Camera basics - Sunny 16 Rule

My friend Lisa taken on a medium format film camera. {London}

My friend Lisa taken on a medium format film camera. {London}

Can I just say I am NOT A CAMERA NERD.  I don't like talking about cameras and lenses and apertures.  It makes me feel all icky inside.  But I understand that sometimes I need to push myself outta my creative comfort zone and talk nerd.  Just don't expect it too much ok.

So my first SLR was such an exciting purchase for me.  FINALLY I can take some amazing photos because I have this professional camera right?  I'll be a photographer in no time! Everyone will be so jealous of my photos right? Nope.  Roll after roll of film I got back I was so disappointed. Whhhhyyyyyyy am I not getting amazing results waaaaahhhh?  *insert emoji pulling hair out while chucking tanty*

The first mistake most of us make is not realising that a new camera is going to do crap all if we don't know how to utilise the beast first.  We HAVE to first understand the relationships between Aperture/Shutterspeed/ISO and how they affect each other.  Don't worry about anything else until you get this right.  Seriously stop playing with the "scene" mode or I'll smack you.....

From DIY Photography 

From DIY Photography 

Soooooo I'm not here to teach you how to use your camera today.  I just wanted to share this cool - Sunny 16 Rule.  If you grew up with film cameras you might of heard of it or if you are a complete geek you might of but most probably wouldn't of because its really a film photography term.  BUT saying that it totally works on digital cameras too.  

Whats the point of it?  Well back in the day when everyone had film cameras they didn't have light meters like we have now.  We tend to click and look at screen, then adjust our settings.  Nothing wrong with that but it doesn't help with getting to know our equipment - you know I'm right.  Have you ever been in a situation where you wished you were a bit faster.....  didn't have to adjust your settings 5 times to get it right?   Well film photographers could do that, they knew what settings to use in different lighting situations - because they had to.  

The good news CAN do this too!  On a sunny day go outside and start with setting your ISO to 100, Shutter to 100 & Aperture to f/16.  

Have a play around with it.  See what happens if you decrease the aperture number 5 stops and increase the shutter number by the same......Its not as hard as it sounds.  Give it a go.  You'll be SO wrapped with yourself its seriously a cool exercise.  You'll be having Oprah moments I promise (ah haaaa, stay with me).

The chart you see above is not mine its from the DIY Photography site.  I recommend clicking on the link and having a read its really interesting.  He takes you through all the steps of getting a good exposure without looking at the back of your camera once.  Its a really good way to get your head around aperture/shutter/iso relationships.  

How about getting your camera out today and having a play.  Let me know how you go.


If there was only one thing...



That I wish I had used earlier, that I'd taken the time to learn.  Something that  you might think is really basic but actually when you are in the rhythm of a photoshoot you can quickly forget to use and regret it later.  But if you use it consistently it becomes part of your routine and you don’t even think about it

Something technical… snore… zzzz

Bare with me all you creatives....

But seriously though, there are some things that can really affect your photography and make you feel frustrated, this is one of them.  Remember that session you felt like you nailed and then you get home, upload your images onto lightroom and BOOM realise your focus was off……..  not creatively off, not emotionally off, but technically off.  Literally your focus wasn’t good.  Photo after beautiful photo you have to trash because they can’t be used.  

Be deliberate in your focussing and nail the shot and your framing first time.

Be deliberate in your focussing and nail the shot and your framing first time.

The answer?  I was like so many... focussing and recomposing for every shot. Every shot. 

Fixing this issue is as simple as setting the AF Points manually or “Auto Focus Points” (not to be confused with Manual Focus, very different) every single time you take a shot.  

If you are not sure what I mean watch this Youtube video (this guy is hilarious and slightly passive aggressive but totally speaks my language) he describes the issues with "focus and recompose" really well. 

It's good to refresh your memory sometimes 

It's good to refresh your memory sometimes 

When I talk about focus I don't mean crisp obvious-everything-in-focus-boring kinda focus, I mean deliberate choices even at a shallow depth of field.  See opening image, it's not crisp and all in focus (boring) thats because I deliberately focussed on her fringe knowing that it would soften the whole image leaving a really dreamy 'painterly' image.  The focal choice needs to make sense for the image to work. You're with me I can feel it.

My camera has the button on the back, I have my finger on it the whole time I am shooting my subject, when I move the subject or myself I adjust the AF point.  Simple and doesn't slow me down because I've perfected it.  Give it time and you'll feel the same.

I used to keep my focal point in the middle of the lens thinking that I could focus and then move my camera to frame the shot…..  sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  It's like sometimes I put darks in my wash and it's fine and other times everything comes out grey.  You can leave it to luck and hope for the best or you can nail 99% of your images by learning how to work this small step into your routine.  

