Amateur Photography - Applying the "F" rules for great exposure | Mark Piantanida | Skillshare

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Amateur Photography - Applying the "F" rules for great exposure

teacher avatar Mark Piantanida, Certified, Berklee College of Music

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Course Outline

    • 3. Advantages of the Sunny 16 rule

    • 4. Understanding Aperture

    • 5. Understanding Shutter Speed

    • 6. Understanding ISO

    • 7. Putting it all together

    • 8. Additional F Rules

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About This Class


By the end of the class, you will be shooting in manual mode, by default.

The Rule of Thirds is a widely accepted rule-of-thumb embraced and utilized by photographers of all levels of experience.

There is another rule that has been around as long as the rule of thirds, however, many photographers of today are not aware of it - The "Sunny 16 rule" for exposure.

Using this simple method of setting your camera's aperture, shutter speed, and ISO will enable you to set your camera up for successful exposure on a sunny day and allow you to focus on composition - allowing for extremely creative shots.

You will be introduced to The “exposure pyramid” and the three elements that make up the pyramid:

-Aperture. You will learn how the aperture settings can mimic the pupils of a human eye and distinguish the amount of light allowed into your camera.

-Shutter speed. You will learn how the shutter of your camera can mimic the blinking of the human eye to distinguish the time allowed for light to enter your camera and the affect that it will have on the exposure of the images captured.

-ISO. You will learn about the sensitivity to light that your camera can be set to and the correct settings under different lighting conditions.

By using this hard-and-fast rule, you can "set it and forget it". Confident that your photos will have near perfect exposure, you can then concentrate on simply finding interesting subjects and shooting.

By using this method, there is no hesitation to check the light meter prior to taking the shot (and missing the shot).

In sum, the Sunny 16 rule is a method of setting the three exposure settings on your camera which will allow you to get great exposures on a sunny day (not just the beach).

Once you are comfortable using the Sunny 16 rule, you will learn hard-and-fast exposure rules to use under different light conditions:

The "Slightly Overcast 11" rule
The "Overcast 8" rule
The "Heavy Overcast 5.6" rule
The "Sunset 4" rule

As with most other photography rules, they were made to be broken. However, by using the rules, you will have a starting point to dial in your camera. You can take photos and zero in from there.

The exposure rules are a great way to begin shooting in manual mode and building your confidence as an amatuer photographer.  

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mark Piantanida

Certified, Berklee College of Music


Hello, my new friend. I'm so glad that you've joined me.

I'm Mark.

I'm a steel drum player from Sarasota, Florida.

I play private parties, corporate events, and Tiki bars.

I relocated to Sarasota from New Jersey in 2001. Loving the life that I found here (sunshine, beaches, and palm trees) I decided to begin playing the steel drum to further immerse myself in this new tropical paradise.

My passion is music, and I love to introduce people to my instrument, the steel drum.

Okay, now you know all about me. Now it's YOUR turn.

Please tell me about yourself.

Please feel free to contact me.

