This continues a series of tips Im going to publish for new photographers. For those of you who already know this stuff, I promise to keep the more advanced posts coming for you.
Esther Gomez from Mexico City asks, “What is a light meter?”
A light meter is a tool that helps photographers select the proper exposure. This makes sure that images come out not too dark and not too light. This is accomplished by setting ISO, shutter speed and aperture in a combination that when done properly, allows just the right amount of light necessary to make a correct exposure.
Most cameras have built-in light meters. These meters typically evaluate the scene and then use computers to determine exposure.
Most cameras use reflective light meters. These meters measure light reflected from the subject as it enters the camera lens.
Most hand-held meters offer both reflective AND incident measurements. Incident light meters read the light falling on the subject.
Your in-camera light meter typically has several modes including spot, center or average. If you can master these different metering modes, you can take more control over your exposure and adjust the camera so that it makes the exposure you as the photographer want to achieve as opposed to the exposure the camera wants to achieve. The two often don’t match.
In-camera meters can be confused by scenes with particularly bright or dark areas. Hand-held meters are more accurate, but cost more money and eliminate the convenience of the all-in-one solution offered by in-camera meters.