Metering for Landscape

Last week Sandra Coan talked about how she metered for different light.  To continue our film metering tutorial series, I will answer your question on Metering for Landscape. I love to take pictures of a landscape, whether it's a city-scape, country-scape, water-scape or (insert anything)-scape.  I meter them all the same way: light meter facing camera, incident metering mode, bulb in or out, iso set to box speed (or whatever speed I plan to process at the lab).  Bulb in allows about 1/2 stop of overexposure because I prefer to have more details in the shadows.  If I am shooting in the high contrast light, I would normally over expose the scene by 1/2 stop to bring up the shadows.  If it's an overcast day when the shadow is not as dark compare to the highlight, bulb out for landscape will work perfectly.  Here you have it, there is no special trick to it at all!  Light is light.  As long as you are metering under the same light as your landscape, you can meter anywhere.

Incident metering: Bulb in or out towards the camera depends on the light, iso to box speed.

©Joyce C. Kang-000023130007001
©Joyce C. Kang-000023130007001
©Joyce C. Kang-000023160009001
©Joyce C. Kang-000023160009001
©Joyce C. Kang-000023190010001
©Joyce C. Kang-000023190010001

If there is a focal point in the landscape that needs to be exposed according to my vision, I would use a spot meter and the Zone System to determine my exposure setting.  If you are not familiar with the Zone System, I wrote a two-part tutorial explaining it, so make sure you check it out: Zone System Part 1, Zone System Part 2.  Understanding the Zone System is such a huge part of Embrace The Grain Workshop that I dedicate two week over this valuable concept!

I love to shoot sun sets.  Call me whatever you will, I can't get over how sunset can look completely different from one day to the next or one geographic location to another.  I am amazed at how the colors change depends on the weather, the season, and the pattern in the clouds.  To capture the beautiful colors of sunset, I use The Zone System and the spot meter to create the following images.

Spot metering: meter off the brightest part of the sky next to the setting sun, use the Zone System to place it to the "Zone" I want.

©Joyce C. Kang-000069400022001
©Joyce C. Kang-000069400022001
©Joyce C. Kang-000024300038001
©Joyce C. Kang-000024300038001
©Joyce C. Kang-000024300008001
©Joyce C. Kang-000024300008001

Here is an image with the focal point other than a sunset, where I used the spot meter to show the texture and light on the path:

©Joyce C. Kang-000062350009001
©Joyce C. Kang-000062350009001

Do you want to learn more on how to use your light meter?  Next week Sandra will continue the series on our brand new Metering Tutorial.  Stay tuned...

Are you a hands-on learner?  Do you learn by actual doing than reading?  Come join both Sandra Coan and Joyce Kang of Little Bellows at the Click Away in San Antonio, October 8-10, 2015:

3 Days, 6 Classes, including:

  • 4 boutique interactive sessions on indoor film photography with studio strobe and outdoor film photography with natural light and OCF.
  • 2 Golden Hour Walks with hands-on learning at the beautiful historic San Jose Mission in San Antonio

Don't wait, Register now because classes are filling up quickly!