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Thread: Zone Placement

  1. #71
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul ron View Post
    Man this zone system can be complicated to hell n back with equasions n mathamatical terms. We're artists not scientists, we don't add 2+2, we count fingers or F stops!
    Careful there, there are a fair number of APUGers that are engineers, chemists, astronomers ...

    Also, just FYI, photography has more uses than just art. One of those uses is commerce.

    Professional photography is built on a foundation of repeatability. For example studio work is, IMO, assembly line work. There is no guessing about exposure or contrast in a professionally run studio.

    We all have differing needs, subjects, and styles.

    Quote Originally Posted by paul ron View Post
    50 years of using the zone system, I've ledarned that the oversimplified version makes more sense. I was always told, as many of us were, by an old photoggrapher friend...

    "Expose for the for the shadows, develope for the highlights."

    I think we've all heard that one before and it's right on the mark, it's called the Zone System.
    Although this classic Zone System type of shooting makes sense for certain subjects it's not the only road.

    For example incident metering makes more sense for most of the subject matter I shoot. I also use VC paper so getting exactly grade 2 isn't a be all end all.

    Even though I meter differently and use VC paper, understanding the variables I need to consider, like the star of this thread, flare, allows me to trouble shoot and avoid problems.

    When I don't understand what the variables are, and don't know which tool to use, and don't understand what normal is, and don't have a language to talk about all that, I end up wasting time guessing or bracketing or leaning on some other crutch or even screwing up a shot when I'm out shooting.
    Last edited by markbarendt; 09-10-2011 at 02:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  2. #72
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Benskin View Post
    Ron, thank you. I'll have your back all the way on this. They are really the same but just use different terms; they both use the same physics; therefore they both should equate.

    As the level of frustration seems to be rising, I would like to remind everyone of a few comments I made in an earlier post. The question was about the "correct representation." I could also have said correct presentation of the facts. Remember, both curves are identical and represent a 7 stop luminance range.

    I also said "the key is in the interpretation of the data, and a large part of that is having a good grasp of certain principles and asking the right questions." This thread is about the importance of interpreting the testing data. It's not about one system being better than the another (as they are basically the same). I'm using an apparent discrepancy as an example of how problematic misinterpretation of the data can be. And the misinterpretation of data is usually the result of not being aware of and not factoring in all the variables involved.
    Stephen;

    You are correct. Thanks.

    The zone system is a teaching tool, but too cumbersome to use in practical situations. And, too difficult to measure in actual images. All you have to know is that if your image falls on the toe or shoulder, you lose information. And, if you use the mid straight-line part of the curve, you get the best results, and that mid point is found by using the correct (or near correct) ISO value.

    When I had 2 cameras with 2 films with different ISO ratings, I exposed for the most critical film. And so, when loaded with Ektachrome and Super XX (on the aerial shots in my gallery), I exposed for the Ektachrome and the Super XX was just fine. This came from knowing the limitations of the film and knowing the effect of the zone system in theory. No practical measurements were ever made.

    PE

  3. #73
    Stephen Benskin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul ron View Post
    Man this zone system can be complicated to hell n back with equasions n mathamatical terms. We're artists not scientists, we don't add 2+2, we count fingers or F stops!
    So how do you respond when people say the Zone System is too complicated and gets in the way of creativity? (Don't you just hate arguments from incredulity?)

    Do you think that while there's a bit of a learning curve involved, the increased knowledge it offers leads to a better understanding and control of the tools of your art? Do you think that if these people took the time to understand the Zone System, they would think that way too?

    How do you feel about Phil Davis' Beyond the Zone System? That's just sensitometry/tone reproduction. What do you think BTZS users think when they are told by the people using the Zone System that BTZS is just too complicated and interferes with the making of art?

    The language of sensitometry and tone reproduction is just another tool to help understand and communicate the ideas of the photographic process. A four quadrant reproduction curve gives you a picture of the entire photographic process in a single glance, from the subject, to the camera image, to the negative, to the print, and finally how the print compares to the original image. Being visually oriented, I find using visual representations to be a definite advantage.

    The reason why so many different "systems" work is more a testament to the tolerances in photography than to the actual superiority of the system. They tend to work mostly because of the tendency of most situations to be close to the statistical average (see the normal distribution curve attached), and mostly because the end result of the photographic process is art which isn't quantifiable.

    People don't have to be precise for it to work at least on some level most of the time. Disposable cameras have a fixed shutter speed and aperture and they produce acceptable pictures most of the time. The Zone System offers more control over the process than an rank amateur or someone using a disposable camera. BTZS offers more than the Zone System, and Tone Reproduction theory offers still more.

