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Sunny 16 Rule

A simple rule of thumb for taking photos in daylight without a light meter.
The rule is quite easy to remember - if you’re taking a photo in bright daylight
set the aperture to f/16 and set the shutter speed to be as near as possible to
the same number as the film speed.

So if you’re using ISO 100 film, for example, set the aperture to f/16 and the
shutter speed to 1/125 sec, since 1/125 is the closest shutter speed value to
100 on a typical camera.
If you want to use a different aperture calculate the number of stops away from
f/16 you want to use and then adjust the shutter speed accordingly. For example,
f/11 is one stop larger than f/16, so you’d need to increase your shutter speed
by one stop. So if you’re using ISO 100 film you’d set the aperture to f/11 and
the shutter speed to 1/250 sec.

This rule works because the light output from the sun is a pretty constant value -
the sun itself puts out a nearly constant amount of light at all times.
Only precisely calibrated equipment can detect the light fluctuations of the sun.

here are some variations for a sunny day:
Full sun - f/16
Half sun - f/11
Open shade - f/8
Darker shade - f/5.6
Darkest shade - f/4

with a little bit of practice, you won't need your lightmeter anymore.

follow this link for Fred Parker's excellent exposure guide.

Comments (2)

Joe B:

Good rule of thumb. Fortunately, photography is second nature - these things come naturally. I wished I knew this rule when I first started out back in the days.

I just came around your site today. Nice photos, good job. I linked you on my blog, I hope that's ok with you.

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