Which Zone for a White Shutters in sunlight?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Shangheye, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    I have a white door which I photograph in sunlight for testing my development times. My problem is that I don't know if it should fall on VII or VIII. It currently seems to fall on Zone VII for my development times.

    Appreciate any views...Rgds, Kal
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It really depends on how much detail you want in that white, but it should most probably be on Zone VIII.

    Ian
     
  3. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    That is what I was thinking too Ian. There isn't much detail in the door, but I can see some of the paint strokes in the scan, and I imagine I would lose most of it but not all with another stop. I will add 10% next time and see what I get. Thanks for the advice. Rgds, Kal
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    What is your testing procedure?

    Do you meter the white, and place it on zone VIII? Do you meter it and place it on zone VII?

    The key is not what zone it "is", but whether or not it prints where you tell it to land after normal printing. Zones do not exist in real life; only on prints.

    So, assuming you are testing for a normal developing time, if you placed it on zone VIII, it should print to a zone VIII with normal printing. If you placed it on a zone VIII, and it is printing to a zone VII with normal printing, then yes, you should try again with some more time. If you placed it on a zone VII, and it landed on a zone VII, you are good, though it means your developing times are calibrated to zone VII instead of zone VIII.
     
  5. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    Thanks 2F I think you are spot on. I tested by metering off the door and then setting it to zone VII, and it came out zone VII with my normal development. I am not sure if I should place it at VIII I guess is my question, and whether that would provide the "better" print tonally. I need to print it at VII and see...I will be doing that tonight, but I need to compare it to what it would look like at VIII...

    In summary, what I think you are saying is that I should just expose to place it at VIII and develop normally...right?

    Rgds, Kal
     
  6. eddym

    eddym Member

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    You should place it on whatever zone you think it belongs, to suit your own interpretation of the scene.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You are probably pretty well calibrated by using zone VII as a target.

    However, the zone system method explained in the '80s rewrites of the Adams trilogy mentions that he used to calibrate to a zone V, but abandoned the practice at some point in favor of calibrating to zone VIII.

    Just remember that the entire thing is designed to give you want you want, not that which "is right". The whole thing is pointless unless it serves as a tool to achieve your vision. It should be that, and nothing else. The idea of the image comes first. The tool serves the image; not the other way around.

    Also: nothing "is" a zone until it is on a print! Speaking of the real world as "being" in zones is a conceptual error; perhaps the worst one you can make with the zone system. You are taking the real world and making it into tonal zones on a print. That is the point of it: to give you fine control of that act. The term does not apply to anything except prints. The entire process has to work backward from the print to make any sense at all.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2009
  8. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    Thanks guys...this is making alot more sense now! Rgds, Kal
     
  9. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Wirelessly posted (BBBold: BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    Just asking. Wouldn't be simpler to expose for zone V and compare to a gray card?
     
  10. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    Christopher, if I did that I would have no control of where the hilight zone VII would fall on the print, which in this case is what I am after....I need to know what my development is calibrated to, and to do that for the hilights, I need to set the zone for the hilight and develop normally and see where it lands on the print...I think :confused:. K
     
  11. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    OK. I see. Not just a time but a time with a specific value placement in mind.
     
  12. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I hope not! In the Zone System, you expose to place a shadow zone and develop to let a highlight fall on a highlight zone.

    As someone said, it's up to the photographer to determine where he or she want's the zones to be, but artistically-limit me would develop to let a white shutter in sunlight fall on Zone VIII.
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    This is true in "the field" almost all of the time. (As an example of the "almost", I just placed a highlight in "the field" yesterday, as a matter of fact: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum48/64725-fp4-long-exposure-extreme-pull.html.) However, the OP is testing for a normal development time, in which case you do place a highlight.
     
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  15. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Sort of. I am saying that to follow the way in the book, you'd expose it three stops over the reading. Then you would test at the manufacturer's recommended time. Then you would make a "normal" print and see where it fell. Then, depending on where it fell, you would make alterations if needed and do the same thing over again.

    IMO, shooting several shots at the same time is best on sheet film (or a whole roll with roll film), as it ensures that the quality of light is the same for each exposure, thus eliminates one possible variable that would arise from shooting on a different day and/or time.

    For roll film, you can just cut off part of the roll and develop it for the first round. For the second round, if necessary, you can cut off another piece. For the third round, another, and so on and so forth.

    Personally, I would say that you are fine calibrating to a zone VII...and you have already done that, so go out and shoot some pix, unless you want to find pluses and minuses first.
     
  16. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    That is right...I am trying to find the normal development time to place the hilight where I want it.

    In normal use in the field, I meter Zone III and reduce exposure by 2 stops.

