You are on page 1of 16

THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER

A GUIDE FOR NATURE PHOTOGRAPHERS
©1995-2010 Fred Parker

INTRODUCTION
Imagine an exposure computer so advanced that it uses your eyes as a sensor. The processing unit is as powerful as your brain. The computer is accurate over a light range from reflected starlight through the light produced in a hydrogen fusion reaction. This computer weighs nothing and operates without batteries. It comes with instructions to allow you to implant the capabilities of the computer directly into your own memory so you can accurately judge a correct exposure by simply looking at the type of light that the subject is in. You are using this computer right now! Everything I've said above is true. However, I'm sure you've noticed that the only thing before your eyes is a World Wide Web page. An entire photographic industry has been built by convincing consumers that the subject of photographic exposure is so arcane, difficult and impossible to understand, that it is best left up to technology. This, of course, allows companies to sell billions of dollars worth of equipment to figure it all out for you. The fact is that the concept of photographic exposure is extremely simple. It can be mastered by anyone who can multiply or divide by two. Everything you need to know is contained on these few Web pages. Knowledge of photographic exposure is essential to controlling the creative side of the photographic process. This knowledge increases the chance that the photograph that comes back from the lab is the one you envisioned when you pushed the shutter release. Your camera or light meter can not make creative decisions for you. If you want to control the creative side of photography, you need to understand the interrelationship of Exposure Value, film speed, aperture and shutter speed. You must have this understanding even though you own the most sophisticated equipment available. I have watched photographers (amateur and professional) struggle with this subject for a number of years, confused by the misinformation that abounds in the photographic press. I decided to publish this document to clarify, simplify and demystify the issue. But first, a word about copyright. This document is copyrighted. In order to keep the cost down, it has been published in a form that would be easy to copy. Copyright law strictly forbids copying this document. You may print a copy or two of the Ultimate Exposure Computer to keep in your camera bag for personal use. In fact, I would encourage it. All I ask is that you send me an e-mail (fred at fredparker dot com) to let me know that you've downloaded this document. If you get a chance, drop me another e-mail after you've worked with it and let me know if you have any suggestions. However, please do NOT make copies for your friends, students or any other person. Originals are inexpensive and easy to obtain. If you have a related site (commercial or otherwise) please hyperlink to this site for access to this document. If you download all or part of this document and post it

1

But what kind of relationship is this? The Ultimate Exposure Computer does not make erroneous assumptions. This method works well for cameras in automatic exposure modes. There is a chance that the preceding section may have confused you. If that is true. Be careful to tell your camera the truth if you move to a middle toned subject. If you are photographing a light toned subject.What Are They? Each of these four factors is represented by a series of numbers. You can meter a middle-toned area in the same light as your subject and manually set your camera accordingly. Thanks! WHY YOUR LIGHT METER LIES TO YOU Light meters can be less accurate than you might imagine. Another way to get the right exposure from a lying meter is to politely ignore it. Your camera may have only a portion of each series indicated. The next section defines Exposure Value. if you are using ISO 100 film and are photographing a light subject. But the worst characteristic. it will be assumed that you have decided to purchase redistribution rights. FILM SPEED. They are calibrated to render an exposure that will make the subject look like a middle tone in the resulting photograph. because you tell it what type of light your subject is in. revisit this section again.directly to your site. because the concept is important. you must convince your meter that it is looking at something even lighter than your subject. Their response to various colors of light may not match that of your film. As long as you tell it the truth. shutter speed and aperture (f/stop) and describes the interrelationship among these factors. 2 . so that the meter's attempt to make it a middle tone will result in the right tone. such as snow or sand in bright light. SHUTTER SPEED AND f/stops -. The same is true for dark objects. Your meter deceives you. You must tell your meter that the object is darker than it really is so that the meter's compensation will register the correct tone in the photograph. Their response in low light and high light conditions may not match response at the mid-range of light. which START at $3500. If you are photographing a dark object. Definitely a better relationship. You can tell this white (or black) lie to your meter in a couple of ways. tell your meter that you have ISO 200 film in the camera. film speed. After you've read the next section. Switch from automatic to manual exposure (a good idea anyway) and simply move to the next larger aperture or the next slower shutter speed (for a light object) or to the next smaller aperture or faster shutter speed (for a dark object). For instance. so you deceive it. EXPOSURE VALUE. is that all reflected light meters make one basic (erroneous) assumption. it will not lie to you. for practical purposes. How do you compensate for the fact that your meter is lying? You have to lie to your meter. don't worry about it. So it goes. you would tell the meter that you have ISO 50 film. You can lie to the camera outright by telling it that it is using film of an ISO rating different from what is actually in the camera.

