I have talked about metering and exposure on and off along with the infamous "histogram" and how useless it is if you don't know what the scene looks like - or "should" look like. Today I am going to put some random thoughts out there for people that are addicted to "matrix metering" and auto exposure. I am also going to start off with a statement that is a bit controversial.
Speaking in absolute terms here is a point that I am absolutely sure about - If you have or take time to view an image on the back of your camera - and maybe look at the "histogram" you should absolutely positively NOT be using matrix metering or auto exposure. It's stupid, counter productive, and make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Let me add to that a corollary or so. If you shoot the same subject in the same light - same thing.
The only thing that matrix or evaluative or whatever your camera maker calls it is good for is if you have one shot to get the image and the light/scene is changing very rapidly. That's it - now that might be important but usually it's not. In fact if you look at your image/histogram and then add/subtract "exposure compensation" while still in the same metering mode and auto exposure this is completely idiotic. Why the hell would you want to be arguing with the freaking camera? So that you can see the camera's counter argument when your framing changes slightly or your subject turns into or away from the light a wee bit?
I hear a lot of people talk about "getting to know" how your camera's meter works and reacts - they talk about this in conjunction with evaluative metering. I guess that's all fine and dandy if you like to play guessing games and see how close you were and maybe even try to out guess what your camera is going to do by screwing with exposure compensation before even taking the picture. This is the stupidest - most jacked-off idea and advice I have ever heard. Why the hell would you bother? What is the point? Personally I think people that actually have this working method are retarded - I think people that give this advice don't actually use it, they like other people to think that somehow they are smarter because trying to do this is such a waste of time and completely unproductive.
The last thing that I want is to have exposure variations all over the map when shooting the same subject and same light. This is a royal pain in the ass - same goes for auto white balance. I guess it's fine if you take one frame of each subject and move on to the next. Here is they way normal people do it - if you do it this way you will not only get consistent results you will get better. Not just with your camera but all cameras and all mediums. In fact the next time you get a new camera or use a different film or switch from slide film to negative film it will take you all of 5 minutes to get EXACTLY the results you want every time.
Use a spot meter - use the one built in to your camera - they all got'em. Point it at what you care about. Set the camera to manual and do what it says. This may be wrong when you look at the back of your camera. Don't use exposure comp. just dial the aperture or shutter to give more or less exposure. After about 10 shots of 10 different kinds of tones/things you will know exactly how to set your camera for the rest of your life - first try. As an added bonus your photographic vision will get better in terms of how YOU want what tones rendered relative to each other in any given scene. DONE. Want to know how far you can go either way with rendering various tones on your choosen medium/sensor - just try it. It won't change - ever.
Of course there are other working methods that work just as easily and are just as fool proof maybe I will go over them in more detail sooner or later but they work using the same mentality. Don't do it because it is harder or more professional, do it because it is easier. Really.
Ps. Can you tell I just ran across the 9,000 shit head giving the "get to know" your evaluative metering system advise. 9,000 is my tolerance limit for stupid, jacked-off useless things that people either theorize about or parrot from jacked-off sources that were either stupid or sarcastic when it was first uttered.