5 Rules of Thumb in photography, Sunny Looney rules

Clicking on a subject is easy but learning photography is no fun at all. I wanted to take great photograph without going through the hassle of learning the technicals.

1. Learning the technical is not too much work (it is just too overwhelming for some). There are only four things (yes FOUR) you need to know and obtain the balance between them. One is shutter speed (how long the window opens), two is aperture (how big the window is), focal length and the third is ISO (how sensitive the photo receiver is (few choices 100, 200 etc.).

The following rules of thumb are timeless – experienced photographers always use. They are so integrated that they come automatically and many don’t even realize they are using these thumb rules.

1. Sunny 16 Rule

On a bright and sunny day the photographs look great when f/16 focal length is used. The shutter speed is 1/ISO. When you use ISO = 200, the shutter speed is 1/200 and so on.

The rule can also be extrapolated for a very bright beach at f/22 and f/12 on a cloudy-bright day.

2. Looney 11 Rule

Similarly to Sunny 16, on a full moon day, focal length of f/11 is preferred. Shutter speed again is 1/ISO.

Looney 11 can be extrapolated to different phases of moon:

Full Moon : f/11 , Shutter: 1/ISO
Half Moon : f/8 , Shutter: 1/ISO
Quarter Moon : f/5.6 , Shutter: 1/ISO

3. Sunset rule

Meter the area directly above the sun (without sun in frame).

To look like the time 1/2-hour later, down 1 f-stop.

4. Depth Of Field Rule

– Focus 1/3 of the way to maximize depth of field on a deep subject.

– The smaller the aperture, the shorter the focal length.

– The greater the distance, the greater the depth of field.

5. 18% Grey Card substitute

If you don’t have a 18% Grey Card with you and if you can’t trust the light meter in the camera the following method might be useful.

Hold the palm up facing the light, take a reading an open up one stop. (You should be careful that the skin tones can vary.)


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