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Old Feb 13, 2005, 10:09 PM   #1
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I'm having trouble comprehending how you use a flash meter in a studio strobe environment. I understand how it might tell you a reading in ambient light, but how does it tell you how bright to set your strobes when they could be various distances from the subject, in varying orientations, etc.?

If you actually have to take a picture (i.e. to fire the strobes) for it to take a read, why not just use the histogram / your own eye after the fact?

-- Mitch
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Old Feb 13, 2005, 11:20 PM   #2
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A flash-meter reads the output of the strobes, it does not read ambient light. A histogram can be used to get you get your exposureclose, but I suspect would be a nightmare trying to setup lighting ratios with just a histogram.

With a flash-meter you fire eachhead individually with the meter close to your subject. It gives youan F/stop reading for that strobe, you repeat for eachhead until you get the F/stops you want for each head to establish your lighting ratios, then take one more reading with all strobes firing to get an overall reading. Then take an image examine it and adjust ratios to correct errors.

Good flash-meters like a Sekonic L-358 are not that expensive when compared tomulti head lighting systems like Profoto, Speedotron Blackline, or Elinchrome. (Or Alien Bees for home studios:-))

Hope I didn't muddy the waters and make thing worse :-)


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Old Feb 14, 2005, 9:25 AM   #3
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actually if you had a real time handheldhist-o-meter it would work pretty well once you learned the nuances of it. i can see one coming down the pike soon enough. really neat looking with both color and luminance switchableand of course standardf stop and time readoutsandprobably priced under $1000. color display of course.
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Old Feb 14, 2005, 3:11 PM   #4
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Another way to think about it is that a flash meter is going to measure the light that is falling on the subject. The exposure meter/TTL/histogram in the camerais measuring the reflected light off the subject. Your milage may vary, but I get closer tothe end result much quicker by using a meter thatI would via the trial and error method using the tools in the camera. This is especially true when you want to expose different parts of the subject differently.

Another use of a meter is to measure the ambient light that is fallingin the background. Then set your flash for the same exposure. Here you will get a fill flash that will match the exposure of the background perfectly.

There is still some trial/error even with a meter - but once you learn the nuances of your meter and the effect you are looking for - you will come much closer to hitting the exposure you want the first time. Learning to use the meter really helped me understand exposure much more...

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Old Mar 1, 2005, 11:33 AM   #5
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I was taught to take meter readings this way:

1. Always fire all strobes when taking any meater reading.

2. Take meter reading at model with meter pointing toward camera. This is your main light meter reading.

3. Shield light from main light (do not shutoff main light) and take a meter reading at modelpointing towardfill light.

4.For hair lights,also shield light from main light and take a meter reading at model's hair pointing toward hair light.

5. Back lights, shield light from main light and take a meter reading at backdrop pointing toward back light.

By not shutting offlights, the meter takes into account the stray light from all light sources andincluding ambient lighting (example: from a window, or reflecter off the floor, etc.). The whole idea is to measure total light at a particular location.
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