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Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 35 of 107

Sunny 16 Rule


Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 35 of 107

Sunny 16 Rule


Lesson Info

Sunny 16 Rule

Alright, so this whole section we've been talking about exposure, and there's a couple of kind of special exposure concepts I wanna talk about. First is one of the basic rules that I've learned, which was the Sunny 16 Rule. This is just, it's not really even necessary these days. It was kind of necessary back in the days when I had a manually battery-operated camera. And if the batteries ever died, what would my exposure be when my light meter doesn't work. And now, well, you're not gonna be able to take pictures if your camera doesn't have battery. But just the concept of it, I think, is still relevant and good to know. And so the Sunny 16 Rule states that if you are in full sun, the exposure is f/ and a shutter speed that is about equal to your ISO. So let's walk this through and see what this looks like in the real world. Alright! It is a sunny day, and we wanna get a photograph at f/16. We want lots of depth of field, so this is a perfect example of a Sunny 16 situation. So, the fi...

rst thing that we probably wanna do in a situation like this is set our ISO to the lowest native setting on our ISO, which would be 100. Now, it is the Sunny 16 Rule, so we set an aperture of f/16, and we set a shutter speed that is as close to the ISO number as we can get. So since we have 100 selected, we would select 125. And I know on some cameras you can actually select 100, and that would be fine, but we're just going with those whole numbers for examples in this class. And so do that and you're gonna get a perfect exposure in bright, sunny weather, assuming there's no clouds, and it's not smokey, or some other situation. Like "It's a sunny day, but I was inside. "Why did I get bad exposures?" Alright, so it's under bright, sunny light. Now, that all works well and good, but what if you don't want to shoot at f/16? Okay, what if you wanna shoot with shallow depth of field under bright, sunny light? Well, you're just gonna need to do some horse trading, trading some shutter speeds for some apertures. Alright, so let's just get our numbers set up here. We'll go ahead and set our ISO of 100. We'll do f/16 just to get our numbers set right, and of course a shutter speed of for proper exposure in bright sunlight. But we wanna shoot with shallow depth of field so the background is out of focus. And so in this case, there are some cameras out there, including cameras that I own, that do not have an ISO of 100. Alright, does anybody have a camera like that? There's some cameras out there that have a native ISO of 200, alright. And so in this case, we're wanting to get shallow depth of field with a camera that has an ISO of 200. So what we're gonna have to do is go up to a shutter speed of 250, cause that's the closest number we have to 200. We're keeping our aperture at f/16, but now we're gonna want to make some changes so that we can get to shallow depth of field. And so let's go all the way down to 1.4. And what you wanna do is here, you can count up how many stops of light did we move. And when we count from 16 down to 11, one, two, three, four, five, six, we moved the aperture seven stops of light. We're letting in seven more stops of light, which means we need to close somethin' else down, let in seven stops less light. And how are we gonna do that? Well, we have alotta room to move in the shutter speed. And so we can go faster on the shutter speed up to 8,000th of a second, but that is, unfortunately, only five stops. And so we can't really do it, because we're gonna be two stops overexposed. We need to close down to something that doesn't exist. But it does exist on some cameras that'll actually go up to 32,000th of a second. It's very rare that this happens, but there's a few cameras out there that'll go up to 32,000th of a second. And there's really nothing that I can point to that you need a 32,000th of a second for in motion-stopping capabilities. But for exposure control, which is what we're talking about here, it can be valuable for people who wanna shoot in bright sunlight with a shallow depth of field, sometimes slightly handicapped by that ISO 200. So that's why there's a few of these mirrorless cameras that can go up to 32,000th of a second.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Photographic Characteristics
  3. Camera Types
  4. Viewing System
  5. Lens System
  6. Shutter System
  7. Shutter Speed Basics
  8. Shutter Speed Effects
  9. Camera & Lens Stabilization
  10. Quiz: Shutter Speeds
  11. Camera Settings Overview
  12. Drive Mode & Buffer
  13. Camera Settings - Details
  14. Sensor Size: Basics
  15. Sensor Sizes: Compared
  16. The Sensor - Pixels
  17. Sensor Size - ISO
  18. Focal Length
  19. Angle of View
  20. Practicing Angle of View
  21. Quiz: Focal Length
  22. Fisheye Lens
  23. Tilt & Shift Lens
  24. Subject Zone
  25. Lens Speed
  26. Aperture
  27. Depth of Field (DOF)
  28. Quiz: Apertures
  29. Lens Quality
  30. Light Meter Basics
  31. Histogram
  32. Quiz: Histogram
  33. Dynamic Range
  34. Exposure Modes
  35. Sunny 16 Rule
  36. Exposure Bracketing
  37. Exposure Values
  38. Quiz: Exposure
  39. Focusing Basics
  40. Auto Focus (AF)
  41. Focus Points
  42. Focus Tracking
  43. Focusing Q&A
  44. Manual Focus
  45. Digital Focus Assistance
  46. Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)
  47. Quiz: Depth of Field
  48. DOF Preview & Focusing Screens
  49. Lens Sharpness
  50. Camera Movement
  51. Advanced Techniques
  52. Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance
  53. Auto Focus Calibration
  54. Focus Stacking
  55. Quiz: Focus Problems
  56. Camera Accessories
  57. Lens Accessories
  58. Lens Adaptors & Cleaning
  59. Macro
  60. Flash & Lighting
  61. Tripods
  62. Cases
  63. Being a Photographer
  64. Natural Light: Direct Sunlight
  65. Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight
  66. Natural Light: Mixed
  67. Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  68. Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  69. Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  70. Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light
  71. Quiz: Lighting
  72. Light Management
  73. Flash Fundamentals
  74. Speedlights
  75. Built-In & Add-On Flash
  76. Off-Camera Flash
  77. Off-Camera Flash For Portraits
  78. Advanced Flash Techniques
  79. Editing Assessments & Goals
  80. Editing Set-Up
  81. Importing Images
  82. Organizing Your Images
  83. Culling Images
  84. Categories of Development
  85. Adjusting Exposure
  86. Remove Distractions
  87. Cropping Your Images
  88. Composition Basics
  89. Point of View
  90. Angle of View
  91. Subject Placement
  92. Framing Your Shot
  93. Foreground & Background & Scale
  94. Rule of Odds
  95. Bad Composition
  96. Multi-Shot Techniques
  97. Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction
  98. Human Vision vs The Camera
  99. Visual Perception
  100. Quiz: Visual Balance
  101. Visual Drama
  102. Elements of Design
  103. Texture & Negative Space
  104. Black & White & Color
  105. The Photographic Process
  106. Working the Shot
  107. What Makes a Great Photograph?


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan