Monday, August 22, 2011

Use a Handheld Light Meter to Nail Exposure Every Time!

It's been talked about here in detail; when you're photographing your clients, you should be utilizing the proper tools to make sure you achieve the proper exposure and color (white balance) for every image you create. Today, I'll show you exactly how easy it is to use a handheld light meter and white balance target and why you should be using them with every session you photograph.

Let's begin with one basic premise; your camera - no matter what brand - is simply a computer with a lens. When we feed it proper information, we receive the results we want. Sure, there are some "AUTO" settings that allow you to concentrate on composition, but because your camera set on AUTO-anything is now "averaging" the results, you may find that you spend quite a bit more time in post-production tweaking files for exposure and color. This will help you get some of that time back!

Why do I not just use the AUTO setting? As stated above, the AUTO settings tend to provide averages in both areas of exposure and white balance. Any of these AUTO settings can be affected by color of clothing, backgrounds, or just the available light source; all of these will influence how your camera's internal system reacts.

Every time I change lighting or location in a session, I pull out the meter and the target. (I wear my meter on my belt and the target around my neck, so it's not like I'm digging through gear to find these items.) It takes just seconds to check exposure and adjust the settings on my camera for a perfect exposure. The same is true with the white balance target (which can also be used to check exposure via the histogram on the camera's display); for info on how to use the white balance target for color calibration later, CLICK HERE.)

The images below are SOOC (straight out of camera) and show the difference taking a few extra seconds on the front end makes.

Many people first beginning in photography feel as if lighting, posing and composition are the #1 things they need to master. In order to take your photography to the next level, you need to learn to properly expose your photographs so that they don't require extra tweaking in Photoshop. Every minute you save by NOT having to "Fix it in Photoshop" is a minute of your own life that you get back.

Grab that light meter and save yourself time and headaches later on!

- David Grupa

1 comment:

  1. Love the start of the series. I teach exposure almost exactly the same way. Here is the most common statement I get that you might respond to here or use in one of your videos:

    "I see that what you do does make a difference in your exposure - but that is just not my style and frankly I don't have time to meter and photograph a target thingy every time I change location/lighting."