Problem with Sunny 16 Rule

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by 70to210mmf4, Jun 27, 2019.

  1. 70to210mmf4

    70to210mmf4 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you.


     
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  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    "But why look for a zebra when you see horse prints? "

    Because this is the Beginner's Forum, and a very old and well-established rule of thumb that has served millions of people well is being called into question on the basis of ONE digital image, shot by a beginner who is unaware of the nominal f/stop versus T-stop issue, light loss in multi-element lenses,and who has repeatedly blamed the Sunny 16 Rule instead of 1) possibly poor film development 2) inability to understand that the rule is for front-lighted subjects in full sun from 10AM to 2 PM (when the sun is high and strong) and 3)an automated raw file conversion that did not lead to a perfect representation of the scene.

    YES, the EXIF info confirms the slavish devotion to the BASIC rule,( but, the rule tells us that we MUST open up the lens diaphragm for less-than full sun front-lighted scenes, so there's that basic error possibility and there are several other possible explanations that have been put forth. I have been shooting almost exclusively digital since the 1990's, and started off in 1975 at age 12 with Plus-X 125 and the Kodak scenes from the instruction sheet. My first few 35mm adjustable camera had NO light meter. I'm actually pretty familiar with determining exposure, but at the time I started, I made a lot of under-exposure mistakes, as many beginners are prone to do, in my experience. I worked at a camera store in the late 1980's, and I have seen and diagnosed a LOT of picture faults from a lot of people and a lot of gear.

    The biggest issue that I have found is older or worn lenses sometime do NOT give a very valid f/16 or f/22 aperture....at those smallest openings, the actual margin for error is TINY.

    "...why look for a zebra when you see horse prints?"

    Again, this is the beginner's forum, and we see a beginner who seems mystified how he ended up with a dark JPEG from a batch-processed raw file! The idea that the Sunny 16 Rule is at fault seems pretty far-fetched. " I wrecked my car. Drove it into a ditch, therefore Ford makes bad cars!"

    The JPEG image from a batch processed raw file did not turn out how the OP would have liked, therefore the Sunny 16 Rule is invalid. Was this actually "Sunlight", or merely skylight?? We do not really know.

    Diagnosing picture faults without seeing the film negatives, prints, OR without knowing how capable the photographer is. Risky business, filled with uncertainty.

    why look for a zebra when you see horse prints?

    I think I explained it well enough.

    "Waiter, my steak is too pink, therefore your beef supplier is at fault! The cow was not medium-well done!"
     
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  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    pulling the JPEG into Lightroom, I see it was (poorly) developed by Darktable.

    Adding from+ 1.75 to + 2.45 EV of exposure makes a pretty good image, representing different degrees of scene brightness.


    Start with raw steak...you can make it rare, medium rare, medium, medium-well,or well-done
     
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  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    let me just say this really really simply. If I were to expose some Tri-X 400 speed B&W film and had exposed it at f/16 at 1/400 second, but then developed it for only 35 seconds it might seem to some people that my exposure meter was malfunctioning. But in reality, the film developing was at fault. Perhaps the OP had the same issue with his film which he described as being from the "first time the meter failed me".

    With the digital image the fact that I was able to merely slide the exposure control to the positive direction and get a good-looking image in seconds (literally one or two seconds), points strongly,extremely strongly, to the development of the Raw file data, and not to the in-field exposure.

    Since the OP has put up a clear not OK to edit photos I won't bother with posting, but suffice it to say that adding two stops in the developing phase of the automatedly-produced JPEG makes a beautiful picture, one that looks like a sunny backyard

    Again, with my steak analogy: let us say that we start with raw meat or Raw data. Let us say that we follow a recipe, or that we follow the sunny 16 rule. The end result is determined by how the steak is cooked, at what temperature, and for how long. With a JPEG image that was originally shot in the field as a Raw file, the end result is how we cook the data.
     
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  5. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    From my experience with my M2 and meterless F cameras, I would've shot that at F8 instead of F16. (all other settings being the same) You have a lot of shadow going on in the tree line, and the color in the grass is absorbing some of the light. F16 would be reserved for a bright city sidewalk with light reflecting off the concrete and buildings, or an open dirt field or something.. etc.

    Honestly, it just takes practice. When I first started trying sunny 16, I had the same problems you have. It's just a matter of getting used to it and figuring out how light works from the experiences of actually doing it.
     
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  6. 70to210mmf4

    70to210mmf4 TPF Noob!

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    So from what I understand, the sunny 16 rule is reliable if the following are taken into consideration, even on a bright, sunny day:

    1. Incident light can be more or less than the amount of perceived light at different times of the day, place on the earth and season.
    2. Always need to adjust for reflected light; dark subjects need more light, light subjects need less.
    3. Peculiarities of individuals cameras (e.g. physical diameter of aperture at f/16 setting).
    4. Processing time and method.

