Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by stuart_pratt, Sep 23, 2021.

  1. Yes, you can assume it doesn't mean "all photographers" as I didn't say "all photographers". Just as you could assume saying for years doesn't mean "all years". :)

    "I assumed that RJ lives somewhere in the UK and has (or would) adapt the rule to suit that latitude."

    That makes sense. It's just a rule of thumb, it's not Adams' full zone system.
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I think I misunderstand the first part of Barry's reply, or Barry misunderstood what I assumed and to what I agreed in his statement, or both; but that doesn't really matter.

    My point was only to highlight how I understood RJ comments and it seems that we agree on that bit.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
  3. okee, lemme try and take this one to the next level... i used to amuse my foto friends by guessing the exposure, and stun by guessing correctly, just by looking at it, in any kind of weather... you can train yourself to guess pantone number, you can hone your perfect pitch to be perfect, same with exposure, just listen to your pupils, it'll come


    ps. ya, take off yer raybans first
  4. No worries, Michael, I was being sarcastic. Sorry. The only time I ever use zone system now is if I shoot a Leica M3, which these days is rare.
  5. Some interesting views here. I guess my initial post was designed to gauge a view on how useful an idea Sunny 16 might be to novices, the kids that are getting on to the new film ‘revolution’. It’s so often out there on the Internet as advice; ‘just use Sunny16’ used in a very loose sense, often with little or no explanation about what it is or how it should be used, possibly delivered by people who don’t know themselves. I’m sure, as these posts attest, most of us who come to PN often are experienced enough to understand that it is a rule of thumb, and that you take it with a pinch of salt, but also that understanding it is often helpful. Most of us don’t use it as a substitute for metering, but knowing it can be useful. I’ve done it myself with old film cameras to assess whether the meter is accurate or not - point it at a bright blue sky and get a 125th at f4 and you’ve probably got a dud. I’m sure it’s possible as others have suggested, especially given films latitude, to get so good at guessing the exposure that a meter is not entirely necessary, and I’ve fist-pumped the air myself a few times when I’ve guessed correct! But most, if not all of us still use a meter and would probably advocate anyone learning still use one, perhaps with the separate advise to read about and understand the Sunny 16 rule.
  6. Yes it puzzled me for a while till I did some research. In practical terms, I found there is very few scenes that f16 will be the aperture setting at 125/100sec at 100ASA. Open fields with little greenery on a sunny day, and clouds with bright light reflecting off them can bring up f16. Of course beach sand and snow covered fields could also warrant f16, but I'm not near those to test.

    As far as bright blue sky goes, I don't think you'll get f16 from that, usually f11 if it truely is a bright sky and minus clouds. It seems to depend on the direction of the sun-light, the time of day and possibly the amount of light reflected from Mother Earth. There's a few factors to consider. Sometimes the exposure value of the blue sky is not much different to the subject you're photographing. If you go through your archived shots and find one that has a well exposed sky (blue, not white) included with your well exposed subject, which is what you would have assessed, that's the reason why, the sky was near to the same exposure value as the subject (devoid of any shadows on the subject that is)

    For subjects on sunny days, but not including sky, or very little, a good all round setting is f8 at 125/100sec at 100ASA. The f8 gives you a reasonable aperture opening and depth of field for the slightly darker ground dwelling subjects, children playing in the yard, gardens, car in the driveway, the wife sitting on the rubber tire swing, etc. If you are exposing a 200ASA film, you go to the next fastest speed (250sec), for 400ASA, go to 500sec .... or .... you can set the aperture to f11 for 200ASA and f16 for 400ASA (remembering to keep the speed at 125/100sec for those aperture settings)
  7. Let's not forget those old mechanical cameras had notoriously inaccurate shutter speeds.
  8. from Wikipedia
    But with latitude so great in most modern films, you can almost "point & shoot" at the simpler version.
  9. I have mentioned that, several times, in the comments section of Youtube videos.
    Videos where a photographer is trying to be helpful and giving Sunny-16 as a tool for His-Her viewers to use.
    When i mention that the originator of S-16 based it on a very specific location on the planet and at rather specific times...................Jesus, the back-lash.
    You would think i had said the world was flat or something. :)

    People do not want to hear it for some reason.
    Not saying S-16 is Bogus-Fake-Stupid...................simply saying..... depending on your locale, time of day, and WHAT you are shooting; that S-16 MIGHT let you down.
  10. The little guide in the Kodak box for Sunny 16 and the other settings is for 10am to 2 pm. Of course, if you shoot in the middle of the day, then it will work. If you shoot very early or late during magic hours, or during other good photo lighting conditions like before or after a storm, the light is changing so fast and there really is no way to use a Sunny rule without blowing a bunch of shots. So use a meter.
    Ken Katz likes this.
  11. I think the problem is the S 16 is really a general guideline and it's meant to slide up and down based on locale and conditions. In most instances it will not replace knowing how to expose with a good meter. But it will generally give you a basic guide when you don't have one. A lot of great photography all over the planet was done without the use of meters and just the photographers guesstimating the light. The S 16 rule is just a way of doing that. Its not a photographic bible nor was it presented that way. If you're worried that it will be S 11 where you are etc. Just take your digital camera, shoot it in manual one day and estimate your exposures using S 16 for your standard. If you take several pictures that look to be about a stop to dark, than estimate at Sunny 11. Its not really that difficult.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  12. Reminds me of a few old cameras in my collection that have red dots on the aperture dial and focus dial, presumably for optimum exposure and focus for sunny days at a suitable shutter speed and distance. I think one camera even has a red dot on the speed dial. I'd say the those red dot configurations would indeed rely heavily on the latitude of negative film, and some post processing would be needed to make the images right. My photography has suffered a set back lately due to a minor illness, totally unrelated to Covid, but I have plans to try out those red dots in the near future and I'll be anxious to post about the results.
  13. Regardless of whether it gets you a near-enough exposure, the Sunny-16 guide does nothing to teach anyone about more important qualities of light, other than intensity.

    'Overcast' light, for example, is not only less intense, but softer, with more diffuse shadows. While full, open sunlight with harsh, hard-edged shadows is possibly the worst and least interesting type of lighting for many subjects.
  14. Using a meter instead of guestimate 'rules' doesn't teach you any of that either. So that's not about using sunny 16 or not.
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    . . . and this conversation is not specifically about whether to use the Sunny 16 rule, or not, either.

  16. I don't know about that. Maybe because we got as part of instruction about light and exposure, we certainly talked about different qualities of light. Understanding a little about side lighting, the different kinds of shading etc. certainly involved discussion of the quality of light. At least it impressed me that way.
  17. That would be expected on a photo course, but is definitely not included on the table of exposures in any Sunny-16 guide.

    Why, in this day and age, when a perfectly good meter is included in most cameras, or can be got for the price of 5 or 6 coffees (or about 3 rolls of film), would anyone want to guesstimate an exposure from a set of rough and ready guidelines?
    Ken Katz likes this.
  18. Just for the fun of it!
  19. You have a strange idea of 'fun'. ;)
    Sanford likes this.
  20. Try a roll of Velvia or any transparency film and shoot without a meter, and let's see how much fun it is when you get your slides back from the lab (assuming there are still labs who do this). Back when Lyndon Johnson was President, my dad gave me his Univex Mercury half frame camera to use, meterless and scale focusing. I used the Kodak exposure guidance on the boxes of Tri-X. Outdoor was OK while indoors resulted in a whole lot of thin negatives. The Minolta SRT 101 that replaced the Mercury was significantly better. The Canon F-1 (original) that replaced the Minolta was even better and I could reliably expose heavily backlit subjects.

    Still have that Univex Mercury (and flash unit!) and it still works, I think.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021

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