The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is as valid for photography as any other activity, so we’ve put together a collection of exercises that will help you become a better photographer.
1. Spot meter
Modern camera metering systems have great general-purpose modes, often called Evaluative, Matrix or Multi-area depending which camera brand you shoot with. These do a great job of assessing a scene and setting good ‘average’ exposure settings in many situations.
However, they’re not 100% foolproof and very dark or very light scenes, or backlighting can trick them into over or underexposure. They’re also not psychic and don’t know what you’re seeing in your head when you take a shot.
Switching to spot metering puts you in control of where the camera meters from and helps you develop a much better understanding of the tonal range in a scene.
A standard spot metering system allows you to meter from a very small part of the scene and it suggests exposure settings that will render your target a mid-tone.
Consequently, you need to take care with the positioning of this spot, study the scene carefully and decide which is the best area to take a reading from.
It’s often helpful to combine spot metering with AE Lock as this will fix the exposure settings (after metering) while you compose the image.