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swmcl
10-Oct-2011, 02:38
Hello.

OK. So I'm out photographing the landscape. There are many times when I can't get to the location of the subject to take an incident meter reading. Sometimes, the landscape at the location is in the sun when I'm stuck in the shade or the other way round. Sometimes the landscape is just a complex of mid-tones, sometimes the SBR is scary.

Now I know I do not trust me and also I am not that comfortable with obtaining reflected readings with the lightmeter. I would very much prefer to only ever use incident readings - they just feel more reliable and in my past every shot I've taken using an incident reading is close to the mark if not dead right.

Must I use a reflected reading ? I'm using a Sekonic L358 with spot attachment.

Are there any tricks that you guys know of in certain situations ?

I need to get more confident with reflected readings. It feels like I'm being one of those automated guys who just point and shoot when I do the reflected light meter readings !! (Oh ... and I do have many Nikon 35mm lenses with several bodies from a past life - before I became enlightened ... )

Tips and tricks with obtaining readings please !!

Cheers,

Steve

GPS
10-Oct-2011, 02:41
Do search and you'll find all you need.

Roger Cole
10-Oct-2011, 03:42
A reflected light reading of a standard gray card (assuming "nominal" meter calibration) will be the same as an incident reading with the meter placed where the gray card is. The key to reflected readings is reading the right value.

This is a key part of the zone system and those systems derived from it, whether elaborated or simplified from the original of Saint Adams.

So - get comfortable with them. For large format I consider a 1* spot meter essential. Oh, I broke mine once and until I got another I used my Luna Pro (normally used with medium format, mainly) and the 7.5* accessory for it and my negatives were fine, but it felt and was a lot less precise.

Mark Barendt
10-Oct-2011, 06:23
Sure are.

First, understand that light is really fairly predictable.

What I mean is that at a given time of day, in a given situation, in given weather; the brightness is nearly a given. That is the basis for this http://www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm and the little instruction sheets that used to come in film boxes.

Second, understand that the relationship between bright areas and dark areas is also fairly predictable.

This takes some practice to be practical but it's not too tough. Pick practice scenes where you can get into various light situations, maybe around the house.

Take an incident reading in the normal way then walk under a tree into mixed lighting and take another reading, do the same in the shade behind a building, and various other spots. Take notes each time.

Do the same testing at differing camera angles too, in relation to the sun.

Once you try this a few times you'll start seeing patterns and start being able to guess what the camera setting should be even when you aren't in a perfect spot to meter "normally".

Some of my local buddies, with many years of practice in their pockets, actually shoot their favorite situations using E6 completely by eye, no meter at all and rarely miss.

Third relax, perfect exposure is a great goal and worth aspiring to, but not absolutey required.

Probably the most famous example of guessing at an exposure is for Ansel Adam's Moonrise. Ansel's negative wasn't great but the print was.

BrianShaw
10-Oct-2011, 07:34
Third relax, perfect exposure is a great goal and worth aspiring to, but not absolutey required.

x2

Steve, you need to get over your bias against reflected light readings (and against smaller format cameras). This/these biases appear to be interfering with your ability to practice the arts and crafts of photography.

Vaughn
10-Oct-2011, 09:03
First, understand that light is really fairly predictable.

Not under the redwoods! And probably not under the deep rainforests of Queensland. My shadow readings (darkest areas I wish to maintain detail) can vary by 3 or so stops under the same lighting conditions. And when photographing in there under an overcast sky, the thickness of the overcast varies throughout the day, yielding very different readings. But out in the open, you are correct, Mark.

Mark Barendt
10-Oct-2011, 09:44
Vaughn, were not necessarily disagreeing.

Meter readings and placement choices are two different things.

I take an incident reading, ask myself where I got that and where I want that?

Spot metering is no different.

What varies is our refernce points and our style. Personally the absolute shadow point isn't important to me, the mid-tone placement is much more important to me. I have already chosen my relative shadow point when I chose my EI.

This is not to say that I don't play with a given shot's shadow point, but it still falls back to an placement choice.

This is style choice, not a mistake, and experience let's me make my placement choices without reflected readings and often even without a meter.

Vaughn
10-Oct-2011, 10:00
I don't quite follow you, Mark, but that is my fault. Like you said, different style, and different needs probably as well.

