PDA

View Full Version : Sunny-16 metering ---- best tips about judging light intensity?



Heroique
20-Sep-2015, 14:35
Yes, chances are high that you know the justly famous "Sunny-16" rule.

Now, let's say you lose your meter, and it's time to put your naked eyes to the challenge.

With 1/[film speed] for shutter snap, can you actually articulate what differentiates, say, f/16 light from f/8 light (two stops)? Or f/16 light from f/5.6 light (three stops)?

Better, can you describe the quality of light in 1-stop increments, from f/16 to f/4? Does the task get trickier as the light gets dimmer?

Please share your best tips so the rest of us can make ... an enlightened choice! :D

ic-racer
20-Sep-2015, 15:05
I have found nothing better than this. However, I use that scale for large format ISO 400 film exposures, not 200. With the price of 8x10 film I'll admit that I'd go back home to get the meter. For smaller formats I'll use this guide along with the meter. Though in the last 5 years I have shifted most of my smaller format work to cameras with matrix metering and 'Auto.'

139881

Heroique
20-Sep-2015, 16:31
Nice, a picture is worth a thousand words.

However, it looks like the artist forgets or leaves out f/8 light – that is, he jumps directly from f/11 to f/5.6.

I'd like to see his missing description of f/8 light. I imagine it would be something between the "distinct shadows" of f/11, and the "no shadows" of f/5.6. What would he say? "Indistinct shadows"? "blurry shadows"? His omission might suggest that f/8 light is hard for the unaided eye to distinguish among these values, or maybe more difficult to describe.

It also makes me curious if people use something other than shadows for their "Sunny-16'" judgments about light values.

ic-racer
20-Sep-2015, 17:08
f8 is for when there are faint shadows.
http://i.imgur.com/dBvfJrT.jpg

ic-racer
20-Sep-2015, 18:01
Although those tables look childish, they are based on scientific data. In fact they are simplifications of a system requiring 4 tables of empiric data and a wheel calculator ( Sunlight and Skylight as Determinants of Photographic Exposure, 1948, Jones and Condit)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/ic-racer/2015/description.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/ic-racer/2015/calculator%201.jpg

Randy Moe
20-Sep-2015, 18:09
Yes and simple to learn. Shoot 35 mm, make careful estimates, record your condition.

Repeat as needed.

mdarnton
20-Sep-2015, 18:53
What Randy said, plus the way I learned was to guess first, then check my guess with a meter. When the two coincided, which in my case took about three years, if I remember correctly (that represents a lot of different lighting situations) I could stop pulling out the meter. Somewhere along in 1974 my meter was demolished in a car wreck, and I didn't buy another until I started using studio strobes a few years ago. After a couple of years with the strobes I stopped using that meter, too.

I still play the guessing game when I'm in places I think I might get confused or am bored, but I do it with a light meter app in my Android phone, Lightmeter, by David Quiles Amat. It tracks with my other meter quite well in reflected lighting use.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dq.fotometro&hl=en
After using it for a while and determining that it worked for me on my phone, I got the pay version.

There was a Sunny 16 discussion on another board where people said you can't possibly do it by eye with any kind of consistent results. I did slide shows and film strips for four years and didn't use a meter all that time. It's like any other skill: if you don't develop it, it doesn't happen; if you don't use it, you lose it. Did they even have light meters for the first 80 years of photographic history???

Heroique
20-Sep-2015, 19:45
There was a Sunny 16 discussion on another board where people said you can't possibly do it by eye with any kind of consistent results.

I'm curious if there was a consensus about the cause.

For example, did they think the eye an inconsistent judge, even when conditions stay the same? Or are the variables affecting the intensity of light so tricky, numerous and inconspicuous, that making a judgment is difficult, no matter how good the eye?

