Understanding how your camera meters light is like unlocking the secret language of photography wizardy. Read on to learn more about how getting back to the basics can greatly improve your photos.
Photographer Ming Thein shares a great overview of camera metering, introducing it with:
One of the more important – yet almost always overlooked – aspects of camera operation is metering. Simply put, the meter determines what your final exposure is, and how bright or dark your image looks relative to the scene. Unless you are shooting manual – and even then – the camera’s exposure is determined by the meter. Add the fact that the eyes of a viewer tend to go to the brightest and/ or highest contrast portions of an image first (i.e. this should be your subject) – and it’s clear to see why it’s absolutely critical to understand both how metering works as a fundamental concept and any camera-specific peccadilloes that might exist. The last thing you want is to find that your camera drastically underexposed a once-in-a-lifetime shot of some critically important event because you didn’t know (or forgot) that the meter was extremely affected by point light sources
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via How-To Geek http://www.howtogeek.com/132887/understanding-camera-metering/