Peace and Love,


See full profile

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1. Introduction: My name is I'm an amateur photographer from Sarasota, Florida Nail photography's my hobby, and it's my passion. I have no interest in selling my photos, and I have no interest in winning awards. I do this strictly for personal enjoyment, so I tend to take a little different approach toward photography. Then a lot of other people do. I don't use any any expensive equipment whatsoever, and I don't use software toe Alter the images Once I've left the beach now, I would much rather concentrate on the story that I'm trying to tell because on the beach there 1000 different stories unfolding at any given time. We've got beautiful water. We've got sand palm trees. We've got wildlife such as fish and birds and even hatching turtles. So there's 1000 different interesting things all around us and what I'd like to do today. What you're gonna learn in this course is sunny 16 method of setting your camera settings your eyes so your aperture in your shutter speed to get near perfect exposure on every shot you take. Now, a lot like the rule of thirties, it's a hard, fast rule that has absolutely fantastic results, so I just want to say thank you for taking this course with me today. I'm very excited and I can't wait to see the projects that you come up with. Thank you. 2. Course Outline: Welcome to the course. My name's Mark. And today we're gonna learn this sunny 16 rule. Now, the sunny 16 rule is used on a very, very bright, sunny day. And it's a very easy way to calculate what camera settings you need to get a well exposed image without the need to stop and consult the light meter on your camera. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna briefly show you the advantages and I'll show you a few examples. And then we'll cover the aperture, the shutter speed and the I S O in detail. And then I'll show you how to set your camera up for the sunny 16 rule specifications. 3. Advantages of the Sunny 16 rule: Okay, let's talk about the advantages to using this sunny 16 rule on a nice, bright, sunny day. There's basically three exposure settings on your camera, and this is going to control how much light enters your camera and how well exposed your image is going to be These air, the aperture, the shutter speed and the I S O. And they're usually portrayed in a triangle called the exposure Triangle. Because they all work together to give you a good exposure toe. Let the correct amount of light into your camera to give you a good exposure. But with the sunny 16 1 of these is already chosen for us. And that's the aperture we're gonna use an F stop of 16. So the sunny 16 rule is also known as the sunny F 16 rule. Our aperture is already defaulted for us at 16. We simply need to find the shutter speed and the i s. So now the actual definition of the sunny 16 rule is that on a bright day, you're going to set your aperture two F 16 and your shutter speed toe one over the I s O speed. Now, don't worry about that. for now. After this, we're going to take an in depth look at aperture shutter speed and I s O. Now there's four huge advantages, at least for myself. When it comes to the sunny 16. Rule Number one, we're going to get nicely exposed shots, no over exposure shots and no way under exposed shots. It's not the Holy Grail, but the other advantages outweigh the disadvantages. So number one we know we're gonna have well exposed shots. Number two and I can't stress this enough. This is a very, very, very easy way to move from the auto mode to the manual mode. Now, the best way to show someone nothing is to show them everything. So you could take a course that's gonna show you aperture eso, shutter speed, white balance composition. And by the end of it, you ask yourself, OK, but where do I start? This is a great way to put your toe in the water. It's a very, very easy way to move from the auto mod to the manual mode, because by the end of this course, you're gonna be shooting in manual mode. Another thing that I like, if you're not concerned with the exposure and setting your exposure. What do you focus on? And the answer is composition. Instead of worrying about setting your exposure, you're gonna worry about things like in this next slide. I've got a nice horizontal shot. I've got the to railings on the walkway into the beach, and I wanted to line them up horizontally, and I almost nailed it on that one. It's close enough that it makes a very, very interesting photograph. But the point that I'm trying to make is I wasn't concerned about exposure. I was focused on composition. I was focused on finding something interesting and composing it well. In the next shot. This'll is a rule of third shot, and again it's not 100% nailed. However, I got the balloon er down at the lower left hand side, almost on the cross, and it's a very interesting shot. I like the way this one came out. Let's talk about not hesitating to check the light meter before taking a shot, just simply dialing it in, set it and forget it, look for interesting things to photograph and then taking the shot when they appear. If you look at the next