How to Use a Light Meter for Proper Exposure

Accurate exposure is one of the fundamental elements to capturing an exceptional photograph. While it is by no means the only aspect to keep in mind, knowing the correct placement and techniques for light meters is critical for achieving consistent and accurate exposure results. To help understand a little more about the subject, Phoenix based commercial fashion photographer Mark Wallace explains proper light meter placement:

In order to understand how to use a light meter, you have to understand the device. Located near the top of your light meter is a little white dome known as the Lumisphere. This small dome comes in a wide variety of sizes and gathers all the light within the 180 degree, then it averages out the levels to create the proper exposure.

Where to point the Lumisphere is dependent on the type of look you’re trying to achieve. For instance, if you’re metering for shadows, point your device toward the camera, allowing it to take in both the light and the areas of shadow.

metering for shadows

Meter Pointed Toward Camera

However, if you’re trying to achieve a higher contrast and preserve the highlights, you should point the meter toward your light.

preserving highlights

Meter Pointed Toward Key Light

Do you use a light meter?

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  1. John Wesson says:

    Always enjoy your instructional videos Mark ! I don’t understand what is required when working with more then one light . Do you meter them both and then take the average ?

  2. Chelsea O'Neill says:

    It depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your lighting, as well as where you have positioned your lights. For instance: If using a kicker light, where the lighting is going towards the camera; you would want to point your meter to that light to see how much light is falling on your subject, (so you are metering for the highlights on your subject) highlights on their face, etc. Then you would want to average everything and get a total exposure, pointing toward the camera, and getting the entire meter reading.

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