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Light meter workflow advice (3 replies and 1 comment)

MaxA.
1 month ago
MaxA. 1 month ago

Hello Mr. Deakins, hope this week started well for you.
I would ask, it is possible, for some advice about the use of a light meter for checking the"right" exposure (mixed with your expert and trained eye)
I have been fascinated to read some old posts in this forum where you talk about your use of incident and spot meter.
Specifically, my curiosity goes to the way you search and find the "base" exposure to set your shot.
How do you establish the range of exposure across the frame and what are you looking for to find your "base/middle" exposure (of course in order to tell the story)?

Say that there is this three kind of scenario (there can be thousands of scenario of course):

1) A room with a single (or multiple but same wattage) "practical" lamp only.
In this case, do you search for the "mid-point" maybe with an incident reading near the wall where the practical lamps are, or do you take a spot reading to the practicals and let those overexpose like 2/3 stops?

2) A room with a big bright window in an office with overhead lights and practical on the desk in the middle of the room.
In this other case do you value an incident reading where the desk is or your "reference" is the brightest thing in the frame (like the big window)?

3) A bright sunny landscape with subjects.
In this case, do you read the sunlight with incident measurement or do you use a spot meter to the sky? I could think that this is related to sun position, if it is in the frame may work better a spot measurement (but probably I'm wrong).

I attach some of your shots to describe the examples and try to understand why (and hope how) you choose that specific point to let the light fall off or blown out starting from that measurement.
I hope I' haven't been boring with my curiosity, maybe sometimes thinking too much about the technical side can be self-defeating but I was fascinated with your workflow that stays the same over the years (today also with the support of calibrated monitor) and works fantastically!
So many pieces of information over the internet confuse me, better try to learn a solid method from a master like you.

Of course, I want to thank you in advance for your time and availability.

Greetings,
Max.

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/4.jpg
https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/3.jpg
https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/1.jpg
https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/2.jpg
Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

Firstly, I don't remember taking a spot reading on any of those shots bar one. For the shot in the office, which was a stage set, I did take a spot reading of the Translite backing to check where it fell relative to my camera exposure. In this instance I wanted it to be bright but I did want to lose detail. For all the other references, and as a general rule of thumb, I will take an incident reading where I consider I want to set my mid exposure, or what I will set on the lens. The landscape is exposed to be a little over in the sun and under in the shade and I asses the interiors in a similar way. The light from a lamp will over exposed an object close by whilst something far away will be underexposed, so I judge where I take my exposure within that range, hopefully, without stretching the limit at either end.

MaxA.
1 month ago

Thank you very much for your time and your answer Mr. Deakins! I will practice this concept as soon as possible to learn (I hope) how to judge and find the point where my middle exposure (that I've selected on the lens for that scene) is.
Thank you again Mr. Deakins, have a nice day.
Max.

Rob18
1 month ago
Rob18 1 month ago

Thank you so much Roger for helping us.  On this scene where it is for you the middle gray?  

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ask.jpeg
Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I think a mid exposure would be on the cabinet behind Judy's hand. The highlight from the lamp would be a stop or more over and black is black.

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