    The level of control desired is up to the individual's needs and for the results they want. Any level is an equally valid choice from an art perspective. But it's inappropriate to use the art argument if your intentions are to accurately communicate or analyze a technical photographic concept. For this, you must have the proper tools. You can't chop down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring. Well, you can't. And to purposely obfuscating a technical discussion as being disassociated with the making of art is simply a dishonest strawman argument. Isn't tone reproduction theory just a theory anyway?

    In this thread, I've shown how the aim negative density range from the Zone System testing won't be the range obtained in actual shooting conditions, nor is it one that you would want to have. In effect, there was a breakdown in the ability of the Zone System to correctly communicate what was going on in the test. In other words, from the movie Princess Bride, "I don't think that means what you think that means." If I was communicating with someone who was proficient in the terms and concepts of tone reproduction, I would have been able to explain the apparent discrepancy in two sentences and with two sets of variables.

    I used to enjoy reading the "technical" photographic how to articles in View Camera magazine. The author would inevitably reach a point in his explanation where he no longer was able to accurately communicate the technical aspects of his concept and the article would quickly devolve into a series of musical analogies. He could explain how to do the technique, but didn't have the tools to explain the concepts of what happens and why. He needed a chain saw but only had a herring.

    I've attached two two quadrant curves that which explains to anyone who can understand the language of tone reproduction, without using words, why the Zone System speed method produces consistently lower speed values, by around 2/3 stops, than the ISO method as well as proving meters don't see 18%. Tone reproduction theory is a communication and analytical tool. It's also a dessert topping and a floor wax.

    Saying that my normal is CI 0.58 communicates a great deal of precise information. The difference in precision between the Zone System and Tone Reproduction is like the difference between saying something is blue and giving its Pantone or CIElab value.

    since you've done the tests you know what the Normal N, N1 N2 N3 and N-1 N-2 N-3 times are so you don't block up the hightlights. jot down the N reading and it all falls into place as expected.
    Good for you. How is that concept different than with tone reproduction? With the tools of tone reproduction, I can show you exactly how it works (see the four quads in post #69). I'm not limited to generalized statements.

    BTW, what are your N, N1, etc? Can you communicate them to me in a way where I that I can accurately reproduce the results? I'm not asking how to test, but communicating the results from the test in precise and meaningful way? I can tell you my range from -2 to +3 is 0.48, 0.53, 0.58, 0.66, 0.75, and 0.88. Tone reproduction is a tool to communicate ideas and concepts.

    Actually the conclusion to the question in is thread is while the results are correct (1.05), they aren't what was expected (1.25).

    Did you know that there's an mistake in the Kodak CI chart? The values they have for a 9 1/3 stop SBR doesn't work. They are for a 10 stop SBR range. Tone reproduction theory gives me the tools to deduce it. It gives me control over the information. I'm not restricted to passively accepting some "expert's" word.

    Anyone notice the CIs in the development chart for Xtol don't equate with the CIs in Kodaks CI chart? Did you know that it because there is a difference between "pushing for speed" and "pushing for contrast"? The tell as to which approach they are using is the EI column in the Xtol chart.

    Xtol Kodak Chart

    0.52 0.50
    0.58 0.58
    0.65 0.70
    0.75 0.88
    0.85 1.17

    The reason is that rating the film at higher EIs underexposes the film shifting everything to the left and lowering the effective NDR. Increased development shifts the shadow densities approximately 1/3 stop to the right per stop push. That means that the a one stop underexposure will only be a 2/3 stop underexposure so the processing needs to be at 2/3 stop and not 1 stop for a one stop speed push. A two stop underexposure requires only a 1 1/3 stop push in development. Compare the Xtol numbers to the numbers on Kodak CI chart for the 1.05 LER. You will see this progression.

    Two simple sets of numbers in the Xtol development chart tells me so much and gives me insight into the thoughts and intentions of the people who put it together, and that puts me in control.

    I guess I just don't understand why anyone would want to use the anti-intellectual argument. That is unless there are Republicans in the house!
    Last edited by Stephen Benskin; 09-10-2011 at 02:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #74

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    Before you study Zone, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers; while you are studying Zone, mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers; but once you have had enlightenment mountains are once again mountains and rivers again rivers.

  5. #75
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    With a gaggle of jets flying at 60,000 ft and about 700 mph, you don't have time to worry about things like mountains, rivers or placement on an H&D scale. you shoot! And at about $1000 / hour, you had better be right!

    Wearing an oxygen mask and flying upside down at zero g or 3 g does not help either! Shoot it! Be right!

    PE

  6. #76
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Ha PE,

    I consider myself privileged to work at Kodak... But I don't know those kinds of privileges.

    Today I had to deal with similar stress. I've got two kids in soccer and today was the soccer parade. While walking up to the field, I took a spot reading on my kid's soccer shorts, obvious shadow and placed on Zone II. I checked the off-white stucco of the school and saw it was falling on Zone VI so I was safe. Got the camera out, f/stop and shutter speed were already correctly set. Then I found myself facing into the sun so I popped on a lens shade. Checked the background for distractions, looked in the general vicinity of the kids, and there they were.

