The Sunny f/16 rule
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Old 06-25-2007   #1
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Default The Sunny f/16 rule

Reference material - Byran Peterson's book "Understanding Exposure"

The Sunny f/16 rule simply is... when shooting FRONTLIT subjects on sunny days, set your aperature to f/16 and your shutter speed to the closest corresponding number of the film's ISO.

Understand also what the light meter in your camera is doing as how it's set will also impact you. Know whether your camera's meter is an averaging meter, or whether it's set to center weighted, spot or matrix metering. All will play a factor in how the camera sees the exposure and whether you are going to trust the meter to sway from the f/16 rule and open up or close down depending on the scene and how you see it vs how the meter sees it.

Since there are film shooters out there still (scientists are out there searching for them right now to see if this breed has not gone extinct)... Bryan Peterson recommends that you do some bracketing at -2/3 stop with slide film and + 2/3 stop with color negative film and -2/3 stop when shooting digitally. He states that a second exposure will allow for a comparison example and don't be surprised if you like the second one better.

And for some more information on the sunny f/16 rule, which I've found to be the one of the good resources on this rule..

Sunny f/16 rule 2 by Charles Glatzer

He states, "When shooting with the sun over your shoulders shoot at the suggested rule, backlight subjects generally require you open up two EV, with negative film or when exposing for shadow detail side lit subjects require you open up one stop is therefore often necessary to compensate the exposure when trying to render detail in areas at the end of the tonal scale."

How many folks remember what he said that the sunny f/16 rule was included with every box of film sold.

Finally.... here's from another site online that is most helpful

Sunny 16 Rule

What if it's not sunny?


If slightly overcast, open one stop to f/11.

If overcast, open two stops to f/8.

If deeply overcast, open three stops to f/5.6.

How do I distinguish between slightly overcast, overcast and heavy overcast?

Examine the shadow detail. If shadows are distinct but soft around the edges, then it's slightly overcast.

If shadows are not distinct, but still visible - very soft - then it's overcast.

If there are no shadows at all, then it's heavy overcast. The chart below provides a useful summary:

SUNNY 16 CHART
Aperture
Lighting Conditions
Shadow Detail
f/16
Sunny
Distinct
f/11
Slight Overcast
Soft around edges
f/8
Overcast
Barely visible
f/5.6
Heavy Overcast
No shadows


And there you go folks... all of the potentials in a nutshell.

I hope this helps

Julio

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Old 06-25-2007   #2
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

Here's the example

1/100 @ f/16 @ ISO 100

I used flash to fill in light in the shadow areas of the gazebo (Metz 58 AF-1 mounted on the hot shoe and turned down towards the floor at about a 45 degree angle) and fired away.
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Old 06-25-2007   #3
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

Here's another example straight out of the camera and resized to 600 x 400, hope I didn't lose too much in the resize.

Note that I switched here to spot metering mode. I wanted the detail on the statue and it's weathering to show nicely.

1/80 sec @ f/13 @ ISO 100

I've opened the aperature two-thirds stop and slowed the shutter by one third stop to bring out shadow detail but I didn't slow the shutter speed down enough to blow out the sky. I believe I ignored the meter on this shot as it read a little over exposure, but I was ok with that, wanting to bring out the shadow detail.

Should I have followed the rule or ignored it? What do you guys think?

What do you think would have been the difference of shooting it at 1/100 @ f/16? Or for that matter what about shooting it at 1/100 @ f/11, opened one complete f/stop from the rule 1/100 @ f/16 and an equivalent exposure to what I shot?

Good food for thought...

Julio
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Old 06-25-2007   #4
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

I think the capture of the statue is right on.
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Old 06-25-2007   #5
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

Very good information. I thank you!
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Old 06-25-2007   #6
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

Thank you for posting this, very helpful.
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Old 06-26-2007   #7
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

At first, your chart didn't make sense....here this is better...


Aperture
Lighting Conditions Shadow Detail

f/16 Sunny Distinct

f/11 Slight Overcast Soft around edges

f/8 Overcast Barely visible

f/5.6 Heavy Overcast No shadows
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Last edited by Mr. Pickles; 06-26-2007 at 05:05 PM.. Reason: changed text color
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Old 06-26-2007   #8
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

Ya, it posted one line off didn't it? Wierd! LOL

Julio
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Old 06-27-2007   #9
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

And f-22 when sunny and shooting in snow or sand.
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Old 06-27-2007   #10
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Default Re: The Sunny f/16 rule

Great thread Julio and it's true that sometimes in the heat of learning new techniques and styles that we sometimes close the door on the basics. My contribution to this thread has to do with the correlation of values which Michael touched on in another thread. When I went out to the backyard this day I had this thread in my mind and took my hand held meter (Minolta IV F). On a clear sunny day I got ISO 100 s/s 125 and f16 value right off the meter. So I manually set these in my camera:

Image 1: using the sunny 16 rule I took this shot of my son in his pool. Values were ISO 100 s/s 125 f16

(technically I should have use a s/s of 100, but with the pool reflections I found 125 to be a little more realistic)

Image 2: using the above as a starting point I wanted a better DOF. By following the proper adjustment in values I could have went f11 at 250 or f8 at 500. I chose the f8 setting. But you'll see how the exposure for the two is pretty much the same and by using the sunny 16 rule as a starting point I was able to get accurate exposre increasing the shutter speed.

Also, great information by everyone regarding how the sunny 16 rule came to fuition and how to adjust the values for different scenes like overcast and sand and snow.



John


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