If you can’t afford gear like an incident light meter, you can take advantage of your in-camera meter to still get great exposure. Just get hold of an 18% gray card, such as the one shown here, and place it next to your chosen subject. Take a reading on the card by first zooming in until the card fills your viewfinder and then pressing your shutter button halfway.
Note the reading in your viewfinder. This should be the proper the exposure setting for the subject, though you may want to bracket your settings just to be on the safe side.
18% gray cards can be had for less than ten dollars, so while they’re not quite as accurate as dedicated incident light meters, they won’t dent your wallet nearly as much.