I did go photographing with someone last week in the redwoods (rare for me as I usually am solo). At one place, his incident readings/placement were three stops different than my spotmeter readings/placement. At the same f/stop, he recommended around 10 seconds, mine was 60 seconds (w/o reciprocity failure adjustment). So I just used 60 seconds with no adjustment. I lost my detail in the darkest areas I wanted detail -- should have corrected for the rec. failure. Still will make a decent print as those shadow areas are relatively small and unimportant to the image (a self-portrait).

swmcl
11-Oct-2011, 02:40
Brian ... you are correct. I am not much of an artist and lots of an engineer. Artsy fartsy is a challenge for me.

Mark ... thank you for your response. I shall potter around the house on the weekend. I do know what you mean by predictable and practice with measurements trains me I'm sure. The importance of the 'exactness' of exposure has a direct correlation to how much the photo costs to produce. If its E6 4x5 I take lots of care.

Roger ... I have misplaced my collection of Kodak grey cards and in my recent relocation across Australia I am certain they didn't come for the journey. I shall buy some more.

Thanks for your replies. I should add that Australian light is very bright and the landscape can be very contrasty because the leaves on the trees are usually very dark in colour. So a Queensland beach and forest scene for example will be an enormous SBR - perhaps 10 or 13 stops. Oh for a little smog and distance from the equator !

Roger Cole
11-Oct-2011, 03:35
I didn't really mean to suggest that you necessarily need a gray card. I just wanted to point out that if you read an appropriate middle gray, the reflected and incident meters will agree. The trick to reflected light readings is learning to read the right areas for your film type and the way you want to render the scene.

Mark Barendt
11-Oct-2011, 03:38
The importance of the 'exactness' of exposure has a direct correlation to how much the photo costs to produce. If its E6 4x5 I take lots of care.

Actually the "issue" I have with E6 is not cost directly, it is technical, in that it develops directly to a finished product therefore "needs" high accuracy to be usable. When shooting important E6 shots I'll take 2 to 4 sheets for each setup so that development can be adjusted if need be.


Thanks for your replies. I should add that Australian light is very bright and the landscape can be very contrasty because the leaves on the trees are usually very dark in colour. So a Queensland beach and forest scene for example will be an enormous SBR - perhaps 10 or 13 stops. Oh for a little smog and distance from the equator !

Not necessarily a problem for a negative but definitely an issue for paper or E6.

Just a thought here given your engineering background. (My daughter is in her third year at an engineering university and I shoot with a few engineers on occasion.)

I'm atypical with regard to landscape shooting, I lean more toward pictorial sensibilities, rather than f64.

I want shadows and highlights that support the main subject, I don't want them competing with the main subject.

For me too much detail in the shadows or highlights is a problem.

BrianShaw
11-Oct-2011, 07:22
Brian ... you are correct. I am not much of an artist and lots of an engineer. Artsy fartsy is a challenge for me.

I know the syndrome well. Me too. One thing that helped me get past "being an engineer" is when I finally realized that for most photographic materials and processes (E6 being the primary exception) there is lots of latitude/margin and many alternative methods to make subtle correction along the way. Start thinking in the "good enough for government work" way and there becomes much more opportunity to attend to lighting and composition! Good luck!

BrianShaw
11-Oct-2011, 07:28
When shooting important E6 shots I'll take 2 to 4 sheets for each setup so that development can be adjusted if need be.


(trying not to get too far off track) Mark, I've always bracketed in that situation. Are you shooting multiples at same exposure and processing one, then adjusting processing individually instead of bradketing and processing all the same?

Ivan J. Eberle
11-Oct-2011, 07:51
Shooting E6 outdoors-- especially on a partly cloudy day-- is a real crapshoot using incidence metering (e.g. without a spotmeter to determine whether the brightest and darkest elements within the scene will fall within the dynamic range of the film). The question is really why the OP is using E6 at all if so lacking in confidence in metering? Is the OP constrained to shooting only one emulsion due to some long-ago edict from on high? Using transparency-only film is akin to tying one hand behind your back--and largely unnecessary given today's hybrid workflows. My advice is to shoot C41 process neg film whenever less than sure of your exposure being within 5 stops. (Then even "Sunny 16" will usually get you in the ballpark.)

Mark Barendt
11-Oct-2011, 10:05
(trying not to get too far off track) Mark, I've always bracketed in that situation. Are you shooting multiples at same exposure and processing one, then adjusting processing individually instead of bradketing and processing all the same?