BTW, I got a kick out of ic-racer's scientific article; namely, the "luminous density value" at the latitude for Washington D.C.!

mdarnton
20-Sep-2015, 20:00
No, you're attributing intelligence to people where there was none. It was more like "I can't do this, so no one can." They just refused to believe it was possible because they, themselves, never learned. One guy put up a bunch of perfectly-exposed contact sheets, and another moron asked "Yeah, but are they ALL like that?" implying he was cherry-picking. People don't know what they don't know, and the really dumb ones refuse to think that anyone can do something that they can't. That's a core value of being dumb: thinking you're the smartest person in the room. That particular forum has a lot of dumb. [/rant]

John Kasaian
20-Sep-2015, 20:39
"Sunny 16" works. I don't know what the folks on the other board are having an issue with.

photonsoup
20-Sep-2015, 22:13
Every box of 35mm Kodak film that I got had the Sunny Sixteen instructions printed on the inside of the box.
It's all I had from Jr. High until I was about 24 when I got a camera with a meter in it. It worked great. The camera with the meter was terrible with Sunny Sixteen. It had a zoom lens, it took me quite a while to figure out the marked f-stops are only good at one spot on the zoom scale.

bob carnie
21-Sep-2015, 06:27
This is a perfect chart. looking at the strength of the shadow will also help determine.

I have found nothing better than this. However, I use that scale for large format ISO 400 film exposures, not 200. With the price of 8x10 film I'll admit that I'd go back home to get the meter. For smaller formats I'll use this guide along with the meter. Though in the last 5 years I have shifted most of my smaller format work to cameras with matrix metering and 'Auto.'

139881

onnect17
21-Sep-2015, 06:35
I use the rule 100/16 pretty often, keeping in mind the location and conditions and it works pretty well.

Balancing the light temperature is obviously important with color but it is also helpful with BW to assess the correct esposure. Checking the sprectral response in the film datasheet is not a bad idea.
Reflectance level of the surface is also important. In the presence of snow or a very white sand. That could add up to a full stop.

Last week a passed by a common tourist Stop-By spot in the Death Valley called Mesquite Dunes. Some dry trees face the parking and it called my attention the nice illumination observed on the branches. The sand itsefl is not that white so I took a closer look at the sand just to notice a good amount of what it seems like mica. That extra reflection would amount easily to a 1/3 or 1/2 stop correcction.

IMHO, the rule, properly used under the right condition, beats the best meter.

David_Senesac
27-Oct-2015, 10:44
Of course since photographers have meters either inside their cameras or dedicated exposure meters, we have little incentive to try and gauge light values with our eyes. Although the little chart just shows aperture F values it of course needs a complementary ISO and shutter speed to have meaning. Thus the sunny-16 rule requires one to set their shutter speed to the reciprocal of ISO. For example with ISO 200 film, aperture at F16 shutter speed 1/200 second. And when it is not sunny, charts like yours shown can help.

The more exact photography light value unit are EV numbers. The problem however with EV levels is not many photography tools are designed around displaying or thinking in EV and as a result few photographers think in terms of EV levels. My digital exposure meter is the relatively simple Shepherd Polaris Dual 5 which has a 5 degree spot sensor in addition to an ambient/reflected sensor. For years I have used the ambient in EV mode most of the time that few other photographers probably use. Thus there are no aperture or shutter speed displays just light levels. To select those 2 camera settings, I refer to charts although most commonly used settings I've memorized. In doing so I have become rather talented at guessing light levels in EV units before I actually look at meter readings. My skill at doing so is not too accurate if I haven't been out in the field for some time, but after a little time in the field it comes back. Of course that becomes more difficult below EV10 as light becomes dimmer. As a photographer there is value to developing sensitivity to all varying qualities of light.

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2015_Trip_Chronicles/summer_2015-13.html

Kevin Crisp
27-Oct-2015, 10:59
As an interesting exercise -- assuming you keep notes -- go back through your 'outdoor' photography data and notice the remarkable lack of variability in your exposures. I'll bet 75% of mine are the same thing.