Lumu light meterRight, so we’ve all heard about the wonderful success of the Lumu light meter for iPhone (or other smartphone), and if you haven’t you can read it here. You’ll find my name somewhere in the list of 2622 backers since I gave myself the Lumu as a graduation present (never too young to learn a trade!). Anyway, once you’re on their site, you’ll see they have 3 apps and an awesome gadget to meter light. All I can add to this is that the folks at Lumu are as awesome as their light meter. Any suggestions, comments or problems you might have and they get right back to you with detailed answers, questions or instructions.

On their blog you can read numerous reviews on the Lumu and its usage. Not much missing from those either, except on the Notes feature of their app. For me personally, the notes save my day. As I’m still learning to see what I know about photography and typically exposure calculations, TTL metering (even if it is with a Canon New F-1 using its revolutionary focal plane screen/metering combinations of centre-weighted average, Selective area and Spot metering screens) and how to compensate for diminished dynamic range of pushed reversal film, the notes come in really handy.

 

But first start at the beginning (when there was just light). As you can easily see in my photos from 2005 I didn’t know that much about correct exposure. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite photos were taken at that time, but it wasn’t until recently I understood why they look how they look. When I took a photo against the sun, i.e. a backlit photo, I would try to get my Canons needle right up into that circle for “correct exposure” resulting in really dark skies, heavy contrast, dramatic shading and what not. Which is brilliant if that’s what you’re after and one of the many charms of film photography, but know I’ve learned that my camera doesn’t know what I’m actually photographing and whether my subject is dark or really bright. In comes the incident light meter: the meter that actually measures the same light that hits your subject. In comes the Lumu.

 

Personally I’ve been using the Lumu to better understand the Canon New F-1 and the way it measures light – which could of course work for any camera, and not just the film type. Since my Canon measures how much light comes through the lens instead of how much light actually hits the subject I use the Lumu app to make comparing notes to check after my film is developed. Of course I’ve been using it not only to make notes, but also to make long exposure calculations, preset my camera for snapshot portraits, average metering and what not. Simply put: to measure is to know.

The brilliant thing about the notes feature is that it’ll let you add a photo, I like to add one from the scene for instance, or just photograph the entire set-up. It also adds the location and the Lumu measurement data of course plus any notes you’ll type.

 

In the slideshow below you can view a small set with Lumu-app-notes-screen-captures (on an iPhone 4S) followed by the photos (Fuji Provia 400 – pushed to ISO 1600) taken of bumble bees, a flock of mosquitos, a butterfly and our bird Batik taking a bath.

The “C” in the notes corresponds with the measurement taken by my Canon New F-1 meaning the shutter and aperture settings of the note in the screencapture are the actual settings I used on my camera. This way I can compare my camera’s meter to the Lumu. In the photo of Batik taking a bath you’ll notice the L=1/30 F/4, meaning the Lumu (L=) measured a different exposure than the actual settings used (1/500 F/4). Perhaps this is the clearest example of taking control over backlit a situation. If I had wanted to show the white plastic of Batiks bath as shown in the screenshot photo, I should have used 1/30 instead of 1/500. I’m sure you figured out that I could’ve also played around with the aperture to show more movement of the drops of water, et cetera. All in all not a very interesting photograph, but hopefully it does illustrate the advantage of measuring incident light in addition (or versus) reflected light.

 

update

I’m currently testing the Lumu Photo 2.0 app via Testdrive. So far it been a wonderful upgrade with a bunch of extra features and improvements. With Lumu Photo 2.0 you can also measure reflected light via the built in camera of your iPhone for those moments when you’ve forgot to bring your Lumu light meter (or if you’re still wondering whether to get one). Since this opens up the notes feature to everyone, it’s an awesome new feature.

 

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