How to Meter Like a Boss

 
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The camera meter determines the brightness of an imaged based on the cameras current settings.  Without it, taking a properly exposed image would be guesswork.  The meter uses a plus and minus scale to let the user know just how dark or light an image might be.  

There are three methods that Nikon DSLR cameras allow users to meter.

Matrix Metering: This default option on most cameras simply takes in light from the entire scene to estimate a proper reading.

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Center-weighted metering:  Here the camera will only evaluate light coming from the center of the frame, ignoring the edges.  

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Spot-Metering:  This allows the user to select an area to be read, ensuring that the subject, or specific area that the photographer wants to measure is properly exposed.

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Most of the time, the meter is pretty trustworthy, but there are a couple instances where the meter could cause a shooter to take a bad image.  

When shooting a predominately black scene, the meter is likely give a reading that indicates the image is too dark, causing the user to overexpose the image.  So when shooting something with a lot of black colors, a proper exposure is likely to be one lower than what the meter reading indicates.  

 Here the meter shows a proper exposure, yet the image is overexposed because most of the scene is black.

Here the meter shows a proper exposure, yet the image is overexposed because most of the scene is black.

 Here the image is properly exposed, yet the meter shows it as underexposed.  So when shooting scenes mostly with black, underexpose the image.

Here the image is properly exposed, yet the meter shows it as underexposed.  So when shooting scenes mostly with black, underexpose the image.

The same is true when shooting a scene with mostly white in it, except the meter will say the image is too white, causing the shooter to overexpose the image.  Apply the same tip in reverse, and predominantly white images will be properly exposed.  

 Here the meter shows a proper exposure, yet the image is underexposed because most of the scene is white.

Here the meter shows a proper exposure, yet the image is underexposed because most of the scene is white.

 Here the image is properly exposed, yet the meter shows it as overexposed.  So when shooting scenes mostly with white, overexpose the image a bit.

Here the image is properly exposed, yet the meter shows it as overexposed.  So when shooting scenes mostly with white, overexpose the image a bit.

In short, slightly underexpose a black scene and overexpose a white scene for best results.

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