Sekonic L-508 Incident Metering with Landscapes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I know there has been much talk about the above subject; however, after reading most of the responses, I'm still confused on where to point the meter while taking incident meter readings. Do I point the dome towards the camera? light source (i.e., the sun)? or somewhere in between? It "almost" makes more sense to point it towards the light source (i.e., the sun) since this is what's illuminating the landscape. However, does one point it towards the sky slightly away from the sun or does it really matter given the view of sky the dome "sees". The problem I see in pointing the dome towards the camera is only half of the dome is illuminated from the light source (assuming no golden hour), except for the light refecting up from the ground. Would this lead to overexposure? Another question pertaining to just the Sekonic L-508, should the dome be all the way out while taking the reading or should it be nessled in its hole?

-- Thomas W. Earle (, February 01, 2002


For incident readings, place the dome in the same position as your subject--facing the camera lens, and in a plane parallel to your film. You must make sure that the light you are holding the dome in is the same brightness level as the light that is falling on your subject. So if your subject is a sunlit mountain and you are in complete shade, you cannot take an incident reading but should instead rely on interpreted reflected spot readings.

-- Ross Martin (, February 01, 2002.


Keeping the dome half illuminated will give you an average reading somewhere between maximum highlight detail and maximum shadow detail. If you want to expose for maximum highlight detail (say if you are shooting transparency film) then point the meter straight at the light source (in the case of a landscape that would most probably be the sun). If the scene is backlit and you want to expose for shadow detail then point the meter at your camera and try not to let any sun strike the dome. I'm assuming the dome is recessible for this exact reason.

However the beauty of the L-508 is the ability to take reflective light meter readings. This, with a little bit of Zone System knowledge will allow you to avoid the guesswork altogether!

If you do not have much reflective metering experience, buy a book or take an introductory Zone System course. Even if you shoot colour, it will really force you to become adept at using your meter.


-- Dominique Labrosse (, February 01, 2002.

Hi Thomas,

The Sekonic hemispher works in the retracted and projected modes: retracted for flat-art or two-dimensional subjects (an alternative to the flat disc of other meters and also for checking lighting balance between various sources (key/fill ratios etc.) and evenness of illumination, projected for three-dimensional subjects.

In his book 'Beyond The Zone System' Phil Davis describes a two-reading technique that will give you the required exposure information and the necessary contrast adjustment. It is not necessary to follow his entire system set-up to achieve marvellous results from his incident meter technique.

Good luck,

Walter Glover

-- Walter Glover (, February 01, 2002.

Yes, and to finish the answer asked, the dome should be all the way out for a landscape incident reading (and all the way in as just mentioned for flat copy work such as photographing a piece of flat art work). Yes, point the full dome directly at the lens parallel to the film plane. The idea Thomas is that the dome will experience not only the direct light falling on its directly lit aspect, but also the shaddow light falling on its shaded aspect just as the subject of the photo would. The average of all this light is then used by the meter for the reading. You just have to be sure the light hitting the dome is the same quality hitting the subject. It works very well in the right situation and many times is much easier than spot/zone work. I use it for situations dominated by whites or very darks and often for portraits and especially for dog portraits when I can't decide what tone would be the best (a zone type decision) for their fur. Often with caucasian skin you could choose zone VI and for black skin zone V, but there of course are many shades between and therefore you may sometimes want to do incident.

Sometimes when I have the time I compare careful zone measurements with incident readings and often find that they are the same. Fun to test for yourself.

May I suggest two terrific web pages from the Sekonic Co. that really goes into this? First one gives you the basics: Second one gives you great comparison pictures of work with both methods and where incident might work better that reflected/zone work:

Hope this helps...


-- Scott Jones (, February 01, 2002.

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