    Thanks everyone, I actually feel calibrated for the first time!

    Rgds, Kal

    PS I have been using Incident metering for the last year (and before that average metering refelctive readings), but have felt very little control. It is convenient and "safe", and has it's uses...but I think the Zone System will allow me to be in control.
     
  17. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I know what you mean, but the terminology is quite not correct. This is probably just semantics, but AA is clear in his terminology. Shadows are 'placed' with exposure and ALL other tones 'fall' depending on development. When you pick a development to guide a certain highlight, all other tones adjust with it. This does (theoretically) not happen to placed shadows.

    Consequently, the difference between 'place' and 'fall' is that exposure places one tone and development makes all others fall. As I said, just semantics, however, it allows to be linguistically accurate when in rare cases you actually 'place' highlights, for example you expose for a high-key tone and adjust the development for the midtones.

    Just being picky me again.
     
  18. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Many a time, i wish AA had kept his teaching tool to himself. It causes more confusion than that it adds to what photographers (then) knew all along:
    expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights.

    I think that if we would start remembering that 'old thing' again, and forget about the entire ZS talk, life would be so much easier. Without giving up anything.

    Now, we even get discussions about whether something "falls" or is "placed"...
    How much further away from the matter at hand, exposing our films, will we allow the ZS to take us?
    :D
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I said it before:

    Photographic science is highly sophisticated, but sometimes, it's utterly useless and happily misses the entire point of it all!

    ...and it is so much fun.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I totally disagree. A placed tone is any tone that you decide to expose at the desired distance from middle grey (or at middle grey itself in some cases). The tones that "fall" are all other tones in relation to the placed tone on an exposure scale. They fall where they fall depending on their luminance relative to the placed tone. The term "fall" is independent of development, and relates to exposure only. Where things fall (in the case of high tones when low-toned placement has occurred), or where they are placed (in the case of high tones when high-toned placement has occurred), compared to what you want, is what determines what you do in development. "Fall" refers to relative luminance values and how they would be captured by the theoretical normal development resulting in the theoretical perfectly linear S curve. It does not refer to actual negative densities after N+ or N- processing. This is very clear in Ansel Adams' writing.

    In the example I posted from my pix the other day, I placed a highlight on zone IX. As a result, another bright area two EVs lower fell on zone VII on the exposure scale, and the dark areas fell wherever they fell on the exposure scale, because I did not care if they were totally black on the print. Even though I will be giving my film minus development so that the zone IX placement ends up being a density that will easily print to a zone VII-VIII, I still "placed" the highlight at zone IX, and the shadows still "fell" where they did. Again, "place" and "fall" relate only to how the exposure would be rendered if given normal development, not to how it will be rendered with N+ or N- development.

    The two words physically mean the same thing (where the tone will end up if given normal development), but one is chosen by the photographer (the "place"), and the others are dictated by their luminance values relative to the placed tone (the "fall"). A tone does not "fall" where it does via exposure and development; only in relation to a "placed" tone.

    Q.G. :I think it is difficult because people don't understand it, and try to come up with very different ways to describe it, when it is really a dreadfully simple theory and practice, IMO. IMO, it is a good tool because of its simplicity, and loses so much when people complicate it. As beginner, it really helped me a lot. Now, I use it when it suits the shot, and do not use it when it doesn't...but I do think that is is a helpful learning tool for some (many?) people. IMO, it really boils down to reading comprehension. Adams was an extremely clear writer, and what he wrote on it is enough to get it thoroughly, and as well as you need to get it.
     
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  21. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Oh, but i agree about it being usefull as a teaching tool.
    And perhaps as a crutch to lean on when we feel a bit lazy later on.
    No dispute there.


    It's just that the terminology, the elaborations, etc. all help to make a simple matter much more confusing than it needs to be.

    That, in turn, is helped by the mythical status the ZS has attained.

    Which, in turn, is because people do not understand what it is about: that extremely simple 'old thing' again: expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights.

    And that is because the terminology, the elaborations, etc. all help to [etc.]


    Adams too came up "with very different ways to describe it, when it is really a dreadfully simple theory and practice".
     
  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    P.S. The answer to this thread was very simple: If the white shutter ends up at the density that will produce the zone on which it was placed when printed "normally, then you are calibrated.

    In other words, if you aim at something with the intent to hit it, and then you hit it, your intent has been achieved. It is as simple as that.

    Now we have moved into arguing minutiae of diction and other things. From my POV, the argument is to prevent the system from being understood in a mishmoshed way.

