I find that calculating the dynamic range of a scene is important n any aspect of photography, even more some when using traditional film because once the exposure has been made, we can’t simply look at a screen to see how we have done.
When using black and white film, I like to try and stay within 5 stop range even though I know film especially black and white film has tremendous latitude.
With black and white film, it’s important that we retain as much information as we can in the darkest shadow areas that contain detail. Failing to do this will result in a negative that has empty, clear areas and no matter how good your processing is, if there is no detail there in the first place, no detail can be extracted.
Using the Sekonic L758 meter is extremely useful when it comes to measuring the dynamic range, all we need to do is us the EV setting in the meter to calculate the difference between the darkest shadow area with detail and the brightest highlight area with detail.
Once we have calculated the scenes dynamic range, we can then figure out if we need to rethink the composition, start adding some filtration over the lens. or just metering for the most important part of the scene and then letting the remaining tones fall where they will.
The following short video demonstrates how I use the Sekonic L758 light meter to calculate a scenes dynamic range.