Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

Lighting 101: Using The Meter

[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS FULL SCREEN]

Welcome to the language of light! In the Lighting 100 series of videos you will be taken through the basic concepts you need to understand and master in order to creatively use light to tell visual stories. In episode 101 Ryan reveals the need for, and the use of the light meter, an often overlooked and misunderstood tool. But through the proper use and understanding, it can allow you to shape light in a whole new way.

At the end of this video I show a couple of helpful tips for working with the Sekonic L-758Cine, and make mention of additional tips on my blog. After the jump you will find the tips I demonstrated in the video as well as three additional tips you might find useful:


Sekonic L-758Cine Tips:

Tip 01: Highlight Priority Mode (Shown in video)
Use this tip to quickly and easily determine what you aperture should be set at based off of an important highlight in the scene. When you expose at this value, the metered highlight will retain detail. couldn't be simpler!

Here is how you do it:
1. Set Custom Setting #1 to 1. This will set the ISO 2 button to be a filter factor button. (With the meter off, press the MODE button while turning on the meter. CS will display in the upper right corner to let you know that you are now in the custom settings mode.) Power off the meter, and then turn it back on.

2. Determine what your EV is for the over exposure of your recording medium. (From mid tone to highlight.) The Sekonic Profile Chart II is very helpful for this.

3. With the meter turned on, and set to the correct camera profile, press the ISO 2 button and turn the jog wheel to the correct EV setting based off of step 2.

4. Take a spot reading of what you want to place at the top of the histogram / shoulder. (This will be your brightest highlight.)

5. Press and hold ISO 2, it will give you a mid tone reading that will keep your highlight at the top without clipping.

Tip 02: Change Trigger Position In Spot Mode (Shown in video)
This will make taking readings much more ergonomic when in the spot mode of the 758Cine. It also has the added benefit of preventing you from mistakingly taking a false reading when in the Incident mode. (If the button stays the same in both modes, and the meter is left in spot mode, you could potentially take a reading thinking you are using the incident meter,  but you are getting a reading from the spot meter. And that reading is going to be WAY OFF ...)

Here is how you do it:
1. With the meter off, press the MODE button while turning on the meter. (CS will display in the upper right corner to let you know that you are now in the custom settings mode.)

2. Use the jog wheel to get to setting #17. (The smaller number of the two numbers in the center of the screen.)

3. Now press the MODE button until  #2 is displayed. (The larger number of the two numbers in the center of the screen.)

4. Press the POWER button to turn the meter off.

Tip 03: Determining Contrast Ratios (Shown in video)
Wouldn't it be great if you could quickly and easily determine the contrast ratio of important lights, and have the meter do the math for you? (No need to remember that T2.8 is 3 EV away from T8 which will give you a ratio of 8:1.)

Here is how you do it:
1. Using the incident mode take a reading of just the key light.

2. Press the AVE/EV button.

3. Now take a reading of any other light / area- (The Fill light for example).

4. The meter will now display the contrast ratio of the two lights.

*Additional suggestion: Make a label for the back of the meter that has the EV to Ratio conversions on it. Now you never have to remember an additional set of numbers. (EV 1 = 2:1 / EV 2 = 4:1 / EV 3 = 8:1 / EV 4 = 16:1)

Tip 04: Determining the Dynamic Range of a Scene
As digital cameras are ever increasing in their capability to record a greater dynamic range, I am finding that I am using this feature less and less. However it VERY useful for whenever I have to use a format that is limited in it's dynamic range. This is a quick and simple way to see  how much range a scene has so that you can make adjustments as needed.

Here is how you do it:
1. Using the spot meter mode take a reading of the darkest area of the scene.

2. Press the AVE/EV button.

3. Now take a reading of the brightest area of the scene.

4. The meter will now display the total range of the scene.

Tip 05: Finding the Mid Tone Value of a Scene
If you can't place a grey card in the key light, you can't use your incident meter, and there isn't anything in the scene that you recognize and mid tone, then this tip is for you! This is a quick and easy way to figure out what your aperture should be in difficult situations. (I could have also used this tip in the Plate Example I gave in the video.)

Here is how you do it:
1. Using the spot meter mode take a reading of the darkest area of the scene and then press the memory button.

2. Now take a reading of the lightest area of the scene and then press the memory button.

3. Press the AVE/EV button.

4. The meter will now display the mid tone value.

*Additional Suggestion: Use this tip even when you are not stuck in a tough situation. This will help you train your eye to recognize what mid tone is in every day scenes.

Equipment used to make this video:
Zeiss ZF.2 Lenses: 28mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm
Red Epic
Red Pro Primes
5.6" TV Logic Monitor
Cool Light 1200 LED
Ronford F-15 Fluid Head

Until Next Time - Get Out There And Shoot!
Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer
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