slide. We've got a Siegel that was approaching me now. I looked up, I saw this and I hardly aimed at all. I didn't raise the camera to my face. I just kind of raised it. I didn't have time. I just raised it up and I started shooting and I got a really, really nice shot of the bird. It's Ah, it's an interesting photo. The Siegel's kind of turning his head to one side. I was able to freeze the action, and it made for a very, very interesting photo on the next shot. We have these fishermen, and it's very, very commonplace on the piers. They throw castanets, and I thought it would be an interesting shot to get the cast net as it hit the water and created the splash. And as you could see, I I simply I wasn't concerned about my my exposure. I knew that was dialed in. I just wanted to get the shot and I wanted to nail it as the Net hit the water and created a splash again. I simply saw something interesting and I took the shot and I wasn't concerned about checking a light meter or doing any preparation. I saw something interesting. I took the shot and it makes for an interesting photograph. So those are the four things that that really stick out to me as being the advantages of using the sunny 16 method. 4. Understanding Aperture: aperture Now aperture means ah, hole that allows light to enter the camera through the lens. More specifically, it measures the size of the hole that allows light to enter the camera through the lens. Now, what I'm gonna do is I'm going to explain aperture shutter speed and I s o by using something that we're very familiar with and that is the human eye. Now, if you look at the next slide, you'll see a role of eyes at the top. And if you move to the left, you're going to see a very, very large dilated pupil. Now, when we walk into a room that's very dimly lit, it's very, very dark. What do our pupils dio? They open up nice and wide and they open up nice and wide toe Allow mawr light to enter our eyes so we can see now it's the same thing with the aperture on a camera. If we're shooting in low light conditions, we want to open our aperture as wide as we can tow. Let more light through so our camera can see Now if you move to the right If you move all the way to the right you're going to see a pupil that's very, very contracted. Imagine yourself walking from a very, very dimly lit dark room and you open the door and you're outside. And it's a very, very bright, sunny day. What do your pupils dio? They contract. They contract very, very small because they're limiting the amount of light that's allowed to come into our I. Now it's the same thing with the aperture. If we're shooting on a bright, bright, sunny day, we want to take our aperture and make it a very, very small opening toe. Limit the amount of light that's coming into our camera so we get a a nice exposure, and it's not blown out over exposed white. We're going to contract or aperture down to an F stop of 16. Hence the name Sonny. 16 Rule or sunny F 16 rule. Typical sizes are F stop 2.8 have stopped four 5.6 F eight F 11 F 16 and F 22 in an F 16 were very, very contracted. Were very, very small, allowing a very, very small amount of light toe. Enter our camera to give us the correct exposure. Now, another great advantage to the sunny 16 rule. One of the hardest concepts for people to understand when they start taking photography is that the larger aperture has the smallest number. If you look a thesis on E F 16 or if you just look at the aperture 16 there on the chart, it's a very, very small hole. So almost intuitively, you're gonna learn that a large aperture number equates to a very small aperture opening. And if you look at the 2.8, you'll see that it's a very, very wide opening. It's just another advantage to starting photography by learning the sunny 16 rule in the next. Videos will go ahead and will learn shutter speed and we'll learn I s O and will continue with the theme of the human eye. 5. Understanding Shutter Speed: shutter speed. Now shutter speed refers to how fast or how slow the shutter is opening and closing to expose light to the image sensor. Now, when we hear our cameras click, we think of it as a click. But it's actually not one click. It's, too. They happen. It's such a rapid rate of speed that we tend to think of it as one click. But it's actually are shutter opening to allow light in and then closing to stop light from coming in. Now shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. That's how long the shutter is open for during the time that allows light and the image onto the image. Sensor and speeds range from a full second toe 14 thousands of a second. So the faster the shutter speed, the smaller the fraction. Now turning back to our our human I example, basically, it's a lot like blinking your eyes gonna open, allowing light to come in, and then it's gonna close to shut the light from coming in. And if you take a look at the common shutter speeds I have listed, I've got 1/60 of a second 11 25th of a second, 1 2/100 of a second, 1 5/100 and 1 1000 Now, if you look at the lowest shutter speed, I have listed 1/60. That's where motion blur tends to occur. Anything below 1 60 you're going to