metering for accurate exposure. : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

When taking an exposure reading for a given scene, I usually take a Spot Meter reading from the darkest part of the subject where detail is desired in the final print, and then expose for the equivalent of two f/stops less. I seem to find when the shadows are exposed correctly the gray and highlight areas fall right into place. I generally find that in using this method I get good most, but not all of the time, excellent exposures. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who uses this same system or a modification of such.

-- Anonymous, April 30, 1997


Hi Carson,

I think if you would take one more reading with your spot meter, the highest (brightest) area, then count how many zones or stope are between the darkest and lightest areas. Say for instance there are 6 zones or stops then use normal + development to make the negative contain 9 zones or stops and print on normal grade paper. Or say there are 11 zones or stops measured in the scene, do normal - development bringing the negative down to 9 zones or stops and again print on normal grade paper. That is the zone system in a nutshell. Of course you should make tests with the film you are using to determine the correct speed of that film. Like TriX professional 320 is not actually 320 but I find closer to 200, actually 180 but I round off at 200 for convenience in using the spot meter.


-- Anonymous, May 01, 1997

Hi Carson, With your metering technique, I suspect you may be making use of the margin of error in the film. Remember, the spot meter is a reflective type meter and always believes it is reading 18%, or medium grey. I think you could improve your success ratio by reading from something that is mid grey in tone. This might be green vegetation or or grey stone, or something else of a color which would translate to mid grey. My personal preferance is to use an ambient light meter to read the light falling on the subject

-- Anonymous, May 01, 1997

Reply "metering for accurate exposure"

Hi Carson! I think your metering is right. This is the front end of the "zone system". The highlights are control with film development. It takes a lot of work at first but very rewarding in the long run. I use the zone system almost exclusively. Email me if you want talk more. good luck!

-- Anonymous, May 02, 1997

Howdy! Like Ansel Adams wrote- expose for the shadows and develop for the bright areas. You can control the contrast during development and printing, but if you want detail in the zone 3 areas, then you have to expose accordingly. the lighter zones can be affected by developing time, but not the darker zones. You can't bring forth detail if it's not there on the negative in the first place.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 1997

Carson, I figured my metering techniques recently by taking a few rolls of the New Agfa Scala(iso 200) b&w Slide Film, When i metered the shadows, i'd get way to much over flow of the brights, and vice versa, so, for the second roll i metered the bright areas, and the dark areas, and calculated the mean of the two, Ugh, my shadows were still hazy, so i eventually found that the mean of the two(bright & shadowed) areas PLUS Slightly underexposure (-1/2 ,-1 stop) was the solution, thus rendering great shadow detail, and giving me more developing control for the brights on the paper It was very easy to figure out thanx to the Scala film because when you over/under expose slide film(for me), it's a lot easier to notice then negative film!

-- Anonymous, August 04, 1997


oops, i meant to say Overexpose earlier!

-- anonymously answered, August 04, 1997

Moderation questions? read the FAQ