SPot, Lock & Load

One of the most frequent questions I get asked (in these lockdown days via email) is how do you spot meter to get correct exposure? Now I have to say that lots of photographers shy away from spot metering because they just don’t understand how it works in the field. Unfortunately they stick to what seems to work for them and are a little timid when trying something new. But it’s nothing to be apprehensive about and once you ‘get it’ you’ll find your exposures improve 100%. So how does it work?

It’s a very straightforward process. It just needs a little practice to get to the point where it becomes second nature.

Five basics first: 1. Spot metering covers a very small area ( check your manual), 2.Know how your histogram works, 3. Understand how your meter scale works, 4. Know what a ‘stop’ is, 5.Know how to lock your metered exposure. All this is basic but if unsure just check your manual and/or look it up on line.

If you understand these basics then the rest is a piece of cake. So let’s put it all together:

Example 1. Lets say you want to photograph something that’s predominately white. This is what you do: Set your metering to SPOT, focus on your subject where the white is most predominant, adjust the metering scale until the ‘needle’ is in the middle and LOCK it. Now look at the metering scale again, LOAD in +one stop, refocus and take the shot. The whites will be white and everything else in the frame will be correctly exposed.

Example 2. Lets say you want to photograph something that’s predominately black. This is what you do: Set your metering to SPOT, focus on your subject where the black is most predominant, adjust the metering scale until the ‘needle’ is in the middle and LOCK it. Now look at the metering scale again, LOAD in -one stop, refocus and take the shot. The blacks will be black and everything else in the frame will be correctly exposed.

Simple. It all goes back to the idea that if you place one correctly exposed part of the image in the right place on the histogram then everything else in the image will also be correctly exposed.

It might seem a little complicated but it’s not and once you get used to the process it’ll only take a couple of seconds. And your images will be perfectly exposed.

So, remember: ‘SPOT, LOCK & LOAD’.

May the light be with you

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