risk motion, Blur 11 25th toe 1 200 are very, very comfortable shooting speeds. If you're going to shoot a sports such as, ah, soccer game or, ah, baseball game, you might want to increase your shutter speed to 15 hundreds of a second. And if you're trying to stop Ah ah hummingbird's wings from from flapping, you're gonna want to increase your shutter speed toe 1 1000 or above. We're gonna cover I s O next. And then we're gonna put all of them together the aperture, the shutter speed and the I S O. And we're gonna build ourselves the sunny 16 rule 6. Understanding ISO: I s o now I eso is simply your camera's sensitivity to light. It sets the amount of light that's needed to get a good exposure. And I eso usually ranges from 100 2 32 100 Now, as you can see in the photos, if we've got a bright, bright, sunny day, we're going to use a very low I S O. Because we don't need our cameras that sensitive to light we've already got plenty of light so we could use a setting of 100 or 200. However, if it's very, very dark out, we're gonna need a higher I s o. So just wanting through the photos here, if it's a bright, bright, sunny day, we can use an I S o of 100 or 200. If it's cloudy, a little bit cloudy, we're gonna use 200 to 400. If we're taking a shot indoors, we're gonna kick our I s O up to 800 uh, or above. And if it's very, very dark out, we're gonna use a very high I s O around 1600 to 3200 now, the only danger with a very high eso is it? The higher the I s o becomes the grainier your pictures can become. Luckily for us, we're gonna be shooting on a bright, bright sunny day so we can use an I s O as low as 100 or 200. Now, in the next video, we're going to take all of this and we're gonna put it together. It's super, super simple. We know our f stop 16 is going to be the aperture that we're going to set and then we just have to play with the I s so in the shutter speed and balance them out, using a very, very, extremely simple Florida the sunny 16 rule to come up with great exposures on every shot that we take. 7. Putting it all together: putting it all together. Okay. Now, as we saw in a previous slide for the sunny 16 rule, we're going to use an aperture of 16. And then we're gonna determine our I S O and our shutter speed. So by default, were using an aperture of f stop 16 because we want the pupil of the eye to be nice and contracted very small to allow a very small amount of light into our camera because we're dealing with a beautiful, bright, sunny day. So once we know that our aperture is set at 16 we're going to then determine which I s O to use and the corresponding shutter speed to use now, as we also saw in a previous slide the US so that we should be using on a bright, sunny day should be a low I s o either 100 or 200. Now, once we set that, I s soda 100 the corresponding shutter speed should be one 1/100 of a second. So there's your setting. Aperture f stopped 16 I s 0 100 with the corresponding shutter speed of 1 1/100 However, with that being said, I take a lot of shots like this. I've got a bird, He's flying, He's flapping his wings. I don't necessarily want to go with the shutter speed of 1 1/100 of a second. And here's another good example the fishermen that I saw that day. They pulled up their cast net and they had about a dozen bait fish in the cast net. And immediately we got dive bombed by Siegel's coming in for the bait fish. And I was able to stop them in motion and get some really, really interesting photos. So what I like to do, I like to increase my shutter speed toe 1 2/100 of a second. Now, once I've done that and I've got my aperture Shet set at 16 and my shutter speed at 1 2/100 of a second, my corresponding I s O value will be 200. So long story short. If your aperture is it F 16 and your shutter speed, is it 1 1/100? You're I s o should be said it. 100 If your aperture is it 16. And your shutter speed is it 200? You simply set your eye Isoda 200 It's a nice, easy to remember hard and fast rule that comes out with just absolutely fantastic results. So let's go ahead and grab our cameras. I'll show you how to dial it in and we can start using the sunny 16 method, right? Sunny days. Okay, We're gonna take our camera settings and put them into the sunny 16 method. Now, what I'm gonna use to do this is this dial right here. I am going to be using this style a warm with the I S o button, which is right here, and I'm going to be changing with this rotating button here. So let's go ahead and let's take our dial and we're gonna dial it to A for aperture now, as you could see, our aperture is currently F 22. So we want to bring that down. We're gonna bring that down 2018 16. There's our aperture for the sunny 16 method. Then what we're gonna do is we're gonna come over here and we're going to switch to the S mode for shutter, and you could see my shutter speed is currently 1 1/1000 of a second and we want to bring that down to 200 43 2 50 200. We've got our aperture or shutter speed locked in. Lastly, we're gonna click the I S O button. We're currently at 1600 s. Oh, that's way too high. 800. 