Yes

Alan Gales
11-Oct-2011, 11:21
I recommend a spotmeter. They are not hard to use. I'm also an amateur and I use one. You can practice with 35mm film until you get used to the meter. :)

swmcl
14-Oct-2011, 03:37
Hi Ivan,

I'm shooting E6 for the colours. I almost always shoot Velvia 100 when shooting E6. Whenever I can I try to use incident metering. In a very great many circumstances the latitude of E6 cannot cope with the SBR of the subject. I need to bracket. If I bracket to 1 stop above and 1 stop below the incident reading I know I'll get something. I can bracket above and below a reflected reading but if I dont have a specific black or white in the scene then I need to make a guess.

For example.

Take a scene where I have some white-ish beach sand in the lower left foreground. The view is out across the ocean to an unusual rock which is a darker grey in the majority. There are storm clouds in the far distance covering much of the sky. The sun is lower and behind me. Its 2 or 3pm so the sun is still pretty high. The sand sunes behind me will shadow the beach and the glint in the waves will be lost if I go too much later into the day. The water is a turquoise blue.

I want the waves to have sunlight shining through them. I want to see some details in the gritty sand with its small shells and yet also white sand. I see barnacles at the water line some 20m away on the rocks to my right ...

Oh ... you cant bracket because of the breaking wave ...

The photo is hanging in my living room. But do you know what I did ? I couldn't bear to take a reflected reading so I stood on the sand dune behind the camera and pointed the dome halfway between the angle from subject to photographer (quite low almost horizontal) and the angle from subject to the sun (quite vertical at 2 or 3 pm). The exposure was then a little less than if I'd been standing halfway out to the rock pointing back to myself on the beach.

Exposure for E6 is not something I feel offhanded about. It is something needing good precision. I just went outside yesterday and we have a wheat coloured shed in the backyard. I took a reflected reading and an incident reading. I would not have guessed that the shed wall was 2 and a third stops up on middle grey. There would not be any whites nor blacks in the photo from which to base a zone reading.

Cheers !

Mark Barendt
14-Oct-2011, 05:18
A while back I read Dunn and Wakefield's exposure manual 3rd edition, really helped me to understand the whys of the different styles of metering.

There are essentially three points we can peg an exposure to. Shadows, highlights, or mid-tones and it is a given that we can only use one of these points at a time.

Each reference point has it's uses, but for color work or anything involving a face, the book makes a great case for pegging the highlights or better yet the mid-tones rather than the shadows.

The observations they made regarding incident metering were an eye openers for me and this relates to orienting the head and the use of the dome.

Flat faced (dome retracted) and pointed directly at the light source (for example the sun or street lamp directly overhead, rather than at the camera) an incident meter pegs exposure reading purely for the main light. This method is very protective of the highlights.

Duplexing, done flat faced (way back when there weren't any domes), averages the main light reading above with a reading made while pointed at the camera. This type of reading considers what the camera can see in addition to the main light. The book makes the case that using this method will provide the best exposure in most cases.

In practice I've found this to be very, very true.

Domed meters actually "do the duplexing" for us up to a certain point. As long as the camera angle (from main light directly behind the camera) does not exceed 135 degrees, the flat faced duplexed reading and single domed reading wil typically agree.

Greg Miller
14-Oct-2011, 07:22
Thanks for your replies. I should add that Australian light is very bright and the landscape can be very contrasty because the leaves on the trees are usually very dark in colour. So a Queensland beach and forest scene for example will be an enormous SBR - perhaps 10 or 13 stops. Oh for a little smog and distance from the equator !

That kind of scene just is not suited for transparency film. The typical transparency film has an exposure latitude of 5 stops. If your SBR is 10 stops, then 1/2 of the values will be out of the range of the film's capability. I personally would not bother shooting that kind of scene with a transparency film.

Better to switch to a negative film, choose a different subject with less contrast, or shoot at a different time of day when the light is less contrasty.

Mark Barendt
14-Oct-2011, 07:48
That kind of scene just is not suited for transparency film. The typical transparency film has an exposure latitude of 5 stops. If your SBR is 10 stops, then 1/2 of the values will be out of the range of the film's capability. I personally would not bother shooting that kind of scene with a transparency film.

Better to switch to a negative film, choose a different subject with less contrast, or shoot at a different time of day when the light is less contrasty.

