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Thread: BTZS Explored

  1. #11
    donbga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claire Senft
    An interesting photo is the result of physics, artistry and craftmanship.
    An interesting photograph is determined by the viewer, not the photographer.

    Don Bryant

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    I have read all of the material that AA included in his various books. I bought them and I own them today. They were excellent inasfar as they went. It appears to me that whereas Adams determined that the Zone VIII density of a negative as being the logical conclusion of the process, Phil Davis more correctly determined that the exposure scale of the paper was the logical conclusion of the process. I would tend to believe that Davis was more accurate in his procedure. Once the characteristics (exposure scale) of the paper is determined, the negative density range can then be determined to match the characteristics of the paper. Without knowledge of the paper characteristics, the negative density range is an ill conceived and nebulous value.

    I have also developed film by inspection. I do not believe, in my actual experience, that I or any one can arrive at the accurate targeted density range on the basis of visual inspection with a fifteen watt lamp filtered through the green filter.
    You can find the exposure scale of the paper and the contrast index of the developed film image of a step density wedge by contact printing both the step wedge and the film image of it on paper. You can translate these values into scene brightness range that can be printed on that paper from a negative developed as your test was developed. All without a densitometer, to accuracy as good as you can guarantee by measurements of the original scene with a good spot meter.
    I agree about development by inspection, but I'm not about to try to convince anyone who has done it successfully for years that they cannot do it. I have people trying to tell me that I cannot do some of the things that I have done, so I know both sides. The moral is that some people can do things others cannot. But we all knew that. Many professional violinists know exactly what they are going to hear when they put a finger on the string and draw the bow across it. So do I, but I wouldn't want anyone else to hear it.
    Gadget Gainer

  3. #13
    Paddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noseoil
    It tends to be a bit on the technical side
    That has to be an understatement! If you're like me, i.e. seriously math/numbers challenged, then you'll be lost after a couple of pages into Phil Davis's much vaunted publication. Prior to looking this book over, I'd heard all of the usual reverent hub-bub floating across the web about what a miracle BTZS has made for my work, etc,...

    Well for myself who's number & math challenged, it flopped hard and fast. I found it unbearably dry. It's not for everybody, and in fact I think that it's not for many at all, because it requires quite a technically competent user, in order to grasp/gain the results. I'm not saying that the BTZS approach isn't valid, of course it is,...for the right person. There are many roads leading to Rome. And for a right brainer like myself it was a dead-end.

    It's not that I'm not committed to the art & craft of this medium,...nothing of the sort. I study and teach photography, the Zone System in fact, and my experience as an instructor is always pushing me to find better and clearer ways to present the theoretical & practical material. I've seen it so many times, with the students and even myself: the tendency to want to pursue film/materials testing to the 'nth degree, obsessing over target densities, when ultimately what any visual artist must be doing more than anything else is practicing their craft. Doing it's where the real learning gets integrated.

    I was recently given the collection of Fred Picker's Zone VI newsletters, and beyond whether or not his approach was valid for many or few, I really liked what he had to say about the fact that so much utterly brilliant work, both aesthetically and technically had been produced long before someone had ever uttered the sacred phrase "the zone system". Would their having known about the Zone System improved their images. Not likely. They knew their medium inside out, in a way that I don't think we can truly appreciate today.
    "If I'm a rebel sanctioned by society, encouraged by my parents, and cheered on by Hallmark, what is left to rebel against?"
    Hal Niedzviecki

  4. #14

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    I think you did not give it a serious chance.....but to each its own.
    We will never know if the people who made great prints before the ZS would have made better photographs knowing it, I dont think you can say it would not be likely, specially if you base your opnion on the Picker's writings. While he had some good ideas as far as equipment goes, his methodology was seriously flawed.