21. this Exposure Value number must be converted into an f/stop and shutter speed combination that will provide the proper exposure for the film speed you have chosen. 6. 3. In general. However. 16. In order to be useful. each number represents twice as much light as the numbers increase. and represents twice the sensitivity to light as the preceding number. 18.Exposure Value: In most light meters. 15. Shutter speed and aperture are very important to the creative photographic process. 3 . The greater the number of photons. But it doesn't matter. shutter speed and aperture (f-stops). 7. 800. 10. The number series for film speed is: 25. 400. 19. photons of light that are reflected from your subject put pressure on a photo-sensitive receptor in your light meter and are converted into electricity (this is why some meters do not require batteries). There may be some intermediate steps (such as 64 or 125) on your dial. and you can ignore it. the greater the electricity that is produced. The Ultimate Exposure Computer gives you the knowledge to take control of your photographs. If you are using a light meter this number is irrelevant. This leaves only two things to adjust to achieve the correct exposure while making a photograph. footcandles and lumens. knowledge of Exposure Value can significantly enhance your ability as a photographer. Film Speed: Film speed is a number that indicates the sensitivity of film to light. even though this appears to be a linear progression. 20. 11. 13. 9. 3200 Pretty straight forward! Moving to the right. 4. This term is related to illuminance. 22. 2. Set the light meter or camera for the same number that is on the film. Film sensitivity is measured by a set of standards established by the American Standards Association (ASA) or the International Standards Organization (ISO). because the meter uses them internally to calculate a set of combinations of shutter speeds and apertures. You may never see these numbers. For all practical purposes. 17. 1600. each number is twice the preceding number. This provides an easily memorized scale to clarify the concept of "absolute value of the amount of light falling on a subject". 200. The relationship between these four elements is represented in the Ultimate Exposure Computer. See the section "Throw Away Your Light Meter!" for details. films with a higher sensitivity (larger number) have coarser grain and do not register detail as well as films with lower sensitivity (lower number). 5. 23 Easy! However. 12. 100. This value is measured by the following number series (for ISO 100 film): 1. 50. 14. the ASA and ISO numbers are interchangeable. 8. Your camera may do this automatically. Internationally accepted standards specify exactly how much light pressure equals a certain EV number.

1/250 or faster). Aperture (f-stops): Aperture refers to the size of the opening inside the lens that the light must go through to reach the film. 16.6. 1/30. 1/8. use a tripod. 1/8000 Again. if you are using a 200 mm lens. 1. Modern electronic cameras may lack certain features of the older. so they should read as below: 15. 22. 2. But why do the numbers look so odd? I recommend that you ignore it. 4. They should read as follows: 1/1. 8000 This looks more complicated. 4 . you should use a tripod. For example. but the solution is the same as for the shutter speeds. 4. 1000. 8. 1/500.8. Aperture is measured in f/stops as indicated in the series below: 1. 1/16. There is an important rule regarding shutter speeds: If your shutter speed is slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of your lens. A tripod will allow you to make photographs with slower film speeds. 1/4. 1/2. 125.E. 2. 250. 2.4. 15. 1/1. More important.25 magnification or greater). double this shutter speed. If not. 2. 4. 1/4000.Shutter Speed: Shutter speed indicates how long the camera shutter remains open to let light onto the film. 4000. 8. 8. 8. Just accept that each progression represents half as much light as the preceding number. 1/2000. but every camera has a tripod socket. each number moving to the right is half the value of the preceding number. These numbers are whole seconds or fractions of seconds. If your subject is moving. 45 This looks tougher. always use a tripod.4. These are actually fractions. 1/60. weld your camera to the tripod. 11. 32. 1/4. 2. 1/1000. If you're using a format larger than 35mm. 1/45 Like the shutter speed series. your shutter speed must exceed 1/200 second (I. Slower film speeds equate to better detail and sharpness in your photographs. 1/250. To be safe. 1/125. 1/32. 4. They aren't expressed on your shutter speed dial as fractions to save space. 1/2. you must use a tripod. 1/5. If you are moving (such as in a boat or plane) triple the speed. The number series for shutter speed is: 15. mechanical cameras (such as a button that allows you to see the depth of field that will be present in your photograph). anyway. 1. 1/8. and represents half as much light as the preceding number.6. If you are doing macro work (. 30. 5. 500.8. each progression represents half as much light (moving to the right) as the preceding number. You'll make better photographs if you use it. 2000. If you are a serious nature photographer you will always use a tripod. 60. 1/22. but it's actually straightforward. 1/15. 1/11. because it doesn't matter anyway. 1/2. 1. using a tripod makes you slow down and allows you to examine your composition more carefully.

