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Today, metering is easy. Just look through the viewfinder, center the pointer on your exposure scale, and voilà! This is great for someone who is just getting the hang of the exposure triangle. But for those who work at a fast pace, it can be limiting. So this photography tip won’t only challenge you, it will also help you get the best exposure quicker than ever!
A Photography Tip For Faster Exposures
Before we get into the core of the piece, here’s a note on in-built light meters.
I hold the belief that we should only ever use a light meter as a rough guide. They’re not always 100% accurate, and they also don’t always give you the exposure you want. Someone may teach you to center the pointer on your light meter if you’re a new photographer. That’s because it will give you the most balanced exposure.
But a balanced exposure isn’t always the best creative option. Sometimes, it’s cool to expose for the highlights, while other times, it’s better to expose for the darks. So, while it’s fine to have it as a guide, don’t become dependent on it. And this photography tip will stop you from having a dependency.
Let me set the scene. You’re roaming the streets, and something catches your eye. Maybe half an hour has passed since you last made a photo. Within that time, the light has changed. So when you bring your camera to your eye, you start analyzing your light meter and changing your settings accordingly. But by the time the meter has told you what to do, the moment has passed. The photo is lost.
To overcome this, you need to start getting in the habit of exposing without the meter. So my challenge to you, is to go out and expose blindly. Instead of looking at the meter, judge the light. Try to determine what you think your camera settings should be for the exposure you want.
You can start doing this as soon as you leave the house. Instead of looking through your viewfinder, look at the sky and how the light falls onto the earth. Predict what you believe your settings should be, and go create photographs. You may come home with overly exposed images or terribly underexposed images. But in time, you will start to understand the light better, rather than just understanding your light meter.
Start With Sunny 16
If you’re really struggling at the beginning, you can start with the Sunny 16 rule. The Sunny 16 rule is essentially a group of settings that you can use depending on the type of natural light you have available. You can read about it in more detail here.
But again, Sunny 16 only serves as a guide. You have to be your own light meter. This can only come with experience and practice. But to achieve it, you must stop being reliant on your tech and be more trusting of your instincts and knowledge.
It may not seem much, but if you can reach the correct exposure a few seconds earlier, it really can determine if you get the shot you want. Now, this photography tip may not apply to more methodical genres of photography. But if you’re a travel, street, or documentary photographer, time is of the essence.
So stop being a slave to your light meter, and start taking ownership of your exposures. Trust me. You won’t regret it.