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Photography Basics: Part II - How Your Meter Works

In this video we continue learning the basics of photography. Make sure you watch part one first: https://youtu.be/_krYKDYURQ4

This video focuses mostly on your cameras light meter. The meter reads the amount of light in your scene and tries its best to recommend a suitable shutter speed, ISO, and aperture to use in order to create a properly exposed image. The meter is so important to your cameras functionality, that without it, your camera wouldn’t work in automatic mode, and you would have no idea how much or how little light was in your scene without simply guessing.

Meters have a few quarks that make them a bit difficult to understand. The first is that your meter can only see in black and white, and the second is that the meter is calibrated to try and make everything you point it at half way between white and black (middle grey, 18% grey, etc.).

The fact that your meter cannot see color means that we need to do our best to visualize the world in black and white to effectively “see” the way the meter does. We see huge differences between fire engine red, and green grass green, but to your meter those two colors look almost identical :0 (more on that in the next video).

Additionally, since your meter tries to make everything you point it at 18% grey, we need to take extra care to only meter off of things that we want to end up middle grey. If we point our meter at something white and use the meters recommended settings, the meter will see all of that light and try to darken our white object down to middle grey, resulting in an image that’s too dark. The opposite is true with something that is supposed to be black.

Along with those quarks, we also need to consider how the meter reads light. Most cameras have a few options, but the two most useful are spot metering, and zone metering (also called evaluative, or Matrix). With spot metering your camera will only read light form a very small portion of your frame. This is great for taking very accurate meter readings from only one small part of the frame. Zone metering will average almost your entire frame and come up with a meter reading that roughly works for everything.

Usually I would recommend that if you are shooting on Manual mode, use spot metering as it will give you the precise control you need to make smart decisions on Manual. If you want to use one of the automatic modes like Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority, use Zone metering as it will do the best job making everything look okay (but not perfect).

In the next video we will look at how you can become smarter than your meter! Stay tuned!



Items used to film this video:

Fuji X-T4: https://bhpho.to/2YlWsMK
Fuji 35mm Lens: https://bhpho.to/3i13kIe
Key Light: https://bhpho.to/2XL7Ra8
Zoom F4: https://bhpho.to/2Gy91vo
Audix HC Microphone: https://bhpho.to/39SDC3z


Learn more about RMSP: https://rmsp.com

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