    Is there anything I've missed or misunderstood?
     
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  7. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Sounds good. Now go forth and shoot! :D
     
  8. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    5. Yes. Use a meter to avoid 1-4.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Are you shooting positive film/ digital, OR B&W negative film???

    With B&W negative film, we need to OVER-expose to make things white, while something like a black cat requires about 1.5 stops
    worth of UNDER-exposure to make it look "black".


    With Color negative film, OVER-exposure is not a big issue, and a full stop of over-exposure by lowering the ISO of the hand-held meter by one full EV value used to be pretty standard.

    With color transparency film, also called color reversal film, or color slide film, OVER-exposure is really BAD...un-recoverable if the overexposure is even a bit too bad. Digital is similar to color slide film...it does NOT tolerate over-exposure well, but newer sensors can have UNDER-exposures "lifted", or "brightened" in software.

    HAND-HELD meters may be reflected light models; in-camera light meters are all reflect light metering.
    HAND-HELD meters may be incident light models, or reflected light models.

    Too much to go into here...but be aware that with almost any digital or color negative, you might have to brighten or darken the out-of-camera first result to make the picture you want to see as the final interpretation of the scene! look 2-2.JPG

    Original phone JPEG, appears pretty dark in the shadows

    look 2.JPG

    edited phone jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
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  10. 70to210mmf4

    70to210mmf4 TPF Noob!

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    So I happened to look up in the sky at about 12:10pm today and saw that the sun was nowhere to be found. I looked to the west and found it sitting just above the horizon, where I would expect it to be at about 5pm. It turns out that the photo that I posted was taken only 5 days after the winter solstice. That would have had a massive affect on the amount of incident light in the scene. I always thought that the sun just loops around the earth in a circle and is always directly overhead at midday. My mind is blown.
     
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  11. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use The Photographers Ephemeris on my cellphone. There's a small cost to buy. You can use it on your desktop for free I believe. It's a great program as it tells you where in the sky the sun and moon is at any time of the day incling the azimuth or angle up from the horizon. If you check from one part of the year to the other, there is a huge difference as well as depending on the time for day. Also, where you are, the latitude in the earth, causes the angles and locations to be vastly different. The program provides sun and moon rise and setting and well as a lot of other info that's handy when shooting pictures. All this information is overlaid on satellite and street and roads maps.
    The Photographer's Ephemeris
     
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  12. if-ga

    if-ga TPF Noob!

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    When I started photography every roll of film had an info sheet that included a discussion of what the sunny f-16 meant. That ended in the 70's sometimes, although it may have been later. I took my first university photography class in 1968, using medium format with a hand held meter.

    In Washington D.C at high noon on the fourth of July the "sunny f16 rule" becomes the sunny f/22 rule, it is that bright.

    "Full Sun" f/16 (sunny- as bright as it can be, high noon give or take two hours)
    Hazy bright - one stop open- f/11 (clear shadows with a sharp line. Also beyond the +/- two hour window)
    Cloudy bright - two stops open - f /8 (distinct shadows, but soft edges)
    Cloudy - three stops open - f/5.6 (no shadows, but still more than 2 hours after sunrise or before sunset.
    Overcast - four stops open - f/4 (bleak and dreary, bad weather imminent),

    The time of day affects the sunny f/16 rule, when used by an experienced and knowledgeable photographer. That is built into the "rule". Such a photographer knows that mid morning and mid afternoon are one stop open from full.

    When I was in military photography school and we slept in the barracks someone might ask what the weather was like. If the answer came back "F/8 at 11:00" , we knew what kind of day it was. Cloudy bright.

    In truth, if you know virtually nothing about photography (light-writing), the sunny 16 rule fails miserably, consistently.
    If you understand why your images were/are under-exposed, over-exposed, or spot on, and what you should gave done to correct the problem, the Sunny 16 rule works always and consistently - at it's intended purpose.

    It is meant to give well exposed, amateur grade, scenic photos. In use by an experienced photographer, it works rain, snow or shine, not to produce sellable images, of salon quality, but to record a scene worthy of any family album.

    The full application goes well beyond simply "Sunny and f-16".
    If it is hazy bright three hours before high noon, I need to open one stop for time of day, one for hazy bright. The "sunny 16 rule" says my exposure is f/8. If it is winter, with the sun low in sky, I know to open another stop.
    If my subject is in full shade, (overcast) I know to open four stops. The sunny f16 rule says f/2 - or f/1.4 in the winter (four stops open from f/8 or 5.6).
     
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