WHERE TO METER FROM
The most important highlights here are the lighter tones of the tree. The very brightest spots were too small to meter, but the circled area looked like a perfect Zone 6. The meter indicated 1/15 sec at f/16, so I slowed the shutter speed to 1/8 sec to place the tree at Zone 6. (An in-camera spot meter should indicate +1, or one stop of overexposure, for Zone 6.)
Here the subject was still, the camera was on a tripod, and I needed to keep everything in focus, so I kept the aperture at f/16 for depth of field and changed the shutter speed.
The golden cliffs are not the brightest things in this photograph, but they are clearly the focal point. Sunrise or sunset colour on mountains should almost always be placed at Zone 6. After making an exposure I checked the histogram to make sure that the white clouds weren’t overexposed.
It’s difficult to meter skies because they vary so much. Near the horizon, a dusk sky like this should usually be placed on Zone 7; higher up it becomes Zone 6, Zone 5, or lower.
Sm all Highlight
If the highlights are too small to meter, see if you can move in closer. Here the critical highlights were the white flowers. Even with a one-degree spot meter I couldn’t fill the spot’s circle with just one blossom from the camera position, but it was easy to move in closer and meter off just one petal, then place that white subject on Zone 7.