  5. #15
    hortense's Avatar
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    For a much simpler but EFFECTIVE method (and far less expensive) try Fred Picker's Book, "Zone VI Workshop", published by Amphoto. Amazon shows it at $2.99 plus shipping.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by hortense
    For a much simpler but EFFECTIVE method (and far less expensive) try Fred Picker's Book, "Zone VI Workshop", published by Amphoto. Amazon shows it at $2.99 plus shipping.
    :rolleyes:

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by gainer
    You can find the exposure scale of the paper and the contrast index of the developed film image of a step density wedge by contact printing both the step wedge and the film image of it on paper. You can translate these values into scene brightness range that can be printed on that paper from a negative developed as your test was developed. All without a densitometer, to accuracy as good as you can guarantee by measurements of the original scene with a good spot meter.
    I agree about development by inspection, but I'm not about to try to convince anyone who has done it successfully for years that they cannot do it. I have people trying to tell me that I cannot do some of the things that I have done, so I know both sides. The moral is that some people can do things others cannot. But we all knew that. Many professional violinists know exactly what they are going to hear when they put a finger on the string and draw the bow across it. So do I, but I wouldn't want anyone else to hear it.

    While one can get into the same universe without the benefit of a reflective densitometric determination of the papers exposure scale, I don't believe that a truly accurate appraisal can be made. I say this after visually inspecting developed projections of a step tablet on paper and then comparing that to a densitometric evaluation. Truth is that while my vision is not seriously impaired, my eyes just are not as accurate as the instrument.

  8. #18
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    Therein lies another problem. How accurate is the instrument? Yet another, how accurate must it be? Where is the weakest link? If you know the scale of the paper to a gnat's eyelash, will that insure that you can expose and develop the film to take advantage of that precision? After all that, how many times will you get a negative that just "falls" onto the paper without dodging, burning or other manipulation? If you had a choice, would you rather have a densitometer or that new lens you have always coveted? I don't want to spoil your fun. I always wanted a densitometer, so I designed and built one. That was part of my fun. Mine is not like any other, and that too is part of my fun. I'm just trying to get you to think about priorities in a level-headed manner. If your head is not quite level, welcome to the fraternity.
    Gadget Gainer

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by gainer
    Therein lies another problem. How accurate is the instrument? Yet another, how accurate must it be? Where is the weakest link? If you know the scale of the paper to a gnat's eyelash, will that insure that you can expose and develop the film to take advantage of that precision? After all that, how many times will you get a negative that just "falls" onto the paper without dodging, burning or other manipulation? If you had a choice, would you rather have a densitometer or that new lens you have always coveted? I don't want to spoil your fun. I always wanted a densitometer, so I designed and built one. That was part of my fun. Mine is not like any other, and that too is part of my fun. I'm just trying to get you to think about priorities in a level-headed manner. If your head is not quite level, welcome to the fraternity.

    The point that I was attempting make is that my reflective densitometer, which I already own, is far more accurate then my visual inspection of a developed print of a step tablet projection. But then my eyes are not as young as they once were...perhaps therein lies the problem. I have found, through my personal experience, that I have far more negatives that print without serious manipulation now then what was once the case.

    As far as lenses go, I already own what I want. But then maybe that isn't the case for everyone.

    I don't want to be contentious. I am just pointing out that accuracy comes from using the most accurate means. Perhaps that isn't thinking rationally from your perspective. But then as I already mentioned one needs to determine the accuracy of the evaluating means.

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paddy
    I was recently given the collection of Fred Picker's Zone VI newsletters, and beyond whether or not his approach was valid for many or few, I really liked what he had to say about the fact that so much utterly brilliant work, both aesthetically and technically had been produced long before someone had ever uttered the sacred phrase "the zone system". Would their having known about the Zone System improved their images. Not likely. They knew their medium inside out, in a way that I don't think we can truly appreciate today.
    These pre-zone system photographers had either luck or a good working knowledge of their materials. Thats all the zone system is, a method of arriving at a good working knowledge of your materials and then applying that knowledge to arrive at the results you want. BTZS just takes that knowledge a step deeper technically (IMO)
    Phill
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

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