How do you determine exposure without a meter?
Hello, Is there a guide or method to determine exposure without a meter that gives consistent results? I will be getting a Fuji G690 soon and want to take the best advantage of the nice big negative. I've used digital cameras (all gone now) and cameras with meters, ie the Yashica GN, and the Oly XA. The G690 is meterless. I'm still an amateurish photographer with a lot to learn, and am wondering if it's best to go with a meter for a while then try shooting without to match the results I got while using a meter, or just go without from the start?? I will be shooting a wide variety of situations, candids, landscape, portraits..... but will stick with HP 5+, and will devope and print in my brand new darkroom. Is that a factor as well, it's been 30+ years since I've worked in a darkroom? Thank you for your time and consideration, 9fingers
Rules of thumb exist but a meter sure helps indoors.
Search for Sunny F/16 rule. That covers most outdoor situations. But it takes awhile to really learn. I think it's also easier if you've got a meter or a camera with a meter while you're learning. Basically judge the light then compare with the meter. Then figure out why it's different.
In Wisconsin, the sunny-16 rule should work for most of the year, between 10am and 4pm. It goes like this:
On a bright day, take your ASA speed and turn it into the shutter speed, then shoot at that speed at f/16. So, a 400 ASA film would be used at 1/400s at f/16. Always round the number to the next slower speed, since overexposure with B&W film is not an issue but underexposure is a big problem. You can modify the rule to the cloudy-f/8 rule or the gloomy-f/4 rule to make it work. The sun is a very constant light source.
Kodak film boxes also come with some exposure instruction inside. On the web you might find old exposure instructions for a variety i-of lighting conditions. Beyond that and to get better and consistent exposure, get a good light meter.
There is an extremely comprehensive guide to not using a meter on Fred Parker's website www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm. For outdoor work I use a meter maybe half the time. Some of my better shots have been taken using the Sunny 16 rule, which you can easily condense onto a small piece of paper to carry around, or as many amateurs used to do, tape inside the camera case. Black and white print film is pretty forgiving.
Here's the cheat sheet I sometimes carry.
Aperture Lighting Conditions Shadow Detail
f/22 Sand or snow Distinct
f/16 Sunny Distinct
f/11 Slight Overcast Soft around edges
f/8 Overcast Barely visible
f/5.6 Heavy Overcast /Open shade No shadows
f/4 Deep shade
Set shutter speed close to film ISO, e.g. 400=1/500
From here you can of course trade off speed for aperture. There are also both old and modern slide rules you can find for calculating exposure.
Indoors, carry a meter. They can be pretty cheap.
Here are a couple more--
Indoors--average room light at ISO 400 is about f:2 at 1/30 sec. This is surprisingly consistent, but I guess humans like a certain amount of light. Turning on an extra lamp or two in a room with overhead lighting usually doesn't make a huge difference--less than half a stop. For really low lighting, say in a bar or dim restaurant, you usually need another two stops or so--f:1.4 at 1/15 sec.
A floodlit building at night at ISO 400 is about f:2 at 1 sec. This also seems remarkably consistent.
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When ( not if ) you move up to a view camera. Use the camera ground glass as a meter when outside, but it doesn't work to good in low light.
I would use a good meter. I used a Minolta SRT-101 with a dead meter for years and I got good results using a source of the sunny 16 rule plus a lot of guessing. The reason I didn't have money for a meter or a camera with a working meter. I don't have problem using a camera without a meter. But if I have a good meter I would use it. If I were you I would simply buy a good meter, or may be two.
for night work -
sodium ( or is it mercury ) vapor lamps ( 3 to a pole 30 feet up?)
asa 100 film f22 45 seconds
Johnny 9 fingers
You will love the 6x9 fuji camera , I am looking for a replacement myself, busted mine.
This is an excellent thread and some wonderful advice.
The simplicity of this sunny16 way of exposing is my preferred metering, it allows one to concentrate soley on image creation and I think a lot more photographers should give it a try and work less on technique and more on composition and the details within the framework of the ground glass.
I exposed over 200 rolls of tri using the fuji and this metering method on a metal project that is still ongoing and have yet to see a bad negative.
My father used to have a little dial calculator that allowed you to dial in the film speed, type of subject (open, shade, etc.), type of light (direct sun, overcast etc.), and a time of day and geographical latitude. In principle it was as good as an incident meter. It didn't help with subject contrast - you had to do that bit in your head.
Useful little tool.
I feel, therefore I photograph.