Learn how to take better photos with this tool

Light Meter

Are you still struggling to take good photographs? Don’t understand what the exposure triangle is? Well, you can thank your lucky stars for what I’m about to tell you will definitely help you take better photographs.

Related article: 5 useful smartphone apps for film photographers

I’m talking about the light meter. It’s a handheld device back in the day that uses a sensor to measure the available light and calculate the correct exposure settings. Sadly, not many know how to use it and continue to waste shots/film trying to figure out the correct settings. Here’s a simple “tutorial” to help you learn how to use and read a light meter.

  1. Set the ISO. If you’re using film, that would be really easy as all you need to do is follow the box speed. That’s unless you’re planning on pushing or pulling but that’s another story for another time. In the event that you’re using digital then I would suggest starting at a reasonable ISO.

    ISO 100 to 200 – Areas with bright lights such as the beach, streets, etc.
    ISO 400 – Overcast aka cloudy conditions.
    ISO 800 – Places wherein there’s strong artificial light such as the inside of mall or areas wherein natural light seeps in like when shooting beside a window.
    ISO 1600 – When shooting at concerts or similar light conditions.

  2. Place the light meter in front of your subject.
  3. Point the sensor towards your source of light (sun, window, flash, etc).

The light meter’s sensor will then measure the available light and display the shutter speed matched with the aperture that you would need to use. All you need to do now is to input that settings into your camera. It’s as easy as that and you’re on your way to getting better photographs.

But before you think of purchasing the latest light meter in the market today, check your camera first if it has a through-the-lens (TTL) light meter (which most modern cameras should have).

Alternatively, you can visit your smartphone’s app store because almost everything has an app version of it. Search for the Light Meter app that’s available on Android and iOS. It’s free! You can try it out and, yes, it is accurate.

Now that you’ll probably learn how to properly expose your photographs, next thing you should learn is composition. Again, another story for another time.

The Film Traveler

Let's shoot film!

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