Shoot the Sun…

STOP!!! I did not mean point your camera at the sun and take a photo of it. DO NOT DO THAT…. EVER!!!!

I am going to share with you a simple to use photography technique you might of heard of before, the Sunny 16 technique.

Yawn i can hear coming from some of you but wait, I want to also share the way I have been rocking it lately which excellent results here in the UK, and the UK part is important as I will discuss later.

First for those who have never heard of sunny 16 before, what is it?

Sunny 16 is a way to expose your film of choice based on looking and reacting to the way the sky looks.

Before I get on to what I do a (UK Version) here are the sunny 16 guides to how to use it.

First load your camera with your file ISO of choice ie: 400 Iso, 200 iso, 800 and so on.

Next set your camera speed to the closet number to your ISO speed that you can.

So 400 ISO would be 1/500 or 200 ISO would be 1/250 and so on.

From now on all you need to change depending of the state of the sky, the light available, is to adjust the aperture like so.

Absolutely clear blue sky = f/16 (hence the name Sunny 16)
Slight cloudy sky = f/11
A lot of cloud but still see some sky = f/8
Cant see the sky = f/5.6
Dusk, the light is fading regardless of cloud level =f/4 or f/2.8

So what’s this UK Version Dave?

Well, you know when your are wasting time at work youtubing photography…… come on own up we all do it…. I watched a video by the Wonderful Martin Henson and he suggested that we in the UK rarely if ever get true clear blue skies and should be starting our Sunny 16 at Sunny 11.

Effectively giving your film, colour or b&w, 1 extra stop to compensate for the hazy cloudless blues skies not experienced say in States like California and Florida.

So the UK Sunny 11 would be like this:

Absolutely clear blue sky = f/11 (hence the name Sunny 11)
Slight cloudy sky = f/8
A lot of cloud but still see some sky = f/5.6
Cant see the sky = f/4
Dusk, the light is fading regardless of cloud level = f/2.8
or f/1.8 or f/1.4

This works great and I have been rocking this technique for many a roll of film lately getting reliable results, but me being me, and spotted another nugget of info in another YouTube video while working hard at work, I have been reducing the shutter speed 1 click giving my film approximately another 2/3rds of a stop of light to soak it self in.

So my daily scenario on loading a film is this.

Pick my film say Ilford Delta 400.
Load it and set the shutter to 1/250th instead of 1/500th
If it is a clear sky in the UK, rare but does happen sometimes, I set the Aperture to f/11.
Go out and have fun shooting.

ISO 200 my shutter would be 1/125th and ISO 100 would be 1/60th.

I do not go lower than 1/60th for handheld work and at 1/60th I would still be looking for something solid to lean against to take the shot. Slower the 1/60th then its tripod time or a wall, post or anything to keep the camera still.

Next time you are out doing street photography give this a try by starting with the 400 ISO setup I mention above and save your thinking gear for creating and composing shots rather than messing about with a light meter and getting your Einstein inspired mathematics correct.

In the main, unless a big brand customer is holding a high value job in front of your lens, photography should be fun and I have been having much more fun photographing my world around me using the Sunny 11 (UK version) and for my fellow snappers in the USA, try the sunny 16 because you have gorgeous clear blue sky’s, you swine’s lol, but maybe try stepping the shutter down a notch.

Above all, have fun in photography.

DC x

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