Here is how I do it most of the time, when my batteries in hand-held exposure meter are flat, and when I'm out of studio: I need to know dynamic range raw processor of my choice will provide me with, and in the mode of that raw processor I'm going to use (including in-camera raw processor, if you shoot JPEGs). Say, am I going to trouble myself with "highlight recovery", or deadlines/laziness will not allow for that. For curve-sensitive raw processors like NC, in-camera raw engine, PP - this dynamic range will somewhat depend on the in-camera curve used. I do not take into account specular highlights - they will always fall out of the sensor capabilities (I shoot welding, trust me on that - I know ). I use spot-meter to determine the dynamic range of the scene I'm going to capture. If this scene is covered with the dynamic range I expect from raw converter, I take the readings from highlights and compensate about +2 1/2 stops (find that value for your camera). If I have no time to do spot-metering and I have high-contrast scene, I use center-weighted from the main subject. Camera would record it as neutral 12.5% gray. If I see that the main subject should not be rendered as neutral gray, I use bracketing. My bracketing is set to 0.5eV, sequence to normal, less, more (that gives flash more chances to recharge, and there are other reasons for that). I bracket 3 or 5 frames, usually three are enough. If the scene is low-contrast (less then 6 1/2 stops) - I use matrix. Graduated neutral filters for landscapes pay back in reducing "highlight recovery" troubles. I use gray scales to determine dynamic range and to see how my spot-meter is calibrated.