metering mode you’re using. We’re going to talk about metering modes in a followup video. To the left of that little meter we know that it’s underexposed, and to the right of that meter we know it’s overexposed, and in the middle, that’s where it’s telling you it’s technically correct.
Let’s go ahead and as I bring my shutter speed up you’re going to see that little meter is going to keep pulling to the left. Now, at 1/4000th of a second, that’s actually the shutter limitation on this camera, we’re all the way at -3 stops. If I go ahead and I raise the aperture, it can’t really go down any further, so what you see is a little tiny arrow that points to the left of 3 stops. Some cameras only go to -2 stops on that +2 and the -2 side. If you see that arrow that’s saying it’s way off to the one side, you need to make some adjustments before your meter is going to appear within that little light metering range.
What we’re going to do is just make that adjustment real quick to get our meter back, and then go back to F2. We’re going to go ahead and slow down the shutter. If I just halfway depress the shutter release button, our little light meter pops back up on that display and I can see it again. Right now I’m at -2 stops, so I know that if I want to adjust via my shutter speed, I’m going to go one stop up. We’re going to go to 1/1000th. Now we’re one stop underexposed. Now I go to 1/500th.
Now, at 1/500th of a second, F2, and ISO 100, this is where the camera is telling me this is a technically correct exposure for this scene, but I still need to judge for myself. That’s where I really am going to use things like my histogram. We can see from this right here that the histogram is a little bit pulled to the shadow side, so what I might do is click down and we’ll go to 1/400th of a second. This is where I’m going to say is my correct exposure. Brighter tones is going to yield a better picture and it’s going to yield more flattering skin tones. So long as we’re not blowing everything out and I’m getting what I want, I want to err on the side of brighter for this type of a scene.
Quick Tip: All right, quick general tip, because Pye just mentioned a very important note that I want to briefly emphasize. He said, “So long as you aren’t blowing anything out, you want to err on the brighter side.” This technique is known as ETTR, or exposing to the right. Remember the histogram? Now, this doesn’t mean that you blow out your highlights, but rather that you will get a cleaner image if you expose to highlights than ETTL, or expose to the left, which would make the image darker. Rule of thumb: when you want to maximize tonal range in a shot and maximize image quality, ETTR, expose so that your meter is pushed as far to the right without actually blowing out any highlights and without clipping any shadows. Okay? Back to the video.
For right now, this looks great. What I’m going to do is pop the camera off and we’re going to go ahead and take our shot. The one thing I’m going to do here, though, is I am going to add a little bit of a fill light. I’m going to show you exactly what that’s going to do. Olivia, why don’t you grab the silver fill? What we’re doing here is we’re actually grabbing light from the sky and we’re filling it into her face. All I’m going to do is bring this underneath, and you can see how it opens up the catch lights in the eye. It does a really great job of adding additional light.
What we’re going to do is take it before and after. Why don’t you hold that? I’m going to go back here. I’m going to take this camera right off my tripod. We can stop recording on this. I’m going to turn it off movie mode. Let’s just go ahead and move this to the side now. With that little bit of a bump, we call it a bump basically because there’s a slight fill light, it shouldn’t be going too much where it’s going to be overexposed, it’s just going to be a little bit of light. I’ll take a look at the histogram. If we see anything blown out, we’ll make adjustments, but it should be okay.
I’m going to go ahead and turn on my autofocus real quick. I’m going to back up just a tiny bit. Beautiful. Now, this looks gorgeous, I love this shot, but we can get a little bit of extra fill with this reflector. Now watch what the reflector does. Olivia, let’s add it and go down a tiny bit, a little bit lower. There you go, perfect. Right there. Beautiful. Now, just in looking at these on the back of my camera I can see a major difference. That fill light, it just adds a little kiss of light that fills in all the shadowy area on the face. It’s very, very nice for a shot like this.

CHAPTER 1: BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY CONCEPTS

CHAPTER 2: UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE

CHAPTER 3: FROM AUTO MODES TO MANUAL

CHAPTER 4: SHARP IMAGES AND FOCUSING TECHNIQUES

Chapter 5: COMPOSITION, ARTISTRY, AND CREATING GREAT IMAGES

Chapter 6: LEARNING MORE ABOUT YOUR CAMERA

Chapter 7: BONUS

Total Course Run Time: 6H 30M 21S