Is 'Sunny-16' Just a Bad Joke?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Max Power, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. Max Power

    Max Power Member

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Aylmer, QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yesterday I developed a roll of APX-100. The roll was exposed on two consecutive days, in bright sunlight which metered 1/125 @f16 by a grey-card in direct sunlight. My in camera meter, however, consistently wanted to expose at 1/125 @f11. This for a series of shots taken out in direct sunlight. Seeing this discrepancy, I took a number of shots following 'sunny-16' and for others, I let my in camera meter do what it wanted to do.

    The frames in which I followed 'sunny-16' are consistently underexposed. The frames in which I let the in camera meter do its thing, though, show amazing snap and detail in both highlights and shadows.

    Serious question, then...Is 'sunny-16' a bad joke? Ought it really be 'sunny-11'? :confused:

    Cheers,
    Kent
     
  2. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Is sunny 16 really a Joke? No. Not if you like the negatives it produces with the manufacturers development times.

    Most of us, however, overexpose from that by at least on stop and underdevelop from the recommended time by 15 - 20%. This yields a negative with good shadow detail and easily printed hightlights. I contrasty light, I rate tri-x at ei 100 and shorten my development to match.

    Parenthetically, this doesn't only hold for Black and White. I have proven to myself, that when I shoot 400 speed color negative film in bright sunlight the best negatives are the ones I expose at 1/250 sec. at f8. You do the math.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    What was the angle of the sun to the subject? If the subject was in complete front lighting It should have have given a good exposure at 1/100th of a second at f16 or 1/125th at approx 11+3/4 stop. This would be contingent on receiving a full normal development and the film being properly rated by the manufacture FOR THAT AMOUNT OF DEVELOPMENT. As it was your favored exposure according to the meter were more pleasing to you. I am unfamilar with the meter in your camera and I am unable to suggest why it was 3/4 stop different. It is worth remembering that even a little underexposure causes a problem. 1/2 to 1 stop additional exposure more than the bare minimum may result in negatives much to your liking. Many photographers use film speeds, for roll film. that give 1/2 to 1 stop more exposure than the rated manufacturers speed and give 75-80% of the development that is recommended. It is very worthwhile to remember David Vestal's advice...Do not underexpose and do not over-develop.
     
  4. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    How you hold the card makes a difference. Also, for exterior work, after metering a gray card you need to open up by 1/2 stop. Average reflectance is really 12% and not 18%.
     
  5. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    At northern latitudes it’s sunny 11. Further south, sunny 16 would hold true. Here in England it’s sunny 10 & a bit, unless it's raining, when we use sunny 6ish. The system works, don't knock it!
     
  6. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    By mid summer around here (NJ), it'll be the smoggy 11 rule anyway... :smile:
     
  7. garryl

    garryl Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    Location:
    Fort Worth,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sunny-16 is not a bad joke-
    Mooning at 16 in front of a cop is! :D

    Sunny-16 was created when ASA was lower and development times higher and you had to have that image without metering. It was quick and easy to fall back on.
     
  8. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

    Messages:
    2,894
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    "Sunny-16" is a thumbrule, and like all thumbrules, it works in many cases, but not in all cases. It was derived based upon some typical conditions to give an exposure method easy to remember. As I remember, there was an "overcast-11" component to it.

    I shot a series with the 8x10 last summer using sunny-16 just for the 'ell of it. The only modification is that I increased exposure one stop to increase density for Azo. The result was negs that print well on both grade 2 and grade 3 Azo. Hey, in this case, it worked well. Final aperature setting was f/32.
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2046&sort=2&cat=500&page=1
     
  9. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dave you beat me to it ... but don't forget the here comes the thunder 1.7 :wink:
     
  10. fparnold

    fparnold Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Location:
    Binghamton,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've wondered about that for a while. I always figured Kodak had developed that rule by sending employees to Florida or California, where it is Sunny-16 (Sunny 22 in the Southern CA Desert, at times). NE PA, Upstate NY, or Northern Illinios are all "Sunnyish 11".
     
  11. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sunny 16 teaches you the difference between full sun and hazy. Hazy and cloudy. Cloudy and overcast. I'm going to bet it wasn't really full sun. What did the shadows look like?

    On the point about the ASA change. Download this:

    http://www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/proPhotoProductVelviaDataSpec.jsp

    The exposure suggestions are Sunny 16. Last I checked Japan is pretty far north to. I don't know if Ilford still provides little inserts with exposure suggestions but if they do I bet it's Sunny 16 to. last I checked Agfa used Sunny 16 in it's box inserts.

    Sunny 16 isn't intended to be used with the box speed but with the film speed that works best with your system. If you wouldn't set the box speed on an exposure meter then why would you use it with Sunny 16?
     