Giving up on a good subject just because the lighting is tough is kinda silly in my mind.

Switching to a negative is a thought but many times that is just switching where the work gets done, forcing a bunch of burn and dodge. Some of my buddies shoot E6 simply because they only want to deal with camera work, they simply have no interest in manipulation after the fact.

Picking the time of day is a good option, there are others though.

Done well, artificial lights, reflectors, or strobes, can make a huge difference in the foreground allowing an exposure setting that can bring a shot into a manageable SBR.

Graduated ND Filters can also be used to tame a bright sky or bright ground.

Ivan J. Eberle
14-Oct-2011, 08:19
Steve, if you want good color and you've got a high SBR, why not try some different films? It might be eye opening. Easily done, from shot to shot, in LF.

If sticking with E6 because you need to view it on a light table, Astia 100F can be pulled as well as pushed. I've seen better than a 6-stop SBR out of it. Incidence metering off sand will usually be 1 to 1-1/2 stops over a good middle toned value and get you in the ballpark. It takes polarization well. Astia is fantastic film, if you can still find it.

When shooting E-6 though, without the benefit of a screen of clouds (or bouncing/banking light from them) it's often necessary to choose the time of day shoot when the sun is between 0˚-30˚ from the horizon. White beach can actually be your friend here, because it bounces light into shadows to reduce contrast. Particularly in regard to specularity and vegetation, a polarizer can really help bring the SBR in line, especially an hour or two after sunrise.

Now, C41 is just an altogether different animal. It really takes some bungling to get an exposure on Portra 160 or Fujicolor 160S that isn't useable. If you want nice saturated color it's tough to beat Ektar 100 (about a 12-stop SBR, though it doesn't have but about 1 stop exposure latitude).

Incidentally c.1948 GE DW-58 incident meter is still going strong (Selenium cell--no batteries!); I use it regularly for C-41 exposures.

r.e.
14-Oct-2011, 08:32
That kind of scene just is not suited for transparency film. The typical transparency film has an exposure latitude of 5 stops. If your SBR is 10 stops, then 1/2 of the values will be out of the range of the film's capability. I personally would not bother shooting that kind of scene with a transparency film.

Better to switch to a negative film, choose a different subject with less contrast, or shoot at a different time of day when the light is less contrasty.

Steve, I think that this is dead on. The problem isn't your metering. The problem is that you are fighting the film. To paraphrase an old member of this forum, now deceased, who had a wry sense of humour, you are trying to photograph a black cat peeking out from under a white car in mid-day Arizona sun :)

Greg Miller
14-Oct-2011, 08:50
Giving up on a good subject just because the lighting is tough is kinda silly in my mind.

One of the skills of a good photographer is learning to know when to move on. I certainly don't shy away from tough lighting. But a subject with a SBR of 10+stops and transparency film rarely yields an acceptable result. Most landscape photographers using transparency film recognize that if a scene contains open sun and also shaded areas, a choice has to be made between blowing out highlights or letting shadows go black. If the SBR is 6 or 7, then I would agree with you. But that is not what the OP described.


Switching to a negative is a thought but many times that is just switching where the work gets done, forcing a bunch of burn and dodge. Some of my buddies shoot E6 simply because they only want to deal with camera work, they simply have no interest in manipulation after the fact.


Since negative film has much more exposure latitude than positive film, there isn't necessarily any dodging or burning involved. I am very experienced with E6 film. I don't see how manipulation is tied to negative film and not to transparency film. Manipulation is independent of media.


Done well, artificial lights, reflectors, or strobes, can make a huge difference in the foreground allowing an exposure setting that can bring a shot into a manageable SBR.

In a big scene like the OP mentioned (where he cannot get to parts of the scene to perform an incident reading), I don't see any of these options being practical in most cases.


Graduated ND Filters can also be used to tame a bright sky or bright ground.

Sometimes, yes. GNDs are in my bag at all times. But with a SBR of 10+ stops, you are looking at filtration of 5+ stops to bring all elements of the scene into a range where highlights are not blown or shadows are black. In the scene the OP describes, with bright beach, bright sky, dark tree leaves, this probably is not practical, and an SBR of 10+.

Mark Barendt
14-Oct-2011, 09:30
One of the skills of a good photographer is learning to know when to move on. I certainly don't shy away from tough lighting. But a subject with a SBR of 10+stops and transparency film rarely yields an acceptable result. Most landscape photographers using transparency film recognize that if a scene contains open sun and also shaded areas, a choice has to be made between blowing out highlights or letting shadows go black. If the SBR is 6 or 7, then I would agree with you. But that is not what the OP described.

