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Thread: BTZS Explored

  1. #1
    mikepry's Avatar
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    BTZS Explored

    After several years of contemplating the investigation of the BTZS approach to photography, I decided, this winter to give it a go. My background is not an academic one by any means so I almost flipped out when I first opened the book when it arrived in the mail! Well, this was a waste of money, was my initial reaction. Tried to read book....put book down.......tried to read book again....put book down again.......tried to read again, but this time little bits and pieces started to sink in! Then more, and then a little more. Well after really giving it a fair chance and an honest effort I have to say I'm sold. What a revelation. Yes, it is a very complex approach, but we work with very complex materials, don't we? Very scientific materials, to say the least. But after one does some very EASY and FAST testing, the wealth of information is absolutely mind boggling.

    This is not a ploy to convert anyone to this system but rather just letting anyone know who has contemplated it as I did to try it and see if it isn't the "best kept secret in photography." I received great help along the way from Jorge as well as Fred and Dennis at the View Camera Store, and suggested to them they should consider being a sponsor on APUG which they did to my delight. Yes, this is technical at first but once through that, it really simplifies the whole approach and I must say that I have produced some of the nicest printing negatives I have ever worked with. Some almost print themselves! Way cool. What is different is that one starts with the paper and fits the neg to that. I had not done that in the past and it really works well.
    "EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
    Phil Davis

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    You lost me on the first sentance, forgive me, but what is BTZS?

    (something zone system?)
    "Where is beauty? Where I must will with my whole Will; where I will love and perish, that an image may not remain merely an image."

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepry
    After several years of contemplating the investigation of the BTZS approach to photography, I decided, this winter to give it a go. My background is not an academic one by any means so I almost flipped out when I first opened the book when it arrived in the mail! Well, this was a waste of money, was my initial reaction. Tried to read book....put book down.......tried to read book again....put book down again.......tried to read again, but this time little bits and pieces started to sink in! Then more, and then a little more. Well after really giving it a fair chance and an honest effort I have to say I'm sold. What a revelation. Yes, it is a very complex approach, but we work with very complex materials, don't we? Very scientific materials, to say the least. But after one does some very EASY and FAST testing, the wealth of information is absolutely mind boggling.

    This is not a ploy to convert anyone to this system but rather just letting anyone know who has contemplated it as I did to try it and see if it isn't the "best kept secret in photography." I received great help along the way from Jorge as well as Fred and Dennis at the View Camera Store, and suggested to them they should consider being a sponsor on APUG which they did to my delight. Yes, this is technical at first but once through that, it really simplifies the whole approach and I must say that I have produced some of the nicest printing negatives I have ever worked with. Some almost print themselves! Way cool. What is different is that one starts with the paper and fits the neg to that. I had not done that in the past and it really works well.
    I have learned the develop by inspection method for negatives to be printed on AZO. I can not think of anything more simple than that. I feel that I am able to get the contrast close enough to make the prints that I want. I wonder if working with Pt-Pd needs a very different approach to making negatives??
    I can only think that part of the beauty of using the BTZS system is in getting the neg right on so that printing with expensive salts does not get discouragely expensive, especially with bigger prints.

    Is there anything else that the BTZS is good for?

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    Hi Mike.

    I remember the first time I tackled that book. I sure felt like a dummy but I plodded on through and finally got it. What really opened my eyes was when I got ahold of the Plotter program for the Mac. Everything fell into place at once and the really cool thing is that I don't have to drive myself nuts plotting the the curves myself. Another cool thing is that it only takes five sheets of film plus whatever paper you plan to use for the test and it saves a lot of film too. Really cuts down on waste.

    I have gotten ahold of a densitometer, but I need to find a manual for it and a transmission calibration standard for it so I know if it's working correctly.

    I think that it would be fun to test all the popular films so there would be objective and subjective ways to find out which film really really works best. You could do the sensitometric tests to find the best film speeds and dev time for the for the technically optimum negative, then go out and shoot the calibrated films in a real world situation, print the pictures and see what combinations work best for your particular style, or lack thereof.

    I think that Ansel Adams would have thought very highly of BTZS.

    Mike Sullivan
    When the chips are down,

    The buffalo is empty!!!



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    mikepry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Olivet
    I have learned the develop by inspection method for negatives to be printed on AZO. I can not think of anything more simple than that. I feel that I am able to get the contrast close enough to make the prints that I want. I wonder if working with Pt-Pd needs a very different approach to making negatives??
    I can only think that part of the beauty of using the BTZS system is in getting the neg right on so that printing with expensive salts does not get discouragely expensive, especially with bigger prints.

    Is there anything else that the BTZS is good for?
    Because of the work I do with Palladium was one of the main reasons I went into BTZS. And I know I'll have many people disagree with me on this but as far as AZO goes....it's merely another paper with predictable characteristics. Yes, it's a good paper but every film and paper is good....for something.
    "EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
    Phil Davis

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Colley
    You lost me on the first sentance, forgive me, but what is BTZS?

    (something zone system?)
    Beyond The Zone System
    S°ren

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    Christopher, BTZS stands for "Beyond the Zone System" which is a logical extension of what Adams was working with in his time. It is a synthesis of though which results in an approach to photography allowing the photographer ultimate control of exposure and development for any given paper, lighting or difficult situation out of the "normal" exposure range.

    It tends to be a bit on the technical side, but the end result is to match the film to the paper's exact scale in order to allow a full rendering of tonality in an image with a minimum of fuss and bother after testing is done.

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    Different ways of looking at the same horse. Adams was a musician, and a very fine one at that. His analogy was to steps of the musical scale. BTZS is more strictly numerical, but the essence of it can be put to use even without a densitometer.
    Gadget Gainer

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    My thought exactly

    Photogra[hy has noting better to offer photographers who wish process contol than BTZS. It far exceeds the methodoly started by Archer and Adams. It is, in my opinion, to be highly recommeded to all B&W photographers,

    Unfortunately, a prime factor in any photographer's development will be their own personality. Many photographers have a personality that would make this photographic metod unsuitable for them. Thankfully, methodoly does not prevent any photographer from producing fine photography. The BTZS method makes photography a great deal more efficient but is no guarantee of an interesting photo being produced. An interesting photo is the result of physics, artistry and craftmanship.

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    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.

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