Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sunny rule of 16 - metering without a light meter

When I was starting photography years ago I promised myself to shoot film first. In fact during my learning photography days while everyone was into digital, I did all my assignments using Nikon FM10, a very basic film camera. In those days my question was always "What would I do if the meter breaks in the middle of the shoot?" Then I learned about the
sunny rule of 16. Its actually a technique that can be used even without a light meter and it has something to do with the light of the sun.

This is how the rule goes:
 When it is sunny, meaning clear blue skies and the sun is not covered by clouds, you set your aperture to f16. The shutter should be your nearest or reciprocal to your ISO, If you are using ISO 100 then make shutter speed 1/125. If you IS0 is 200 make your shutter speed 1/125.
As the light goes dimmer you open up your aperture.

For other lighting conditions: (based on wikipedia on sunny rule of 16)

Aperture Lighting Conditions Shadow Detail
f/22 Snow/Sand Dark with sharp edges
f/16 Sunny Distinct
f/11 Slight Overcast Soft around edges
f/8 Overcast Barely visible
f/5.6 Heavy Overcast No shadows
f/4 Open Shade/Sunset No shadows

Doing this is a bit tricky at first but practice makes perfect. Until now I still use this specially if I want to test my skills =)

This article was requested by Lem Ampigo through the facebook community