The Sunny 16 Rule

sunny 16 rule

It is a perfect sunny day and you feel like clicking some landscape photos, but then you realize that you are not carrying a handheld light meter. The only option you are left with is to manually set the exposure of your digital camera by going through the shutter speed and the aperture. The Sunny 16 rule is a savior in this situation, as it helps you to determine the perfect exposure settings on a sunny day.

Related post: Understanding The Light Meter: Incident and Reflected

sunny 16 rule

Image courtesy: Nikos Koutoulas

How does the Sunny 16 rule work?

In order to get the perfect exposure on a bright sunny day, simply set the aperture value of your camera lens as f/16. The second important thing to be considered while using the Sunny 16 rule is that the shutter speed of your camera should correspond to the ISO value set on your camera.

Aperture = f/16  |  Shutter Speed = ISO

Let’s understand it better. Suppose you are shooting a landscape on a bright sunny day using the aperture value as f/16 and ISO 100 on your camera. In order to get the correct exposure, you should be setting the shutter speed at 1/100 seconds. Similarly, if the ISO value is 200, the shutter speed needs to be set at 1/200 seconds.

sunny 16 rule

Image courtesy: Nikos Koutoulas

What if it is not a sunny day?

It might often happen that the weather conditions are not as per your expectations. Nothing to worry, there is a solution to that as well. All you need to do is keep the shutter speed and the ISO constant and simply change the aperture value as per the lighting conditions.

During a mildly overcast or a hazy day, simply open up the aperture one stop to f/11 and when it is cloudy or raining outside, you need to open up the aperture two stops to f/8. If you are shooting a sunset, set the aperture value at f/4.

On the other side, if you are preparing yourself to shoot landscapes on higher altitudes covered with snow, you would need to close the aperture one stop to f/22. The reason behind using f/22 is that the water and the snow usually appear brighter to the camera because of their reflective qualities. If your lens does not go beyond f/16, simply increase the shutter speed of your camera by one stop, i.e. from 1/100 seconds to 1/200 seconds.

Weather Condition Shadow Detail Aperture
Snowy Dark with sharp edges f/22
Clear & Sunny Distinct f/16
Slightly overcast or Hazy Soft shadows f/11
Overcast or Raining Barely f/8
Sunset No shadows f/4
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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra is a socially renowned photographer with 10+ years of practical photography experience. He started his journey as a photography enthusiast in 2011 while pursuing Mass Communication. After working for 5 years as a Digital Marketing professional, he quit his job to become a full-time Photography Mentor. Kunal is currently associated with Canon as a Canon Maestro, and is also working with Amazon to generate photography-centric informative content. He is also a staff writer at Digital Photography School, a leading Photography blog read globally. Kunal specializes in teaching, influencing and motivating photography enthusiasts by the means of his Photography YouTube channel ‘The Photography Blogger’, one of the biggest in the country. His aim is to spread the knowledge about photography across the country, by making videos in Hindi language. Kunal has conducted 50+ photography walks and workshops on various genres of photography. Kunal holds expertise in multiple genres of photography in order to further share his knowledge with 500,000+ people connected with him on digital platforms. Street, Fashion, Wedding and Product are among his favourite genres of photography.

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