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Hos to Use Light Meter when incident light not available


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#1 Alain Lumina

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:49 AM

I'm shooting in 16mm, and have learned how to use my incident light meter.(Sekonic L-398) I was taught to point the sensor at the light source that will be illuminating the subject.

However, how do I meter when the light falling onto the subject is practically unavailable to meter.

In particular, I ran into this situation doing test shoots in Tahoe.

I am shooting from a shaded road, I want to shoot at the opposite sunlit side of the lake. I can't, practically, drive for an hour to get around to the side of the lake onto which the sun is shining to get the reading from the sun coming down.

How do I meter in such a case? Should I just try to use reflected light in this case?

Thanks
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:37 AM

I'm shooting in 16mm, and have learned how to use my incident light meter.(Sekonic L-398) I was taught to point the sensor at the light source that will be illuminating the subject.

However, how do I meter when the light falling onto the subject is practically unavailable to meter.

In particular, I ran into this situation doing test shoots in Tahoe.

I am shooting from a shaded road, I want to shoot at the opposite sunlit side of the lake. I can't, practically, drive for an hour to get around to the side of the lake onto which the sun is shining to get the reading from the sun coming down.

How do I meter in such a case? Should I just try to use reflected light in this case?

Thanks


That's exactly the time when you would want to use a reflected meter. I use a minolta autometer IV and, when you unscrew the white dome, it's also a 40-degree reflected meter. Very handy for times like that.
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#3 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:25 PM

Spot meter
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 03:08 AM

Spot meter


Ditto.

I own a Pentax digital spot meter, the same one Ansel Adams used when it became available. I pretty much love it :)
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#5 Chris Millar

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:01 AM

Maybe you don't need to travel so far.

If the cloud cover is uniform (for instance, no clouds ...) then the brightness of the sun should be uniform, so just head the nearest shadeless spot and measure there...

If you do have a spot meter you have to understand at least a bastardized version of the zone system - if this makes no sense (yet), then ask yourself 'exactly what am I going to take a spot meter reading from anyway' and/or 'where is the %18 grey card over in that 1hr away side of the lake'

There are a couple of instances where measurement is hard and involve a little thinking - try this one out:

How do you set exposure for a sunrise scene before its actually occurs ? (timelapse for instance)
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:17 AM

Or if you know the correct exposure for sunlight, just set that, for most of the day it doesn't change.
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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 01:14 PM

Or if you know the correct exposure for sunlight, just set that, for most of the day it doesn't change.

I find that sunlight changes rather often.
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#8 Tom Jensen

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:17 PM

The Sunny 16 rule says that if you shoot 50 ASA film out doors, your stop should be a 16 in full sunlight.
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#9 debal banerjee

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 10:34 AM

The Sunny 16 rule says that if you shoot 50 ASA film out doors, your stop should be a 16 in full sunlight.



doesn't matter if you don't have a spot meter you can shoot...now days stocks are pretty cool, people followed such thumb rules when the stocks are not that good
enjoy your shooting.
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#10 Tom Jensen

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 09:13 PM

The Sunny 16 rule says that if you shoot 50 ASA film out doors, your stop should be a 16 in full sunlight.


Great, now I have the student teaching me exposure. :blink: It's just a reference if you don't have a working meter. Here is a tip. If you want to learn to use a meter, read the instruction manual that comes with the meter. Seriously. Read the highlight and the read the blackest black. Average the two, take a picture and see what happens.
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#11 Chris Millar

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 11:38 PM

Read the highlight and the read the blackest black. Average the two, take a picture and see what happens.


This is getting 'zoney' fast :lol: - exposure by that method wont always work .... what if the highlight happens to be the sun ? (or is that your point ?)

As for the student comment - often by explaining things to other people we cement the learning in place, perhaps just take it as a compliment.
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#12 Tom Jensen

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 09:23 AM

This is getting 'zoney' fast :lol: - exposure by that method wont always work .... what if the highlight happens to be the sun ? (or is that your point ?)

As for the student comment - often by explaining things to other people we cement the learning in place, perhaps just take it as a compliment.

.

"Getting Zoney," I like that. My comment was to encourage shooting a simple test and see what comes out. It seems there are a lot of people here who just ask questions and want easy answers. My point is to go shoot something and see what happens. Shoot stills. Test. That's what I did. I shot tests and read my negative on a densitometer. Shooting film and watching it on video dailies or in telecine can be very misleading and give someone a false sense of competence and understanding. Now the "Sunny 16" rule is a basic rule that is good to know. In still photography, the camera meters are so sophisticated now, you may never need to know it. Plus most people shoot digital. In cinema, there is usually a backup meter somewhere. But, a basic understanding is good to know. When is the last time that anybody here read the pamphlet that comes with still film? When is the last time anybody read the manual that comes with the light meter? There is a lot of good information that comes in those two items. Particularly for the beginner. I have a Minolta. When I got it, I read the manual and tried every suggestion and shot tests with still film. There is an averaging function that works well. It is weighted a little if I remember correctly. As far as the sun goes, I try not to photograph it or use it as a highlight. It gets a little "Blindy."
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#13 Alain Lumina

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 04:49 AM

Thanks for all the ideas. I do have to study up on the reflected light function on the 394 meter when using that attachment. I really love how I can just slide in the screens instead of trying to rotate and read some eensy lettering.
Also, that gives me the opportunity to lose the slides.

As far as equipment goes, I think I need to get a better tripod before I
spend the money on a spot meter. It's more central.



So, I'll try:

1) Sunny 16 with Kodak 50D
2) Reflective readings with my 394
3) ND filters extrapolated from the above for shallower DOF
4) With and without polarizers.

Oh yeah, recommendations on polarizers, I think the Canon lens is 72mm thread.

I'll try to post some of the telecine grabs, even I can make Tahoe look good.

AL
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