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Saturday, January 18

Sunny f16? Bollocks!


I don't often underexpose a photograph by three-and-a-half stops even when I haven't got a meter to hand. But there are times up here in Scotland when the weather just springs a surprise on me.

Take today, for instance. I was fondling my Pentax MX with its 50mm f1.7 M standard lens in the kitchen waiting for the dogs to finish doing their stuff in the garden. The camera is loaded with Tri X rated at 800 ISO and, since there are only a few frames left, I was keen to get the film finished.

Why not take one of the dogs then? The MX is fully functional but I haven't had a battery in it for a while. So I looked out the window at the weather (guess what - dreich) and started working out the sunny f16 exposure. On a sunny day, the exposure would be 1/800th at f16. I haven't got such a shutter speed so call it 1/1000th between f16 and f11.

Hazy sun, open up one stop. Cloudy bright, open up another. Cloudy dull for a third stop. And, seeing it's Scotland, albeit at the height of the day, open up a fourth for good luck. That works out at /125th between f8 and f11 - so we'll call it 1/125th at f8 then.

Not even close. I snapped a couple of the dogs and then went for my Sekonic meter so that I could take a reading and congratulate myself on how clever I am at working out the exposure. Well, would you believe 1/125th at f2.8?

Even allowing for the fact that Carnoustie is on the same latitude as Moscow, how the hell can it be 1/125th at f2.8 at midday with an 800 ISO film? You live and learn!

8 comments :

Jan Moren said...

I don't think I've ever been anywhere the Sunny 16 rule would actually work unmodified. Even here in Osaka, fairly far south, midday sun is more like 1/film speed at f8 or so.

Anonymous said...

My experience too. Heavy overcast yeaterday so I opened up 4 stops and just a little more. OK, that puts it at 1/250 @ f4

Better go get my digital camers (it gets used as a meter much more than for actually taking pictures).

Holy cow! The DSLR says 1/60 at f4, two whole stops off from my estmation.

John Robison, (at only 47 degrees morth.)

John Carter said...

I'm at 38 degrees, and visit LA at 35-34? degrees. I also lived at 9 degrees. Many times at high noon (Summer) with even just a cement patio I'm at f 22 1/film speed.

Kenny Wood said...

Personally I've always gone with the Sunny (ha.ha what's that!) f8 rule in Scotland. Recently I've been testing Shanghai 100 ISO 5x4 film in a pinhole camera (f206) on a dreich day. Guesstimated exposures of between 2.5 and 5 to 6 mins including added guesstimate reciprocity failure!

Anonymous said...

The Sunny 16 work has no value north of the Cotswolds.

Beyond there use the 'Cloudy f4' Rule. Works every time. :-)

Gary
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rolophoto/

Anonymous said...

Gee, it works for me - in Florida in the summer. But even on a clear day in the winter I have to drag out the incident meter.

Richard G said...

Sunny 16 works for me in Australia. I always thought my Dad a little too artistic in his approach to photography, particularly exposure. I was born in the UK where he learnt to use a camera with his small children. Out here he taught me how to use the little Zeiss Contina II with a built in light meter. Still he preferred a default setting of 1/125s and f8. His OMs years later with automatic exposure rescued him from his fixed ideas. I remember the first time I saw online the Rolleiflex exposure guide, with the doubling of exposure time for certain times of the year. Even here we have to be careful depending on the time of day, especially in winter, and bright sun really can be 1/125s at f8 just as my Dad said.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Bruce- just get as much light onto the film as possible and take it from there! None of this namby-pamby delicate exposure stuff - zap it man . . ZAP IT!