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Sunny 16 rule and snow
Old 01-14-2019   #1
carbo73
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Sunny 16 rule and snow

A question about winter exposure. I'm going to use a Kodak Retina in the snow. The sunny 16 rules that in snow aperture should be f22. But what about the sky. Its f22 with cloudy snow landscape that sunny snow landscape?
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Old 01-14-2019   #2
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I’m not sure I understand. Sunny 16 is sunny 16. At higher altitudes with clear skies it is likely to be sunny 22. The snow, which is blindingly white, will be rendered blindingly white. If that’s not what you want, then adjust as desired.
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Old 01-14-2019   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
I’m not sure I understand. Sunny 16 is sunny 16. At higher altitudes with clear skies it is likely to be sunny 22. The snow, which is blindingly white, will be rendered blindingly white. If that’s not what you want, then adjust as desired.
I does not have the luxury to adjust. I'm going to a trip to Norway with just three or four 35mm casettes and probably no meter. I will develop the films at home so I must be as close to the right aperture as possible.

But for example, in a very cloudy day in the snow surely there's much less light than in the sun. Then I asume it's not f22. Maybe just ad +1 aperture to sunny 16 when there's snow? So in a misty or winter sun it should be f16, in clous f11 and in heavy clouds f8. Right?
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Old 01-14-2019   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carbo73 View Post
But for example, in a very cloudy day in the snow surely there's much less light than in the sun. Then I asume it's not f22. Maybe just ad +1 aperture to sunny 16 when there's snow? So in a misty or winter sun it should be f16, in clous f11 and in heavy clouds f8. Right?
I think you'll do fine with this. Add one stop. It's what I am finding here with the winter snows. Including on overcast days- the snow seems to act as a reflector increasing light levels everywhere.

Many phones can have metering apps installed. Be careful- precision varies, angle of view can be erratic, etc.

And then a great discussion of learning to set exposure without a meter here. Although he refers to nature photography, I take that to mean 'anyplace out of the studio' and it works well-

http://www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm
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Old 01-14-2019   #5
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To further complicate things, where I live, in autumn, winter, and spring, Sunny 16 is more like Sunny 11. In snowy cloudy, snowy overcast or with low altitude sun snowy, I overexpose +1 stop to fight the blue cast or to pop the snow.

Like Michael said, with high altidude sun on a very bright and snowy day, for instance in the mountains, one might use f22, but I think you'd be safe with f16.

For what it's worth, I'm often shooting f4 or f5,6 in the winter.
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Old 01-14-2019   #6
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The standard rules still apply snow is white not 18% grey so if you want white snow use f16 and the shutter speed that corresponds to the light conditions overcast, cloudy, sunny, etc.... Yes snow reflects light but the one stop difference is something that any negative film can handle, also snow can only reflect existing light, that's why I would use the Fstop speed combination that applies to lighting conditions (sky), overexposing is better than underexposing.
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Old 01-14-2019   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carbo73 View Post
I does not have the luxury to adjust. I'm going to a trip to Norway with just three or four 35mm casettes and probably no meter. I will develop the films at home so I must be as close to the right aperture as possible.

But for example, in a very cloudy day in the snow surely there's much less light than in the sun. Then I asume it's not f22. Maybe just ad +1 aperture to sunny 16 when there's snow? So in a misty or winter sun it should be f16, in clous f11 and in heavy clouds f8. Right?
I underlined an important point: maybe you won't have the direct light on which Sunny 16 is based. So do bring the meter.

I would think twice about stopping down very much. Underexposure will make the snow look like mud. I know, I did it once, even though I knew better.
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Old 01-14-2019   #8
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Thanks to all for your answers. I'll try to meter with a mobile app or some other external meter, at least as a guide. And as basic rule, overexpose 1 stop to the sunny 16 rule.
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Old 01-14-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carbo73 View Post
Thanks to all for your answers. I'll try to meter with a mobile app or some other external meter, at least as a guide. And as basic rule, overexpose 1 stop to the sunny 16 rule.
I'd be doing more like 2 stops -- as others have mentioned, if you were to be using a reflected light meter, that meter would want to turn that white snow into middle grey. So to bring it back to textured white, you might consider opening up by 2 stops (or bracketing at the very least). If you're shooting and developing your own film, you might also want to moderate your development time to keep those highlights in check.

