How to Use a Light Meter | Studio Lighting for Beginners

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In this lighting tutorial, Jeff Rojas discusses how to use a light meter to learn more about light in your studio photography.

Camera Settings:
1/200, f/8.0, ISO 100 and 1/200, f/5.6, ISO 100

Lighting Details:

Main Light – f/8.0
Meter Reading on Background – f/4.0

Subject Height: 73″
Distance of Main Light to Subject’s Eyes – 39″
Light Offset to Right: 29″
Distance of Background to Subject – 22″
Light Height: 73″

Related Products:

Need a Light Meter? –
Camera –
Lens –
Main Light –
Umbrella –
Background –

24 Comments
  1. Charles McCain says

    Finally someone explains what, when and how to use metering in a studio environ. You have always been a great teacher, and this video still proves it.

  2. Jael Ramon says

    Hey Jeff! This is a very useful video and has definitely made me consider getting an incident light meter. That being said I wanted to know if you have any video already available showing how to use both a reflective and incident light meter in natural lighting. Thank you for sharing your invaluable knowledge. Your books and advice have made me a better photographer.

  3. Ira McBee says

    With evf we can see exposure in real time. are light meters still needed?

  4. BigmoDaco says

    You're the Best Jeff, Im in NYC also, Kips Bay Area, would love to bump into you one day and talk shop. keep up the great work.

  5. Robert Rosberg says

    Wonderfully helpful video and videos. Love watching them and I am learning much. Thank YOU much.

  6. Alexander Hendrickson says

    I just purchased your book "Photographing Men", and just now came across your YouTube channel. Brilliant book, and this is a great channel! One question – why would you adjust aperture, and not the power of the flash or flashes themselves? If I have a model who is balding for instance, and I shoot at ƒ2.8 for a shallower depth of field, the aperture will be the constant and then the flash power becomes the variable, correct? I have already read your book cover to cover and see that in most cases your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture are mostly the same for all photos, so it would lend me to believe the variable is flash power, no?

  7. Elton Ricardo says

    I bought a light meter a couple months ago and I’ll never go back. It’s just easier!
    BTW, do you use a light meter outdoors too?

  8. jl sc says

    I know people still use light meters, just for the life of me can't figure out why. Within two shots I can determine my lighting needs, and it takes at least two flashes to determine the right meter setting. the meter just makes no sense.

  9. Troy D. Davidson says

    My broddah, my broddah…as usual your calm, soothing way of explaining makes this seem so attainable! I appreciate you, Jeff! Aloha, t-

  10. Edward Wagtowicz says

    great video man

  11. Craig A Street says

    Pure class. Really enjoyed that………

  12. bernie Mac says

    I see you use umbrellas a lot for your work. I have a 170cm reflective silver umbrella with no difuser. I'm finding it very difficult work with. When shooting full body the light is very uneven with a bright hotspot in the centre. Is there a way around this issue?

  13. pontusblabla says

    awesome vid, thanks!

  14. Ariel Hii says

    Good video, can you give some advice on my studio work? thank
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/142195937@N03/sets/72157694612470081

  15. Kyle Camerer says

    Couple things people need to know. First – shutter speed does not effect motion blur of the subject when using strobes, flash duration does (this is also assuming that ambient light is not playing a factor). Second – adjusting the settings of your camera, espesially the aperture, to get the proper exposure is the absolute last option you'd do. You adjust the power of the lights to match your camera settings, not the other way around. Only if you've hit the limits of the strobes where you can no longer adjust the power, is when you adjust the settings of your camera.

  16. Warren Silveira says

    Great stuff thanks again Jeff!

  17. Nelson Cintron says

    You are a truly professional photographer with incredible skills. Thank you for sharing. Peace!

  18. Petru B. says

    also, sekonic can show you the dynamic range of your sensor, so you will know exactly if your ratio will fit into your sensor
    and then, because you shoot raw, you can recover the shadows and bring down the highlights, and that will mess up everyting and make the lightmeter useless
    that's for film or jpeg, or if you do not want to retouch for some weird reason
    it can get you faster in the ball park, but so does shooting thetered

    the lightmeter needs to be calibrated first to your camera, because different brands have different ideas about what iso 100 should be for example
    otherwise, a random reading like f8 1/250 iso 100 may give a complete wrong exposure if you did not calibrate first

    i will better make a video about that…

  19. ACID SNOW says

    what a helpful tutorial!
    what a beautiful video 😀
    thanks for sharing this with us
    i really really enjoyed watching this

  20. Fast 5 Fred says

    Thank you Jeff. I just picked up my 1st light meter a week ago and I'm super excited to try it

  21. Burlap and Light says

    Excellent post Jeff. Spot on and if you wanted to get a 3rd more stop of light. Leave the bulb in instead of extended. An old film trick. This is how I meter for my film (your explanation), especially for my B&W. Seriously thanks for sharing. Can never have enough tutorials on how to properly use a light meter.

  22. floex831 says

    Jeff Rojas I love your channel. You’re definitely my favorite living photographer. I love a lot of photographers. But I feel like my style is a lot like your’s. I love dramatic lighting, and a minimalistic style! You’re the only YouTube photographer that I consider capable and one of the only on YouTube that is actually highly skilled.

  23. Darth Volvo says

    On point as always. I look forward to gleaming some knowledge from you!

  24. I B says

    Fantastic stuff, Jeff! Thanks!

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