the surface area of the opening would be 3. combining the two sequences in numerical order gives the full sequence: 1. Trust me. the radius is half the diameter. ignore the in-between numbers. 2. 2. 16. as you move from one number to the next. f/2 on a 100mm lens means that the diameter of the diaphragm opening is 100/2.14. Those numbers represent half or third stops.Therefore. 100/2. read the following three paragraphs. 4.8. The designation f/32 means that the diameter of the aperture is 1/32 the focal length of the lens.6. f/numbers are the best way to do this. mm. Therefore. the method of calculating the surface area of a circle is Pi times the radius. 5. 11. f/2 on a 100mm lens lets in exactly the same amount of light as f/2 on a 500mm lens.4. 32 What you need to remember is that. in our example. 22 So. 11.14X17.4.14X25X25. HOW TO USE THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER: THROW AWAY YOUR LIGHT METER! 5 . 2.85X17. However. the amount of light is either doubled or halved. Think about what you'd have to do with a zoom lens! Ratios allow us to use the same number series for all of our lenses. you can safely skip them. 8. The surface area would be 3. I would still recommend that you simply accept that each successive f/stop represents a doubling (or halving) of light. 5. Photographers would have to memorize a series of numbers for each focal length lens they owned. Unfortunately. or HALF the surface area of f/2. 2. 16. you will see that the surface area is now approximately 1000 sq.4. For the purpose of what you are learning here. since you've read this far. The designation "f/2" means that the diameter of the aperture is 1/2 the focal length of the lens. That's why it's called an f(ocal)/number. let's look at the next f/stop. 32 and 1. The reason we use the ratios instead of the actual surface area of the diaphragm opening is that the actual surface area would be quite different between lenses of different focal lengths. which is f/2. Now.8. 22. or 50mm. Double each one alternately and you will have two series: 1. mm. 1 and 1. within each factor. or approximately 2000 sq. The numbers represent the ratio of the focal length of the lens to the diameter of the lens diaphragm opening.If you are curious as to how we got to such a seemingly illogical progression of numbers. each succeeding smaller aperture lets in half as much light as the previous f/stop. As you no doubt learned in high school.7mm. 1. I'll give you a hint about how to memorize the f/number series. 4. squared means that the number is multiplied by itself). Some cameras may include numbers between the numbers mentioned above. the amount of light reaching the film is dependent on the SURFACE AREA of the opening NOT the DIAMETER. If you multiply it out. If you aren't curious.85. 8. The good news is that you only have to remember two numbers. squared (Pi is approximately 3.6.8.8=35.

. Get your camera. Find your instruction manual. without a tripod to steady the image. such as a foreground flower AND a distant mountain. while 1/8 second will blur even slow moving subjects). the same camera that will give you dozens of perfect photographs of your children opening birthday presents will churn out dozens of badly exposed nature photographs that look nothing like what you experienced in the field. Purchase two sets of batteries and install one set in the camera. Because of these factors.Well. Now comes the hardest part of the entire process (unless you've lost the manual). Keep a copy of the Ultimate Exposure Computer with the camera and the batteries. I can't help you here. the most important reasons for putting your camera on manual while photographing natural subjects are: 1) There are times when you will want to stop motion. Film Speed. Most of your subjects will not be located in "average" light. The aperture (f/stop) controls the depth of the image that is acceptably in focus (f/32 keeps more of the subject in focus than f/2).. Automatic focus and exposure (especially TTL flash) are extremely useful for some specialized types of photography. and why you don't need a light meter to know the proper exposure.. But you could if you wanted to. Keep the spare set with the camera. You must make these aesthetic choices. However. This is controlled by the shutter speed. The camera has no way of knowing what you want the photograph to look like. Aperture and Shutter Speed are interrelated. Sometimes you will want the flower to be in focus while keeping a busy background softly out of focus. Nature photography is a different matter. such as when photographing flowing water. always.. When you make this type of decision. you are considering DEPTH OF FIELD (the distance in front and behind of the subject that is acceptably in focus). Decisions about these matters address APPARENT SUBJECT MOTION. maybe not. These cameras work well for family pictures and many urban subjects. Many of your subjects will not have "average" tonality. Good luck and congratulations! You've just taken the first step toward becoming a serious nature photographer! 6 . Do this even if you changed batteries last month. 2) Sometimes you will want everything in focus. You must find out how to set your camera body to its "manual" setting. such as a flower waving in the breeze. Many times your subject will not be in the center of the frame (where an automatic camera takes its light readings). such as sports or photojournalism. Faster shutter speeds stop action better than slower speeds (1/1000 second will stop most motion. It is not designed to make aesthetic choices regarding natural subjects (which are rarely "average"). Other times you may want to exaggerate the effect of motion. The purpose of this section is to show you how Exposure Value. STEP ONE: PUT YOUR CAMERA ON MANUAL Automatic cameras are designed to give an average photographer a better chance of getting properly exposed pictures while shooting average subjects in average light. Remember that the camera's automation is designed to make technical decisions based on average subjects in average light. The only way for you to get good results in nature photography is for YOU to make the choices.

