Lesson 6 Metering the light.

Now that we know about the exposure Triangle I’m going to show you how to get the correct exposure using the metering tool on your camera. You can just set your Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO and keep checking the photo until your exposure looks right, or you can use this simple trick to help you.

When you look through your viewfinder you should see a meter that looks like this


Once you decide what Aperture you need, and how fast your shutter speed should be, you can look through the viewfinder and see where your exposure is at based on this meter. If it’s underexposed it will look something like this


if it’s overexposed it will look something like this


What you are trying to do is get the meter so that it’s at 0, or close to it. Now this meter is just a guide. You don’t have to ALWAYS have your meter set at 0. Maybe you want your image to be a tiny bit overexposed or underexposed. That is completely up to the photographer and what they are going for. This is a good way to help you learn how to get the exposure right a little faster.

Now the first thing you need to do is set the metering mode in your camera. There are different options to choose from but I am going to go over Spot Metering.  I recommend that you use Spot metering. Spot metering lets you choose a specific spot in the scene that you want to meter, for example, if you are metering the light for a portrait you would have the spot on the subject’s cheek, to give you an accurate reading for the exposure. Other scenes may be a little more complicated than that.

If you are shooting a landscape, you may want to expose for the highlights in the sky, or you may want to expose for the scene. So it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

If you meter on something that is dark you may not get the correct exposure for the rest of the photo. The sky or lighter part of the scene may be blown out. If you expose for the brightest part of the scene, the rest of your scene may be underexposed. It’s good to find a happy medium and go from there.

Once you determine the spot that you’re going to expose for, you hold your camera up to it and focus on the meter. If you have your aperture and shutter speed set the way you want them and you’re still not exposed correctly, adjust your ISO until the meter is where you want it to be. I tend to underexpose just a hair. But sometimes I may over expose as well. The meter doesn’t always get it right so it’s good to check. It’s a great tool to use as a guide. Sometimes I have the meter set at 0 and I’ll check my photo and to me, it is a little too bright so I’ll bring it down a bit. But this is personal preference.

One thing I want to stress on, is don’t be a meterholic! Once you have your exposure set the way you want it, DO NOT TOUCH IT AGAIN, until and unless the light changes. If you look through the viewfinder and it’s suddenly showing underexposed. IT’S OKAY. As long as the light hasn’t changed you don’t need to adjust it again. Your shots will be great.

Now if you change locations or the sun suddenly comes out, or it gets darker, then yes, adjust it accordingly. Every time you move your camera the meter is going to be focused on something else and it’s going to change, so just ignore it.


Tonight’s homework is to put your camera in manual mode, set your meter mode to spot metering, pick a scene, and practice getting the meter set to 0. Set the meter to 0, take a shot, look at the photo, Is it good? Is it too bright? is it too dark? decide and then adjust accordingly, and try again. Do this a few times and post your results below.


I hope this was helpful and stay tuned for Lesson 7.

Lesson 5


Lesson 7





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