Landscape: Clouds at Zion National Park

Whenever possible I like to go to Zion National Park. Christian, Matt and I went a couple of years ago. I was living at sea level at the time in San Clemente California. The clouds in SoCal are generally unimpressive. There’s just too much altitude to reach up to great cumulous clouds like these.

The great clouds like these hang out at  8000 feet or higher.  And although the rock formations and cliffs were dominant in the park I kept looking up at the clouds. I had my head in the clouds I guess. 

Cloud study #1
Cloud study #2


Technical and philosophical information: Photo Tips

Shot with a Rolleiflex FX on Portra 160nc film. 1/125 at f16.

Heres a little lesson for the uninitiated to the sunny 16 rule. It’s a goooood one so listen up.

The sun is always the same intensity. Sometimes clouds block it and sometimes it’s real low in the sky and these are exceptions. But on a sunny day, its always the same. To get perfect exposures with your camera set your shutter speed the same as your ASA and your f-stop to f16.

So if your ASA is 100 then set it at 1/100’s. If that’s not available then go to 1/125 at f11.5 to compensate for the loss of a half stop with shutter speed.

It’s incredibly handy if you want perfect exposures. I like to overexpose my film a little so 1/125 with film speed 160 is great for me.

I was with a photographer once who had never heard of this principle. We were photographing a white church and his camera told him to shoot at 1/500 at f.16. It did that because the white threw off his meter. I explained the principle to him extensively but he remained unconvinced. His photographs of the white church turned out gray. Because white underexposed two stops is gray. He later went to Brooks Institute of Photography and learned it in the first class. He apologized to me later.

These clouds are lit by the sun. So my exposure: 1/125 at f 16

Learning the basics of exposure and lighting go miles and miles in your photography experiences. Learn them and you’ll see.

-Jon Ball is a portrait photographer based in Boise Idaho. His portraits can be found at Thank you for reading Photo tips.


  1. Funny story about that. I was that photographer and I still remember you telling me that and me being extremely skeptical.

    The other day I was outside helping one of my students get a good photo. it was full sun outside. I told him the perfect exposure for the shot he wanted to take would be 1/200 @ f/16. He looked at me like that was impossible to know. The exposure, of course, was spot on and when we got back to class he told everyone how I had just “guessed” and managed to get the perfect exposure. The students all looked at me like I was some kind of genius, which of course I am.

  2. I was wondering if you’d ever read that section. Or if you’d remember our experience that happened over 10 years ago. Funny stuff. When are you going to update your blog with the high school photography? I’m waiting…

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