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Spot Metering… Expose Yourself

A guest post by Scott Himelhoch from D Studio.

spot-metering.jpgHave you ever been frustrated that the subject in your photo is either hidden in the shadows or overexposed like snow on a bright sunny day?

You check your camera’s metering and it reads a perfect 0 EV. You reshoot the scene but again, your subject matter is still incorrectly exposed. One solution to this common problem is Spot Metering.

It is a technique under-utilised by many photographers. This feature gives the photographer control over exactly which portion of the frame the meter should use to determine proper exposure.

If left to the factory default, most DSLR cameras use what’s known as matrix metering, a sophisticated process which reads light intensity from several points within the scene. Then, the metering system determines what “should” give your photograph proper exposure. The challenge with matrix meeting arises if your frame contains a wide range of light intensity or if you are seeking a specific effect in a photograph.

For example, if you want to shoot a silhouette against a sunset, matrix metering will result in an over exposed back ground as it attempts to compensate for the foreground subject.

Instead, try spot metering.

This may require you to dust off your camera’s owner’s manual but rest assured, setting your camera to spot metering only requires a few steps.

Once set to spot metering, the viewfinder will indicate the specific zone which takes the exposure reading, usually a small point in the middle of your view finder. Next, point the zone toward the subject you want to properly expose. In this case, the sky about 15 degrees to the left or right of the setting sun. Next, dial in the correct combination of shutter speed and aperture to balance exposure to 0 EV (the dead center of the meter in your view finder).

The result is a beautiful silhouette in the foreground with a properly exposed sky.

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