Locate ISO 100 film along the top row. Now. Enter your chosen shutter speed on your camera and set your lens to your chosen f/stop. Now move to the right along the row until you cross the double line. and you only have one mechanical shutter speed (1/125 second). It is a good idea to memorize the characteristics of these daylight Exposure Value factors.6. since you just stumbled onto an extremely rare species of flowering plant that blooms for one hour every hundred years. The sky has started to cloud over and things look bleak. The right column of the chart contains some lighting situations that equate to EV numbers. along the top row. It's in full bloom. Look on the left-hand side of Chart B. The left column of the chart contains the Exposure Value (EV) numbers. Easy! No light meter required! But wait! Suppose the f/stop you landed on isn't on your lens. move to an appropriate f/stop along the top row to achieve your desired result. In that case. To the right of the double line is a row of shutter speeds. are the ISO/ASA film speed numbers. Notice that most daylit subjects fall within a narrow range from EV 11 to EV 15. and the battery in your camera just failed. The chart ranges from EV -6 to EV 23. a fast shutter speed stops motion. As you will recall.A Typical Day In The Life of a Nature Photographer Suppose you are in the field photographing with ISO 100 film. Or perhaps the f/stop you landed on offers too much or too little depth of field (the distance in front and behind of the subject that is acceptably in focus). You can't take any light readings. Choose an appropriate shutter speed for your subject. Move straight up the column and find that the aperture of your lens should be set to f/5. On the left side of this chart. Look down the column until you find EV 12. Starting with that film speed. Then move down the column to the row represented by your original choice of film speed and 7 . move straight up the column to the top row to find the aperture (f/stop) for use with the shutter speed. film speed. Pick the film speed you use most often. Pick a favorite lighting situation. It's that easy! Example 1 -. This represents a range of light from below reflected starlight to the brightest light in the Solar System. This situation is extremely unfortunate. note the EV and turn the Ultimate Exposure Computer over to Chart B.STEP TWO: A TOUR AROUND THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER CHART A: Take a look at Exposure Value Chart A. aperture and shutter speed are related. move down the column until you reach the EV number that you chose from Chart A. while a slow shutter speed enhances the effect of motion. CHART B: Exposure Factor Relationship Chart B shows how Exposure Value. Look along the row to the right of EV 12 (across the double line) until you find the shutter speed you are looking for (your mechanical 1/125 second). Have no fear! Your Ultimate Exposure Computer will save the day! You already know from Chart A that subjects under heavy cloud cover are at EV 12.

If the sun's elevation is less than forty-five degrees. What ISO film speed will you need to do the trick? Go to the upper right of the Table B. You need a small aperture to get the greatest depth of field (the distance in front and behind of the subject that is acceptably in focus). Find f/22 aperture for maximum depth of field. you can use the next lower Exposure Value. Light meters do not correct for this phenomenon. by all means use a camera with a through-the-lens meter. From there. You must put the camera on a tripod (where it should have been to begin with). That means one of two things. you may know that you are going to be shooting scenics of a field of flowers with mountains behind. Many of these situations are addressed in "What to do in Tricky Light Situations" in Appendix A. such as planning a shooting session. For some films. At that intersection you will find the appropriate shutter speed for the desired aperture. If you need to use flash. Example 2 -. but the wind will be gusting to twenty miles per hour. move up the column and find that ISO 200 speed film will solve your problem. In these cases it is assumed that the sun is at an elevation greater than forty-five degrees. because it varies according to the type of film. but you will also need a fast shutter speed to stop the motion of the flowers in the wind. Perhaps this exercise indicates a very slow shutter speed that cannot be hand held. or you need to determine the proper film speed to use for your photographic situation. Consult the manufacturers' specifications for details. Those situations are excellent reasons to use the meter in your camera. although you'll probably like the results of using the chart without modification.EV number. or you are taking bellows shots. There are some tricky exposures where you can improperly expose the film whether you are using a camera meter or the Ultimate Exposure Computer. When using flash. exposures involving shutter speeds in excess of several seconds may require additional exposure because the film's sensitivity decreases with continued exposure to light for long periods (this is called "reciprocity failure").Planning Ahead The Ultimate Exposure Computer is useful for several photographic tasks. Go down the column until you reach a shutter speed fast enough to handle the flowers in the wind (1/125 second). STEP THREE: USE THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER WISELY The Ultimate Exposure Computer is designed for use in existing light. It will be a sunny day (EV 15). use the manufacturer's dedicated flash unit that allows through the lens control of the flash. For instance. Move to the left along the row (across the double line) until you find the correct Exposure Value (15). Some of the lighting situations described in Chart A occur outdoors during daylight. 8 .

