Understand Spot Metering
For the majority of day-to-day photos, using your camera’s default Matrix metering mode (also known as Evaluative Metering on Canon brand cameras) is perfectly suitable as this mode will meter light from the entire frame and use this data to set the required exposure settings to achieve a balanced exposure
For the majority of day-to-day photos, using your camera’s default Matrix metering mode (also known as Evaluative Metering on Canon brand cameras) is perfectly suitable as this mode will meter light from the entire frame and use this data to set the required exposure settings to achieve a balanced exposure. However, if you want to get a bit more creative and start to capture low-key imagery then this will require you to switch over to a more precise means of metering by using the Spot Metering mode. Rather than metering the entire scene like in Matrix Metering, when you’re camera is set to the Spot Metering it will instead only expose for the centre most point of the viewfinder. This mode is particularly useful when you are using high contrast lighting – like that of our final image – where you only want to expose the image for the brightest area and allow the rest of the shot to fall in to darkness.
When calculating exposure from such a small area of the frame you have to be mindful of where you place your AF point, as metering from the wrong area of the frame will lead to under- or overexposure very easily.
Use Aperture Priority Mode
Start off by switching the camera over to Aperture Priority Mode (A or Av on the Mode Dial). In this mode we’ll be able to control the aperture whilst the camera takes care of the shutter speed.
Use a wide aperture
Next we’ll need to increase the aperture to the widest possible setting. This will ensure that as much light as possible is able to enter the camera through the lens. For our lens it happens to be f2.8.
Increase the ISO
As we’ll be shooting in fairly low light conditions we’ll need to boost the ISO sensitivity to compensate. So, press the ISO button and then use the command dial to increase it to around 800.
Switch to Spot Metering
Now it’s time to activate Spot Metering mode. To do this, press the dedicated Metering button on the outside of the camera and navigate to the Spot Metering mode, usually shown as a dot within a square.
Take the shot
Move the active AF point so that it’s over the subject’s lit eye, whilst keeping the centre of the viewfinder fixed over a lit portion of the face so that the camera correctly meters for it. Take the shot.