You have your artistic eyes, your clear ideas you want to express in your photography and ideal weather too. Everyone will love your photos. However, the golden hour is so short. What if you could master the skills needed to take advantage of any lighting conditions?

Silhouette Florida

When we say that the lighting conditions are difficult, we mean that the high contrast lighting will cause either over-exposure or under-exposure. It would be a pity if your inspirational shot failed because of poor exposure.

However, as you can see in this picture, even in unfavorable lighting conditions, with proper exposure skills you can get stunning images: Ones you could never get in “normal” lighting conditions.

This is where spot metering comes into play.

Harsh Overhead Sunlight

Smily Girl

Photo © Trenchard

If you can’t avoid harsh overhead sunlight, you can use spot metering to expose for the model’s hair and get these shining highlights and lustrous hair texture. You will need to use your camera’s pop-up flash as a fill light to lighten the shadow or a reflector to bounce light into the model’s face. You’ll need someone to hold the reflector for you.

Backlighting at Sunset

Even in the golden hour, you can use this technique to shoot stunning hair effects, adding the icing on the cake.


Metering and Focusing Area Separate


When the subject focus area and metering area are different and far away from the camera, you can first zoom in the model’s face, use spot metering to expose for the face and use AE Lock to lock the exposure, then you can refocus the model’s eyes.

Dark Subject


The overall feel of this picture is too dark, so the photographer spot read from the white petal and let the rest of the tones to fall where they may.

Dark Portrait

In this picture, the photographer spot read from the forehead of the model and let the rest of the tones fall.


Silhouette is the ultimate beauty when you practice spot metering.


If you use backlighting and spot read the lake, you get the half silhouette of the duck, the glistening reflections of the ripples and the light shining on the feathers.

Silverdale Sunset Silhouette

In this picture, the photographer spot read the sky and got a proper sky exposure and the silhouette of the scenery on the ground. He even captured the silhouette of the flying seagull, the outline making the image vibrant, dynamic and aesthetically pleasing.

How to Use Spot Metering and AE Lock

Here’s a tutorial on How to Use Spot Metering in plain English with photos showing each step.

Exposure Quiz

How well do you know the exposure triangle big three?

You can start to shoot amazing pictures right now. You may become addicted to spot metering and shoot stunning pictures even in “normal” lighting conditions. With spot metering, you can get exactly what you are looking, making your photos so much more brilliant.

Next leap: Why You Should Shoot from Dawn to Dusk


About The Author

is a photography enthusiast and a frequent traveler who truly appreciates every tiny beauty of life and has traveled extensively around the world. She finds herself keen on a unique type of photography and calls herself a culture photographer. Her passion is Paris where she has been to more than once, living as a Parisian. She has walked big streets and small alleys in Paris, and every inch of the city has given her inspiration. She has a Paris collection on and a Paris travel blog at

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