1/125 second) at f/16. Again. the correct exposure for any subject is f/16 at the shutter speed nearest to the reciprocal of the film speed. But there is an easier way. The next three paragraphs address this example. You could make the same correction by increasing the film speed by two steps (from ISO 100 to ISO 200 doubles the light and from ISO 200 to ISO 400 doubles it again). it is easy to calculate any other set of correct exposures. In the same sense. If your subject is very light or dark. since it contains all four elements of exposure: Exposure Value (EV 15). From that anchor point.THE FINAL STEP: THROW AWAY THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER! The Ultimate Exposure Computer is easy to use and extremely accurate. an overcast day would halve the light falling on the subject (EV 14). sunny day equals EV 15. I have heard very competent professional photographers say that the rule is based on reflected light. There is a rule called the "Sunny f/16 Rule". film speed (ISO 100). In this case the shutter speed could be reduced to 1/60 second OR the aperture could be increased to f/11 OR the film speed could be increased to ISO 200. you may need a faster shutter speed to stop some action. a change in any of the variables can be offset by a reciprocal change in any other variable. Nonsense! The rule is based on the light falling on the subject (incident light) not the light reflected from the subject. If you choose 1/500 second.or enhanced apparent subject motion). We know that each step up or down in one variable represents a doubling or halving of the amount of light required to make a correct exposure. The difference is that an incident light 9 . Why not memorize the whole thing? It's a lot easier than you may think. Now. If the light reaching the film is cut in half. But you would also have to make an adjustment from a reflected reading in the same circumstance. Make the correction that best suits your photographic purpose (decreased depth of field -. the correct exposure would be 1/100 second (or rather the closest available shutter speed . let me say that the "sunny f/16" rule is one of the most misunderstood rules in photography. For example. ONE other variable needs to be changed to increase (double) the amount of light.the distance in front and behind of the subject that is acceptably in focus -. This section will show you how. It says: On a bright. Or. make the adjustment that best suits your purpose. sunny day. if you are using ASA/ISO 100 film. You could compensate for this by opening up the aperture two steps (from f/16 to f/11 will double the light and f/11 to f/8 will double it again). The rule gives precisely the same measurement that you would get from an incident meter or a reflected meter using a perfect gray card. The "Sunny f/16" rule gives us an anchor point to use in mentally calculating the entire contents of Chart B. Any ONE of these corrections would provide the correct amount of light. the light will have been reduced by two steps (cut in half from 1/125 to 1/250 and cut it in half again from 1/250 to 1/500). For example. For example. aperture (f/16) and shutter speed (1/125). We know that a bright. you will need to adjust exposure to bring it within the five stop range of transparency film. you could increase the aperture to f/11 AND increase the film speed to ISO 200.