I agree that there are times one needs to walk away.

There are many times though that you have to make the best of what's there.


Since negative film has much more exposure latitude than positive film, there isn't necessarily any dodging or burning involved. I am very experienced with E6 film. I don't see how manipulation is tied to negative film and not to transparency film. Manipulation is independent of media.

Latitude is simply the ability to miss the exposure on film and get a decent print.

Negatives can surely capture a wider range than trannies but the paper and the contrast rate we expect on paper defines how much of the original scene can be straight printed.

Most color papers are one trick ponies so there are real limits. That means it still comes down to the question of where we want to do our manipulation, not if.

Greg Miller
14-Oct-2011, 11:05
I agree that there are times one needs to walk away.

There are many times though that you have to make the best of what's there.



Latitude is simply the ability to miss the exposure on film and get a decent print.

Negatives can surely capture a wider range than trannies but the paper and the contrast rate we expect on paper defines how much of the original scene can be straight printed.

Most color papers are one trick ponies so there are real limits. That means it still comes down to the question of where we want to do our manipulation, not if.

You are talking about results different than what the op is after. Show me 5 landsape photos of a scene with 10+ stop sbr shot on transparency film that are of a high quality. Do they exist? I'm sure they do. But they won't be the type that the op seems to be looking for. He says he wants an exposure that captures dark leaves and bright beach and sky. That isn't happening with transparency film

Unless a paper and film have the same contrast and response curve, some manipulation is required in processing and printing. With a contrasty scene, there is no getting around that you will lose detail with transparency film. With negative film, at least you can capture the detail, yielding a better print. and that appears to be the op's goal.

Mark Barendt
14-Oct-2011, 12:28
Actually we are both straying from the op's question which was about metering, specifically the ability to use an incident meter with the films he likes.

Trying to stuff a ten stop scene onto Velvia is going to be tough, no doubt. No meter will change that.

E. von Hoegh
14-Oct-2011, 13:37
Hello.

OK. So I'm out photographing the landscape. There are many times when I can't get to the location of the subject to take an incident meter reading. Sometimes, the landscape at the location is in the sun when I'm stuck in the shade or the other way round. Sometimes the landscape is just a complex of mid-tones, sometimes the SBR is scary.

Now I know I do not trust me and also I am not that comfortable with obtaining reflected readings with the lightmeter. I would very much prefer to only ever use incident readings - they just feel more reliable and in my past every shot I've taken using an incident reading is close to the mark if not dead right.

Must I use a reflected reading ? I'm using a Sekonic L358 with spot attachment.

Are there any tricks that you guys know of in certain situations ?

I need to get more confident with reflected readings. It feels like I'm being one of those automated guys who just point and shoot when I do the reflected light meter readings !! (Oh ... and I do have many Nikon 35mm lenses with several bodies from a past life - before I became enlightened ... )

Tips and tricks with obtaining readings please !!

Cheers,

Steve

FWIW, I spent a month in Germany, using reflected readings via an old Lunasix, and didn't muff a single exposure. I was using Agfachrome 100 and a Nikon.

Greg Miller
14-Oct-2011, 16:01
Trying to stuff a ten stop scene onto Velvia is going to be tough, no doubt. No meter will change that.

On that we can finally agree.


That kind of scene just is not suited for transparency film.

Mark Barendt
14-Oct-2011, 16:47
On that we can finally agree.

I don't believe that transparency film should be written off as unsuitable, only that compromises would need to be made.

I have roughly 6000 slides that my dad took back when I was a kid. Kodachrome and Ektachome all processed normally AFAIK. Most were metered with an old selenium meter of some sort bought in the mid-fifties, when the Canon AE1 came out he started using the built in meter some and it seems to me that the exposure quality/consistency dropped a bit.

Landscapes, flowers, portraits, candid's, the desert, snow skiing and dark trees, beaches with waves, you name it. If I had to guess maybe 1/2 a percent or less of the incident metered could be said to be off with regard to exposure. There are no dupes or bracketed sets. Every roll has every shot.

Also, with the exception of the obviously goofed shots, I can't remember seeing a single shot in that whole archive where I thought dang it would have been better with more shadow or highlight detail.

