Originally Posted by cwalton
Really lovely stuff. I have been a long time admirer of your work, especially with the humble (but excellent) 35mm f2.5!
I am interested to read that you don't often use a light meter. I use an M6 currently and regard myself as fairly reliant on the meter. I have, however, always wanted to learn to be less reliant on it. Could you perhaps explain how you learnt to work without one? I know there is loads on this out there already but would be interested in your personal take.
Cheers and keep up the good work!
that is so very kind of you, thank you very much!
yes, i generally don't carry a light meter and i haven't for ages now. in cases of absolute uncertainty i have used my phone to double check - after i've taken the picture. pointless!
it's not magic or a very impressive skill, it's just a question of routine and habit, like zone focusing or driving stick (hello americans
the film i've been using for almost 10 years now is almost exclusively 400 iso (mostly tri-x) and i find it very difficult to shoot something like portra 160 in a fully manual camera. i tend to forget and just expose at ~400 again. i stopped using and carrying a lightmeter when i realised that i generally knew what it was going to read and when it didn't, i'd make it read what i wanted it to read.
there are plenty of ways to go about this, but like everyone else who does it, i suppose, i developed my own *******ised (really, rff?
) sunny16/zone system. i have a couple of references as far as lighting situations go in my head and work from there, depending on what's particular about the situation or whether i want to expose for highlights or faces or whatever.
1/500 f16-f22 for full on sunlight
1/500 f11 for "regular" / moderate sunlight
1/500 f8 for slightly overcast light, soft evening sun, or against direct sunlight to get a bit of detail in the shadows
1/250 f8 for half-shade, even later evening sun or in the shade of bright buildings on a bright day for example
1/250 f5.6 for regular "open" shade
1/250 f4 for regular shade
1/250 f2.5-f2.8 for dark / late afternoon shade
in darker situations, my reference is always the f1.2 of my 35mm nokton, because that's what i used when i started routinely shooting like this and it gives you a reference all the way to "very dark" / "forget about it, just try to hold still".
1/500 f1.2 // 1/125 f2.5 for very bright artificial / indoor light or early twilight
1/250 f1.2 // 1/60 f2.5 for regular-bright artificial / indoor light or regular twilight
1/125 f1.2 // 1/30 f2.5
(THIS IS THE ONE!
) for the bright parts on the berlin underground
1/60 f1.2 // 1/15 f2.5 for the not-so-bright parts on the berlin underground
1/30 f1.2 // 1/8 f2.5 for badly lit berlin underground platforms or on a busy urban street at night, city lights and so on
1/15 f1.2 // 1/4 f2.5 it's getting to dark to care but you can still focus
1/8 f1.2 // 1/2 f2.5 you can confidently start to consider the "sharpness is a bourgeois concept thread"
1/4 f1.2 // 1s f2.5 use your phone or a candle to see what the focus scale is set to and just ah **** it, it'll look great.
1/2 f1.2 // B f2.5 this is art now.
a lot of people have found it odd that i sometimes look at my hand to determine exposure, but it's basically the same thing people do with their M6 meters. it gives me a reference, because i know what my hand looks like in most of these situations - and you can see what the light looks like at different angles. i realise i am doing it less and less though.
when i'm shooting i generally adjust speed and aperture whenever the light changes, not when i'm about to take a picture, unless i have to of course. same goes for focusing, i try to be as close as possible to the distance i expect to shoot at before raising the camera to my eye. focus tabs are great for that, if you know a lens well enough, you start doing it instinctively without looking at it.
just start thinking about exposure rather than blindly following your meter.
routine is key.
highlighted speed/aperture combinations are my main references.
iso400 is life.