I have also heard that the "sunny f/16" rule doesn't work for backlit or sidelit subjects. You should always bracket in difficult situations. film speed. and make a series of exposures in half stop increments one and a half stop above and below the correct exposure. This is called "bracketing" and it is an important concept. it is best to concentrate on EV 11 through 16 (where most of your outdoor photography will occur). Photographers use this document on every continent. Write down the factors (Exposure Value. the real Ultimate Exposure Computer will be YOU! WHERE ON EARTH ARE YOU? I get e-mail from all over. The more you practice with the Ultimate Exposure Computer. Just move on and don't read the next few paragraphs. you can use it to judge the accuracy of the light meter in your camera (or anyone else's). the charts and tables in the Ultimate Exposure Computer should work fine for you (remember to bracket). Here's why: If you live anywhere between the equator and about 50 degrees north or south. combined with your knowledge that each change of one step in a factor doubles or halves the exposure. it should work for you in summer. For the purpose of this exercise. If you live further north or south. Even Antarctica. With a little effort you will soon be achieving close to 100% accuracy. Just open up a half stop. See the section on "Difficult Exposures" for guidelines. you can move on to more exotic lighting situations. the sooner you will be able to simply look at a lighting situation and immediately know the correct exposure for the job. natural light at mid-day can range continuously from "Sunny f/16" at the equator to near dark at one of the poles. But things aren't so simple if you live toward the poles. So you have the variables of 10 . As you perfect your accuracy in this range. Once you have mastered this technique. A reflected measurement is much more subjective and prone to error. California (USA) location (32d N) have asked me to make charts adapted to extreme (from my perspective) latitudes. Practice this technique with the Ultimate Exposure Computer in hand. People taking photographs far to the north or south of my sunny San Diego. Look at it this way: near a solstice. Consult the Ultimate Exposure Computer to assess the accuracy of the calculations you made mentally. You will be able to amuse and edify your photographic friends by accurately stating the correct exposure in any situation before your friends can take a reading with their meter! When you reach that point. without the use of a light meter or any other exposure aid.measurement is a consistent anchor from which to adjust. This is also false. Look at (or imagine) a photographic situation and try to mentally figure out the correct exposure using the "Sunny f/16" anchor point and any adjustments you feel are necessary. Light from the sun is diminished by traveling farther through the atmosphere or blocked by the curvature of Earth. Anyone who says differently is misleading you. aperture and shutter speed) that you believe will make the best exposure. makes it easy to select a correct exposure for any photographic situation you may be confronted with. The "sunny f/16" anchor point.

your metered reading was two stops below "Sunny f/16" you would slip the "EV" section down two rows. "Are you going to give me some complicated. Go outside and take a meter reading (preferably incident or reflected from a standard gray card). altitude and any other variable you can think of (remember to bracket). Take a few readings and average them. You DIDN'T throw away your light meter. for example. Actually I DID try to do this. Use whatever light is available." you say. separating the "EV" section from the "Type of Lighting Situation" section. "Well then. but it is best if it's full sun on a bright day (Sunny f/16). You now have a chart customized to your latitude. Drop me an email and tell me how you make photographs. What a mess! I'm striving for simplicity here. You'll need to repeat this exercise as the seasons and conditions change. Here's just one example: If you're at McMurdo Station on June 21.. season. the solution is simple. There are limitations. This is only necessary for sunlit subjects. not trying to model the light falling on every square inch of Earth! Fortunately.latitude and season and time of day to consider. did you!!? Hah! I knew it! Good! Read on! You can easily calibrate the Ultimate Exposure Computer to fit your exact location. For most of you intrepid poleward photographers. time of day. "You've taken me this far and it turns out this won't work for me?" I say. Tape it in place. If. "So.. enjoy! 11 . How many stops difference between your reading and the "Exposure Value Chart"? Print out two copies of the "Exposure Value Chart" (below). Other subjects in the chart will work using the copy you didn't deface. There are other variables such as altitude and snow cover (partially counteracting the effect of latitude and season). the Ultimate Exposure Computer will NOT let you down. because I know something about you that you've never admitted to me. you'll need to find another way to calculate exposure. hashed-up chart that tries to fit in the five variables you talked about?" Well." you say. Using a sharp implement (your choice) cut one chart apart.

and monuments. Fairs. subject under crescent moon. Stage shows. Indoor sports. away from city lights. Subjects in bright daylight on sand or snow. Total eclipse of moon. Night. Rarely encountered in nature. away from city lights. Extremely bright. Some man made lighting. Rarely encountered in nature. Subjects lit by dim ambient artificial light. Night home interiors. circuses. Subjects lit by campfires or bonfires. Las Vegas or Times Square at night. away from city lights. Subjects in weak. subject under half moon. Subjects lit by dim ambient artificial light. Interiors with bright florescent lights. School or church auditoriums. Some man made lighting. Fireworks (with time exposure). Landscapes. average light. away from city lights. Night. Rarely encountered in nature. Rarely encountered in nature. Full moon (long lens). hazy sun. Subjects in bright or hazy sun (Sunny f/16 rule). Store windows. Brightly lighted nighttime streets. snowscape under full moon. Subjects in open shade. football. spotlighted subjects. Brightly lit home interiors at night. Rarely encountered in nature. Gibbous moon (long lens). Meteors (during showers. Half moon (long lens). Neon lights. with time exposure). fountains. Landscapes and skylines immediately after sunset. Sunsets. amusement parks. Bottom of rainforest canopy. Subject in heavy overcast. bonfires. Some man made lighting. away from city lights. Subjects in cloudy-bright light (no shadows). Some man made lighting. subject under full moon. city skylines 10 minutes after sunset. burning buildings. Subjects under bright street lamps. Ice shows. Lightning (with time exposure). subject under starlight only. Rarely encountered in nature. Crescent moon (long lens). Christmas lights. Night. floodlit buildings. Campfires. Some man made lighting. baseball etc. Night. 12 . Candle lit close-ups. Extremely bright.Exposure Value Chart EV -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 TYPE OF LIGHTING SITUATION Night. at night. Distant view of lighted skyline. Rarely encountered in nature.

