Leica m6 light meter tips
Old 03-04-2017   #1
Captain Kidd
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Leica m6 light meter tips

This might just be a very silly question but I'll ask it anyway.

I've taken a few rolls with my leica m6, using the built in light meter, my general approach is to try identify something I recognise as resembling 18% grey, grass, a path, take a light reading from that, and then recompose and take the shot, ang generally the pictures are pretty well exposed but on occassions when the light is fading I tend to get exposures off and hence this question.

Let's say I'm standing in my garden, bright midday sunlight and I take a light reading from the grass and shoot. no problems, or confusion. Now come a few hours later, the sun might be 40 minutes from sunset, there is considerably less light, am I wrong to take the light reading from the same patch of grass I used for a light reading in midday?

Thanks and apologies if this is silly.
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Old 03-04-2017   #2
Robert Lai
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If the patch of grass that you used for metering gives you the correct exposure at noon, it should work for any time of the day. Unless or course, at certain times a tree puts a shadow across that patch. Also, you should make sure that your subject will be in the same light as that patch of grass.

An easier method is to get up close and take the meter reading off your subject.

Finally, an incident light meter will resolve most of your issues.
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Old 03-04-2017   #3
Captain Kidd
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Thanks, I appreciate you getting back to me, sometimes the subject is a landscape so the grass reading I find as the best approach, and yes the same light is falling on each.
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Old 03-04-2017   #4
froyd
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Just to make sure, is the reported over/under exposure something you see on the negatives (as opposed to scans or lab prints)?
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Old 03-04-2017   #5
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Hi Captain,
In my experience, taking a reading off the grass is okay. But why not just take it off the subject? Sometimes that is the best approach because while you say the light falling on the grass and the wider landscape is the same, your eyes are really not that good at picking up the difference, or more they are very good at compensating. Today for instance is partly cloudy, I can see inside fine, and when I go outside it doesn't look that much brighter. I just checked and it is 6 stops different. 2 stops on a distant landscape looks like nothing.

I typically use an incident meter for things around me (similar to your grass reading) and in bright sun I just use a local 'sunny 16'. But in evening light a reflected light meter on the subject is invaluable (such as the M6 meter)
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Old 03-04-2017   #6
John Bragg
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There can be a great contrast between foreground and sky at this time of the evening. It can result in either bleached out sky or foreground under exposure. Not the fault of your camera meter but just a longer subject brightness range than is immediately obvious. You must decide whether to favor the sky or foreground in this situation. Another approach is to pick your time of day and know when not to shoot.
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Old 03-04-2017   #7
Rob-F
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In my experience, good metering areas include grass; a red brick wall; the blue sky about 90 degrees away from the sun, or maybe even 180 degrees; a faded asphalt street; and weathered wood. As to the patch of grass near sunset: I don't think I've tried it. Now that you say it doesn't work, I probably won't! Maybe, at that time of day, it is better to take a reading off the intended subject area, and use judgment to adjust the exposure?
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Old 03-04-2017   #8
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I often use the green grass as a meter target. Often my subject is a young person with pale skin and that is not a good meter target without a compensation of +1.5.
I guess one problem is that late in the day the grass, being horizontal is getting less light than something that is closer to vertical, and you might be getting into the contre-jour lighting situation as well.
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Old 03-04-2017   #9
Robert Lai
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If the exposure issues arise when you are trying to keep the sky and a dark foreground with visible tones in the picture, then you will exceed the dynamic range of the recording medium. One method to compensate is the use of graduated neutral density filters. Of course, the actual location of the split will be impossible to judge with a rangefinder camera, so you may have to default to those that start the gray zone from halfway up. Base the exposure on the dark foreground, metering BEFORE you put the filter on.

In order to speed things up, I sometimes cheat and just use a large rectangular filter (Cokin, Lee, etc.,), and put that on the front of the lens just prior to exposure. I hold it there with my hand while the shutter is tripped. This is much quicker than screwing on and off the typical round filter.
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Old 03-04-2017   #10
Ronald M
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grass is not grass at all times of year. Very green and bright in spring.

On overcast days, average reading will lead to underexposure. I read the grass and then read the sky and expose between. Works every time.

You need to find a correction factor for your palm and use that as you would use a grey card.
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Old 03-04-2017   #11
DoctorSLR
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I was going to add, I don't use the grass where I live, because it changes colour throughout the year (my back garden is currently bare) and when it is full and lush, it's very dark and would lead to 1-1.5 stops underexposure.
I've resorted to using the palm of hand to take meter readings, by holding it upright, in the light of my subject and increasing the exposure by 0.5-1 stop, depending on how harsh I perceive the light that day.

This is with a Canon F1 centre weighted meter, but the principles would be same I'd guess.
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Old 03-05-2017   #12
Captain Kidd
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Thanks for all the comments, usually I don't have a subject per se but a scene, I inow the area the light meter uses in my view finder and there is rarely an area large enough to fill this that might be 18% grey so I usually use grass for that, grass that is in the same light. I just found that while I was taking pictures and the evening progressed, the closer to sunset, the more my pictures became under or over exposed. Let's say I'm using a grey card, and I decide to take a night photo, it's moonlight, is it ok to take the light reading from that grey card again, it would give you the correct exposure (theoretically, I know the m6 light meter wouldn't pick anything up in such low light).

Thanks again
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Old 03-05-2017   #13
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Another question arises is, if I am to use a grey card, taking a picture of a landscape, some sky, buildings etc. is it ok to place the grey card on the ground and take the light reading from that, as long as the same light is hitting it, or should the grey card be held up over the landscape you're intending to picture?
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Old 03-10-2017   #14
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I've never used a grey card so I won't comment other than to say it has to be in the same light as the scene to give the right reading.
Now to the night scene in moonlight - typically you actually want to underexpose such a scene, there should be a lot of dark shadows. It would look a bit weird without black shadows don't you think? There are many ways to achieve the end result. I take an incident reading and then underexpose it usually by 2 stops to keep the shadows dark (unless I'm standing under a light or something). You could also take a reflected reading off something in the scene you want to be middle grey, but I find the M6 meter takes in too large an area to be useful here. You might just have to go out at night and do some tests...
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #15
Ricoh
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Meter off your hand in the same lighting - works with my M240
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #16
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What I'm not sure of is where this grass is relative to you and the light. Is it in the same direction as you are shooting? And as others have said, what is its angle to the light compared to the subject? If photographing a building at sunset, the one guarantee is that the grass is completely differently lit. For these reasons metering something angled the same as the subject to the light is preferred - hence palms or 18% grey cards which can be angled as you will. You can adjust metering for using the brighter skin tone.
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