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Thread: How do you spot meter?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    How do you spot meter?

    I know this is kind of basic, but do you spot meter from camera position or do you move upclose to meter the shadows & highlights? Thanks!

  2. #2

    How do you spot meter?

    From camera position.

  3. #3
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Memphis blues again...

    How do you spot meter?

    From camera position, unless you have an incident spot meter, or the spotmeter only has a 60-degree spot. (Hey, I used my old Luna Pro as a spot meter, no attachments, for years...)
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  4. #4

    How do you spot meter?

    It doesn't matter, as long as you're close enough so that the meter's spot isn't bigger than the area you're measuring.

    Exposure does not vary with distance (unless you're close enough to block some light).

    I've got a Pentax (non-digital) spot meter that I've become quite comfortable with it. I find the darkest area where I want to retain real detail, and place that on Zone III. I'm amazed at how often this gets me the same exposure as the "sunny f/16" rule would.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    How do you spot meter?

    It isn't necessarily an "either/or" situation. You might choose to do both. While metering from the camera (actually the lens) position is more common, depending on the subject there may be some small but important shadow areas that you would want to check up close. The principal risk with metering up close is getting the meter at a different angle to the light than the lens is at or getting your own shadow in the way of the light. But it's still a valuable double-check in the appropriate situation I think. I happened to watch Fred Picker's video "Photographing With Fred Picker" a couple days ago. When he's photographing a small section of the side of a barn he walks up close to meter the shadow areas cast by some of the wood edges.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Northern California

    How do you spot meter?

    I almost always spot meter from camera position. That is a principal convenience in having one so that I don't need to move around.

    The 1 degree spot meter that I use has a little circle which shows what area is being read. Usually I can find a significant area of shadow that I want to maintain texture of to read that is larger than the 1 degree spot area.

    I also try to take readings of the lightest areas which I want to still maintain texture in. These two readings will let me know what how many zones are included in the shot. Deciding where to place my exposure will be dependent on what my most important values are (subject brightness), and would fill many books with varying suggestions. In the end, you need to decide based on both technical understanding and artistic intent.

    The failures which I have had in my metering have usually been not recognizing important highlights. In recent memory, I missed some scintilating highlights from some sea anemones on above water rocks - even a one degree spot reading would have been difficult from camera position as each glint was probably way smaller than one degrees.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    How do you spot meter?

    Thanks for the answers. Really appreciate it.

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