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Thread: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

  1. #1

    Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Hi,

    I use a Sekonic Spotmeter to meter street scenes when shooting with smaller formats. With 8x10, I usually shoot still life, for people in the forum that do so, or those who shoot something akin to still life how do you usually meter? Reflective? Spotmeter/Average? Graycard?

    Thanks,

    Jurgen

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Jürgen, (or is it really Jurgen...)

    I'm a spot-meter guy. I meter my tabletop work (still-lifes, product work, etc.) the same way I do my field work; by placing a shadow value (for negative materials - for transparency materials I place a highlight). This assumes, however, that I'm working with continuous light sources (natural or artificial). The technique is exactly the same as for any other scene.

    Then, of course, there are the inevitable adjustments for bellows extension, reciprocity and filters.

    If one works with flash, then a flash meter would be appropriate along with the different techniques involved there (e.g., measuring lighting ratio and exposing based on that instead of directly reading a shadow). The same would apply to incident metering under hot lights, although spot-metering techniques work fine there too. I you are controlling the lighting, then incident technique is fast, helps set up the lights, etc. This assumes you've tested your set-up and dialed in exposure though.

    Best,

    Doremus

  3. #3
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Once I learned spot metering, I never looked back, and use it for everything, every camera and format. With close-up work you obviously have to factor in bellows extension or magnification. For in-studio use, a Sinar film-plane spot probe can be a luxury, but I never found one necessary. If you plan to use a gray card too, realize that most of them are poorly made and way off. Always have a good reference standard on hand, like a MacBeth Color Checker Chart with its accurate gray scale. A good color temp meter is important too. Most LED advertised or marked values tend to be way off. Expect a degree of CC and LB corrective filter correction, just like in hot light days. I'm speaking of color photography, of course. With black and white, it's less nitpicky, but you still have to be aware of contrast filter factors changing with significant lighting color temp changes.

  4. #4

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Jürgen, (or is it really Jurgen...)

    I'm a spot-meter guy. I meter my tabletop work (still-lifes, product work, etc.) the same way I do my field work; by placing a shadow value (for negative materials - for transparency materials I place a highlight). This assumes, however, that I'm working with continuous light sources (natural or artificial). The technique is exactly the same as for any other scene.

    Then, of course, there are the inevitable adjustments for bellows extension, reciprocity and filters.

    If one works with flash, then a flash meter would be appropriate along with the different techniques involved there (e.g., measuring lighting ratio and exposing based on that instead of directly reading a shadow). The same would apply to incident metering under hot lights, although spot-metering techniques work fine there too. I you are controlling the lighting, then incident technique is fast, helps set up the lights, etc. This assumes you've tested your set-up and dialed in exposure though.

    Best,

    Doremus
    Haha Jürgen.

    I mainly use continuous lights for my table top work and been experimenting on metering techniques. I exclusively shoot black and white too.

    When you meter for a shadow value does this mean you take one exposure reading and go with it?

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  5. #5

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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    My two cents about gray cards: That they will typically exhibit a degree of specularity in anything but very diffuse (cloudy) lighting conditions, and that in such "specularity-prone" conditions it makes more sense to go with an incident light meter (attachment), using a hemisphere diffusor with 3d subjects (angling the diffusor to mimic lighting ratio on subject), and a flat diffusor (placed on object plane) for flat subjects.

    The only gray card I ever remember liking (been years since I've used any gray card) was one called "The Last Gray Card" which was made out of a plasticy material with a very "diffuse" pebbled surface, and which I think may have been made by Beseler.

    Me? As with Drew...I switched to a spot meter years ago (for natural/continuous light subjects) and have never looked back. I do, however, measure incident light when using my crusty (not trusty) old Norman flash system, which scares me as I never know when a capacitor or two might explode!

    ...but to this day I think a "good" gray card does have some value as a learning tool to get a sense of what a Zone-5 middle gray looks like, and to occasionally use as a reference - as I have found that its fairly common for many folks, when they see this value, to assume that its a bit darker than "middle" (zone 5) gray.

  6. #6

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    My two cents about gray cards: That they will typically exhibit a degree of specularity in anything but very diffuse (cloudy) lighting conditions, and that in such "specularity-prone" conditions it makes more sense to go with an incident light meter (attachment), using a hemisphere diffusor with 3d subjects (angling the diffusor to mimic lighting ratio on subject), and a flat diffusor (placed on object plane) for flat subjects.

