Metering Techniques:
Introduction to Handheld Exposure Meters: Example Images

 

This page shows several examples of different types of subjects that I photographed using a reflected light meter and an incident light meter. You can see in the examples that the exposures determined with an incident light meter are very consistent, regardless of the subject matter. The exposures determined with a reflected light meter were often way off because of the meter's assumption that every subject is middle gray. Because of that, the only exposure from the reflected light meter that was good involved a scene that was mostly made up of middle tones.

Click any of the examples to see a larger version.

 

Example: White Subject

Exposure of a white building determined with a reflected light meter.

Exposure determined with a reflected light meter. As you can see, this is about two stops underexposed!

 

Exposure of a white building determined with a incident light meter.

Exposure determined with an incident light meter. The white church is rendered perfectly. Light enough to look white, but not so light that detail is lost.

 

Example: Light Subject

Exposure of a light-toned scene determined with a reflected light meter.

Exposure determined with a reflected light meter. As you can see, this is about 1.5 stops underexposed!

 

Exposure of a light-toned scene determined with a incident light meter.

Exposure determined with an incident light meter. The scene is rendered perfectly. The scene is lighter than the middle gray "average scene" that a reflected light meter is designed for, but is not white.

 

Example: Dark Subject

Exposure of a light-toned scene determined with a reflected light meter.

Exposure determined with a reflected light meter. As you can see, this is overexposed. These trash bins are supposed to be a dark gray.

 

Exposure of a light-toned scene determined with a incident light meter.

Exposure determined with an incident light meter. The scene is rendered perfectly. The dark gray trash bins render dark, but not so dark they lose detail.

 

Example: Average Subject

Exposure of a light-toned scene determined with a reflected light meter.

Exposure determined with a reflected light meter. This middle toned scene renders nicely, as its tones are close to the midtone exposure level that a reflected light meter is designed for.

 

Exposure of a light-toned scene determined with a incident light meter.

Exposure determined with an incident light meter. The scene is also rendered nicely. It is very slightly lighter than the reflected light reading, about 1/6 of a stop. Not enough for most people to notice.

 

 

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©2018 Christopher Crawford

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