    The way it is being described by Mr. Lambrecht is a combination of the tonal placement aspect of Adams' practice with another approach, which states that each separate combination of film and development time is looked at as a tool that captures the luminance range at the scene in a unique, non-linear, way. With this approach, the concepts of place and fall are different, and are dependent on the S curve chosen to capture the scene, not on a theoretical, perfect, linear exposure scale. That is fine and works perfectly (in fact, better, IMO), but it is not an accurate description of the zone system as explained by Mr. Adams, which is the argument that Mr. Lambrecht is making. With Adams' zone system, films are manipulated in the testing stages such that they are as linear as possible in the zone I - VIII range, and then used. With the other method, films are not manipulated in the testing stage at all, but simply analyzed. I am not arguing that one is any better than the other (thought I do not think that manipulating, rather than analyzing, in the testing stage makes the most sense for most applications, nor do I think that the zone I - VIII range is the best range in which to shoot for linearity; I prefer the zone II - VIII range). I am just arguing that the two are being combined in Mr. Lambrecht's explanation of "fall".

    ...and yes, Q.G.. The problem is not the system itself so much as the unexplainable confusion that surrounds it. I don't get it, except to say that it just clicks with some people, and not with others. It works when (and because) it is simple, quick, and easy to employ. If it is not any of those things; if it does not "click"; if you do not "get it", then it is of no use to you. There are other ways to expose and develop your pictures that will work just fine, if not better. There is absolutely no shame in that. It is just one way of explaining and quantifying something that photographers have done since before Mr. Adams was even born. A tool is only useful to you if it is useful to you. You need to pick one that, as the most important element, makes perfect sense in your mind; that you fully understand and can employ quickly and accurately. I don't get the idea that the system must be learned and employed at all times by all photographers for them to be doing the "right thing".

    For purposes of this thread, I am answering the OP in regards to the Adams zone system, regardless of whether it is perfect or not. It is what the OP asked about, and what he is learning to employ at this point, so the more clear this particular take on it can be made, the better. Mushing it together with other outlooks on the system, while it will work perfectly in practice, will in fact make things less clear and harder for the OP at this stage IMO.
     
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  23. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I agree! You place one tone, the others fall. So, if you meter for a shadow, you are placing it, and the highlights fall. I took objection to the earlier statement where it said: 'However, the OP is testing for a normal development time, in which case you do place a highlight.'. That is not correct IMHO.

    But I'm happy to end this with agreeing to disagree.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I would like to hear how you believe it is not correct in the Adams normal development method...because it is not incorrect at all.

    In the Adams method, to test for a normal development time, you do place something on a high tone (zone VIII specifically). Then you develop, and see if it ended up where you wanted it.

    There is a sentence from straight out of "The Negative" that should prove I am not b.s.ing. It is from the "Normal Development" section of the "Film Testing Procedures Appendix.

    "To test for normal development, set up the test card under uniform illumination as before. You must again be careful to control all test conditions, and use the same equipment and materials as in the first test. Read the luminance of the card, and determine the exposure to place the luminance on Zone V and then on Zone VIII, using the film speed established in the first test (Zone V is the exposure indicated by the meter, and Zone VIII is three stops, or 8x, more than the meter-indicated exposure)."

    (emphasis added)

    This is basic knowledge in using the zone system.

    This is exactly why people have trouble understanding it: people circulate incorrect and confusing information about it, and/or contradict correct and clarifying information about it.

    IMO, based on what Q.G. has said, people should read the book, figure it out them self, and refrain from asking another soul for guidance until they understand everything in that book. Too many people give out too much bad information on it to go around asking just anyone.
     
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  25. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    2F, It was exactly that calibration for Zone VIII development that I was trying to do, and your explanation of what Adams wrote is consistent with my understanding. My confusion came from where to place the White door (VII or VIII)...now I know and understand that it is MY choice.

    Rgds, Kal
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The way I think about these things (subject to constant revision and refinement!) is this: there are zones and there are also transitions through zones. You have to consider both. Any you cannot consider both unless you mate exposure decisions to development decisions.

    If you consider absolute zone placement only and don't concern yourself with transitions, then it is possible to place your white object anywhere and then print it in a way that your white object is indeed white in your print.

    But!... (and this is the proverbial big but)... the quality of the transitions into and out of your white object will depend on where the zones fall on the tone curve of the developed film. E.g. if you place your zone 7/8 white object in the linear part of the tone curve then you run the risk of the highlight transitions being too fast. On the other hand, if you place your white object way off the edge of the curve then the neighboring highlights will develop to very similar density and then clump up and look posterized in the print. In either case, even if the object you want white is truly white, the neighboring transitions into that white object won't look good.

    I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks :wink: