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Tipster of the Week: Computing Exposure is Never Boring

Here is an elaboration on the "Sunny 16 Rule", explained as plus or minus f/stops from the ISO film speed at f/16.

A Basic Daylight Exposure Guide for When You Don’t Have a Light Meter by herbert-4

Computing exposure is easy; when in bright sunlight the f/stop is f/16 and the shutter speed is equal to the film’s ISO speed: ISO 100= 1/100 second at f/16. This is Basic Daylight Exposure (BDE), also called “Sunny 16 Rule”.

Here are suggested exposures from an old yellowed mimeographed handout from a photography class from 40+ years ago. The exposures are listed as plus or minus BDE, and if your f/stops won’t go the distance, change
the shutter speed.
So here goes:

  1. Sunlight with normal subject in the sun = BDE.
  2. Sunlight with dramatic or silhouette effect, shooting toward the sun = BDE minus 2 f/stops.
  3. Sunlight over snow or white sand = BDE minus 1 f/stop.
  4. Sunlight with backlit subject, exposing for shadows = BDE plus 2 f/stops.
  5. Overcast with hazy light and soft shadows = BDE plus 1 f/stop.
  6. Overcast with cloudy bright light, no shadows = BDE plus 2 f/stops.
  7. Heavy overcast or open shade = BDE plus 3 f/stops.
  8. When photographing the moon for a lunar shot = BDE for full moon, plus 1/3 f/stop for 2/3 moon, plus 1/2 f/stop for 1/2 moon, plus 2/3 f/stop for 1/3 moon, plus 1 f/stop for 1/4 moon.
  9. Night skylines at a distance = BDE plus 13 f/stops.
  10. Neon or lighted signage at night = BDE plus 5 f/stops.
  11. Stage shows with bright lights = BDE plus 5 f/stops.
  12. Stage shows with average lights = BDE plus 7 f/stops.
  13. Ice shows with flood lights = BDE plus 6 f/stops.
  14. Circuses with flood lights = BDE plus 7 f/stops.
  15. Bright city lights at night (i.e. Las Vegas) = BDE plus 6 f/stops.
  16. Fireworks on the ground = BDE plus 6 f/stops.
  17. Buildings, fountains, monuments with flood lights = BDE plus 11 f/stops.
  18. Christmas lights at night (indoor or outdoor) = BDE plus 11 f/stops.
  19. At church with incandescent (wolfram) lights = BDE plus 9 f/stops.
  20. School auditorium stage shows = BDE plus 9 f/stops.
  21. Store window lights at night = BDE plus 6 f/stops.
  22. Candle light portraits or close-ups = BDE plus 10 1/2 f/stops.
  23. Bright lit house interiors at night = BDE plus 9 1/2 f/stops.
  24. Average lit house interiors at night = BDE plus 11 f/stops.
  25. Indoor swimming pools at night with incandescent (wolfram) lights = BDE plus 8 f/stops.
  26. Brightly lit fairs and amusement parks at night = BDE plus 7 f/stops.
  27. Brightly lit sporting events and concerts, indoors = BDE plus7 f/stops.
  28. Brightly lit nlght sporting events and concerts, outdoors =BDE plus 6 f/stops.

Always have lots of films and bracket your exposures a bit, plus and minus. Have this memorised for tomorrow. There will be a quiz. :)

This works!

written by herbert-4

22 comments

  1. eggzakly

    eggzakly

    If you can't memorize it all, there's this little chart you can download and print for free: http://expomat.tripod.com/ - super useful! :)

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  2. vicuna

    vicuna

    Great tipster! It's true that the "sunny 16" rule is one to have in mind and easy to adapt to every situation!! Thanks for sharing your photographic knowledge Herbert (as you always do :))

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  3. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    #7 is a typo... should be "BDE plus 3 f/stops". Sorry.
    Thanx.
    Herb

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  4. sibu_sen

    sibu_sen

    Thank you!!!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  5. adi_totp

    adi_totp

    woooowwww... thanks for sharing!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  6. stouf

    stouf

    Ho yeah... Perfect exposures ! Great tip !

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  7. migueld

    migueld

    so helpful, thanks!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  8. mandashitley

    mandashitley

    Thanks for this

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  9. mattydk

    mattydk

    thanks for sharing the knowledge Herb!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  10. panelomo

    panelomo

    that photo on top is freakin cute! haha!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  11. scapegoat

    scapegoat

    @herbert-4: corrected! :)
    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  12. eyecon

    eyecon

    A good idea to print it out and tape it on the cam....

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  13. ethermoon

    ethermoon

    herbert, thank you! in my idea, you're one happy guy as seen from the photo above! :)

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  14. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    @ scapegoat: Thank you for the fixing the typo!!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  15. he_is_me

    he_is_me

    Nice to get back to basics... or in my case discover them in a clear, easy to understand description!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  16. treehugger419

    treehugger419

    Thanks a bunch!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  17. pulex

    pulex

    just found this and im happy cause i got my Voigtländer Vito b with me for shooting my first roll today...perfect...hope i remember...! thx herbert

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. mcrstar

    mcrstar

    Thanks! It's helpful

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  19. patriciapetunia

    patriciapetunia

    okay this looks so helpful but i don't understand it. can somebody please explain?

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  20. phantomphoenixphotos

    phantomphoenixphotos

    Great tipster! Very, very useful!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  21. abecd

    abecd

    hmm... by saying plus 2 f/stops, what i must do? i don't really understand it...

    8 months ago · report as spam
  22. hervinsyah

    hervinsyah

    AWESOME, thanks for the link, sir @herbert-4 but I'm very poor with math, number, logic. will learn slowly =)

    6 months ago · report as spam

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