|Sunny f/16 rule
Much like an incident recommendation, the sunny f/16 rule is based on the quantity of light falling on the scene and or subject, negating background tonal influence, and subject size relative to the image frame. It is because on a clear cloudless day the sunlight will peek consistently in intensity depending on latitude from mid morning to mid afternoon that we are able to use this rule consistently and accurately to set the midtone. The formula is an easy one 1/ISO @ f/16 and it was included with every box of film sold. Most never paid attention to it, choosing instead to discard it, going with their expensive in-camera meter.
When shooting with the sun over your shoulders shoot at the suggested rule, backlight subjects generally require you open up two EV, with negative film or when exposing for shadow detail side lit subjects require you open up one stop is therefore often necessary to compensate the exposure when trying to render detail in areas at the end of the tonal scale.
When shooting a sidelight bird/subject in sunlight my exposure remains the same, sunny f/16 or equivalent plus or minus compensation for the highlight. Remember, when a subject is side-lit, a portion of the subject is in shadow, and this shadowed area will be rendered under-exposed when metered as suggested above, especially when minus compensation is applied. This is where fill flash comes in, and it is an integral part of this methods success. By choosing different amounts of flash compensation, we are able control the degree of shadow detail rendered independent of the ambient light. The key lies in illuminating the shadows without obliterating them. If you know how to effectively compress the image brightness range to that of the capture medium, you can capture detail in both highlight and shadow without sacrificing one or the other. And, you can shoot in light otherwise never considered. Light illuminates - shadow defines.
Exposure Value - all of the exposure combinations below are equivalent for a given quantity of light and ISO. It is up to you to determine which combination best suites the situation in hand.
ISO 200 is the most widely used in nature photography. Typically the best sunny f/16 equivalent compromise in shutter speed and aperture is 1/800 @ f/8. An easy to remember acronym is 88. Therefore, if you are shooting ISO 200 in unfiltered sunlight you need only remember 88 - 1/800 @ f/8 as your reference point.
Like the times (x) table in arithmetic this sequence should be memorized, committed to memory for recall at a moments notice. The quicker you can make decisions, the better your imagery will become.
* I recommend you copy and paste the above onto a business-sized card, carrying it with you for quick reference.
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Charles Glatzer is a Certified Professional Commercial Photographer with a Master of Photography Degree, and an Award winning photographer, a two-time recipient of the Kodak Gallery Award of Excellence, "the benchmark for saluting technical execution and visual impact in the photographic arts." A full time professional since 1983, Charles possesses a wide range of photographic talents with a special emphasis in nature and underwater photography.
Charles owns and hosts monthly "Shoot the Light" seminars and workshops throughout the USA and his underwater photography workshops are conducted on live-aboard dive boats throughout the world. All workshops now employ state of the art digital technology, allowing real time, in-field assessment of metering theory, compensation, composition, fill flash, DOF, etc.
Charles is a Photography Advisor for the Potomac Museum Group and Endangered Encounters. He is the Principal Photographer for the new Atlantis Marine World Aquarium, NY, a past Adjunct Associate Professor at Long Island University and lecturer at the prestigious EXPLORERS CLUB in NYC. He serves on many judges' panels for both national and international photographic competitions. His Natural History presentation and lecture hosts include Fuji Professional, the Professional Photographers of America, ASMP, the Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, among others. Charles was the keynote speaker at this year's (May 2003) prestigious "Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival", Homer AK.
Represented by the world's premier stock agencies, his images are published internationally in both the advertising and editorial marketplace. Recently his images were on public display including the Orlando International Airport and Disney's Epcot Center. Fujifilm Professional has played an active role sponsoring, in part, Charles career for many years; poster signings, film and product, workshop/lecture sponsorship and image purchase are greatly appreciated. Additionally, Charles is sponsored in part by Wimberley, Lowepro, Photoflex, Vested Interest, Capture One DSLR, Robert White, Wildlife Watching Supplies, and Image Arts. His images, articles, product reviews and informative postings can frequently be seen in print, and on the web at www.photomigrations.com and www.naturescapes.net
His equipment and experience includes 4x5, 6x6, 35mm film and digital formats. His leap into the digital domain started with PhotoShop 3 and LS 2000 film scanners. He has further expanded his creative and teaching options shooting almost exclusively now with 35mm digital format. Charles uses Lumedyne strobes and Quantum radio slaves for off camera lighting. Gitzo CF tripods with Arca Swiss B1 ballheads, Wimberley products (gimbal head, sidekick, flash brackets, and lens plates), Groofwin Pod, Groundshot plate, and beanbags are used for support. Sekonic L358 incident meter is used for exposure. All equipment is carried in Lowe Pro bags. His films of choice are Fujifilm's, Velvia and Provia.
Camera equipment: well versed in both Nikon and Canon film and digital bodies. Current equipment includes Canon digital 1D and 1V HS film bodies, 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 IS, 180 macro, 300 2.8 IS, 500mm IS w/ converters and extension tubes, 550 flashes and all accessories.
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