If you're concerned about being as close to proper exposure as possible, bring along a cheap incident light meter. Gossen Luna Pros can be had on eBay for as low as $15.
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Old 01-14-2019   #10
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The Sunny 16 Rule is designed to give you a perfect grey. Snow is white, and you most likely do not want to get grey looking snow, so you increase the exposure a little to get white snow. The blue sky will stay blue after a one stop extra exposure. In the end, you need to balance between several objects or target areas within your frame, and you sometimes will manage to get all target areas "perfectly" exposed, and sometimes you have to make choices.

There was a really good text on tricky exposures that I went over many many times about 25 years ago. It had (as an example) a scene with blue sky and white snow and a red squirrel. How would you expose the squirrel?
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Old 01-14-2019   #11
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With BW film, couldn’t you just increase development by about 20% to push the snow up a zone or so?
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Old 01-14-2019   #12
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Quote:
overexpose 1 stop to the sunny 16 rule.
Quote:
I'd be doing more like 2 stops
Confusing and potentially catastrophic advice given to OP.

YES you need to over expose wrt to an average meter reading on a snow-dominated scene;

NO you should not overexpose by one or (shudder) two stops wrt the sunny-16 rule. Doing so would lead to (ISO 100 film) 1/125 f/8. While the film-maker recommendation for snow scenes, on the little paper that used to be inside film boxes, was 1/125 f/22.

Bottom line:
  • Predominantly sunlit snow scene: sunny 22, i.e. shutter = 1/ISO, diaphragm f/22. Just what the Yellow Man recommended after taking many pictures under various conditions and having panels of viewers evaluate them.
  • Mixed snow scene: meter snow in open shadow, and close diaphragm by one stop (Z.IV placement).
Example of Z IV placement of open-shade snow in a mixed-lighting situation. Neopan 400. Franka Solida.

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Old 01-14-2019   #13
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Quote:
The Sunny 16 Rule is designed to give you a perfect grey. Snow is white, and you most likely do not want to get grey looking snow,
More confusing advice. Sunny 16 is meant to give proper exposure in some well-defined, frequently encountered situations. It is based on the expected lighting level. So, with (say) thinly veiled sun, "sunny 16" mandates shutter 1/ISO, diaphragm f/11. Picture a middle-grey subject, you get a middle grey placement on the negative. Picture a snow scene, same exposure, snow is brighter, film receives more light, is denser after development, and corresponding paper image is lighter.
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Old 01-14-2019   #14
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Quote:
With BW film, couldn’t you just increase development by about 20% to push the snow up a zone or so?
Are you sure??? That is a N+1 development, normally used for flat scenes
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Old 01-14-2019   #15
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I know this. This is not confusing. It is straightforward.
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Old 01-14-2019   #16
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Shuddering not required -- all depends on what kind of meter you're using and where you're pointing it. If you're using a reflected light meter, and you're pointing it at an area that's predominantly snow-covered in bright sunlight, that meter is going to tell you to close down that aperture, essentially make that snow middle grey. You want to put that snow back in its place? Open that aperture up 2 stops. Snow should be around Zone VII-VIII (depending if it's in sun or not), snow in open shadows should be about VI. And if you're shooting black and white (and you're developing the film yourself), you can back off on the development to keep those highlights in check. Don't forget -- expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. You could also use an incident meter and you shouldn't have to compensate (generally!).


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Old 01-14-2019   #17
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... what Vince has said
I used a spotmeter with transparency color film, so exposure may be different here and there when compared with B&W print film.
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Old 01-14-2019   #18
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I also depends on how you want the scene to look. Vince's picture above shows the texture in the snow wonderfully, however for a whole landscape with snow I'd want at least a stop more exposure.
My eyes perceive it like that, when looking at a landscape with snow as well as snowless trees, buildings etc, the snow simply looks white. When looking at the texture of the snow, shadows etc, one notices that the snow can also be dark. Exposre decisions should reflect this.
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Old 01-14-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ccoppola82 View Post
With BW film, couldn’t you just increase development by about 20% to push the snow up a zone or so?
I guess you could do that to bring the highlights up, but if you're underexposing the film by say, 1.5 - 2 stops (at least as the meter is reading the scene), then your shadows will suffer. So underexposing and then over developing would likely lead to contrasty negs. Almost like you're pushing the film.
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Old 01-14-2019   #20
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Quote:
Shuddering not required -- all depends on what kind of meter you're using and where you're pointing it.
The whole thread in general, and the first of the two quotations I copied, were about the Sunny (11, 16, 22) rule. I thought I had spelt that out clearly enough in the sentence starting with "NO", where "sunny 16" is even boldfaced for the sake of speed readers.

No meter involved, so it cannot depend on the meter used. With this restated, I repeat that overexposing a snow scene by 1 or 2 stops wrt to sunny16 is... [pauses to remain politically correct] ...conterproductive.

