Photography Tip: What Are You Sticking In My Face?
We often take a strange looking device, hold it up to a customer’s face, press a button, and lights start flashing all over the place. We are then asked, “What is that, and will I still be able to have children?” (Well, maybe not the hazardous health part, but definitely why are you sticking this thing in my face). The mystery’s over.
It is a light meter — a Sekonic L-358 light meter to be precise. We use it to measure light intensity so that we can sculpt the lighting on our set and accurately set our camera to take well exposed pictures.
“But I bought a $500 camera and take good pictures all the time! I don’t need no dang light meter!” We know, and for the most part, you will continue to have success. There are limits, however.
One of the primary reasons we use it because we often employ multiple lights to illuminate our subject/scene. We may have a light for the face, a light for the hair, a lower intensity light for the whole body, and another light on the background. All of the lights are not set to the same intensity (otherwise every picture would look like your driver’s license). The light meter tells us whether the face is as bright as the rest of the body or whether the background is exactly half (1/2) as bright as the foreground. We call these “formulas”, and we have a secret book of lighting formulas stored in the same vault as the Coca-Cola recipe.
Because we like our loyal readers, we’ll share one formula with you. Below is an image from Nuaje’s photoshoot with the lovely & talented Ali DiPippo, lead guitarist of Washington DC’s Rome In A Day. Take note of the effect that different lights have on the overall scene.
Hope this sheds some much-needed light on the subject 🙂