Don’t be DUPED by Your DSLR’s Meter – PHOTOCADEMY Lesson #4

Welcome to Photocademy Lesson #4, Don’t be
Duped by Your DSLR’s Meter. KA Why would we give this tutorial such a name?
� Does our meter really dupe us? We are going
to find out in today’s lesson. �
If you like this video please subscribe to our channel and share it with your friends.
If you have any questions about any topics feel free to comment, we will do our best
to answer them in a timely manner. �
In our last lesson we learned about metering modes and how each one works. Be sure to watch
it and our histogram video first before watching this one.
� Let’s review how to hold our camera while
metering. Proper technique is to hold your left hand out, palm up, with your thumb facing
to the left then place the lens onto your hand. On most DSLR cameras your meter will
turn on when you push the shutter down half way. In order to get an accurate reading you
will need to point the camera towards the scene you want to photograph. Do not point
the camera downward and use the screen, this will give you an accurate reading of the grass
at your feet, but not an accurate reading of the scene you really want to photograph.
� The next step is to make sure the camera is
in manual, shutter priority or aperture priority mode. You will not see a meter in your viewfinder
when in a program mode. As an aside, learn how to change your aperture, shutter and ISO
settings WITHOUT taking the camera away from your eye. This will greatly improve how efficiently
you can change your exposure and give you more confidence when creating photographs.
Your camera’s viewfinder will have a readout for aperture, shutter and ISO to help guide
you in the process. If you are not sure where they are or what they look like, check your
camera’s manual. �
We learned in the last lesson that our camera reads the amount of light coming through the
lens and gives us an exposure recommendation. That reading is displayed to us in the viewfinder
with a scale. You can customize the scale on most cameras, so we will be talking generally
since yours may look different from ours. Most scales show a 0 in the middle, a “-” on
one side and a “+” on the other. The goal is to adjust your exposure settings until
there are no dashes to the left or right of the 0. We could call this, “Zeroing out your
meter.” We will come back to that point in a bit.
� If your scale is set up with the “-” to the
left of the zero and you see dashes to that side of the 0, the negative side, then you
are underexposing the image per the meter reading.
� If the dashes are to the right then you are
overexposing. The hashmarks generally represent 1/3 stop increments, so if you have 3 hashmarks
to the left then you are 1 stop underexposed, and if there are 4 to the left than you are
1 and 1/3 stops overexposed. �
If you are really out of whack and more than two stops under or overexposed, your meter
will not show you the hashmarks needed to get to zero. If this happens to you, don’t
panic and start messing with your settings randomly. Pause, remember how your aperture,
shutter and ISO settings work and then go back and set your aperture to let in the proper
amount of light, then determine a proper shutter to fit the scene. Finally, tune the ISO to
adjust the sensor’s sensitivity to meet the needs of your aperture and shutter choices.
If you need more help with this go back to Lesson #1, Graduating from Program Mode.
� The meter on your camera is not perfect; in
my experience it gives an accurate reading about 1/2 to 2/3 of the time. If you are using
strobes, especially off camera strobes in the studio that accuracy is much lower, but
that’s a whole different ball game that we’ll tackle later. Accuracy is also skewed by using
the wrong metering mode. As we learned in the last lesson, The Master Guide to DSLR
Metering Modes, we recommend using matrix, multiple or evaluative mode almost all of
the time. If you do choose to switch to spot or center weighted modes be sure to change
it back when you are finished so as to not completely frustrate yourself on your next
outing with your camera. �
So how can we use a device on our camera that is imperfect? When we combine the meter readings,
our knowledge of exposure, and our histogram we can improve our accuracy rate way up to
95 or 99%. �
Lets take this step by step. You just walked to a room or the light changed while you are
outside shooting landscape photos. Before we start make sure your camera is on manual
mode and matrix, evaluative or multi modes depending on your camera.
� Step 1, hold your camera up, looking through
the lens and compose the image how you like it artistically.
� Step 2, check the meter reading and adjust
your settings as necessary so there are no hash marks to the left or right of the 0.
Keep in mind how you want to create the image, so start with your aperture to determine depth
of field, then set your shutter speed, and finally your ISO. Optimally, throughout this
process you should be looking through your viewfinder without taking it from your eye.
� Step 3, focus and take a photograph.
� Step 4, take a look at the image on the back
of your screen with the histogram visible. Evaluate your histogram. In most situations,
aim to ‘shoot to the right,’ which means you want to make sure there is no flat spot on
the right side of the histogram. Be aware that your graph can have spikes on the right
and/or left sides. These spikes can, depending upon the image, be perfectly normal and not
affect your result in a bad way. There is no hard and fast rule, you just need to learn
your camera and continually judge the quality of your photography.
� Step 5, Rinse and repeat. If the histogram
shows you that the image is over or underexposed, adjust your exposure appropriately and take
another photograph. Check your histogram again and repeat until your image is perfect.
� Now to review. Using the meter in conjunction
with the histogram is a proven way to obtain solid exposures. If you are shooting and not
getting the exposure results you were expecting, check your exposure mode, metering mode and
your histogram. You don’t need to check the histogram after every image, only after the
scene or light changes. And remember that your meter isn’t perfect, it’s only one of
the tools in your toolbox. �
� �
If you want to master your meter and histogram, you need to practice, practice, practice therefore,
we have some homework for you. �
First, practice setting exposure in manual mode using your meter scale and histogram.
Keep the camera up to your eye and adjust aperture, shutter, and ISO without moving
it. �
Next, create over, under, and normally exposed images based on the meter without checking
your histogram. Note the exposure accuracy of the images.
� Finally create under, over and normally exposed
images based on your histogram. These should be more accurate.
� Be sure to watch our next lesson Focus Your
Way to Sharper Photos . Keep Shooting!

8 thoughts on “Don’t be DUPED by Your DSLR’s Meter – PHOTOCADEMY Lesson #4

  1. thanks for the lesson Gregory, whats your opinion of using the exposure compensation, hints or when to or not to use it would be great .

  2. Hi Greg and Kathy. I'm awaiting the next chapters of Photocademy. I belive that the series continues soon and only you have stoped for lot of work. Thank you for your brilliant vídeos and regards from Spain.

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