The magic of the light meter…

Up until I began to study how to use a light meter, and more importantly, why I would want to use a light meter and how to apply it, studio lighting for me was always a guessing game. My recent Rock Block of photo shoots I had in such a short timeframe this spring (sans light meter, lighting done entirely by chimping) compelled me to reconsider my approach to shooting and at some point after the final shoot, I began to consider the utility of a light meter.

I can’t remember the precise moment it began to click for me after I began studying it, but when it did, it completely altered my comprehension of light. I had never considered light in terms of F-stops before; it was always in terms of whether my lights were set to full power, half-power, etc. Suddenly I was able to see lighting a scene, well, the term I want to use is “spatially”. Being able to measure how much light is affecting a given part of a scene in terms of F-stops (I guess, in other words, using ratios) really connected so much of what I had been lacking skill-wise.

It’s been such an eye-opening experience learning and grasping that aspect of lighting that I’m stunned I got by without it for such a long time. I guess it’s like a musician who never learned to read sheet music…

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