My point here is that even without 10+ stops of range, great shots can be made.

Greg Miller
14-Oct-2011, 17:28
Your trying to argue point I have never made. I said nothing bad about transparency film's limited dynamic range. I have plenty of nice transparency photos too. I never said anything negative about transparency film (no pun intended). If those 6,000 slides from your dad have shadow detail and highlight detail, then the scenes did not have more than 5 stops of range.

What I did say is a scene with 10+ plus stops of light is not suitable for transparency film. I'm obviously generalizing here, there are always exceptions, but very few accomplished photographers use transparency film for scenes with a 10+ stop range on a regular basis.

Please take a look at my original post and you will see that I was responding specifically to the OP's comment about scenes with 10+ stops. A film with 5 stops of range is not a good choice for such a scene unless the photographer is happy with losing detail in the other 5+ stops.

swmcl
15-Oct-2011, 05:12
I hear you about fighting the film. If there's one thing I would crave above all its a slide film with a 7 or 8 stop range instead of 5.

I am getting into B&W more too as time goes by but my first love is the Velvia landscape. In Aus we don't have a very good selection of films. I'd have to import to get even some common ones I reckon. I am not up with the scene at the minute because I'm still working out of a fridge full.

I should say that I went back to the bookshelf and picked up my hand exposure meter handbook from Zuckerman Shell Silverman and Hirschfeld and looked again at their explanations of reflective readings and even though they don't say it they are guessing every time with the reflective reading. Constantly, they say things like, "I pointed the 1 degree spotmeter at a part of the vaulted ceiling that was mid-toned ..." whereas all the time I am not quite sure of my judgements as to what exactly is mid-toned.

I'll get it have no fear. As I get more film under my wings it'll become second nature - or more so - anyway. I'm noticing flouro lights heat up now ...

This is a good discussion. I'm going back to re-read !

swmcl
15-Oct-2011, 05:22
As for scenes not suited to the colour slide film ...

I'm leaning more to the bracketing when I can because without bracketing I'd be leaving out a lot of photographic situations ! I'm not quite at the point of giving up on colour. I do think a good many of the things I photograph are because they are colourful.

Yes I do own grad grey, ND, polarisers etc etc. but with all of this it is still a wide variance. Perhaps the real thing to do is to really, really celebrate when something turns out well given the difficulty of the task.

GPS
15-Oct-2011, 05:30
...

I should say that I went back to the bookshelf and picked up my hand exposure meter handbook from Zuckerman Shell Silverman and Hirschfeld and looked again at their explanations of reflective readings and even though they don't say it they are guessing every time with the reflective reading. Constantly, they say things like, "I pointed the 1 degree spotmeter at a part of the vaulted ceiling that was mid-toned ..." whereas all the time I am not quite sure of my judgements as to what exactly is mid-toned.
...


If you learned more on metering you would find out that even the incident light metering is as much "guessing" to use your word as the reflective metering. The middle value to which incident metering tends is as artificially established as the reflective middle tone is. ;)

Mark Barendt
15-Oct-2011, 05:39
Fuji Astia's range is about 2-stops wider than Velvia, Provia falls between those two.

I'd suggest trying both.

Mark Barendt
15-Oct-2011, 06:43
If you learned more on metering you would find out that even the incident light metering is as much "guessing" to use your word as the reflective metering. The middle value to which incident metering tends is as artificially established as the reflective middle tone is. ;)

While it is true that meter's reference tone is arbitrary (true of all meter types), it is also true that it is a constant. Once a personal EI is established the distance from "any given reading" to "any point on the film curve" can be found (again, true for all meter types).

The big difference is in guessing about what is being measured.

Incident meters with tested EI's dialed in, used in the same manner that the EI testing was done (duplexed, domed, whatever), will provide flawless "no guess" readings every time.

The one caveat is that they need to be in/measuring the same light as the subject is in. Only when we can't get in the same light are we forced into guessing.

I would suggest that bracketing around a normally done incident meter reading is essentially a form of EI testing, the reference point is that reliable.

Reflective meters can be just as accurate, with one caveat; the target of the measurement needs to be a "known". A grey card or some other true reference point in the scene.

The problem with reflected metering is that many of the targets we choose to measure are not "knowns", we have to guess about what the middle tone in "this" shot is, as the OP laments.

