Many people find reading their light meter a real challenge. And this post will help you better understand your light meter. We’ve talked about reading your light meter before but we didn’t dive into what metering exactly means. We all know how light affects every single one of our pictures. Having a properly exposed subject is key to turning snapshots into a portraits. Sure you could fix your exposure when editing with PicMonkey but why not get it right when you’re shooting. Learning to read your light meter and how to properly meter for correct exposure will help you do that.

understanding your light meter

So what is metering? Metering refers to the way in which a camera determines the exposure. The camera takes a look around and factors in all the lighting options. Then, it decides how to expose your subject. Many people prefer to let the camera make the decision for them. But we’re going to teach you how to do it yourself. So, let’s hop into Manual mode and review the options!

Your light meter will look one of two ways.

understanding your light meter

Reading the actual light meter is pretty simple. If you light meter is reading towards the plus side, you image will be over exposed. If your photo is too overexposed, you run the risk of blowing out your whites. Personally, I tend to meter one to two stops to the plus side in perfect lighting conditions {partial shade}. If your light meter is reading more to the negative, you image will be under exposed.

Now that you know how to read your light meter, what do you do?

Avoiding Over Exposed Photographs

If your light meter is reading overexposed, follow these tips.

1. Lower your ISO. Remember if you are shooting outdoors, an ISO of 100 or 200 is perfect.
2. Change your aperture. If you are shooting wide open, you may want to move your aperture up a stop or two. For example, if you are shooting with an f/ 1.8 and you are blowing your picture out, try using a f/ 2.5 or f/ 3.
3. Use a faster shutter speed.

Avoiding Under Exposed Photographs

If you are getting an underexposed photo, follow these tips.

Here is where I may lose you ! There are few different metering choices.

  • Matrix  {Nikon} or Evaluative {Canon}: This is a default metering mode. Your camera will use the light information coming from the entire scene and averages for the final exposure setting. This setting gives no weight to any particular portion of the metered area. This mode is great for shooting landscapes.
  • Centered Weighted {Nikon and Canon}: This one is pretty self-explanatory. The camera exposes the center of the image. I tend to stay away from this mode because a focused center is not always that compelling.
  • Partial {Canon}: This mode will allow you to choose what to meter off of. If you shooting a person, you want to meter off their face. This will help them be properly exposed. This is a great mode when shooting backlit subjects.
  • Spot {Nikon and Canon}: Spot metering is similar to partial metering. This is the metering mode that I use 95% of the time.

what is metering

Remember, you don’t have to have a dSLR to take advantage of using metering. Many Point and Shoots have advanced settings, some even have a manual mode!
Now that you picked your mode, it’s time to start shooting! Your challenge this week is to pick a metering mode and nail it! How does it improve your photographs? Make sure you share your pictures and the metering mode on our Facebook page!

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