The Sunny 16 Rule

Sunny 16 Rule

The Sunny 16 Rule is a great way to set up your camera before heading out to capture slices of time you encounter.

The basic idea is this, load the film you wish to use, say ISO 200 then set your shutter speed to the closest number to your ISO which would probably be 1/250th.

For the rest of the day all you need to worry about is how much cloud is in the sky to set the required aperture size.

Sunny 16 Rule
Sunny 16 Rule

As per the chart above, if it is a nice cloudless day set your aperture (f stop) to F/16,compose and shoot photo’s to your hearts content knowing your roll of film will be exposed correctly.

If clouds start bubbling up, as they often do in the UK, decide how cloudy it is and set your Aperture to F/11 or F/8.

As it gets overcast, shady or later in the day, F/4 or F/2.8 are your friends.

Advanced Sunny 16 !!!

I mentioned earlier this rule can be used as a core for your daytime shooting, but you can be flexible in using it.

Say you want to encourage a shallow depth of field, taking a picture of someone you have meet, F/8 is not going to do much in helping blow out the background, but F/2.8 will.

So adjust your Aperture to F/2.8, which lets in 3 stops of extra light we need to darken somehow.

My Canon AL-1 has a fastest shutter speed of 1/1000 so only 2 stops can be gained there. So one more stop will be needed.

Or I can take the shot knowing it will be a stop to dark but when developed and digitized, I can adjust in my photo editing software to where I want it.

Or…. and I have done this in the real world with a lot of success, I get my extra stop by setting the ISO for this picture to 400, take my picture and reset back to 1/200 ISO 200 F/8 sunny 16 core.

That last adjustment works best on Black and White in my experience but more often than not, I take the 1 stop of light hit and edit later.

Sounds like a lot of faffing about !!!

It did to me at first, but after a short while getting used to the basic Sunny 16 rule you start to see the weather outside in F Stops and as for most of the day you will not need to change your ISO or Speed, it fast becomes second nature.

The “Advanced” techniques start to happen naturally as you decide what is needed for your photograph.

Being able to have a known working base line that the Sunny 16 rule gives you, for me, makes my walk about’s and street photography faster in reaction to scenes, less fuss, fun and reliable in the out come.

It might be fun on my next photo walk to make a short video showing this in action so please do pop over to my YouTube Channel where I will upload load the video very soon.

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