Understanding metering modes in Wildlife Photography

Understanding the different metering modes in wildlife photography, and knowing what each mode does, will greatly assist you in your photography.

Metering modes are key tools in photography, contributing to the exposure of your image.

Metering modes

There are a number of different metering modes, each of which will give you a different exposure on your overall image.

Metering modes

Matrix/Evaluative Metering

Metering modes

Metering modes

The ‘default’ mode.

If you’ve never touched metering mode, then chances are your camera is set to matrix metering (or evaluative for Canon users). In this case, the camera takes into account the entire scene, but places a greater emphasis on what lies beneath the focal point. This is a good way to be sure the scene is, on the whole, properly exposed. You may find that some highlights and shadows are incorrectly exposed in certain conditions.

Centre weighted Metering

Metering modes

Using the whole frame for determining the correct exposure is not always desirable. What if you are trying to take a headshot of a person with the sun behind? This is where center-weighted metering comes in handy. Center-weighted Metering evaluates the light in the middle of the frame and its surroundings and ignores the corners. Compared to Matrix Metering, Center-weighted Metering does not look at the focus point you select and only evaluates the middle area of the image.

Metering modes

Use this mode when you want the camera to prioritize the middle of the frame, which works great for close-up portraits and relatively large subjects that are in the middle of the frame. For example, if you were taking a headshot of a person with the sun behind him/her, then this mode would expose the face of the person correctly, even though everything else would probably get heavily overexposed.

Spot Metering

Metering modes

Metering only evaluates the light around your focus point and ignores everything else. It evaluates a single zone/cell and calculates exposure based on that single area, nothing else. I personally use this mode a lot for night photography, as the majority of your frame will be dark, with the only light falling on your subject.  Spot metering also work really well when creating backlit images, when you are trying to expose only for the bright highlights in your subject, keeping the rest of your subject dark.

Metering modes

I look forward to answer any questions that you might have regarding the different metering modes.

Until next time...

Johan 

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