4 25 50 100 200 400 800 1600 3200 1 2 3 4 5 E 6 V 7 8 N 9 U 10 M 11 B 12 E 13 R 14 S 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 4s 2s 1s 1/2 s 1/4 s 1/8 s 1/15 s 1/30 s 1/60 s f/2.THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER EXPOSURE VALUE Exposure Factor Relationship Chart B FILM SPEED (ISO/ASA NUMBER) ISO ISO ISO ISO ISO ISO ISO ISO f/1.8 15 s 8s 4s 2s f/4 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s f/5.6 1m 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s f/8 2m 1m 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s f/11 4m 2m 1m 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s 1s 1/2 s 1/4 s 1/8 s 1/15 s 1/30 s f/16 8m 4m 2m 1m 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s 1s 1/2 s 1/4 s 1/8 s f/22 16 m 8m 4m 2m 1m 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s 1s 1/2 s 1/4 s f/32 32 m 16 m 8m 4m 2m 1m 30 s 15 s 8s 4s 2s 1s 1/2 s 1/4 s S P E E S H U T T E R 1/2 s 1 s 1/4 s 1/2 s 1 s 1/8 s 1/4 s 1/2 s 1 s 1/15 s 1/30 s 1/8 s 1/4 s 1/2 s 1 s 1/15 s 1/30 s 1/8 s 1/4 s 1/2 s 1/15 s 1/30 s 1/8 s 1/4 s 1/15 s 1/30 s 1/8 s 1/15 s 1/30 s 1/125 1/60 s s 1/250 1/125 1/60 s s s 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 s s s s 1/100 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 0s s s s s 1/200 1/100 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 s 0s 0s s s s 1/15 s 1/8 s 1/400 1/200 1/100 1/500 1/250 1/125 s 1/60 s 0s 0s 0s s s 1/800 1/400 1/200 1/100 1/500 1/250 s 1/125 s 0s 0s 0s 0s s 1/150 1/800 1/400 1/200 1/100 1/500 s 1/250 s 00 s 0 s 0s 0s 0s 1/300 1/150 1/800 1/400 1/200 1/1000 00 s 00 s 0 s 0s 0s s 1/600 1/300 1/150 1/800 1/400 1/2000 00 s 00 s 00 s 0 s 0s s 1/125 1/600 1/300 1/150 1/800 1/4000 000 s 00 s 00 s 00 s 0 s s 1/250 1/125 1/600 1/300 1/150 1/8000 000 s 000 s 00 s 00 s 00 s s 1/500 s 1/1000 s 1/2000 s 1/4000 s 1/30 s 1/15 s 1/8 s 1/60 s 1/30 s 1/15 s 1/125 s 1/250 s 1/500 s 1/60 s 1/30 s 1/125 s 1/250 s 1/60 s D 1/125 s 1/250 s S 1/1000 1/500 s s 1/2000 1/1000 1/500 s s s 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/600 1/300 1/15000 1/4000 1/2000 1/1000 1/8000 s 000 s 000 s 000 s 00 s 00 s s s s s 1/100 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/600 1/30000 1/8000 1/4000 1/2000 0000 1/15000s 000 s 000 s 000 s 00 s s s s s s 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 13 .0 8s 4s 2s 1s APERTURE OF LENS (f/STOP) f/2.

