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  1. #11
    John_Brewer's Avatar
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    The current issue of Black and White Photography (UK) has an article you may find interesting Tony. The zone system is a lot simpler that it initially seems.
    ~John~
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    There are 10 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

  2. #12
    lee
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    there are several books available that attempt to demystify the process. when metering remember that photo meters see the world in gray. So, if you want to meter the shadows (always a good idea) remember that for the proper exposure you will need to close the lens fstops down 2 stops to actually expose for Zone III. Some people use the Zone VIII as the highlight but I think it is more useful to use Zone VII. With that I use a time that thru testing I found to be a normal development time. I used a densitometer to determine the my personal film speed with my equipment and found a .10 density above film base + fog. The film base + fog density is subtracted from the first hint of exposure and where the densitometer needs to read .10. That exposure is the film speed. This is considered Zone I (4 stops below what the meter reads). (Meter reads Zone V then stop down one and that is zone IV and then stopping down one more stop is Zone III and so on until you get to Zone I) In my example, that value came at exactly one half the box speed. If I have to test any film now a days I always start there.

    Finding a normal development time is just a simple. After you have an effective film speed then re-meter the card and OPEN up the lens 3 stops and make your exposure there. Then develop the film at the recommended time from the manufacture. Read the film and if you have a condenser enlarger look for a density around 1.2 and if you are using a diffused light source 1.3. If you are off then more development time will increase that zone 8 number and less time will decrease that time. You might find it handy to reduce the manufactures time by 20% the first time. When you get to those numbers the film is said to be set up for normal exposure and normal development. Use those speeds and dev times for a while to get some experience in metering and seeing those values.

    It is not rocket medicine. It is pretty easy actually.

    lee\c

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie
    Short of having a field of cows, you can look about you and find what best fits the different zones in your world. My world, it becomes the Himilayan cat zones. Between my seal points, and my blue point, I have a range of 2 to 8.
    That is an interesting concept... I'll have to spot meter the cats when I get home. I have a Chocolate Persian, a Shaded Silver Persian, a Seal Point Himmie, a Chocolate Point Himmie, and a basic b-flat gray tiger DSH. Should be interesting...

    hehehe
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Brewer
    The current issue of Black and White Photography (UK) has an article you may find interesting Tony. The zone system is a lot simpler that it initially seems.
    John - Thank you I usually read it cover to cover but for some reason only got around to reading Les McLean's feature. I'll did it out and see if I can make any sense of it.

    DrPhil - Well I guess I managed to get the detail on the negative, but it's the most extream one in terms of latitude I've ever tried and hopefully managed to print. Maybe today was a success after all as I have a print from this negative and easier negatives gave me a chance to print on FB which I loved. Maybe I'll try this negative on FB when I have the odd 2 hours to spare.

    Thanks to all the replies here with the magazine and your replies I just might be able to get at least a basic understanding. Then I can dig deeper by supporting my local book store.

    Also thank you all for another APUG sensible range of replies, I can think of one or two other places where this post would not have been so rewardingly responded to.

    Kind regards Tony

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by TPPhotog
    OK I consider myself of average intelligence, qualifications in business management, sciences, mathematics and too many years in IT before I dumped it to be a starvibg artist. But for some reason no matter how hard I try my eyes glaze over and my brain cells head for the cover of the nearest blanket like a Garfield cartoon strip when I try to understand the zone.

    Kind regards Tony

    Is the zone system, or other systems of negative control, worth the time and energy that must be expended to master them? In my opinion the answer depends on whether you are working with 35mm and medium format or sheet film, and upon whether you plan to make prints by enlargement or contact printing.

    For sheet film and contact printing my opinion is yes, the time and effort is definitely worth the trouble because a contact print from a large format negative is the best that one can do in terms of authenticity and image information. You might be able to scan a large format negative, adjust the file in Photoshop and make a better looking print, but it unlikely that you could improve significantly on a contact print from the original negative, assuming of course that you are prepared to burn, dodge and make whatever other tonal corrections are necessary in making the print. So for large format film and contact printing getting the very best negative possible for the printing process is important both to final image quality and because it will save time in printing.

    What follows is in the hybrid category and if there is further discussion it might be better to shift it to the gray area of the alternative section.

