When I was out shooting the other day, it occurred to me that I still use a bunch of timeless rules of thumb I learned from various sources along the way; many so ingrained I don’t even realize I’m using them. I thought it might be fun to do a review.
A few years ago, I read an article in Popular Photography (that I can no longer find on their site) listing the ones I knew, and some I didn’t. Taken from my notes:
1. Sunny 16:
Bright, sunny day at f/16, shutter speed is 1/ISO. Extrapolated, f/22 at the beach, f/11 on cloudy-bright days.
2. Moony 11, 8, 5.6:
Moon Full: f/11
Moon Half: f/8
Moon Quarter: f/5.6
3. Avoiding Camera Shake:
Shutter: 1/focal length of the lens
4. No 18% Grey Card Handy (if you can’t trust the in-camera light meter):
Hold palm up facing the light, take a reading an open up one stop. (Skin tones vary.)
5. Depth Of Field:
Focus 1/3 of the way to maximize depth of field on a deep subject. The smaller the aperture, the shorter the focal length and the greater the distance, the greater the depth of field.
6. Largest Print With Digital:
Divide the vertical and horizontal pixel counts by 200. For critical applications, use 250.
Digital/transparency: expose for highlights and let the shadows take care of themselves.
Negative: overexpose 1 stop
Set flash’s ISO to twice your ISO, meter the scene, select f-stop, set autoflash to same f-stop. The resulting 2:1 flash-fill ratio will produce filled shadows 1 stop darker than the main subject.
9. Flash Range:
Double the distance, four times the ISO.
10. Megapixel Multiplier:
Increase the megapixels by 4 to double the resolution in a digital camera (to account for both vertical and horizontal).
11. Stopping Action:
Shutter speed 2 stops faster than the action moving toward or away from you, if perpendicular to the lens. For action moving at a 45-degree angle to the lens, use 1 stop faster.
Meter the area directly above the sun (without sun in frame). Down 1 f-stop to look like 1/2-hour later.
Did I miss any? What’s your favorite rule of thumb? Let’s see if we can start the “definitive” collection right here.