Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 28: Metering Part 4: Advance Light Meter

Uploaded by adoramaTV on 22.08.2010

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Announcer: Adorama TV presents, "Digital Photography, One on One, " where we answer your questions.
Here's your host, Mark Wallace.
Mark Wallace: Hi, everybody, I'm Mark Wallace. Welcome to this week's episode of "Digital
Photography, One on One." A couple of weeks ago, we talked about some of the basics of
metering light using a light meter. This week we're going to take it a couple of steps further.
So, we're going to get started with a question from Jeff Young. Jeff wrote, "Could you explain
how to use some of the advanced features of your meter? Do you know any good tricks?"
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That's a great question, Jeff. Now, just a disclaimer on this episode; this is an advanced
episode, so if you're looking for basic light metering information... we did that a couple
of weeks ago... so, either, go to our You Tube channel, or just go to a couple episodes
back on iTunes, and you'll find that episode.
I want to start out by talking about the difference between incident and reflective metering.
Normally, when you use a light meter, you're using incident metering, which is metering
like this, hitting the LumiSphere.
Reflective metering is a little bit different. Reflective metering is when you use what's
called a spot meter. This is a Sekonic L758DR. It's got a spot meter built in. So, you hold
that up to you eye. It's got a little target; a little circle, that you put it exactly where
you want to meter.
If I want to meter my hand, I'd put it on my hand. The light that's coming and hitting
my hand is bouncing off; it's reflecting, and coming into the light meter, itself. That's
reflective metering.
The difference is: reflective metering is looking to average an 18 percent gray. So,
you have to know how metering works. It's really useful. Reflective metering is really
useful in several situations; most notably, when you're shooting landscapes or scenes
where you can't physically go to the area you're shooting.
So, if you're on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and you want to shoot the north rim,
you can't actually run across and hold this up to your camera. So, you could use a spot
meter to figure out the different values. Or, for subjects that generate light; neon
signs, televisions, or something that's got a really bright background.
Again, if you use an incident meter, it's not seeing the light coming from behind. Reflective
metering really helps out. Very similar to that are materials that are highly reflective
like chrome. Because, again, there's a lot of light reflecting, so you could meter that
My favorite reason to use reflective metering is when you want to use the zone system. We're
going to explain that in just a couple minutes. So, here are some of my favorite tricks to
use with the Sekonic L759DR. We're going to go into the studio and show those to you right
One of my favorite features of this meter is called, Auto-reset cordless flash metering
mode. Simply, what that means is that it gives you a little bit of extra help in the studio
when you don't have an assistant on hand.
How this works is; this meter has a standard quarter 20 threaded socket at the bottom.
It will be mounted right on a normal light stand, or a tripod... it can screw right on
there. I'm going to do that and put this stand exactly where I want to meter my light.
When I'm in the right Auto reset cordless flash metering mode, what I can do is I can
hit my metering button, and my meter is going to wait up to 90 seconds for a strobe to fire.
Once it does, then it will display the correct aperture value.
Then, it's going to wait another 90 seconds. As long as the strobe fires within those 90
seconds, it will reset, and wait another 90 seconds. It's a really handy trick. Here's
how you use it. I'll go ahead and push this. My meter is now waiting for a strobe to fire.
I'll zip over here to my camera, and I 'm going to trigger my strobe, using my Pocket
Wizard. As soon as that happens, I'm metering at 22. I think that's a little bit hot for
what I want. So, I can just change my power on my pack, here.
And, when I hit that, it's going to meter again. So, it meters at F11. I'll just confirm
that. Yep. I metered at F11, and then I can dial in my camera. And I can do all that stuff
right here without having to worry about having somebody hold my meter. It's a really useful
trick and I use it all the time in the studio.
Another really useful feature of the L758DR is that it has two scales. By default, you
have an aperture value scale on your meter, but you can also have and EV scale. You can
switch by hitting 'mode' and then this 'average' button. Now, you can see that we have an EV
This is really, really useful when you're checking for light ratios, and making sure
that your camera is exposed within its dynamic range. We're going to talk about that, next.
The EV scale is very, very useful when you're trying to figure out light ratios. This meter
makes it very, very simple, using Delta EV metering. What that means is; sometimes you
want to know the difference between one light and another, so you can set your light ratios
If I want to know the difference between this light and this one, specifically, in the stops;
I want to see if this is two stops, or one stop, or twenty stops different than this
one. I can do that with this light meter.