  12. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The definitive research was done by Loyd Jones and his team at Kodak in the 1930s and 1940s. the seminal paper on the subject of illuminance of daylight is Sunlight and Skylight as Determinants of Photographic Exposure. I. Luminous Density as Determined by Solar Altitude and Atmospheric Conditions. and II. Scene Structure, Directional Index, Photographic efficiency of Daylight, Safety Factors, and Evaluation of Camera Exposure, JOSA, vol 38 and 39, Feb 1948 and Feb 1948.

    The mind numbing seventy or so page paper was so thorough that it was made into the ANSI exposure guide, ANSI PH2.7 - 1986. It is said that if a meter disagrees with the guide, the meter is most likely wrong. It may be a coincidence, but the first ANSI light meter standard and transparency speed standard came out at the same time as Jones paper, and Jones was on the ANSI committee on exposure meters.

    The light meter has to determine three different film types (transparency, color neg, and b&w neg) using the same meter reading. All three are determined differently. The meter can only be precise with one film type and it has to assume the other two. Since exposure is most important with transparency, the exposure meter is geared specifically for the transparency. The meters indicated exposure was the same as the transparencies speed point. In recent years, there has been a small adjustment in transparency film speed.

    A good question about Sunny 16 is what is defined as sunny - how many clouds, what solar altitude, what latitude, what altitude, etc?

    Exposure is based on 10,200 footcandles with the meter pointed directly toward the sun or 7680 footcandles when the sun is at an approximate angle of between 40 to 45 degrees. The light reflecting off a middle gray card when the sun is at a solar angle of 40 to 45 degrees is 933 footcandles. At f/16 the light striking the film is ~ 2.4 footcandles at one second. With an ISO 125 film, the shutter is set to 1/125 and the amount of exposure is 0.0189 footcandles or (~ 0.064 meter candle seconds).
     
  13. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,253
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I'm not sure I am following that. Are you saying that 100 asa b&w print film has a different speed than 100 asa transparency? or that transparency is best when it is under-exposed. If that is the case, why isn't a 100 asa transparency rated 80 asa? Or have I completely missed the point?... a very likely possibility :tongue:
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

    Messages:
    1,723
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Colorfull, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To me this discussion goes back several days to a post that sugested something like a wannabe photographer should learn to see or read available light to make good exposures without a meter. This is possible and has worked well for me for over fifty years, the missing link is that folks that use the "Sunny f16" rule often do not learn to really see what is necessary to make it work. One must learn to interpret the shadow regardless of how high or low the sun (main light) might be. I don't intend to give you any short cuts in learning to see light or read shadow because I don't think there are any. I believe only experience can teach this. What is bright sun light? ask that question and most likely you will get several answers. For my self on a bright sunny day I look into the shadow, fence post, telephone pole, tree,
    side of a building or the triangle shadow right under a persons chin. Makes no difference, the shadow will tell you its story. You will see absolutely no detail in a shadow cast on a truly bright sunny day. I f you can see detail in the shadow it is not being cast by a bright sun, clouds, atmosphere, dust or whatever is diffusing the sun. The more detail you can see in the shadow the
    less bright is the sun. That simple! Kodak's rule will work today if you use it
    properly. Look at the subject determine if you can see detail and how much, or is the shadow soot black. If there is no detail, you'll have to modify your exposure to achieve the image you want. The zone system addrersses this.

    Part of the Kodak rule says: Expose with the sun directly behind or over the shoulder in front light, If the sun is lighting your subject from the side, give a half stop to a stop additional exposure. If backlighted give a stop and a half to two stops additional exposure. Rule of thumb has been challenged in this thread, but most rules of thumb I have found, were based on proven fact.

    These old wives tales when properly interpreted and executed can give you excellent results. I learned to see and understand light and shadows in a time when exposure meters did not exist. Photography was all seat of the pants, even Ed Weston did not use a meter until much later in his photography. Today I see no reason to own a meter and not use it. Few
    meters get it right every time, you have to learn to interpret the meter and when to overide it. The gray cards I use do read 18% reflectance gray, somehow I have it in my mind that if it reads 12% it isn't an 18% gray card.
    regardless correct exposure can still be interpreted from it with a few adjustments.

    Making good negatives can be made without all falderah and fiddle faddle. There is in my mind no short cuts, simple hard work will get you the experience to make good exposures under any lighting circumstance.

    Available Dark, has caused me many problems in my life however.
     
  16. photomc

    photomc Member

    Messages:
    3,575
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not sure of the answer, but isn't Sunny f/16 what most of the disposable cameras are based on? Note: there is no one rule (or whatever you want to call it) that will fit any situation..however with a little thought put into it, Sunny f/16 does work as a good guide.
     
  17. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,203
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    S.F. Bay Area
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    No. It's not a joke (as others have already pointed out). It does work. Keep practicing. Make (extensive) notes for each exposure and analyse each print, negative or chrome against your notes. It takes some effort to learn but, it is worth it.



    :smile: :smile: :smile:
     
  18. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Location:
    Datchet, Ber
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    But why bother- using a meter doesn't take much, if any more time than assessing all the factors to use Sunny 16 optimally and measurement is going to be more accurate than a guided guess whenever exposure is in doubt or critical . In any case I don't think you can expose transparencies well consistently by making a single assessment, no matter how derived- whether a meter reading or a guided guess.

