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  1. #1

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    BTZS Users Group on Facebook

    Apologies if this isn't the right forum but it seemed like the best fit for an announcement:

    There's a new Facebook group for BTZS users now. All are welcome to join to share info, thoughts, and ideas about BTZS.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/BTZS.users/

  2. #2

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    BTZS? Means what?

  3. #3
    Matthew Wagg's Avatar
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    Beyond The Zone System

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    Serious questions to BTZS:

    What can I learn from your book, about creative photography, that I haven't from John Blakemore's Black and White Workshop? I believe Blakemore is the greatest modern black and white photographer & printer, who employs the zone system, yet his book makes a point of disregarding the finer points, in order to emphasise its practical and creative application. I believe it's a timely addition to the 'Zone System Manual' canon and really understands the sensibilities of newcomers to the darkroom today. Black and White Workshop has helped me no end, productively, and I feel to go any deeper would simply be technical procrastination. What can a creative photographer really learn from sensitometry, in this day and age?

    I hope you don't think I'm goading, but the issue of 'niche thinking' about traditional photography is something I truly believe is a threat to its wider appeal, at such a critical time for film. Unabashed experimentation, to creative ends, is what draws most newcomers today and this playfulness or 'unexpectedness' (something Micheal Kenna reiterates as being the biggest joy for him) has come to define film, in the 21st Century, as an 'art media'. And I feel rightfully so. Unfortunately, it's mostly the Zone System enthusiasts who seem chastise these people.

    Personally, I enjoy control in photography, I work loosely with the zone system and calibration, but today, when people want to do it completely by the numbers, they shoot digital.

  5. #5
    polyglot's Avatar
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    BTZS says nothing about art or creativity, it tells you about craft and process and having your process produce the results that you desire. Art without craft is laziness/incompetence, craft without art is pointless. You need both and BTZS doesn't pretend to address both. You don't need sensitometry to do art, but there are some scenes that are easier to capture more reliably if you have the sensitometry, in other words I think the point of BTZS and the like is to learn enough that your lack of craft doesn't hold back your art.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    Art without craft is laziness/incompetence, craft without art is pointless.
    Defining exactly what 'craft' is (aside from the Zone System) and what level of 'craft' photographers are at, is very, very tricky. It's much easier to assess how good their images are. Do we have to second guess an image that affects us, if we can't 'see' the craft?

    Also, many great artists are lazy, which is why they became artists!

  7. #7
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    Defining exactly what 'craft' is (aside from the Zone System) and what level of 'craft' photographers are at, is very, very tricky. It's much easier to assess how good their images are. Do we have to second guess an image that affects us, if we can't 'see' the craft?

    Also, many great artists are lazy, which is why they became artists!
    If I can see in a print that the craft is lacking then it's lacking and it materially detracts from my enjoyment of the image. If the artist's craft is good enough that the viewer doesn't spot obvious flaws, then it's probably not holding them back (unless there is some other image they're trying to realise and haven't managed to yet) and IMHO that's all that matters.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    If I can see in a print that the craft is lacking then it's lacking and it materially detracts from my enjoyment of the image. If the artist's craft is good enough that the viewer doesn't spot obvious flaws, then it's probably not holding them back (unless there is some other image they're trying to realise and haven't managed to yet) and IMHO that's all that matters.
    What do you think of the 'craft' in Harry Callahan's contact prints? It's a very loaded word in photography, which in cases like Callahan, can only be understood as 'properly exposed and developed to completion'.
    His 'craft', I'd argue, was in his seeing, not his printing. So it can be an ambiguous word too.

  9. #9

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    I used to care a lot about the art and craft of B&W photography using film. Since I am returning, after an eleven year layoff from developing and printing my own B&W, I don't know what I should think about it right now. I certainly never was into sensitomitry but I was using the incident light meter before and, of course, I have Ansel's books and a few others. Wasn't Cartier Bresson into seeing in the moment? He had a certain understanding of the B&W process but he did not obsess over it like many do. I am all for getting consistent results, with a surprise along the way at unexpected times (hopefully through bracketing and not processing mistakes). Using digital, one becomes cavalier in approach; no light meter, a multitude of exposures, color later converted to B&W. The learning/results seem so much quicker and I think the young shooters are having fun with that. Serious shooters use a lens shade as to not spoil their best shots with unwanted lens flare! There, I said it but I don't know exactly what I said except that I am back in my own way. We shall see where my current approach gets me (no external light meter). Buying some frames might be more important now.

  10. #10

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    There's definitely an urgency about the world in general right now and we, and traditional photography, better catch up. The modern zone system 'movement' is clearly reactionary in this regard, but mostly to stubborn ends. It's almost like the new pictorialism!
    'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde

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