Here's how it works. You take the LumiSphere, and you want to put that down. Then, point
it to the first light you want to meter, usually, your key light. Then, I'll take a meter reading.
Now once I do that, I will push the memory button, which is over here, and that stores
it in memory. You can tell it's in memory because the indicator used to flash. Now it's
a solid. So it's saying that's in memory.
After I have done that, I can push my Average/Delta EV button. What that allows me to do is either
average my values or see the difference in those values. And so, I am going to use the
second feature which is showing the difference.
What I am going to do is, now I am going to put my lumisphere pointing to the second light.
And here's a very important thing. When I meter I need to push the meter button and
hold it. As ling as I hold it, it's going to show me the EV difference, in other words
how many stops different it is from this light to this one. So I'll push this and hold it
and as long as I'm holding it, it's showing me that there is negative one point eight
stops difference between this light and this one.
Then I can go and I maybe make a change in my light output. And then I can do that again.
I am going to put my hand here so it will be a much lower value. [ding] As long as I
hold that it is showing now negative three stops. I can do that again. [ding] . It shows
me what that difference is. And so I can do all my adjustments and make sure that my light
ratios are perfectly repeatable every single time.
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Now this next section is definitely for the advanced user. What we are doing here in this
scene is we have a very high contrast image where we have absolute black all the way to
absolute white and we're able to do that employing the zone system. Now if you don't about the
zone system I highly recommend this book. It's called "Zone System." It's written by
Brian Lav.
What we are doing here is we have what is called the calibrated dynamic range scale
on the meter. And what that does is I was able to calibrate my lens and camera body,
and to tell exactly what the dynamic range of that camera was, and then place that inside
my light meter. So I can take readings to see if the scene actually falls within the
capabilities of my camera. So that's really nice. And I did that using the Sekonic calibration
software that comes with this meter.
Now what we are going to do here is, we are going to start using the zone system. So I
am going to put my meter in reflective metering mode by just rotating this dial here. And
then I can use spot meter to look through and take different readings.
The first thing I am going to do is I am going to take a meter reading for zone five which
is middle gray. So I have a grey card to make sure we get this right. Hold that right there,
Don. Great. And I am going to take that. [ringing] And that meter's right at F5.
Now what I am going to do is, I am going to put that in memory and by doing that I am
locking in the middle gray on my meter. Now what I can do is I can start taking different
meter readings and it'll start plodding that on my dynamic range scale. So I am going to
take a meter reading of the light points, put it into memory, take a meter reading of
a dark point, put it into memory. And you can see that it will start building that on
the scale. And then again, I can see if I can actually capture the image that I see
with my eyes.
I am going to go ahead and do that. I am going to take a meter reading here on the shirt.
[beep] Put that in memory. I am going to take a meter reading on the dress here, put that
in memory. OK. And we can see that I'm just right at the limits of my camera's dynamic
range, which is great. That's what I want to do because I want an absolutely high contrast
Once I do that, I can just repeat that and take different meter readings on different
parts of my scene. I can add flags and reflectors and things to adjust as necessary. So I can
sort of shape the light without even having to look at my camera. It's pretty nice.
The nice thing is, once you have that you can adjust the scene to your creative vision
by underexposing or overexposing or moving the middle gray on the scale. So this meter
allows you to that at any time. You can take a reading and say, no, that's what I want
my mid tone to be, zone 5, and it'll shift all those readings up or down. So it's a very,
very powerful tool.
What I want to do is, we set middle gray or zone five at 5, now what I want to do is I
want to put this back into incident metering mode. And I'll take another reading. And this
is going to read at... [ringing] Yeah. So this reads at F8, which is a totally different
value. So what I can do now is -- I am going to take a couple of different pictures --
I am going to show you the difference between using the zone system and the advanced reflective
metering mode as opposed to the incident metering mode. And you can see there's just a big difference
of how the image looks.
Well there you have it. There are a few of my favorite techniques for using the Sekonic
L-758DR. This is my favorite meter, the one I use every day. I highly recommend it.
Well remember, if you have questions about photography or photography related gear, you
can send those to me at And if you're watching us on YouTube please
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Well that's it for this week. I'll see you next week.
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