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Best way to take readings in lowlight ?


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#1 Tim Terner

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 09:41 AM

In normal lighting situations my incident meter gives spot on exposures but in extreme low light situations it gives me a reading that gives the shot image far too much exposure. Help appreciated on the best way to meter lowlight scenes
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 10:31 AM

In normal lighting situations my incident meter gives spot on exposures but in extreme low light situations it gives me a reading that gives the shot image far too much exposure. Help appreciated on the best way to meter lowlight scenes


Maybe your meter needs adjustment, or maybe you actually don't need a full exposure to get the look you want at night in low-light, therefore it looks too bright to your eye. Or maybe it's just being timed / transferred incorrectly. How are you viewing the results? What film stocks are you using? What are the typical "low" light levels you are talking about? T/2.0 at 500 ASA?

Most incident meters should be able to give you an accurate reading in low-light.
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#3 Tim Terner

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 10:54 AM

Thanks for your quick reply David.

I recently bought a 16mm camera and before putting any film through it thought I'd test a stills camera with the same film (Foma B&W 100) just to check on exposure. Everything i've shot exterior in full and overcast daylight has been fine but interiors in dimly lit late evening window light, and exposed at incident meter readout have come back overexposed.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 12:25 PM

Try testing with color reversal, like Ektachrome 160T maybe, and see if you have the same problems. It may be a Foma b&w issue in terms of speed changing under different color temps.

I'm assuming you know how to use the meter in terms of setting the shutter speed and ASA...
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 02:58 PM

If you expose as per your meter in daylight, you'll get an image that looks correctly exposed for daylight. If you do the same at dusk, you'll get an image that is 'overexposed'. Dusk is underexposed by its nature. Your meter doesn't know what time of day it is, or how you want it to look, and just gives a reading for the correct exposure of 18% gray.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 05:20 PM

If you expose as per your meter in daylight, you'll get an image that looks correctly exposed for daylight. If you do the same at dusk, you'll get an image that is 'overexposed'. Dusk is underexposed by its nature. Your meter doesn't know what time of day it is, or how you want it to look, and just gives a reading for the correct exposure of 18% gray.


That's what I mean by it depending on the look you want -- often night scenes look "correct" a little on the darker side than day scenes. But it sounds more like he's getting real exposure mistakes. But a typical incident meter isn't going to have a problem taking readings in a moderately low-light interior.
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#7 Tim Terner

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 03:20 AM

I think that Stuart might have nailed it here. The lowlight I was metering was giving me a something in the region of 1/2sec at F2.8 at 100ASA. Would it be better if i incident metered as normal then put a gray card in the scene to see how many stops darker it looked than in normal daylight then underexposed my reading by this difference.

Thanks, Tim
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#8 Stephen Williams

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 04:22 AM

I think that Stuart might have nailed it here. The lowlight I was metering was giving me a something in the region of 1/2sec at F2.8 at 100ASA. Would it be better if i incident metered as normal then put a gray card in the scene to see how many stops darker it looked than in normal daylight then underexposed my reading by this difference.

Thanks, Tim


Hi,

I would follow David's advice and shoot some reversal using a 35mm stills camera. By bracketing exposures and taking notes you will learn how to read you light meter. After a time you will know about what the reading should be in any case.
I have had assistant take a reading and be 4 stops off by looking at the wrong scale!

Stephen
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