My advice to you you would be to dig up that manual now, sit down with a cuppa and get focussed……….  it'll be worth it trust me.

Britt x

5 Things I Wish I knew


I've made a lot of mistakes in my career as a photographer.  More than I can list I assure you.  And i’ll continue to make them because frankly I'm still learning and I hope to always learn and grow.  But there are some things that many newbies get stuck on in the beginning, distracted by or overwhelmed by.  Thats why I thought you might like to learn from me and my mistakes if you are new to photography and are looking for advice.  Or maybe this will make you feel better about  yourself because you are already doing all these things….  hopefully some of these will help you not do what I did.

1) The latest and greatest is overrated

Photography 101 -  There is no camera or lens that will magically transform you into the next Annie Leibovitz.  

Do you know how many times I have been told that my photos must be good because I have a good camera? Too many times.  It's an innocent comment granted…. but a seriously offensive one because it implies you are only as good as your equipment.  Well why then have some people made mega bucks out of their iPhone images and even published books from them?  Also why is it that some awards go to amateur photographers who use entry level camera's and kit lens? Ahhh got you thinking now don’t I.  Maybe, just maybe it has nothing to do with your equipment? Actually I'm telling you it doesn’t.  Trust me please.  This lesson alone will save you cash.  You’re welcome.

Emotion over editing every time

Emotion over editing every time

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect

2: Get intimate with your equipment

That sounded better in my head.

If you are really interested in starting a photography business try and get to know the equipment you already have.  I started out on a little holiday point and shoot.  My photos were hideous (like you will never see them - eva) but boy I knew after using that little camera what I needed.  Don’t go waisting your money on expensive cameras and lenses BEFORE you understand what it is that you need.  Oh and don’t ask the guy at JBHIFI what lens you should buy……..  that is a disaster waiting to happen. 

My first ever camera I bought was 7 years old when I upgraded to the next model.  If I needed a backup camera I’d hire one. When I have a photoshoot even now, I don’t change lenses I use the same one for the whole shoot.  That's because I know and love the 50mm because i’ve been using it for so long.  I’ve learnt how to get the best out of it, how to step in and out of a scene and not rely on a zoom.   Get to know the equipment you have well.

3)  Stop!  I said stop! comparing yourself to others

Oh my goodness.   This is the worst thing you can do to yourself.  Seriously how the heck do you think these people started out?  Taking crap photos like you!  No one buys a camera and instantly takes amazing photos.  Give the leaders in their field the respect they deserve (they spent years getting to where they are) and draw inspiration from them but please don’t compare yourself.  Its a slippery slope that you don’t want to be on.  Its incredibly soul destroying for you and all those around you who have to hear that you aren’t as good as *insert name*.  

Don’t worry if you do this, I did too.  But remember this post is about “what I wish I knew”, so learn from me and my stupid mistakes. 

Light is your friend

Light is your friend

Follow your own dreams not someone else's.

Follow your own dreams not someone else's.

4)  Followers = who cares

In this age of social networking and being told constantly “you need more followers” it's really hard not to get carried away or jealous when you see others having followers in the thousands. Seriously I get Instagram messages and emails daily telling me, for a small amount of money, they’ll give me more followers   Its such a con!  Don’t believe it.  Having more followers does not, I repeat, does not give an indication of talent or success.  Having a lot of followers does not always equal bookings or sales.  Some people have a small amount of followers but they have very loyal fans that are genuinely following them and interested in their product, these are the kind of followers you want to attract not the ones that are looking for a follow back…..   Try and change your focus onto what you are putting out there rather than how many people are following you.  The more effort you put into your content and the quality of it you will see your follows grow organically.

5:  Editing schmediting

The amount of time I have waisted on editing and trying out new filters and styles only to end up back where I started is embarrassing.  

Going back to my original comment about knowing your equipment and no magic pill to looking like an Annie Leibovitz portrait…. remember? It applies to editing too, at the end of the day its just another tool like your camera.  If you take an ugly photo there is no magic filter (some might say it's like polishing a poo, not me I'd never say something like that) to make it look amazing.  

The key to a beautiful image that captures someones interest is light and composition.... not editing.  The only way you can achieve this is lots of practice.  Once you have nailed beautiful light & interesting composition editing takes on a different meaning, usually consisting of minimal changes because you have done all of the hard work in camera.  If someone comments on my editing I know something is missing......  The point of this is to tell you - don't waist valuable time in front of the computer.   Get out and take photos, nail light and composition and you'll thank me later..... I promise.

Photography 101 - Lighting and composition = WOW

Photography 101 - Lighting and composition = WOW