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Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 06:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi,
In the past I metered my strobes (fill light, main light, kicker etc) separately, meaning all lights were off except the one I was metering. This works pretty well for me in a three light setup. I'm starting to change things around and add a fourth light.

I'm getting some spill so I think I may need to change the way I meter. I use the Sekonic with the little white dome and even if I face it in the direction of the strobe the other strobes add to the light. For example a fill light is f8 alone but with the other lights on I get f11.

What is the proper method, all lights on or one light on at a time, when metering.

Thank you.
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 06:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ferrell View Post
Hi,
What is the proper method, all lights on or one light on at a time, when metering.
Yes...

You will need to meter the whole setup together where multiple lights hit a given area. Otherwise, you risk having a major over-exposure in the overlap area. I suppose you COULD meter the lights individually and then add up the exposure... but that seems like the hard way to me.

In areas where only a single light hits, you can meter just the light source.

But pointing the meter dome at the light isn't the usual procedure. Point the dome at the camera, and let the dome handle picking up the light. Otherwise, it wouldn't need to be a dome... but whaddo I know...
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 06:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Al_Nowak - I'm a little confused. If I point the meter at the camera and do it with all the lights on then how will I know if a hair light is 1 stop over a main light etc. Seems like I'd have to place the meter on top of the head and toward the light.

How do I technically determine if a main light is 2 stops over the fill? I normally would place the meter on both sides of the face pointing toward each light and take a reading.
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 07:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ferrell View Post
Al_Nowak - I'm a little confused. If I point the meter at the camera and do it with all the lights on then how will I know if a hair light is 1 stop over a main light etc. Seems like I'd have to place the meter on top of the head and toward the light.
Ahhh, a gotchca, or rather a gotme. Most times the light source is in front of the subject, thus my general comment. The hair light, being behind the subject, is a special case. Obviously pointing the dome at the camera for that light won't work... unless the hair light is almost directly overhead.

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How do I technically determine if a main light is 2 stops over the fill? I normally would place the meter on both sides of the face pointing toward each light and take a reading.
Here you are metering a specific ratio rather than a general situation. But you should be able to meter it with all lights on, because that's the situation you are going to take the picture under. If there's a two stop difference, the main light is apparently not contributing much to the fill area. But let me ask why you are setting the fill light first? I'd generally set the main light first, and then set the fill.

The main thing about placing the meter is to duplicate the situation of the area you are trying to meter. If something is shadowing the area you are metering, you have to duplicate the shadowing on the meter.
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 07:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm a little confused also, are you getting overexposure or spill. If you are getting spill, which is a separate issue from exposure then your metering technique may not need adjusting.

You may need to simply use some modifiers to control the light.
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 07:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Al, yes I do set the main light first. It was just ambiguous wording, sorry.

Let's say you have a light directly left and one directly right of the subject (eg.90 degrees) and then a third fill light in front of the subject, above camera.

Normally I would meter each one alone (the others are off) maybe f11 from the sides and f8 from the front, for example. Then I turn them all on and meter toward the camera. I set the camera for that reading which sometimes is f13 or f14. How about that technique, is it the correct method?

thank you.
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 07:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Absolutely Digital - yes I'm getting spill but when I use a 4 or 5 light setup I'm finding it difficult to avoid. Perhaps with more flags and barn doors I may be able to achieve minimal spill but it will more than likely be present. Which brings me back to the original question - is the proper technique to meter while all lights are on, assuming some spill will be present.
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 08:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrell View Post
Absolutely Digital - yes I'm getting spill but when I use a 4 or 5 light setup I'm finding it difficult to avoid. Perhaps with more flags and barn doors I may be able to achieve minimal spill but it will more than likely be present. Which brings me back to the original question - is the proper technique to meter while all lights are on, assuming some spill will be present.
You normally should meter with all the lights on. You point the bulb at the camera and usually hold the meter beside the face of the subject. Now if you want to determine ratios, you meter each light separately, but all fire together. Point the bulb at the hair light for example. Use your hand if needed to shield the bulb from another light. That gives you the info for the ratio. Same for a fill light --- use the hand to shield from the main.

I do it differently myself. I use the Photovision Target to zero in on the exact exposure and then use the meter if needed to determine power of background light, hair light, etc.

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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately 


For spill control, shoot a test shot, look at where the spill is, and then use flags to control or feathering.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 08:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrell View Post
Let's say you have a light directly left and one directly right of the subject (eg.90 degrees) and then a third fill light in front of the subject, above camera.

Normally I would meter each one alone (the others are off) maybe f11 from the sides and f8 from the front, for example. Then I turn them all on and meter toward the camera.
Here's my problem with your situation as described. The side lights are lighting only half of the face, each a separate side. But if you put the meter in front of the face with the dome pointing at the camera, it's getting light from both side lights simultaneously. I think I'd meter with a flag to kill the light from one side of the meter, assuming the side lights are equal. Again, the magic is to get the meter into an equivalent situation to what the face is getting.

The "correct" way is the way that gives you the proper exposure. I'm not much for rules, whatever works for an individual is okay with me. But you do have to keep track of the details to insure that you are actually measuring what you think you are measuring.

I prefer metering with the whole setup on, but different strokes...
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Re: Metering strobes - together or separately
Old 04-05-2008, 08:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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yes, thank you, rfs. Nice shot too.

I checked out the Photovision Target also.

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