Different ways of making readings

Any hand-meter pointed generally at your subject from the camera position will give an exposure reading based on the assumption that the subject has roughly equal areas of light and dark. Some hand-meters have a white plastic diffuser, which slides over the cell. You then hold the meter at the subject, its cell facing the camera, when taking your reading. This 'incident light' measurement scrambles all the light reaching parts of the subject seen by the camera, ignoring light or dark unimportant background.

A very accurate way of working is to take two undiffused readings, pointing the meter direct at the darkest important shadowed area, and then at the brightest important highlight area. You

Figure M.1 Measuring, reading off and setting exposure.

Figures M.2 and M.3 Making highlight and shadow readings. (Top) Direct from subject itself. (Above) From substitute hands in direct light and shadow. (Meter calculator was then set midway between 3 and 6.)

Figure M.1 Measuring, reading off and setting exposure.

Figures M.2 and M.3 Making highlight and shadow readings. (Top) Direct from subject itself. (Above) From substitute hands in direct light and shadow. (Meter calculator was then set midway between 3 and 6.)

then split the difference between the two. For example, for Figure M.2, readings were taken about 15 cm (6 inches) from the lightest and then the darkest parts of the man's head. The dial was set to midway between the two readings - in this case 41/2 - and the camera settings needed then read off.

When a subject cannot be approached so closely try taking readings from nearby substitutes under the same lighting. For example, in Figure M.3 the photographer is reading off the matching skin of his or her own hands - first turned towards, then away from, the same lighting received by the face. In landscapes you can read off the grass at your feet for grass on a distant hill - provided both are under the same lighting conditions. Remember, though, when taking any form of reading, not to accidentally measure your shadow or that of the meter.

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