It's a fair bet that if I can't get my incident meter into the same light as the subject, that I'm not going to be able to get a gray card into the scene either.

Of the people I have seen spot metering, very few put "known" targets into a scene.

That doesn't mean the do a bad job of metering, it just means they have learned to guess well.

Greg Miller
15-Oct-2011, 11:25
I would reconsider your reluctance to use a reflective spotometer. The process is simple and precise. A meter wants to render the scene a medium gray. With a film lke velvia, that would be zone 3. 2 stops above zone 3 (in a 5 zone scale) will be a detail- less white. So just spotmeter the brightest object for which you want detail. The meter will put that object at zone 3. add 1.5 to 1.75 stops of exposure to the meter reading and expose your film.

You can also spot meter the darkest object in the scene, compare it to your highlight reading, and determine if you have exceeded your film latitude.

GPS
15-Oct-2011, 12:16
...

It's a fair bet that if I can't get my incident meter into the same light as the subject, that I'm not going to be able to get a gray card into the scene either.

Of the people I have seen spot metering, very few put "known" targets into a scene.

That doesn't mean the do a bad job of metering, it just means they have learned to guess well.

If you want to split the hairs even more, then again - the "known" target, say a gray card, is no holy grail either. It is an artificially made value serving to present an average value. The dome does this in its own way but again, it's made to serve an average value...
Finding a middle tone is not more (perhaps even less) difficult than playing mentally with zones. In fact, once known, it is pretty trivial. IMO the OP should learn the reflective rocket science instead of writing poems about incident virgins.

Roger Cole
15-Oct-2011, 12:52
Constantly, they say things like, "I pointed the 1 degree spotmeter at a part of the vaulted ceiling that was mid-toned ..." whereas all the time I am not quite sure of my judgements as to what exactly is mid-toned.

I'll get it have no fear. As I get more film under my wings it'll become second nature - or more so - anyway. I'm noticing flouro lights heat up now ...

This is a good discussion. I'm going back to re-read !

It's not "judgments about what exactly is mid toned" but rather the selection of area to meter is "a decision about what you WANT to be mid toned."

I'm speaking primarily about black and white because that's primarily what I shoot, but the same thing applies to the luminance range for color transparency. Which areas do you WANT to be midtoned? Then, you can read with your spot meter and say (based on testing, I'm rather going by what I've read here for this example) if your film has a range of five stops, +/- 2.5, then anything more than 2.5 stops darker will lose shadow detail and anything more than 2.5 stops brighter will be a blown out highlight.


I would reconsider your reluctance to use a reflective spotometer. The process is simple and precise. A meter wants to render the scene a medium gray. With a film lke velvia, that would be zone 3. 2 stops above zone 3 (in a 5 zone scale) will be a detail- less white. So just spotmeter the brightest object for which you want detail. The meter will put that object at zone 3. add 1.5 to 1.75 stops of exposure to the meter reading and expose your film.

You can also spot meter the darkest object in the scene, compare it to your highlight reading, and determine if you have exceeded your film latitude.

Er, not unless you are using "zone" in some way I've never heard before. The reading is for a nominal zone 5. It's fair to say that anything two stops brighter than the area you meter for will be blown out if that's what your testing has shown, but that's still zone VII.

The method works, I'm just quibbling about the odd renumbering of the whole zone scale. If Velvia can hold detail in highlights only to 1.75 stops brighter than a metered area, that's zone VI 3/4. It's perfectly reasonable to then meter the brightest area where you want highlight detail and add 1.75 stops.

Greg Miller
15-Oct-2011, 14:00
Er, not unless you are using "zone" in some way I've never heard before. The reading is for a nominal zone 5. It's fair to say that anything two stops brighter than the area you meter for will be blown out if that's what your testing has shown, but that's still zone VII.

The method works, I'm just quibbling about the odd renumbering of the whole zone scale. If Velvia can hold detail in highlights only to 1.75 stops brighter than a metered area, that's zone VI 3/4. It's perfectly reasonable to then meter the brightest area where you want highlight detail and add 1.75 stops.

Its just my personal application of a zone system. If a film has a 5 stop range, then to me it is logical to have a 5 stop scale, which then puts mid tones on zone 3. i realize that this is not typical, but should be obvious when i mentioned a 5 stop scale.

