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How to spotmeter bright areas?


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#1 Daniel Meier

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 07:23 PM

How do you spot meter very bright areas? is it doing any harm to your eyes, if you - extreme situation - would spot meter the sun?

Same question goes for optical viewfinders. Are they coated in a speical way to protect the human eye when filming against bright sunlight?

 

 


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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 07:51 PM

I can't see any reason to meter the sun itself. It's a given that it's over exposed by many stops. Other bright objects, like sun reflecting off car windshields, are uncomfortable to look at, but unlikely to damage your eye in the brief amount of time it take to meter them. Again, you kind of just know that they will be very over exposed.

 

As far as I know, optical viewfinders are not treated in any way to protect your eyes. After all, if it's bright enough to damage your eyes, it's certainly bright enough to damage a digital sensor, and to completely overexpose film.


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#3 Daniel Meier

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 03:09 AM

Lately I've been doing a silhouette shot an hour before sunset (on Super8). I had a hard time looking through the viewfinder because the sun was so bright. That's why I'm asking.


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#4 John E Clark

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 11:33 AM

Lately I've been doing a silhouette shot an hour before sunset (on Super8). I had a hard time looking through the viewfinder because the sun was so bright. That's why I'm asking.

 

I would never look directly at the sun, nor look via a 'lensed' device, such as a spotmeter, or the reflex viewer on a D/SLR. Even if I had a telescope there would be piles of ND filters... think of what happens when one takes a magnifying glass and adjusts the lens/sun relationship such that pieces of paper start to burn...

 

That said, for 'sunset', and I mean a big reddish ball one or two fingers off the horizon (stretch out your arm and measure the number of fingers off the horizon the setting sun is...)... one could perhaps take a reading directly and then set the camera such that that value is 'very high', and anything else in the shot would be very dark.

 

Other wise you take your meter reading of the subject of the silhouette, set the f-stop such that the subject would be 'very dark', like 4-5 stops lower than the meter reading, and that may get you close to a starting setting, for a situation where the sun is higher in the sky.


Edited by John E Clark, 05 August 2016 - 11:34 AM.

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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 12:08 PM

I seem to remember an old rule of thumb for metering sunsets, which was to spot meter the sky next to the sun, not the sun itself, and then expose as per the meter. I may have this wrong, so feel free to correct me.


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#6 Daniel Meier

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 12:12 PM

I looked through the camera for framing purposes. Maybe I'd use sunglasses next time? Or a contrast viewing glass.


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