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View Poll Results: Use of a light meter

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  • lol! light meter is for oldies, this is 2010...histogram does it for me

    4 44.44%
  • always use it

    2 22.22%
  • would like one when I have some surplus $

    3 33.33%
  • light what?

    0 0%
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  1. #1
    ArtByPino.com's Avatar
    ArtByPino.com is offline I'm new here!
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    Question How to balance ambient & strobe lighting using a light meter?

    Hey there,

    If I am using a flash outdoors as a fill light for eliminating potential facial & background shadows and using a sekonic light meter that shows my flash to be 50%, does that mean that I have the optimum balance? If so, what would be the advantage/disadvantage of going with a different ratio/percentage?

    Where can I find more information on this subject of balancing flash with ambient light?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    bhursey's Avatar
    bhursey is offline The Geeky Photgrapher
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    Use a lower shutter speed like 1/100 or 1/60 or so it will bring more of the background ambient light in. Remember Aperture controls flash , shutter speed controls ambient.
    Cameras: Canon 60D, Canon 20D, 35mm Nikon FM2n
    Canon EF lens used : 50mm f1.8, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5, 75-300mm f/4.5-5, 85mm f/1.8
    Tamron Lens: 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)
    Strobist: Canon 580EX II , "Vivitar DF400MZ, Nikon SB-24, LP-160, YN568EX"
    http://flickr.com/photos/bhursey | http://brianhurseyphotography.com

  3. #3
    jdepould's Avatar
    jdepould is offline Critique Moderator
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    I know how to use a light meter, but I'm too cheap to buy one. I'd rather just shoot and chimp the histogram. With 14-bit raw capture, I've got enough latitude that it doesn't have to be DEAD on.
    JamieDePould.com + OneYearPhoto.com
    Nikon D300, D700, Sony NEX5n
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    Please read the rules before posting a critique thread. Rules here.

  4. #4
    Benji is offline dPS Forum Member
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    Attempting to balance flash and ambient outdoors without a light meter is not a problem at all provided you and your subject don't mind taking 20 or 30 shots before getting it right.

    It is actually quite simple.

    1. Forget shooting in bright sunshine. Pose your subject in the shade or wait until evening when the sun is not so bright and use the sun as a hair light and/or background light.

    2. Set the meter and camera at the same ISO and also set the camera on manual. I suggest ISO 100.

    3. Switch the meter to ambient and take your ambient reading. Set the shutter speed and aperture into the camera that the meter suggested. The shutter speed must be below 125.

    4. Set the meter on "flash" and take a flash reading at the subject's face. The suggested aperture should now be one to two stops more than what the ambient reading was. If not boost the power of the flash until it is. When you've got the flash reading one or two stops more than the overall ambient reading, slow the shutter speed down by one or two stops and shoot several captures at each setting. You need to slow the shutter speed down by the same amount you stopped the aperture down or you will underexpose the background by that same amount. This is because the correct ambient reading is a combination of both the shutter speed AND the aperture. The flash is controlled only the aperture.

    The shutter speed regulates the brightness of the overall exposure (fill, hair, background and kicker "lights)" and the aperture regulates the flash exposure (which is the main light.)

    Benji

  5. #5
    ArtByPino.com's Avatar
    ArtByPino.com is offline I'm new here!
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    Everyone, Thanks for the reply but, I am still confused...

    Say, my light meter shows 70% flash and 30% ambient light...what difference does that make in taking the shot versus say 50% flash and 50% ambient light?

  6. #6
    GadgetRick is offline dPS Forum Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benji View Post
    Attempting to balance flash and ambient outdoors without a light meter is not a problem at all provided you and your subject don't mind taking 20 or 30 shots before getting it right.
    Yikes! Never takes me that many to get it right...

    No meter, one shot to get it right.

  7. #7
    bhursey's Avatar
    bhursey is offline The Geeky Photgrapher
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    Quote Originally Posted by GadgetRick View Post
    Yikes! Never takes me that many to get it right...

    No meter, one shot to get it right.
    I agree... it has never took me 30 shots to balance the light right because you control ambient with shutter speed and flash with aperture. All I have had to adjust is the power output on my flash if it is to dark or to light if its not at the aperture value I like.. Once you understand the concept and the principles of it all you have to do is adjust your aperture flash output and shutter speed. Once you do it a few times you know what settings to be at in a given lighting situation. Then its just minor tweaking.

    This was taking with an off camera SB-24 camera upper left I think. Took me 2 shoots to get the light balanced. This was in the shade of a big tree.

    Cameras: Canon 60D, Canon 20D, 35mm Nikon FM2n
    Canon EF lens used : 50mm f1.8, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5, 75-300mm f/4.5-5, 85mm f/1.8
    Tamron Lens: 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)
    Strobist: Canon 580EX II , "Vivitar DF400MZ, Nikon SB-24, LP-160, YN568EX"
    http://flickr.com/photos/bhursey | http://brianhurseyphotography.com

  8. #8
    chapster10 is offline I'm new here!
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    ArtByPino I have the same question and its funny I feel the same way. Your question is a simple question. So I'll ask it again because so far all is been answered is how great a photo I can take without a light meter or look at my photo.

    Sorry guys but some of us would like to understand both ways with and without light meters.
    Don't get me wrong or think I'm insulting anyone I love the photos that have been shown here and they are well shot but again the question is about a light meter and the ratio metering percent that shows up.

    Question:

    50%, does that mean that I have the optimum balance? If so, what would be the advantage/disadvantage of going with a different ratio/percentage?
    Say, my light meter shows 70% flash and 30% ambient light...what difference does that make in taking the shot versus say 50% flash and 50% ambient light?
    Benji your reply was of great help and I found it very informative but doesn't quite answer the question above.

    Again I am not digging at anyone here just trying to get the correct answer to the question for both of us as I'm as confused as ArtByPino

    Thanks to all for their help.

  9. #9
    ArtByPino.com's Avatar
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    Chapster10, Thank you

  10. #10
    chapster10 is offline I'm new here!
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    Your welcome,

    Now would be great if there was someone out there that has an answer. Hopefully there is

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