400 and 200. So there we have. If we flip this to manual, you could see we've got an F 16 aperture, 200 shutter speed and depressing. The I S O button shows us that were set up at 200 I s O. So now we're all set for a nice day at the beach or a nice, bright, sunny day. We know we're going to get good exposures, so we're not gonna concentrate on exposure. We're gonna concentrate on composition and finding interesting things to photograph. Thank you very much. 8. Additional F Rules: the additional F rules down prior to having digital cameras where we have light meters and hissed a grams. When people used to use to shoot images on film, they would have to actually wait for their film to be developed to tell if the images were under exposed. Overexposed. So what they did is they came up with a set of hard and fast rules covering different weather conditions so they would know what to dial into their camera settings to give them the best exposure under different lighting conditions. I'm gonna go over four of them right now. We've got the slightly overcast 11 rule the overcast eight rule, the heavy, overcast 5.6 rule and the sun set forward. Now let's say that your let's imagine your you're shooting on a bright, bright, sunny day and you're using the sunny 16 method. You've got your aperture at 16. You're I s own your shutter speed or at 100 or 200 and it becomes slightly overcast. So what you're going to do with that point is your gonna move down one stop from F 16 two F 11. Now you're letting in twice a Smuts light into the lens because you've moved down one stop . So to balance it out, you've got to move one stop on your shutter speed toe, let in light for half the amount of time. So what you're gonna do is you're gonna take your F 16 you're going to dial it down to F 11 and then you're gonna take your shutter speed and you're gonna increase it toe one over 400 . Now, in all of these examples, the I s O is going to remain in 200. So if you see the little seesaw down below, I've swapped the I s so in the aperture, all these next examples are going to show the I S O at 200 and the aperture in the shutter speed are going to change to balance everything out. Okay, let's take a look at the next one. The overcast eight rule now by the name the overcast eight or the overcast F A. Let's take that same example. You're shooting the sunny 16. It gets slightly cloudy. So you're gonna drop your aperture down to F 11. Let's say it gets overcast now. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna drop our aperture down to F eight and we're gonna increase the shutter speed again. Toe 1 800 So our aperture is going to come down in our shutter speed is gonna go up the next example. We've got the heavy overcast 5.6 rule now, same day we're shooting, it's overcast, and then it becomes very, very, very heavily overcast. So we're going to again dropper aperture down because we're gonna create a wider opening on our aperture to allow more light in what? We're gonna balance it off by again. Increasing or shutter speed 21 over 1600. So a very fast shutter speed are apertures getting wide now? Source. Shutter speed has to balance it out. And again. Keep in mind the I s o on these rules, our remaining the same at 200. Okay, let's take a look at the sunset for wool Now on the sunset four rule. Were it sunset. We're shooting in very, very low light conditions. So we're going to move our aperture away down to F four. We started the day out of F 16. It was bright sunny. There was plenty of light. Now we need more light. So we're actually gonna take our aperture down to one. F for the low number means we've got a very wide opening because we're trying to allow as much light in as we can. So we're going to bring it down to an F four r i S O is going to remain a 200 in a way, these examples. So if we have our aperture of f four, we've got a very, very wide opening trying to pull in as much light as we can. Our shutter speed now has to be very, very fast. So we're gonna bring our shutter speed toe one over 3200 very, very fast shutter speed. Now, what I've done is I've summed up all these rules starting with Sonny 16 rule and again, the sunny 16. Our aperture is 16 to slightly overcast. 11 rule The aperture is 11 the overcast eight rule the apertures eight the heavy, overcast 5.6 rule apertures 5.6. The sunset four rule. The aperture is at four. Now, if you'll take a look away over to the right the i S o column, they all remain 202 102 102 102 100 All the way down. So you're apertures dropping from 16 to 11 to 8 to 5.6 to four R i s. So we're going to just continue to keep it a 200. The shutter speed is doubling with each stop. The sunny 16 rule was using 200 the slightly overcast. The lever rule doubled to 400. The overcast eight rule doubles to 800. The heavy overcast 5.6 rule doubles to 1600 and the sun set for rule doubles again to 3200 . So remember, as your aperture goes down as the number drops and the opening on your camera gets larger, we need to balance that off with a faster shutter speed. Now, this is going to conclude the course. I just want to thank you very, very much. And again, I can't wait to see the projects that you come up with. Thank you for joining me and good luck out there. Thank you.