    "Make (extensive) notes for each exposure and analyse each print, negative or chrome"

    This just isn't what I want to do when I'm photographing. I want to concentrate on composition, decide where I'm going to move next; judge how I want my photographs to look; assess whether this shot is going to improve if I wait, and so on - not write stuff down for close examination later on every shot. I can do this only if I have a process for assessing exposure that works materially all the time. Sunny 16 wouldn't do it for me.
     
  19. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    Most of you don't know this but my real occupation is in the top secret US Government Department of Spaceology. Several years ago we made the alarming discovery that the sun is going out. Up until now, to avoid panic, we have been trying to cover this up by distracting the public with the bogus myth of Global Warming. Our Black Ops division introduced and popularized the digital camera so that no one would notice that the sun was steadily becoming dimmer.

    Now the Cat is out of the bag. Darn you analog photographers and your cursed Sunny 16 rule!
     
  20. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Stephen, I have to ask this... How long did it take you to dig up this reference? :smile:

    hehehe

    (BTW - this was not making fun or taking a cheap shot)
     
  21. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The speeds of the different materials are determined at different points of their curves. While B&W film film speed is determined at a point in its shadows, transparency film is determined in the middle of its curve. The reason why they have the same ISO, is because of their speed equations are different. It's the beauty of photography that they were able to tie all of this together and make it work most of the time.

    B&W - 0.8 / Hm - Hm = exposure at a density of 0.10 over fb+f
    Trans - 10 / Hm - Hm = exposure at film mean - mid point

    ----------------------------------

    An good equation to illustrate Sunny 16 is the exposure meter balanced calibration equation.

    A^2 / T = (B * S) / K

    Where
    A = f/stop
    T = Shutter speed
    B = luminance in footlamberts - average is 297
    S = film speed
    K = constant = 1.16

    Plugging in Sunny 16 for a 125 speed film:

    16^2 / 1/125 = (297 * 125) / 1.16

    1/125 and 125 cancel out leaving

    256 = 297 / 1.16

    297/1.16 = 256

    256 = 256
     
  22. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Bob,

    I have all of the papers by Jones. He's my geek hero. Just to make sure the title was correct, I walked across the room and opened a folder where I keep them all. Truthfully, his papers are the source for almost all modern photography.
     
  23. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm impressed! Quite often, my filing system looks like someone set off a hand grenade in a paper factory...
     
  24. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,203
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    S.F. Bay Area
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format

    To each, his own I guess.

    All I'm saying is that the sunny-16 rule does work, and that there is value in learning and understanding it - enough that, in my opinion, it is worth putting a little effort into it. Not because you're gonna throw away your meter but, because I think (as Charles alluded) doing so gives one a deeper understanding of light and shadow. I think it makes one a better photographer.

    BTW: When shooting large format, I routinely make at least one, and sometimes two pages of notes on exposure, meter readings, environmental conditions, camera position, fiters, belows extension, location...anything else that seems relavant. The feedback loop that the notes provide greatly speeds the learning process. But, again...to each, his own.
     
  25. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

    Messages:
    1,723
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Colorfull, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here I go again, sticking my neck out. David asks? "why bother" to learn the
    to judge light and shadow as long as we have a meter that will tell us exactly what it thinks the exposure should be. :smile: He would much rather spend the time composing and making photographs than spend time learning the nuances of light and putting that into practice. This attitude is rampant in the art world today. Everyone wants to be an artist, or photographer it seems today, but they simply want to make images and have folks praise their work and shower them with fame without really learning the basics.

    The idea that, all they need to create art, is a box with glass, a few holders of film and a meter. (Now the debate of incident vs reflected can and usually doe's enter the equation about now.) Any subject matter, or whatever they aim their box at will automatically be art. Since that is their conception of photography as art, there is no need for them to learn anything else.

    How many art students do you/we know with college credentials that can't draw a straight line with a ruler. They will tell you "ah ya don't have to know how to draw to paint" I disagree with this theory.

    My belief is that the more you learn about light and shadow the better your final exposure will represent the the subject matter you are trying to render.

    I enjoy mentally competeting with with the exposure meter, I usually am within a maximum one third of a stop. I make a comparison between what I see and what the meter indicates. It is exciting to hit it right on the nose!
    Then I make adjustments to the exposure to create the negative I like to print.

    Please understand that I am not finding fault with anyone, but wish simply to present a different view.
     
  26. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    There's a latitude component to it, and there's a time-of-day component to it. No, I didn't mean "exposure latitude", but geographic latitude. There's a decided difference in the light intensity at 60°N where I live, and at 15°N (the farthest south I've been). Sunny-11 works fine in most of Norway around the equinoxes, close down a little in midsummer and open up a lot in midwinter. Open up a lot more at midwinter at 74°N, but then again there won't be any sun at all...