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Thread: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

  1. #1
    renes
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    Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Hello,

    Could you share what is your method when metering with multi-spot for b&w landsape? I am going to buy a spot lightmeter, want to use it for b&w landscape but have a few question how to meter best with multi-spot. How many readings you get? what part do you start metering and which one is your last? If you take 4, 5 or 7 measurements, do you always get the same average measurement?

    thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Octogenarian
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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Aim the one degree spot at the darkest area in the scene where you still want to see some detail. Close down two stops.

    You have just placed the shadow area in Zone III.

    That's usually the proper exposure for the scene.

    Now, aim the spot at the brightest area in the scene.

    If it's a five stop range between the darkest and brightest reading, use normal development.

    Less than five, increase development.

    More than five, decrease development.

    No need to take a whole series of meter readings and average them. That's defeating the purpose.

    Just make certain that you have given enough exposure to get some detail in the shadows. Then, develop for the highlights.

    That's the Zone System in a nut shell.

  3. #3

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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Spot meters are usually used another way to how you are thinking. Yes you can average readings but most people do the following.

    Meter the darkest are you want to just retain full textural detail. This will be a shadow area of the landscape so perhaps the base of some rocks or the dark side of a tree trunk in deep shadow. The reading that gives would expose that area as a mid tone so you close down two stops from that reading.
    So if reading of shadow area was 1/4 of second at f8, then you would expose for 1/4 second at f16.

    That will make sure you have well exposed shadows areas that retain detail (not blocked). Then you control development times by experimentation to determine what is the correct dev time to give well developed highlights.

    It gets a bit more complicated but essentially that is how the zone system works.

    Read "The Negative" by Ansel Adams for a full and weighty discussion on how to go about using a spot meter to get spot on meter readings using his zone system.

    p.s. The method I have described is what is done for B+W. If you are using colour film and require colour accuracy, then you must meter a reference surface such as a Macbeth colour chart and use reading from that to set exposure based on known exposure values for the chart.

  4. #4

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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    With negative film (I don't use slide film) people who use the zone system or some variation or derivative of it often only take two readings, one reading of the darkest shadow area in which you want texture or detail, which determines your exposure, and another reading of the brightest area in which you want texture or detail, which determines your development time. Everything in between those two readings will be whatever they are based on how you expose and how you develop, which are governed by the two readings mentioned above.

    You might sometimes take a third or maybe even fourth reading if there's another area or two in the scene that's vital to the image you have in mind, just to see what effect the exposure you're considering will have on that area. I never try to average readings since for me the point of taking readings in the first place is to determine exposure and development times and that's done by the shadow and highlight readings mentioned above, not by any average.
    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.

  5. #5

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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Gem,
    Books have been written on this subject - what makes you think you can nail it down for a beginner in just ten sentences? Oh - you just did. Jeez. That's great. Wow.
    Thanks.
    -Chris, who's read Minor White till I was cross-eyed, Ivich

  6. #6
    Chuck P.'s Avatar
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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Hard to expand on what's been said, but it's the old maxim: "expose for the desired shadow values and develop for the desired highlight values"; it is extremely relevent in B&W negative photography.

  7. #7
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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Ivich,

    Early tomorrow morning, four of us from the Dallas LF group are traveling to Ft.Worth to photograph an old bridge that spans the Trinity River.

    Two of us will be using spot meters, both digital and analog. Two others will be using complicated and expensive computerized light meters that can read ambient light, as well as spot readings.

    In the long run, all of us will end up using an equal amount of exposure (+ or - half a stop) for the same scene.

    If you understand what your meter is telling you, it doesn't matter what type or brand of meter you use to determine the proper exposure.

    As Steve S. is fond of stating, "It isn't rocket science".

  8. #8
    ki6mf's Avatar
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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Good advice from all of the posts. Search this forum on how to do a film speed test using your spot meter and how to determine development times. The zone system is calibrating your meter to your film development time at an optimum film speed. Keep in mind every hand held light meter reads an 18% gray card. This is usually referred to as Zone 5. The meter reads every value as if it were zone 5 or the 18% gray card regardless of how light or dark the tone is. Your shadows will be two stops less than the meter reading. Say for example a shadow reading shows an Exposure Value (EV) of 7.3 and if you ISO is 300 you would see an exposure for zone 5 of F32 at 2 Seconds. Assuming you want to keep the F stop at 32 you need to let less light in to the negative and set the shutter two stops to a speed of 1/2 second. You would then use your film speed tests to increase or decrease development times to correct highlights on you negatives.
    Wally Brooks

    Everything is Analog!
    Any Fool Can Shoot Digital!
    Any Coward can shoot a zoom! Use primes and get closer.

  9. #9

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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Quote Originally Posted by Gem Singer View Post
    Aim the one degree spot at the darkest area in the scene where you still want to see some detail. Close down two stops.

    You have just placed the shadow area in Zone III.

    That's usually the proper exposure for the scene.

    Now, aim the spot at the brightest area in the scene.

    If it's a five stop range between the darkest and brightest reading, use normal development.

    Less than five, increase development.

    More than five, decrease development.

    No need to take a whole series of meter readings and average them. That's defeating the purpose.

    Just make certain that you have given enough exposure to get some detail in the shadows. Then, develop for the highlights.

    That's the Zone System in a nut shell.
    Beautifully and succinctly stated -thank you!

  10. #10

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    Re: Multi-spot metering in b&w landscape

    Gem,

    Perfect! You and Richard Feynman.
    A brief, easily comprehensible by beginners, yet complete, description of Zone System metering. Impressive.

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder

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