By, Spencer Lookabaugh, February 8, 2017

While it certainly wasn’t my first time using one, a recent shoot I did for TEDx at the Ohio State University made me realize how much easier life is with a light meter. For almost all the time I’ve spent behind cameras, I’ve been creating portraits. And for most of that time, I’ve been using flash. Starting out, I would just shoot and tweak power settings and my aperture and the light placement until I got what I wanted. As an amateur, it worked. But once I decided that photography was a career for me and as I began picking up client work, this method became quite ineffective, forcing me to get the one tool I never realized I needed.

Here’s the scenario: TEDx asked that we create a series of portraits for their marketing material that fit into their moody yet vividly colored theme. Essentially, their color scheme was black, blue, purple, and white. We came up with a solid idea that involved throwing a blue gel on a light and shooting our subjects on a black backdrop for a dark, contrasty portrait. After we decided on the idea, I went into the studio to test it with a model. It’s not an overly complicated lighting scheme, but it would need to be repeated multiple times as not every speaker for the conference would be in the same place at the same time. This is where metering the light came to be crucial.

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