    The only gray card I ever remember liking (been years since I've used any gray card) was one called "The Last Gray Card" which was made out of a plasticy material with a very "diffuse" pebbled surface, and which I think may have been made by Beseler.

    Me? As with Drew...I switched to a spot meter years ago (for natural/continuous light subjects) and have never looked back. I do, however, measure incident light when using my crusty (not trusty) old Norman flash system, which scares me as I never know when a capacitor or two might explode!

    ...but to this day I think a "good" gray card does have some value as a learning tool to get a sense of what a Zone-5 middle gray looks like, and to occasionally use as a reference - as I have found that its fairly common for many folks, when they see this value, to assume that its a bit darker than "middle" (zone 5) gray.
    Yes, I tend to agree, also shifted to a spot meter now, in your case though when using your spot meter, do you rely on one spot to dictate the whole scene’s exposure? Or do you tend to average them?

  7. #7

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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Except for "The Last Grey CArd" they all fade when in light. Even a one month old card will be lighter than one which has never been out of the package.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Spot meter all the way — except in fleeting light situations, such as from sunset to twilight. Otherwise, good luck chasing and adjusting the exposure times with a meter when the light is rapidly changing. In these situations the light is kind of uniform (meaning is about the same here as is in the distant mountains), and a gray card does wonders (and presents no specularity issues due to the diffused nature of that fleeting light).

  9. #9

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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by jurgenestanislao View Post
    Haha Jürgen.

    I mainly use continuous lights for my table top work and been experimenting on metering techniques. I exclusively shoot black and white too.

    When you meter for a shadow value does this mean you take one exposure reading and go with it?

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    Jürgen,

    I read the shadow and place it where I want it; standard Zone System practice. This reading determines my exposure. Averaging high and low readings is simply bad technique and often results in underexposure. I take other readings, but they affect my lighting choices and development time, not the basic exposure.

    I adjust lighting to get the highlight and midtone areas where I want them or deal with highlight rendering by choosing a developing time; also standard Zone System practice. I used to work a lot with natural light from a window facing out on open sky. with fill from room lighting. Adjusting the lighting meant moving the table closer to or farther from the window. Reflectors help to, to fill in the shadows and even out the lighting ratio; that changes your shadow reading and exposure.

    Reciprocity-failure adjustments add contrast to the negative. This needs to be taken into account sometimes, especially at really long exposure times (I'm talking about 30-minute exposures and up). I have an empirically-tested system for reducing development in proportion to doublings of the non-adjusted exposure time. It works for me.

    If you end up with very long exposures, err on the side of overexposure for safety. The shadows disappear first with reciprocity failure and most manufacturers' recommendations for compensation seem to be based on mid-tones. Anyway, 5 minutes more for a 20-minute exposure is not even a third of a stop difference.

    Have fun,

    Doremus

  10. #10

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Jürgen,

    I read the shadow and place it where I want it; standard Zone System practice. This reading determines my exposure. Averaging high and low readings is simply bad technique and often results in underexposure. I take other readings, but they affect my lighting choices and development time, not the basic exposure.

    I adjust lighting to get the highlight and midtone areas where I want them or deal with highlight rendering by choosing a developing time; also standard Zone System practice. I used to work a lot with natural light from a window facing out on open sky. with fill from room lighting. Adjusting the lighting meant moving the table closer to or farther from the window. Reflectors help to, to fill in the shadows and even out the lighting ratio; that changes your shadow reading and exposure.

    Reciprocity-failure adjustments add contrast to the negative. This needs to be taken into account sometimes, especially at really long exposure times (I'm talking about 30-minute exposures and up). I have an empirically-tested system for reducing development in proportion to doublings of the non-adjusted exposure time. It works for me.

    If you end up with very long exposures, err on the side of overexposure for safety. The shadows disappear first with reciprocity failure and most manufacturers' recommendations for compensation seem to be based on mid-tones. Anyway, 5 minutes more for a 20-minute exposure is not even a third of a stop difference.

    Have fun,

    Doremus
    Thanks for the tips—appreciate it. Still getting a hang of the zone system.

    When you mean read the shadow, usually which zone? When I visualise and think shadow, I'm already assuming by doing so my highlights might blow out or did you mean take a reading of the shadow part where I want to hold detail?

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

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