Typical D-SLRs have three metering modes
One of which is Spot Metering
Like most things it has its Pros & Cons
One pro – It’s almost Essential for Zone System work
One con – It’s not the easiest to use
This post describes
Spot metering pitfalls & tips
As they apply to digital photography
Bright on White
Spot metered (plus +3 EV) on the white background
This blew it out to near white
105 mm Nikkor 1:1 Macro with 1.4 X Teleconverter
Above & below – Wikipedia
A spot meter caution –
Don’t assume the metered area is literally a spot
It actually is a small area
D800E = 4mm across; >10% of the 36mm sensor width
If, in the viewfinder, your area of interest
Is smaller than the meter’s area
You will have to compensate somehow
Here’s an example –
Snapshot of the D800E Liveview display
Subject – a stack of printer paper boxes
The focus sensor area (orange rectangle); I didn’t draw this, it’s part of the actual LV display
Is less than 50% of the actual spot area
Not a major problem as long as you know this ahead of time
And below, a zone-display, shows the result.
Spot didn’t give the expected result
(area inside “O” middle gray)
because much of the spot area was light, not dark
due to spot’s coverage of the white text
The result (dark inside the circle is several stops below middle gray) is as expected once you understand the pitfall
This is because although the meter was centered on a dark area
The average tonality of the metering was much lighter because of the spot’s actual size in contrast to the size of the rectangle
In darkening the lighter tones toward middle gray, as the metering should do, the dark (inside the circle) darkened also – thus the result
Double check your results
Use your histogram and common sense
Plus the knowledge you’ve gained here??
(I doubt you’ll find this info in (m)any other sites)
The above may sound complicated but with just a little reflection is should all make sense.
Choose a highlight or mid-tone or shadow area in your scene
It should represent the area most important to your vision
Spot meter on the selected area
Adjust exposure compensation as needed
Use your histogram as a double-check
If you chose highlights, make sure that area isn’t “blinking” (clipped)
Similarly with shadows
After getting your capture exposure correct
The develop (post-process) step is next
When – Dodge & Burn meet the Zone System
Spot meter areas vary from camera to camera
Check your user manual (gasp)
But – before Dodge & Burn meet the Zone System
There’s one more “gotcha” when it comes to
Getting the tonal contrast you want
Tune in tomorrow for the battle between your eyes & your brain.
Hey! Time to stop reading.
Grab your camera and try some of this. Now! not later.
That means you Russ – & you too Al, Rose, Sarah, Pat,…. 😉
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