Use A Light Meter

Talk about good timing. Thomas Werner of the ASMP’s Strictly Business blog just wrote a blog post about using a light meter to improve your photographs. His premise is simple: it’s not enough just to create a useable image and verify it with the LCD on the back of the camera. A great photographer makes deliberate, informed choices about lighting that can be made much more precisely by using a handheld light meter. And the reason all of this is perfect timing is that I, after years of using my trusty Sekonic light meter, found that I had essentially given it up for the last year or more. And I’d done it for exactly the reason many photographers have: because I can see my results on the camera’s LCD. The good timing bit is that just recently, last week in fact, I came to the realization that my work was suffering because I wasn’t using a light meter. My exposures were subtly off (though fixable in Photoshop) because my eyes sometimes deceive me. And more importantly, what I was thinking of as a nice, pleasant, dramatic lighting ratio was starting to become really excessively dark and dramatic—and not at all what I was going for. And I would have known that had I continued using my light meter all along. My lighting ratios wouldn’t have gotten out of whack, and some of the photographs that I’ve been making just good enough… well, maybe they would have been great. So do what Thomas suggests, and get out your light meter to help you make great photographs.

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