And, if you think about it for one second, "sunny 16" (or whatever) is more or less incident light metering... without a meter. So your remark
Quote:
You could also use an incident meter and you shouldn't have to compensate (generally!).
just concurs with what I had stated.
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Old 01-14-2019   #21
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Bernard, I know the goal is about trying to help our friend carbo73 in this thread, so I don't wish to get into a 'who is right and who is wrong' here. I will defer to your good judgement.

As an aside, are you sure that open shade snow in your photo is a Zone IV? Looks more like VI to me, at least as it shows in the photo on my screen and comparing it to a zone chart. Not that I necessarily know what I'm talking about
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Old 01-14-2019   #22
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Wow, just got to supper and this thread multiplied itself . I see that it's is a tricky type of exposition so maybe I could try the apps for the mobile, I think they have incident light metering.

Anyway, I liked this point of view:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardL View Post
And, if you think about it for one second, "sunny 16" (or whatever) is more or less incident light metering... without a meter. So your remark
just concurs with what I had stated.
And
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Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Bernard, I know the goal is about trying to help our friend carbo73 in this thread
thanks, Vince (and to all the others, also)

When I have those pics I could post some of them in this thread, in a month or so, I hope.
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Old 01-14-2019   #23
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I am glad that things are working out OK here.
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Old 01-14-2019   #24
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Sorry, I was saying bump the development under cloud conditions with an understanding of metering the shadows and putting them in zone 3 or 4. I know where I live in Buffalo, we get HEAVY overcast and even with snow on the ground, sometimes extra development is needed to pump the snow into zone 8ish
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Old 01-14-2019   #25
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This thread derailed a little once a light meter was mentioned. The issue was how to use Sunny 16 in snow. There's more light than in a usual sunlit scene. And in overcast it's like a giant soft box. So the advice was to adjust by a stop as in close the aperture one stop on what Sunny 16 says, even in the lower overcast conditions. But then we got metering advice for snow, which is open up by two stops. That was not the OP's question. He doesn't have a light meter. Sunny 16 will never give you grey snow. That's why it and exposure tables are so useful. Incident metering will also not lead to grey snow, but it might not be as good as a straight exposure table.
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Old 01-14-2019   #26
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Richard I think you encapsulated the initial discussion perfectly. My apologies for taking it into a different direction, although I do think that for more 'exact' exposures (as the OP hoped for in his second post), a light meter would be helpful. I like 'Sunny 16' (as I'm sure we've all put it to use), but I think it is a bit more 'finger in the wind' than a light meter, and I suggested this due to the trip he is taking (which he may possibly not have the opportunity to do again) and he wanted to ensure that his exposures were correct.

However, I like to think that we were all heading in the same general direction and that all of our advice had some degree of validity
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Old 01-14-2019   #27
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When in doubt, on the trip of a lifetime, a small incident light meter like a Gossen Digisix is a small price to pay for the piece of mind knowing that the pictures will come out.
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Old 01-14-2019   #28
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I know this. This is not confusing. It is straightforward.




Not to be demeaning, or sarcastic, but if the OP is asking these type of questions for a (maybe) once in a lifetime trip to Norway my advice is buy a nice digital camera and bracket.
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Old 01-14-2019   #29
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It is not demeaning. My comment was not to the OP. It was to the comments by someone else. I would also suggest to get a digital camera for such a trip.
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Old 01-14-2019   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenR View Post
When in doubt, on the trip of a lifetime, a small incident light meter like a Gossen Digisix is a small price to pay for the piece of mind knowing that the pictures will come out.
For the price of a few beers in Norway yes indeed
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Old 01-14-2019   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Richard I think you encapsulated the initial discussion perfectly. My apologies for taking it into a different direction, although I do think that for more 'exact' exposures (as the OP hoped for in his second post), a light meter would be helpful. I like 'Sunny 16' (as I'm sure we've all put it to use), but I think it is a bit more 'finger in the wind' than a light meter, and I suggested this due to the trip he is taking (which he may possibly not have the opportunity to do again) and he wanted to ensure that his exposures were correct.

However, I like to think that we were all heading in the same general direction and that all of our advice had some degree of validity
Dear Vince, you are indeed a gentleman. And I agree with you of course. I should have ended my post with "..for snow." I like an incident meter as the most helpful tool. It was interesting looking at the earth rise photo background video recently on youtube. Many thought that Jim Lovell's calling out "250 at f11" must have been a late light meter reading for Bill Anders shot of the earth rising above the horizon. No way. Must have been a table.
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