Basic Camera Metering With Tasty Dessert Food Photography

in Photography + Gear


If you want to improve your image exposure, start learning to understand metering modes to minimize getting under exposed or over exposed images. Even though the default evaluative metering or multi-zone pattern gives reliable exposures in most general shooting conditions, it’s vital to know how metering patterns apply so that you can take control when your camera struggles to expose a scene or product shot properly. All cameras possess at least three metering patterns that work on the assumption that the average of all the tones in a scene is 18% grey. This proves remarkably accurate for most shooting conditions, but scenes with very high contrast, can cause exposure problems, which is why there is a choice of metering patterns available. Here is a brief explanation of how the four main patterns apply with your food photography and when you should use them.


This is the pattern your camera is set to most of the time. This metering mode is also known as Multi-zone Metering, Matrix Metering, Honeycomb Metering, Segment Metering, Eletro Selective Pattern Metering or Automatic Multi-Pattern metering. Each brand has their own type: Canon has Evaluative, Nikon has Matrix while Sony has Honeycomb. Exposure information is taken from each zone, compared and assessed and the exposure determined. It is extremely accurate for both ambient and flash exposures in most shooting situations. However it struggles in backlighting, scenes with large expanses of sky and high-contrast scenes, in which case use one of the patterns below.


Metering Mode: Evaluative


Metering Mode: Partial


Metering Mode: Spot


Metering Mode: Center-weighted average


This is the oldest pattern, which bases the exposure over a broad central area of the frame. It’s rare that you will set this pattern but it is best used when working with overrides such as exposure compensation or AE-Lock. This method averages the exposure of the entire frame but gives extra weight to the center and is ideal for portraits.




Brides in white and grooms in black will normally show a problem for camera metering systems so most wedding portrait photographers use spot metering all the time. Rather than take a reading from the entire image area, spot takes a precise exposure measurement from a small central area (2-5%) in the frame. This allows for very accurate readings as it is not influenced by bright or dark areas elsewhere in the frame. You should take care to ensure a spot reading is taken from a mid-tone in the scene and from an area that has the same lighting as the main subject.


This is effectively the same system as spot, but using a less precise metering area, usually between 8-10%. Partial Metering is effective when the background is much brighter than the subject due to backlighting

20 Tasty Dessert Food Photography

Anybody who loves to shoot photographs may encounter light situations that are difficult to meter. If your compact gray card is not with you, just meter the palm of your hand and expose 1 to 1 1/2 stops brighter. If you are outdoors on a fairly clear day and it is an hour or so after dawn or before sunset meter the sky above 45° above the horizon and use the camera’s recommendation. Doing food photography is not as easy as it looks – lighting and composition may pose problem areas. There’s more to learn. But learning how to meter with your camera is a good start. Here are 20 mouth-watering desserts on food photography and be inspired.

01-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography01. Blueberry Banana Sorbet and Whimsical Tuiles


02-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography02. Cake Dessert


03-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography03. Boston Cream Whoopie Pies


04-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography04. Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls


05-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography05. Camomille Cookies


06-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography06. Matcha Truffles


07-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography07. Fresh Fruit Tart


08-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography08. Dark Chocolate-Espresso Macarons


09-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography09. Dessert Cake


10-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography10. Lemon Poppy Seed Scones


11-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography11. Dark Ritter


12-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography12. Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles


13-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography13. Cookies


14-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography14. Chubby Hubby Brownies


15-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography15. Pancakes with Strawberries


16-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography16. Canteen Double Chocolate Pots de Creme


17-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography17. Megan’s Cupcakes


18-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography18. Candy


19-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography19. Heart Shaped Ispahan


20-basic-camera-metering-with-tasty-dessert-food-photography20. Hazelnutty Dark and White Chocolate Truffles

Further Readings

1. Accurate Exposure with Your Meter
2. Tasteful Food Photography
3. Lead image via Flickr

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