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Metering off of an object? Explain this to me, please!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by D300fan, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. D300fan


    Mar 30, 2008
    I know this may be a stupid qustion, but I guess a forum like this would be a place to ask. When a person says to meter off of an object (dress, bright spot in a dark scene, grass) what is it that they are doing? If I have my camera in manual mode and want to meter off of an object, am I pushing the shutter half way down while aiming at the object. Does the camera hold that reading for a period of time (until the shutter is pushed again)? Once the camera has made the reading, do I use the histogram or the cameras meter? How do I adjust for this reading? I've heard this a lot, but don't understand. Can someone please explain this to and old soul in detail. How do I meter off of an object to get my exposure correct? Thanks for all your help!

  2. chettrick


    Jun 12, 2008
    Not an expert but what I would do is have it in Spot meter mode to read the particular thing you want to meter. Then you can hold the shutter half way down and the aperature/shutter speed would be what you meter at that given time.
    A matrix or something other than spot would meter the scene.
    Basically you are using your camera to identify the EV of the item then you can adjust you f/stops or shutter to your liking.

    I am sure one of the pros here could give a more detailed or definate answer.
  3. With your camera in manual mode the momentary half push of the shutter release will activate your meter. By adjusting your aperature and or shutter speed it will cause your meter reading to vary. You are trying to zero out your meter reading which means that you have reached the proper exposure. There may be some reasons why you want to make your reading something other than zero and in that case you go in either the + or - direction. Your metering can be done with the camera in matrix, center weighted or spot by making the proper adjustment ahead of time. Read in your manual about spot, center weighted and matrix metering so that you will understand what portion of your viewfinder is activated. The momentary push of the shutter release only activates your meter for a short period of time so you may have to push it more than once or keep it held down with the half push.

    There are no dumb questions, we all started someplace.
  4. D300fan


    Mar 30, 2008
    I understand metering the aperture & shutter speed but...

    Once the camera makes the reading, what do I read to make these adjustments. The camera made the reading, but what and where is it telling me this :confused: ?
  5. TheKO


    May 3, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    Camera is in the manual mode. Meter is in spot mode.
    Place the item in the picture you are trying to meter on the active meter spot. Press shutter release halfway.
    Look in the viewfinder and you will see the shutter and f stop info. "Center" them and then take thee picture.

    Not trying to be wise A$$ but if yuo don't understand the manaul mode or spot mode or what you will see in the view finder, you will need to read the manual on these areas to make you familier with these functions.
  6. D300fan


    Mar 30, 2008
    So when I press the shutter half way down, it activates the meter bar inside the camera. Once activated, I adjust the f-stop and shutter speed until it reaches 0. This could be a number of combinations, right? I set it based on whether I want a shollow or long depth of field, or if I want a fast or slow shutter speed...is this correct. So when metering, you strictly go by the meter bar...meter the object, make corrections and shoot? Thanks!

  7. Thats it, and an example would be if you wanted someones face properly exposed, in harsh light and without a fill flash, move in close and meter the subject, step back and frame. In this example, most everthing else would be blown. but the subject would be properly exposed.
  8. BillinOaklandCA


    Mar 6, 2008
    What you might try is instead of manual mode change to Aperature or Speed. Using Spot metering, take a photo. You can then check to see what the settings were and try matching that in Manual and see if you get the shot you want.
  9. Hi George,

    Not much more than an amateur myself, but basically you have sussed the answer.

    The suggestion of Bryan Peterson's book 'Understanding Exposure' is a good one, I have read this three times. Still keep getting it wrong though!

    A friend in the UK who is a professional tog, told me to use my light meter. Basically before you take a picture work out what aperture or shutter speed and then try and calculate in your head what the other setting will be. Then use the light meter to confirm your findings. I find this helps with my understanding of light.

    The next thing is to goggle "The Zone System" by Ansel Adams which will give you an even better understanding.

    Best regards

  10. D300fan


    Mar 30, 2008
    Thanks for all the replies. So when metering a subject / object, should you first determine what f-stop you want so that you can the depth of field you want and then make your adjustments based on the meter to get your shutter speed to match the f-stop (correct exposure)? If this is the case and you are shooting a picture of a bride in a white dress and a groom in a black tuxedo, how would you meter this in order for the dress or tuxedo not to come out slightly gray?
  11. TheKO


    May 3, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    All camera meters are designed to take the reading a make it an 18% grey. So, if you have a spot meter on a brides white dress (or grooms suit), the meter will read that and give you a reading that will make the dress/suit grey.

    There are ways around this problem.

    1. The best way - you can use an incident meter (your camera has a reflecive meter). This is a lightmeter that has what looks like "half of a ping pong ball" on it. Point this meter from the brides dress (grooms suit) back at the camera. Set the reading from this meter on your camera and you will get a white dress or black suit.

    2. You can use a grey card. Spot meter on this card and then use these settings to shoot the bride/groom.

    3. You can add/subtract from your camera meter readings to add more or less light to make the dress/ suit look white or black.

    For a visual on this - google Sekonic. Their web site used to have a great example on it with a cat and dishes.

    Hope this helps.
  12. Think about it: you spot meter a white dress; the meter thinks "gray" and tells you/camera "close down". So, what you need to do to get a white image of a white dress is "open up"! Counter intuitive, I know (I work with several Ph.Ds who refuse to accept the logic:mad: ). How much do you open up? Anywhere from 1 to 2 stops, do so in 1/3 stop intervals. (Think-white, make it lighter!).

    For dark/black objects the reverse is true: dark, make it darker, so you close down.
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