Exercise 1.5 Experimenting with your light meter

To prepare for Project 2 (Shadows), you’ll need to understand your light meter. A camera light meter measures the reflected light from the subject.

OCA FOUNDATIONS IN PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE FOLDER PG39

I am so glad that this exercise is included in the course. When I use to shoot in film with my Pentax, I used the light meter by instinct and I would often alter the stops manually above or below what the camera was reading. This was to compensate for either too much or too less light. It became natural to me with my Pentax but with the digital cameras I lost the ability to do this. I am not sure wether having a digital camera and digital menu put me off because it was ‘scary’ and ‘alien’ to me, or whether I had just literally ‘given up’ like my Pentax.

As I was experimenting with my Lumix GH5 I found this page on the panasonic website about auto exposure bracketing. So I played with the F-stops (which I have now found out how to do), ISO, SS and put the camera on 3 Steps which have a 1 F-stop between them. I also set it so that the photograph taken by the cameras exposure reading would be seen first when I viewed the photographs and then this would be followed by the -1 and then the +1 exposure. I found that now I was beginning to choose my own settings for shots I was acquiring the skills and techniques I have always wanted to learn, and was using them more confidently.

I have also found out that the bracket settings can be changed according to the shot and the light that I was seeing. Therfore again, it is another useful tool I have learnt. I do not know if this practice is ‘acceptable’ in photography terms, or again something that people would claim to be for lazy photographers. I would like to use this method as well as the others as it will save a heck of a lot of time as I will not have to keep re-shooting on the spot when the exposures are not turning out quite right.

Many of the YouTube videos and online pages I have read recommend setting the camera at 5F = 5 frames. For my practicing I have just set it at 3 F to begin with and the three images below show my first attempt. The photographs below show (1) camera capture @ SS 125s (2) SS 250s (3) SS 1/60s. This shows how changing the shutter speed also affects the exposure of an image and with bracketing it is easier for me to see the difference while I am learning.

However I should now return to single shots and altering the f-stops as the exercise asked.

Conclusion

The thing that I have come to realise and question is, when we look at a photograph, how do we know when it looks the best it can in terms of light, dark, colour etc? I know sometimes I look at a picture and think parts are correct and others are not due to where the photograph was taken, for example, with ‘Bare minimum’ (above), where the light in the fridge graduates down from bright to light. How indeed would we know if what we see is the same as someone else? I mean a computer monitor often sees things differently to another monitor… I am hoping that this is something that our photographers’ eye gets use to judging, otherwise how can I produce correctly exposed and coloured work etc..?

In these exercises I was taught how to complete basic image editing in both Camera Raw and Photoshop. The result? I AM OVER THE MOON! I have learnt so much in such a short space of time, I might not remember everything and there is quite a lot that is still confusing to work out, yet as the old saying goes, ‘Practice makes perfect!’

But the highlight for me has to be the fact that I am now shooting confidently with the manual settings and I am learning my way around my camera. I am thinking about the amount of light I am seeing and with that the ISO setting needed, F-stops and SS and how they will need to work together. Another big positive is that I am reading and taking notes on how the depth of field is controlled by the F-numbers and therefore the cameras aperture can create various effects. For example a small F-number eg 2.8 will reduce the depth of field and blur the background which will separate the sharp focus object from the background.

With this new knowledge I am going to be experimenting in my spare time with the functions learnt. I mean, even when you are sitting down watching a film you can play with the cameras controls and take shots of your surroundings to see how the combination of settings work together.

There is one smiling student here!


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