TZS or NOT

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mwelsh, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. mwelsh

    mwelsh Member

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    I downloaded some video from The Luminous Landscape yesterday and one of them had an incredible interview with Clyde Butcher a Florida photographer and printer who makes these incredibly large prints of the everglades. Highly recommended in my opinion to watch this interview if you can.
    He said something that really interested me because as a newly learning photographer, the zone system seems to be the standard exposure tool when it comes to black and white photography and I want to learn the zone system.
    However he said " If the light is right, you don't need the zone system."
    My question is what did he mean by that? I don't understand the distinction.

    Mark A. Welsh
     
  2. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Part of the zone system has to do with setting exposure. Part of it has to do with determining whether to develop normally or to reduce the dev. time or increase it to adjust contrast in the photo. If the light is right...not contrasty or overly soft, then you use normal developing time, and I think that's what he's talking about. The exposure part is useful to me but lots of people just use what their camera's built in meter says and others use an incident light meter (zone system requires reflected light meter).
     
  3. Casey Kidwell

    Casey Kidwell Member

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    I'm assuming he meant that with the right light his images are within the desired contrast range with normal exposure and development. This changes when the metered value structure exceeds the latitude of a given film. I think the most important thing you can take away from the zone system is the relationships between exposure and development.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2010
  4. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Clyde Butcher told me himself that he looks over a scene, picks out what he wants to be on Zone V, meters that, then sets his exposure. That's not exactly what most folks think of as the Zone System.

    If you want to learn the system, get Ansel Adams' "The Negative." You might also look for a used copy of "The Zone VI Workshop" by Fred Picker (no longer in print.)
    juan
     
  5. mwelsh

    mwelsh Member

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    I remember now I think he does say in the video that he meters what he wants to be middle grey and then sets his exposure. Its so good to have this kind of information availlable. Thanks you guys.
     
  6. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    He's very approcahable. May take a bit to get a response. But why don't you just ask him. He could answer better than most.
     
  7. mwelsh

    mwelsh Member

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    Is he on here? I have no idea. And yeah I believe he probably is approachable. He seems very humble from what I saw. The kind of guy where I would just listen and not say a word soaking up everything he had to say.
     
  8. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I do not beleive that Clyde is on APUG. Bt you can get him through contact information on his page as I did a few years ago. He was very helpful and pleasant.
     
  9. mwelsh

    mwelsh Member

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    Thanks Chris
     
  10. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    The Zone System is only a tool for the exposure of film and its subsequent development.

    It does not improve an indifferent photograph

    Most landscape photography is about the quality of the light rather than the quality of your developed negatives.

    As a beginner (and for almost all the rest of us too) we should worry more about the quality of the light rather than the nuances of metering and development.

    IMO, you should expend your time effort and money learning your craft for composition and understanding the qualities of the light the various weather patterns provide.

    The Zone System is only really useful if you short sheet film (so you can apply individual development to each negative) and in very challenging lighting conditions where the SBR is either much less than about 5 stops or much greater than about 10 stops.

    This is what I suspect it meant by "If the light is right, you don't need the zone system."

    I do shoot sheet film but only “Zone” when I need to (less than about 2% of the time)

    Martin
     
  11. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Butcher does not change development times for any of his negatives, regardless of exposure. This is different from the Zone System, where one may develop more or less than normal to change the contrast of the scene. He meters, exposes as the meter indicates, then develops his film (T-Max 100) following the manufacturer's time for every sheet.
     
  12. hrst

    hrst Member

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    And, zone system is NOT a synonym for overexposing, pull processing, underexposing and push processing! You can do all of these things without the Zone System. You can also visualize the final print in your mind without the Zone System. In fact, it might be even easier when you are not lost in technical details; what I mean, for many people, it's easier to think "this scene has a bit too much contrast, I'll underdevelop this sheet of film!" than to think; "this scene has details on zone II to zone VIVIVIVIViVvviivVXXIiblah blah MCMXIV 538968.135" :wink:.

    You DON'T need the zone system to do these basic things. You can evaluate the contrast range of a scene by eye - or meter it with light meter - and decide to do pull development or push development depending on the contrast. You can "expose for the shadows". And, you can place the "shadows" in your mind where you want them to be.

    These all things are very basics and explained in many books and datasheets, before and after ZS. Zone System is just a one man's self-made, nontechnical numerical tool (that still SOUNDS technical) to assist this process, and some people find it very useful, some people find it cumbersome. It's up to you. Learn the basics and use what works for you!

    I find that, in general, the Zone System has done more harm than good by preventing people from learning the very basics and understanding their real meanings by confusing themselves by this arbitrary system. This probably wasn't Ansel Adams' purpose! He just made a system that made most sense for himself.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2010
  13. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Them's fightin' words!:D

    I doubt Adams would consider his system arbitrary. It is based on basic sensitometric priciples. It is confusing as he explains it in his texts, but they really are not intended for beginners.

    Try reading Fred Picker's Zone VI Workshop. It is no longer in print, but about a zillion copies are available. It is not the best organized text, but it does simplify the zone system and explains using meters, exposing and processing film very well. Phil Davis' Beyond the Zone System is another good one.

    That someone does or does not use the zone system has little to do with proper exposure and development for his or her particular working method. I think we all settle into a system that works for us and gives us the results we want. It takes time, practice, and a lot of film. It also depends on personal style and the desired "look" of the finished piece. Not everyone wants to make f/64-Group, Zone System Ansel Weston Edward Adams pictures.

    Peter Gomena
     
  14. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Did you ever try and get up with Mr. Butcher? Ya know, he was on BBC America on Sep 14. He has a couple video on their site as well.

    Just curious, though.
     
  15. TSSPro

    TSSPro Member

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    Agreed, I use TZS principles to help me previz a scene that I have already put the effort into choosing based on aesthetic criteria. One of which is quality of light. TZS help me with the quantity of light issues.
     
  16. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    All the Zone System does for me is to get consistent results from the creative choices I make.
     
  17. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    What ever it is that Clyde Butcher does, it seems to work well for him.