    For 35 mm and medium format my opinion is that it is not worth the trouble to use the zone system. What I have determined works best for me is to simply expose the film to get good shadow detail, develop the film to a CI of about 1.05, scan the negative, make a digital negative, and from that a contact print onto the process. The quality of contact prints from digital negatives up to about 16X20" in size I have been able to make from 6X9 original negatives is better than I have been able to make by projection printing negatives of this size with an enlarger. There are no doubt valid reasons others may have for choosing to not work this way but in my opinion the quality of the final image can not be one of them.

    Sandy

  6. #16
    127
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    The best thing I got from Zone was a vocabulary, and set of tools for thinking about tones.

    I read the books enthusiastically, decided I should try it, then never really got round to actually following the system. Pretty much all my exposures are done by skill and judgement (aka luck, and a bit of sunny 16) - I very rarely even get the meter out of the bag. It works close enough for me - others are of course more particular.

    Despite absolutly NOT following the system, I can ABSOLUTLY say my shots are better as a result. I recommend the Adams books to anyone who'll listen - they are fantastic. They give you a mechanism for thinking about images.

    With that mechanism in place you can meter or not meter - work however you are happy. If you never even TAKE another picture, Zone lets you look at images and (technically at least) deconstruct them.

    Learn the principles then go off and ignore it - you'll be better for it.

    Ian

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TPPhotog
    Thanks to all the replies here with the magazine and your replies I just might be able to get at least a basic understanding. Then I can dig deeper by supporting my local book store.

    Also thank you all for another APUG sensible range of replies, I can think of one or two other places where this post would not have been so rewardingly responded to.

    Kind regards Tony
    Tony,

    For your book reading pleasure I will suggest a few that I have enjoyed. First, Les McLean's book is really good. Being that you are shooting roll film I would say this is a really good place to start. Ansel's "The Negative" and "The Print" are also good. My current favorite is Lambrecht and Woodhouse's "Way Beyond Monochrome" I purchased it thinking that it would be the typical 1/2 inch thick photo book. However, it is over an inch thick!! It is organized as a collection of short articles.

    Good Luck,

    Phil
    Facts are facts; however, perception is reality.

  8. #18
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    For an explanation of the Zone System that makes sense Les McClean's book is great. But see this too:

    http://www.barry-thornton.co.uk/zone.htm

    and

    http://www.barry-thornton.co.uk/unzone.htm

    I found Mr. Thorton's entire website extremely helpful.

    William
    "I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America." -- Alexis de Tocqueville

  9. #19
    John_Brewer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPhil
    My current favorite is Lambrecht and Woodhouse's "Way Beyond Monochrome"
    That sure is a meaty tome and one of my faves too.
    ~John~
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    There are 10 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

  10. #20
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    Ralph and Chris' book,while a great reference, can be overwhelming for the newbie, especially considering that you are assaulted with sensitometry in the first chapter. That would stop most people dead in their tracks right there.

    Personally, my favourite 'teaching' book on photography is Bruce Barnbaum's book The Art of Photography - if you want to learn the zone system, this is a very good book to read.

    However, as has already been pointed out, serious application of the zone system is really only applicable to sheet film and medium format where you can have interchangeable backs. Unless you have multiple bodies for your 35mm system, you have to develop the entire roll at one time, which means that all images, regardless of exposure, will get the same development. The ZS is all about applying the correct development to a given image.

    But, as with all things, you can use the Zone system to assist in exposure.

    I would also point out that exposing shadows on zone III may not always be a good thing. If you want good tonal separation in the shadows then you should expose your shadows on zone IV. See, the thing is that if you expose shadows on zone III, some of the shadow areas will fall on zone II 1/2 (or less), and some on zone III 1/2 - so, unless you're metering a tonally smooth area, there will be variances. So, if part of the shadow area falls on zone II, then you'll be exposing on the toe of the film, where there is very little separation - in other words, you get blocked, or flat, shadows. If you expose on zone IV, then you should get most of the shadow area well up off the toe of film, thereby ensuring good tonal separation. Yes, this will lead to denser negatives, but at the benefit of greater tonal separation in the shadows.

    Adams mentioned this, as does Les McLean in his book on page 21 (although there is a typo, where he indicates shadow exposure should be on zone VI - oops). Barnbaum advises this, as do a few other fine art photographers.

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