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


Introduction

When shooting HDR images, the two metering modes you will generally be using are either the Evaluative/Matrix (Scene-Based) Metering Modes or the Spot Metering Mode. In this article, we will explain how these metering modes work when shooting in Aperture Priority and Manual Mode. However, choosing a metering mode really depends on your personal preference and your own workflow. In a previous article, we briefly mentioned metering modes when discussing the differences between shooting in Aperture Priority and shooting in Manual Mode. It is a good idea to read that article before reading this one because you will have a better understanding of the relationship between the camera mode and metering mode.

EVALUATIVE/SCENE-BASED METERING MODES

For those of you who are shooting your HDR images in Aperture Priority, it is a good idea to use the Evaluative/Scene-Based Metering Mode. On the Canon 5D Mark III, we have turned the dial on top until the Evaluative Metering Mode icon appears at the bottom right of the screen as shown below.

01_evaluative-scene-based-metering-mode-canon

On a Nikon, Evaluative/Scene-Based Metering Mode is referred to as Matrix Metering. On the Nikon D800 shown below, turn the dial until the white tab references the Matrix (Evaluative) Metering Mode icon.

02_matrix-metering-nikon

Now, based on everything the camera can visually see, the Evaluative/Scene-Based Metering Mode will determine whether the exposure value for your median shot is correct or not. The Evaluative/Scene-Based Metering Mode is safest when shooting HDR images in Aperture Priority because your camera will balance everything out and find the median exposure based on the entire scene. When shooting HDR images, we generally have 3 different exposures: a dark exposure, a median exposure, and a bright exposure which will capture the details and dynamic range of the scene. The Evaluative/Scene-Based Metering Mode is a simpler option when first shooting HDR images, but is also great in the Manual Mode.

SPOT METERING MODE

If you are shooting in Manual Mode, then you know that the metering mode is simply acting as a guide for you; therefore, use whatever metering mode you think is best. However, you will most likely be using Spot Metering when shooting HDR images in Manual Mode.

On the Canon 5D Mark III shown below, spin the dial on top until the Spot Metering Mode icon shows up at the bottom right corner of the screen.

03_spot-metering-canon

On the Nikon D800 shown below, turn the dial until the white tab references the Spot Metering Mode icon (same icon on the Canon).

04_spot-metering-nikon

In the Spot Metering Mode, a small percentage of the center focal point is the area used to determine the exposure. Place that area over whatever you want in your scene to be a natural exposure. Then you would base your median exposure off of that reading. The Spot Metering Mode is great because it acts as a very precise tool when shooting in Manual Mode. For example, this metering mode can be used to determine the correct median exposure for a person’s skin tones.

AUTOMATED CAMERA MODES AND SPOT METERING

You should not use Spot Metering Mode in any of the automated camera modes, such as Aperture Priority. In Manual Mode, any metering mode you use will not change the overall camera settings or exposure values. However, in any of the automated camera modes, like Aperture Priority, the metering modes will change the exposure value. For example, if we use Spot Metering and it only takes in 3% of where the center focal is, the median exposure will be adjusted according to that 3%. If that 3% is over something very bright, the median exposure will be very dark to compensate for that brightness. Likewise, if that area is over something very dark, then the median exposure will be brighter to compensate for that darkness. This will give you inaccurate exposures and poor HDR image results because the camera is dialing everything based on that one little area of the overall scene.

CONCLUSION

When shooting HDR photography in Aperture Priority, the safest metering mode is Evaluative/Scene-Based Metering Mode. Remember that the danger in using metering modes like Spot Metering when shooting in Aperture Priority is that the metering mode you choose will automatically affect the exposures that the camera will be taking. For advanced users shooting in Manual Mode, choose an appropriate mode that helps you achieve a proper median exposure more quickly.

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