Your internal camera meter is going to give you the exposure for natural grey, so if you point the meter at a dark shadow, it will make it neutral grey which will brighten your scene up. If you meter for a bright white, it will give you an exposure that will make the white a darker grey and could underexposure your photo so it is best to look for a natural grey in your scene to meter for. For very accurate metering, you can pick up an 18% grey card to meter off of, or if you’re ever buying a camera bag, we recommend buying one that is close to neutral grey which can double as a grey card! All you need to do is put it in the same light your scene is getting hit by and take the metering ready off of it and just that exposure!
Smartphone Light Meter AppYou might be surprised how accurate most of the smartphone light meter apps are. They work well if you don’t have an external or in-camera meter or if you want a second option to your in-camera meter. Most of the light meter apps are free and work similarly to most external meters; you just select your film iso, point your phone at the scene you’re photographing, and tap on the area you want to meter for. The app will suggest an aperture as well as shutter speed, both of which can be adjusted. If your subject is far away in a scene with contrasty light it’s best to get close to your subject to get an accurate meter reading then go back and frame your scene using that meter reading. Some smartphone apps we recommend are; the Lumu Light meter, Pocket Light meter, and the Lux – Professional Light Meter, which are all free. Read More about Smartphone Light Meter Apps
How do you meter for scenes like this?Bright/white/reflective scenes like this can often trick a light meter because they will read brighter than what they really are which can result in an underexposed photo. That’s why both of these shots were overexposed by 1 stop while metering in-camera with a Canon Elan 7. The amazing thing is these two photos could’ve been shot 2 more stops brighter and the highlights still wouldn’t have blown out since Kodak Portra 400 has such great exposure latitude 🙌🏼.