Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Final

Open eyeballs, close eyeballs.
Open eyeballs, close eyeballs.
Ah, them laziness drills.
Mostly closing eyeballs.
I'm getting very good.
I can close my eyeballs for a very long time.
Sort of like holding your breath but without the effort.
If you know what I mean.
So good am I at closing my eyeballs that I got started late this evening.
I went out and finished up a couple of rolls of film, mostly I was just out for the walk.
The weather had cleared some and it was nice and cool out.
Anyways, so Steve wants to get a light meter.
Lemme tell you what little I know about them.
First of all, you got your analog and digital:

Analog is mostly old school; I only know of one or two newer models that still use a dial.
My particular meter is/was made by Zeiss Ikon/Voigtlander.
I like it cause you spin the dial and when you get the right metering, it lights up:

Handy for shooting at night.
From there you can select what aperture you are using and look at the corresponding shutter speed.
It's an older meter that uses a CdS(cadmium sulphide) light thingy; newer models use an sbc (silicon blue cell) thingy.
Ancient meters have selenium cells that don't need batteries, but the cells tend to 'lose power' and go out of calibration.
Newer is better in this case as the sbc cell is able to take readings in lower light.
I think.
Anyways, the analog is nice if you unsure of what setting to use as it gives you a choice.
I know of only a couple of analog meters still being produced, but there are tons of older ones out there.
For my digital meter, you select either aperture or shutter priority and it tells you the other.
In other words, I select the aperture, it tells me the shutter.
Or I select the shutter and it tells me the aperture.

In this case, at ISO 50 (top right corner) and an aperture of f1.4, the shutter should be at 1/15 of a second.
Not an exact 1/15 as you can see on the bottom row the marker is between 1.4 and 2 so 1/15 of a second is a bit hot or slightly over exposed at f1.4.
I should stop down a bit to maybe f1.8 but unfortunately the meter doesn't read in 1/2 or 1/3 stops.
Still with me?
Over exposed:

The meters in cameras meter reflected light.
Meaning it is metering the light being reflected back to the camera.
Most newer cameras can be set to center spot metering or wide metering, most older cameras meter 60/40 center weighted.
This is not accurate because it depends on what part of composition you are aiming at:

This is a little better, the whites are not that overblown.
Between the two pictures, the top was probably metered on the orange part of the cone or the ground causing the camera to think the scene was darker than it really is hence over exposing a bit.
Here's one more:

In this case the camera was probably metering the reflective part of the cone making the camera think the scene was brighter than it really is hence under exposing.
What light meters can do is a thing called incident metering, taking a reading of the light falling on a subject giving you, the photographer, a better idea of what kind of light is well, lighting up a scene.
Incident metering is I believe used mostly for studio work since you have time to go over to your subject and take some readings.
It is supposed to be more accurate compared to reflected metering since reflected metering is dependent on what is reflecting back the light.
When I shoot indoor sports, sometimes the exposure will change depending on what color the jerseys are.
Still with me?
The middle image is about right, though I prefer the last image since I tend to shoot a little under exposed.
When using the camera's meter I often have to decide what part of the scene to meter and like the above I'll often choose different parts of the composition to change up the shutter speeds.
I shoot on Aperture Prioriy by the way, meaning the aperture stays the same, the shutter changes according to the metering.
Anyways, with a light meter, it gives more of an average reading; I believe the area it reads off is about 30 degrees wide, some wider, some narrower.
I think they also have a tendency to read the brightest light source, so when I use a meter I'll often shoot faster than it says, under exposing just a bit.
With the digital meter I can also "sweep" the scene and get a sort of average reading, showing me the high and low f/stops, though this is only in shutter priority, I think.
I only read the instructions once.
Other new fangled meters can do all sorts of complicated stuff like giving you an average and working with flash and other stuff, but I don't know what I'm doing anyways and having the extras would probably only confuse me.
If you know what I mean.
My digital meter in fact does some stuff I never use.
I think using a light meter gives one a good starting point for settings, you still have to know how to compensate for heavily back lit scenes or creating silhouettes:

In other words, the meter gave me one reading on that scene, but I had to know what to do with the reading.
Mostly I use my meter in low light: at night, and at sunset/twilight.
During the day I use it too, but compare it with my eyeballs and the Sunny 16 rule: inverse of the ISO at f16.
I'm also getting pretty good at shooting night stuff with ISO 400 film; good enough that I can guesstimate the shutter speed at f1.4, which is what I shoot at most often.
I also pay attention when I shoot with my digital, trying to remember the light and what the camera meters.
Most films are also very flexible giving good results within a one to three stop range so you really don't need to be spot on.
I don't alter my film images for exposure or contrast, but that is easily done in any post production software if you are little off.
What to spend?
I got my analog meter off of the eVilness for about $40.
My digital cost me a hunski.
Both are no longer made so I'm thinking of getting a newer one and I expect to pay at least a couple hundred.
I'm sticking with either Gossen or Sekonic though there are other brands and some folks swear  by one made by Minolta.
Is it worth it?
I think most studio photographers use one.
If I was shooting just 400 speed film, I'd think twice since I've sort of gotten used to it.
If you are new to film and not used to setting your own shutter and aperture, and shooting in a lot of changing light conditions, then probably.
What I'm saying is that in the olden days, they didn't need no stinkin light meters and they did okay.
A light meter will help you learn the manual settings on a camera and assist you if you are shooting all sorts of different speed films.
If you shoot more street stuff like I am now, sometimes you won't have time to use it and you must trust your own eyeballs.
For the most part having a light meter is a good thing.
I carry one whenever I'm using my oldfangled cameras but I got along pretty good when I didn't have one.
I suppose the best thing to do is get an inexpensive one and see how you like using it, the process and all.
Just remember, it really won't help you take better pictures.
That's up to you.


Steve A said...

I never learned to use the light meter for my dad's Nikon that he brought back with him from when he was in Korea. It is, however true that you can guess exposures fairly well without them, especially if no flash is involved.

limom said...

Yeah, I don't use flash, in fact I don't own one.
Your dad had perhaps a Nikon rangefinder?