John Koehrer
15-Oct-2011, 16:13
Either will give consistant results and there is no "guessing".
It's called "interpretation" =@)

Roger Cole
15-Oct-2011, 21:09
Its just my personal application of a zone system. If a film has a 5 stop range, then to me it is logical to have a 5 stop scale, which then puts mid tones on zone 3. i realize that this is not typical, but should be obvious when i mentioned a 5 stop scale.

It's a reasonable approach that would confuse me no end, having different numbers assigned to the same midtones for different films rather than just knowing film X records from zones III to VII versus Y that retains good detail from II to IX or whatever. YMMV of course.

No argument with your approach which is right but even having mentioned the range of Velvia I didn't really get what you were doing with the numbers until you explained it. That's another pitfall of some personalizations; they aren't immediately clear to others.

Mark Barendt
16-Oct-2011, 05:48
It is an artificially made value serving to present an average value. The dome does this in its own way but again, it's made to serve an average value...

Actually it's not about representing an average, it's about finding a camera setting.

A Kodak type gray card is a commonly used reference and yes, the gray side is close to middle or average, but the white side is just as usable and both reqire an offset. The only difference with regard to finding a camera setting is the the amount of offset.

We can use all kinds of things as reference points; our hands, a black card, a sheet of paper, our shooting partners face, a camera bag, the north sky, the south sky, the shadows under a tree, grass, or whatever...

Tested reference points that we add to a scene though, regardless of their specific brightness or color, will normally yield better exposure placements than untested reference points.

When a reflective meter is used to measure a tested target it is every bit as accurate as an incident meter. Dunn and Wakefield's Exposure Manual even specifically says that there is no difference in theory or practice as long as the target is a known. Incident meters simply eliminate the need for a target and target testing.


Finding a middle tone is not more (perhaps even less) difficult than playing mentally with zones. In fact, once known, it is pretty trivial. IMO the OP should learn the reflective rocket science instead of writing poems about incident virgins.

The offset to a camera setting that gives us the desired exposure placement and even a creative bias can be dialed in to any meter for any target, tested or not. The meter can do all the math for us.

Even "Zoners" who "always shoot to the shadows" and then mentally offset the reading 3-stops could if they so pleased dial that offset directly into the meter and have the meter do the math and spit out the actual camera setting.

John Powers
16-Oct-2011, 07:11
In tough situations, if you are shooting B&W, bracket by two stops. You can make a pretty good print if the negative is one stop off. This method gives you a six stop range. Considering the costs to get to the shot, an extra sheet of film is a pretty small expense. If you find that a high percent of your results fall on one side or the other, change your iso so that the bracketing is really a help rather than a waste.

John

Greg Miller
16-Oct-2011, 07:26
Tested reference points that we add to a scene though, regardless of their specific brightness or color, will normally yield better exposure placements than untested reference points.


There is no need to place a reference into a scene when using a reflective spot meter. See my post #36.

Mark Barendt
16-Oct-2011, 08:47
There is no need to place a reference into a scene when using a reflective spot meter. See my post #36.

Well, that's technically true but there are situations like the one below, an example provided by the OP, where that technique would surely protect the highlights but would probably provide a darker than expected end result.


I just went outside yesterday and we have a wheat coloured shed in the backyard. I took a reflected reading and an incident reading. I would not have guessed that the shed wall was 2 and a third stops up on middle grey. There would not be any whites nor blacks in the photo from which to base a zone reading.

Cheers !

People are notoriously bad at judging brightness differences. There is plenty of scientific evidence for that, the OP and myself are perfectly normal in this respect.

Adding any tested reference point, in addition to the spot reading, like the OP did with the incident meter here, can really help in deciding on where to place the exposure or whether the shot is really workable or what compromise he might want to make.

Greg Miller
16-Oct-2011, 09:05
Well, that's technically true but there are situations like the one below, an example provided by the OP, where that technique would surely protect the highlights but would probably provide a darker than expected end result.



People are notoriously bad at judging brightness differences. There is plenty of scientific evidence for that, the OP and myself are perfectly normal in this respect.

Adding any tested reference point, in addition to the spot reading, like the OP did with the incident meter here, can really help in deciding on where to place the exposure or whether the shot is really workable or what compromise he might want to make.

Yes, there are some occasion where a tested reference is handy. In those cases I just meter my hand. I know where my hand is relative to medium grey.

But in the vast majority of the landscape photographs, this is not necessary. That's why you see all those photographers not using a grey card in the field or other reference object. They have found that it is not necessary.