An off-camera incident lightmeter will give you the best exposure for a scene, but if you know how to use your camera’s built-in reflective meter, you can still get good results. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
• Use Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L) to take a light reading from one part of a scene, then lock that setting as the exposure for the shot.
• Use a gray card: Zoom in and focus on it to let the camera’s metering system suggest an exposure based on a midtone. Use AE-L to hold this exposure setting while you reframe.
• Try bracketing your exposures. You can do this manually, but your DSLR probably has an autobracking function that allows you to set the number of frames and stops of over or underexposure to use.
ADAPTED FROM 500 LIGHTING HINTS, TIPS, AND TECHNIQUES BY ROD ASHFORD (ROTOVISION, 2007; $20)