Yes this can all be madening if you don't do the extensive testing required to get your control on that thin line. To be able to move a zone V to a zone VI takes knowing exactly what your materials n techniques are doing. You can't get that control by just reading about it, it's a hands on learn as you go system... and a system is what it is. It comprises everything from analysing the scene, to exposure, to development, expansion n compression compensations for placed high values, n printing technique n materials.
I learned using the little yellow bible, Minor White's Zone system, back in the early 70s adn did strugle to finally understand it.
To this day I am still learning n testing as materials change so rapidly, but I feel more confident in my techniques n pretty happy with my end results. I feel as if I do have control over my shots.
Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.
I'd hardly call Barnbaum a master. Just stubborn. He gets good personal results using methods tailored for himself, but which might otherwise be counterproductive in a wider context. I can think
of a few other photographers who get beautiful final results based upon honing individual techniques,
but who can be fish out of water if one of the key variables happens to change. I have nothing against that approach per se, but like I said, once someone tries to make a religion out of it, well, go figure. I'm all for practical introductory tools, but in the long run there is no silver bullet, Zone
System or otherwise. But guys like Barnbaum who just preempt the importance of understanding sensitometry and tell you to just go do it are actually putting a straightjacket on fine-tuning the
Originally Posted by CPorter
I apologize if my post wasn't clear, but my point had nothing to do with the negative density range. However since you brought it up, and in the meantime while I put together my clarification, not too long ago you were doing some paper testing. I'm curious. Were you ever able to reconcile the difference between ZS negative density range and paper LERs?
I agree strongly with Drew here.
I'd add Barnbaum's book is at best misleading, at worst incorrect when it comes to the zone system with modern films, particularly on the subject of long subject brightness ranges. Many people's theories will work when you have a "normal" luminance range in the scene, because modern films have longer straight line regions than older films (not as long as Barnbaum thinks though).
Also, someone else earlier in this thread indicated the negative must ultimately be developed to fit the paper range. Although that might work for some people, I don't agree with this approach and in my opinion it is a misinterpretation of what is really behind the zone system as a method of control.
I thought your post was clear, I just provided comment on a point that I disagreed with, but perhaps it strayed too far from the OP.
Originally Posted by Stephen Benskin
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One point Bruce Barnbaum makes perfectly clear
Luminous, detailed, clean shadows are dear
So he picks something different from which to judge quality
And so doing trades-off sharpness, resolution and granularity
He shows you with drawings - Huh, speed point's Zone III?
Oh you know what he means - Move it on up to IV
If you weren't before, you're on straight line now
And effectively cut your box speed by four
Are you kidding me? joking? hilarity? jollity?
Nope it is perfectly sound sensitometry
Todd-Zakia Photographic Sensitometry chapter IV
Analysis of Sensitometric Data, Film Speed
1. Specify the quality of the image that is required
Bruce Barnbaum says shadows are just what you need
Being that it wasn't about density range, then you must have disagreed with an imaginary post. I've written rather extensively about the negative density range and the importance of determining how to measure it. Here I was discussing how once the density range is determined (development), the entire range can be moved up and down the film curve through exposure. As long as the placement doesn't negatively affect a portion of the curve, the prints will be similar.
Originally Posted by CPorter
My problem with Barnbaum is the way he describes it. If the intention is to print a Zone III shadow value on Zone III, then you're not placing a Zone III shadow value on Zone IV. You are simply giving the entire range an additional stop of exposure. There is no difference than simply changing the film's EI. In fact, Barnbaum could simply state that he opens up two stops from the ISO speed. Ever heard of the photographer who sets his EI at 1/2 the ISO speed then stops down one stop when shooting? There is a distinction between shifting the Zone III shadow to print on Zone IV and just giving everything an extra stop of exposure.
This is part of why I said, "I keep trying to make is there isn't a fixed correlation between Zones and negative densities. Over-exposing the film simply moves everything toward the right on the film curve." Exposure, curve shape, and flare combine to make it impossible to have exact negative density aims for the various Zones (outside of testing). I've uploaded some examples to help illustrate this.
Figures 1 and 2 show how additional exposure shift the entire exposure up the curve and that it is then "printed down" producing almost identical prints. The negative density changes only slightly with the increase curve gradient as the shadows move off the toe.
The long and short toed film comparison shows how an identical exposure will produce different density values depending on the curve shape. In this example, point of exposure can be considered Zone V. For the long curve to produce the same 0.70 density value, it would require an additional 2/3 of a stop exposure. How would that work if Zones had a specific correlating density?
The final example shows the difference in Zone placement between a non-flare example and a flare example. The flare example can vary depending on the degree of camera flare, but the non-flare conditions only exist under testing conditions. In this example, which has the exposure keyed to 0.10 density, has the Zone V shooting exposure falling at the point of the Zone IV testing exposure.
One other thought. Barnbaum's tends to be a flame thrower. He wants to be an iconoclast. And while I've found the explanations in his book to be from another planet, I believe he's just trying to be provocative with his statement about exposure. What's actually going on is no big deal.
If Barnbaum's approach is so outlandish, then so should Ralph's. His 0.17 speed point can easily be within 1/2 stop of Barnbaum's approach. Ralph's 0.17 speed point idea increases the EI by 1/2 to 2/3 of a stop. This is on top of the general increase of 1/2 to 1 stop in the EI that comes from Zone System testing. Potentially, we could be talking about a 1 2/3 stop difference over the ISO speed as opposed to Barnbaum's 2 stops over. You can't defend one and denounce the other.
Last edited by Stephen Benskin; 12-22-2011 at 05:37 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Adams wrote "the book" on ZS, Barnbaum wrote "a book" about what works for him. I'm not sure that he was trying to re-invent the wheel or spread his beliefs as indisputable gospel, but the fact is that he wrote a book to sell it and make money. To do that, one cannot simply fill it with a bunch of old theories and regurgitated fairy tales, hence the need to put a new spin on certain things and have people buy it, try them, discussed them, and ultimately pick them apart. I find that section of the book useless as far as I am concerned, aside from providing some insight on what he does to produce his "art". But, I did buy the book, and so did others who care to discuss its contents. Bruce's bank account is thanking us for it.
Having done two workshops with Bruce Barnbaum among others I can vouch for the fact that he is one of the best printers on the planet. He understands the need to make a print that has a degree of drama, and he is very good at it. He has his opinions but don't we all (thankfully).
Agree totally. Hence my reaction to his apparent effort at "teaching the ZS"----- that's bunk.
In fact, Barnbaum could simply state that he opens up two stops from the ISO speed.
Regarding the other discussion of zones and negative densities, of course, there is no exactness involved for the reasons you state; I'm apologetic if I seem to appear as some authority on it. Not at all and I appreciate your insight and authority. However, I believe my eyes (and my densitometer) as I do not find the density differences from the actual testing process to post-development of my negatives with regard to the "placements" I make, to be of great significance. I just cannot look at my negatives and be made to believe that something is amiss due to flare, etc......that you speak at great lengths about. I don't say and hope to have never implied that there is not a difference, I merely contend that they don't seem signifincant to me following my own ZS testing.
Last edited by CPorter; 12-22-2011 at 11:17 AM. Click to view previous post history.