To be safe. double this shutter speed.THE ULTIMATE EXPOSURE COMPUTER EXPOSURE FACTOR RELATIONSHIP CHART B ©1995-2010 Fred Parker Some Useful Photographic Guidelines Sunny f/16 Anchor Point: On a bright day (EV 15) the correct exposure for any subject is f/16 at a shutter speed nearest to the reciprocal of the film speed (I. If your subject is moving. aperture. APPENDIX "A": WHAT TO DO IN TRICKY LIGHT SITUATIONS Front Lighting: Follow directions given in this document. No need to bracket on the underexposure side. use a tripod. If you are doing macro work (. start with EV 15 and bracket in half stop increments to three stops on the under exposure side.< 1/200 sec. Film Speed: As you increase film speed. Side Lighting: Expose for front lighting.EV12 takes care of it for you). shoot subject in front of a dark background. ISO 100 film = 1/125). Make decisions based on the tonality of the subject. Use EV 12 as your starting point (there are three stops difference between sun and shade) and bracket in half stop increments one and a half stops to the underexposure side (no need to bracket to the over exposure side -. exactly as described herein. shutter speed) each step is double (or half of) the preceding step. always use a tripod. Decreasing shutter speed will increase apparent subject motion. Tripod Rule: Use one for every photograph. Decreasing aperture (higher f/stop #) will increase depth of field. If you are moving (such as in a boat or plane) triple the speed. Alternatively. In this case. Bracket in half stop increments to one and a half stops over exposure. your best bet is to shoot a silhouette. With a darker subject your last exposure should be correct. Doubling Rule: Within any exposure factor (Exposure Value. problems with grain and sharpness will increase. Depth of Field (the distance in front and behind of the subject that is acceptably in focus): Increasing aperture (lower f/stop #) will decrease depth of field. If you must shoot into a light background.25 magnification or greater). Back Lighting: Where possible. If your shutter speed is slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of your lens (I. Make sure your lens is scrupulously 14 . weld your camera to the tripod. With a light subject your first exposure should be your best. Examples are backlit fog on a lake with fishermen in boats in the shot. film speed. Your backlit photography will be better if you use a long lens (with an appropriate lens shade!). use a tripod. use a reflecting surface to bounce more light into the shadows.E. with a 200 mm lens).E. Apparent Subject Motion: Increasing shutter speed will reduce apparent subject motion. If you're using a format larger than 35mm.

FOOTCANDLES AND LUX (for REALLY serious light aficionados). as given in the instruction manual. a 300mm lens at 1/500 sec). use your in camera meter! It will need the exercise.: Pick a vantage point that lets you shoot in front light. Bracket liberally! APPENDIX "B": EV. if possible. Use EV9 as a basis for exposure. Use a telephoto lens and a tripod.e. Bracket in half stop increments to two stops over and two stops under. go for silhouettes. Look through your camera with the aperture fully stopped down. Utilize a dark background if available. Foot-candles and LUX? The answer is "not really". Begin with EV 15 and bracket in full stops to four stops under.Sunrises & Sunsets: When the sun is in your shot. this section will allow you to edify and amaze your friends with your knowledge of light! RELATIONSHIP Is there any intuitive relationship between EV. or on the lens barrel. You will like at least half of the shots. open up the lens and make your exposure. Those of you who have been involved with photography for some time may have heard the terms "Foot-candles" or "LUX".Sports. Better yet. Shooting from an Airplane or Boat: Use Chart B to find a film speed that will let you shoot at THREE times the reciprocal of the focal length (i. Since you've already learned about EV numbers. television and industrial lighting. With a middle tone subject. and adjust exposure by increasing exposure by 1/2 to one stop. The Ultimate Backlight -. If you are shooting people. shoot at dusk. Shooting Scenics in Woods or Where There Are A Lot of Shadows: Shoot under overcast (EV12 or 13) situations. Macro or Micro Shots: Make adjustments for loss of light due to extension of the lens or bellows. Etc. You will run into this problem whether you are using a meter or not. This has the effect of taking color out of the scene and allowing you to judge tonality more accurately. Use Chart B to select a film speed that will allow you to use a shutter speed TWICE the reciprocal of your focal length (i. Here you run into reciprocity failure (a fancy name for "it will take a LOT longer than you think!") Follow the directions that come with every film package.clean. Excessively Long Exposure Times: Times above 10 seconds or so. use a warming filter (such as 81B). this will usually take place 30-45 minutes after sundown. Shoot the Moon With a Long Lens: Use EV14.e. Fast Moving Subjects -. if possible. 1/1000 sec for a 300mm lens). There is a relationship between these numbers and EV numbers. When your subject and the sky seem to be the same shade of gray. Night Shots: Don't shoot them at night. These measurements are used in the film industry. Bracket in half stop increments to one stop over and one stop under. You may find these referred to on some light meters. EV numbers are a linear progression that is convenient to use for 15 .

Footcandles and LUX proceed in a doubling manner.3 2.93 1.7 7.31 . The table below better represents the relationship: Exposure Value Footcandles EV ISO 100 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 .9 3.12 . To get to LUX.63 1. simply multiply the foot-candles by 11.5 5 10 20 40 80 160 320 640 1300 2600 5100 10000 20000 41000 82000 160000 330000 LUX The Ultimate Exposure Computer An Exposure Guide For Professional and Advanced Nature Photographers ©1995-2010 Fred Parker 16 .06 .03 .46 .4 15 30 60 120 240 480 950 1900 3800 7600 15000 30000 . which better illustrates the doubling (or halving) of light at each step.memorization of relative light levels.23 .