Jump to content


Photo

Where to point the light meter?


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Don Homewood

Don Homewood
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco

Posted 07 March 2006 - 02:56 AM

Just got a quick question about where to point the light meter. Last semester my Cinematography professor taught us to point the meter at the camera position, and I've DP'ed several projects doing so and the exposure looked just fine to me. This semester however both my new Cine professor and my Lighting professor say point the meter at the key light. This obviously will read a lot more light and affect my image drastically. So, getting to the point, which method do you guys use and why would my teachers not agree on this? :huh:
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 07 March 2006 - 03:15 AM

Just got a quick question about where to point the light meter. Last semester my Cinematography professor taught us to point the meter at the camera position, and I've DP'ed several projects doing so and the exposure looked just fine to me. This semester however both my new Cine professor and my Lighting professor say point the meter at the key light. This obviously will read a lot more light and affect my image drastically. So, getting to the point, which method do you guys use and why would my teachers not agree on this? :huh:


In one case, you are letting the meter do some averaging between key and fill, whereas the other you are reading the key only and having to interpret the reading more.

Personally, I point the dome towards the light I want to read -- I don't want to get some averaging because I may end up overexposing my key. I'd rather read the key alone and then decide for myself how "hot" to expose it. For a half-lit face, you may want the key to be a half-stop overexposed, which is what may happen if you point the meter at the camera so that it is half-lit, but I'd rather know what the key is more precisely and decide for myself.

An incident meter is reading the light falling onto the sphere, so if you want to meter the key light falling onto the subject, you should point the dome towards the key light and flag off with your hand any stray backlight or something.

However, everyone has their own idiosyncracies when metering and whatever works consistently for them is fine.
  • 0

#3 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 07 March 2006 - 06:21 AM

I work the same way as David does. I stick the meter under whatever source/highlight, or shadow, I want to meter and then mix it up in my head and decide where I want to expose.
  • 0

#4 Thomas Worth

Thomas Worth
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 372 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 07 March 2006 - 06:35 AM

Same here. I take incident readings from each light individually and decide for myself what the exposure should be based on those figures.
  • 0

#5 Laurent Andrieux

Laurent Andrieux
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1527 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • France

Posted 07 March 2006 - 03:38 PM

The "towards the camera" technics is historically, basically, a still photography method. It actually gives you an average.

But, with cinema, imagine a shot that moves (tracking shot) or goes around a subject (and even can be at counterlight at one point). What will be the "toward the camera" position ?

I guess that as a first step the "toward camera" method has to be given to students (has opposite to the reflective light meter, that you point toward the subject). But when you go further on studying light and exposure for movies, you come to the path Mr Mullen, Mr Frisch, Mr Worth or any DoP takes...

The idea is then to set up your lights according to the carachteristics of the stock you use, the aesthetics you want for your image, then determine your exposure and set how the different objects in your image will look like (according to the stock's specifications and aesthetics you want to give..).

It actually is more like setting lights than metering...
  • 0

#6 Craig Chartier

Craig Chartier
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 08 March 2006 - 11:47 PM

well put by all of the pros that responded to this. another way of putting it is that you are painting with light. without light nothing is revealed. what do you want to reveal in the scene? Have you seen paintings done with the lost ink technique.
  • 0


CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Opal

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

The Slider

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly

Abel Cine

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS