New to film photography? One of the most important things you have to learn is how to meter your scenes. Some film cameras already have a built-in light meter. If your camera has one, you’re lucky if it’s still in good working order. Over time, however, it may not give you accurate readings anymore. If it still lets you use manual settings — or your camera doesn’t have a light meter — you’ll have to do the metering yourself to get proper exposures.
In the short video above, Jason Kummerfeldt of grainydays shares how he meters for his film photography. If you’re a fan of the airy, pastel look, you’ll especially find his tips useful. First, he mentions the tools you need for metering your shots, then recommends a handheld light meter as the best option. He proceeds to the technicalities by illustrating what happens in the histogram when you meter for the highlights and the shadows.
Next, he explains how he achieves the bright, pastel look by overexposing the film stock that he uses (Kodak Portra 400, in this example). He sets the light meter accordingly with one and a half stops overexposure before he meters the scene he’s shooting. Metering daytime scenes is pretty straightforward, but it can be tricky for high-contrast scenes like sunsets.
Nighttime metering can even be tougher, since the scenes can be too dark for your light meter. Then, there’s also the reciprocity failure to consider when you’re doing longer exposure times. So, he made sure to also cover how he typically works around these constraints.
The most important thing to note is you’ll most likely get the hang of it with enough practice. So, go ahead and try his tips so you get a better idea oh how to meter for the look that you want!
Want more film photography tips like this? You can always jump into the Photofocus Community and join in our film photography group discussions!