  7. #77

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    I guess I just don't understand why anyone would want to use the anti-intellectual argument. That is unless there are Republicans in the house!

    Stephen, right on. ya see, if you practiced long enough, and learned to listen to others with an open mind, you too will be able to one day not have to over think this minutia as if it were a religion. It'll become second nature, by then, your feableness altzheimers shaky hands will kick in, you'll forget the CIs ERLs EVs EIs ABCs BBCs NBCs n all the acronyms that no one even cares to know what the heck they are except to maybe impress texting girl friends n a few bar buddies.

    What really matters and impresses are the photos, not how well you memorized the system, studied all the charts n graphs n formulas n constants. You'll find the only things that have stuck is the advice you got from an old fella with shaky hands that said "expose for the shadows, develope the highlights".. now tell me who said that and I'll give you a lolly pop?

    One more thing... Zone System is only one tool of many to achieve good prints as you'll notice museums n galleries full of pre zone photographers have done without long befoer it was a twinkle in anyone's darkroom. I was a jerk with a camera n a calculator once, but I grew out of it n gave my meter to my kids to play with.

    What I'd like to know; are Democrats better photographers than Republicans?

    .
    Last edited by paul ron; 09-11-2011 at 12:39 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.

  8. #78
    Stephen Benskin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul ron View Post
    [I]
    What I'd like to know; are Democrats better photographers than Republicans?
    It was a joke. There's a current movement with right wingers deigning science.

    Why the ad hominem attack? Debate the issues using facts. If you can't, don't stoop to personal attacks. It's bad form. There's still time to delete your post.
    Last edited by Stephen Benskin; 09-11-2011 at 01:16 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Why the ad hominem attack? Debate the issues using facts. If you can't, don't stoop to personal attacks. It's bad form. There's still time to delete your post.

    I think you'd better re-read my posts pal.
    What case?
    Debate what facts?
    Pesonal attacks? Reference Republicans at my statements because politics is what this is about? Get a life!

    I made a staement, not an argument!

    .
    Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.

  10. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Benskin View Post
    It was a joke. There's a current movement with right wingers deigning science.

    Why the ad hominem attack? Debate the issues using facts. If you can't, don't stoop to personal attacks. It's bad form. There's still time to delete your post.
    I could care less about politics so I have more of a problem with this statement: "I guess I just don't understand why anyone would want to use the anti-intellectual argument." That sounds too much like discrediting the humungous pool of work of the many incredibly talented photographers of the past five decades, who have never thought for one second to take extensive and elaborate technical tests, or used the zone system, to be able to deliver the many compelling images we so enjoy today.

    With all due respect, I think this should should also be re-phrased to "this should give a very limited number of people some serious creative control..." Let's be honest, who will be going around with their film camera these days, after reading this thread, and actually be inspired to master these concepts/numbers to come up with an earth shattering image/print? I'm not saying that it won't benefit some very technically inclined individuals, but, as a very sporadic user of the zone system, I can certainly say that if I had to start concerning myself with all of this to deliver a good photograph, I would just hang it up and call it a day. Of course, that's just me and everyone's mileage will most certainly vary. Once again, and will all due respect, I do not argue the validity and purpose of any of your statements but, in the end, I just can't see how most photographers would be using such complications to elevate their creative output in film photography, especially at present time, when we're lucky to barely have film to shoot and paper to print on.

    Mark made some interesting points in his response to Paul Ron but, when it comes to commerce and "professional photography", that's in the digital domain these days so most of this would honestly not apply either. Any commercial photographer still shooting film in a studio environment (and I bet there aren't many) has probably been doing it for a very long time and has his/her routine down at this point. And, I am willing to bet that most of their extensive testing was of the visual kind, like "if it looks good, it's good".

    As Ron Mowrey eloquently pointed out, there have been hundreds of famous photographers over the years, delivering compelling images, that have never concerned themselves with the zone system and most certainly not with overcomplicated Densitometry/Sensitometry approaches. Why does anyone think it is going to change now? I think it all boils down more to printing skills but, when considering that the majority of film shooters now rarely print and only scan for digital output (mostly screen, with some inkjet thrown in), all of this goes once again out the window.

    I am always fascinated by the extremely technical threads, as there is always something to learn for the sake of knowledge but, at the end of each one, I'm always left with more questions than answers, with the most prevalent one being.."who will truly benefit, TODAY, from this conversation and extremely deep pool of knowledge, to deliver an award winning print?" So, yes, the more you know, the more you have control over the outcome. But, what is the outcome, or should I say, output? Today, we have photographers being recognized for their work with iPhones, while others are sitting around plotting charts and have absolutely nothing to show for it.

    Best,

    Max
    Last edited by MaximusM3; 09-11-2011 at 02:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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