29 May 2014

On using light meter

After quite some consideration and reading a lot of stories on the Internet I have decided to give it a try and bought a light meter (Sekonic D758DR). Did I have a direct need to have one? To be honest — no. But I learn photography and I know that I need to understand better how the light works to enhance my pictures. And the accurate light measuring device can help me with the learning process. Another motivation was the observation that I have to adapt the exposure of quite a lot of photos in the post processing. This is quite tedious, especially when the photos are taken in big series (like a shool event, a wedding, etc.).
Using the light meter efficiently takes some practice. Luckily there are tons of materials which help to start. After some small (mostly technical) issues were solved the light meter became a very useful tool.
Here is where I use it most till now:

  • Examine the dynamic range of the scene while shooting landscapes. It is a real time saver, since often it turns out that using the bracketing and exposure blending in post processing is simply not necessary. Without the light meter I used to take 2-3 photos in bracketing mode ("just to be sure"). 
  • Making portraits. Here the light meter rocks. Really. Period.
  • Learning the light. Another important aspect for me. With the light meter in hand I can quickly validate my ideas about the light intensity and learn to estimate them better.
  • Find out the influence of the light modifiers on the exposure. With the light meter I have measured how the light modifiers that I use (for example my big diffuser) limit (absorb) the light, which in turn speeds up my decisions how to expose the scene when such modifier is used.
First tangible results of using the meter are also becoming visible. I have noticed that I indeed spend less time in Lightroom adapting the exposures of my photos. Which gives me time for other activities.