I certainly acknowledge and respect your right to your opinion. I would hope that you would extend the same respect to me.
Originally Posted by dancqu
In response to your disagreement I would say that if we (the printer) do not choose the filtration or the contrast grade of the paper then who does? I have no gremlin in my darkroom who makes those choices to me. The contrast grade or the filtration do determine how the negative will print insofar as tonal rendition once the highlight exposure is determined. The contrast grade of the printing materials are the first choice we must make.
I have worked with the Zone system for over twenty years. I have more recently moved to using BTZS because in my experience the recommendations of Ansel Adams are no longer valid in regards to the materials that I use.
I definitely stand with my earlier position on the methodology of controlling contrast. Masking is all about varying contrast either throughout the print or more specifically in certain regions of the print. If burning, dodging, or flashing do not alter the tonal rendition of the print then I would appreciate it if you would tell me because I apparently failed to grasp something over the years of doing this.
Ansel Adams might just as well have targeted the negative density to print on Grade one or Grade three paper. It makes not difference other then that the negative density range corresponds to the exposure scale of the paper. It is very easy to elevate the teachings of the Zone System to biblical proportions and it does not deserve this position. Very simply put one hopefully will achieve an exposure and development regimen that will derive a negative density range to match the exposure scale (contrast) of the printing paper that one is choosing to use.
If one conducts tests for film development and exposure I find it difficult to imagine that they would do so without have a particular aim point. That aim point can be any paper contrast or exposure scale that they want but if a target is not chosen then they are not doing much of anything that corresponds to a coherent system. They would be at least as well of to follow David Vestals dictum "do not under expose..do not over develop". If they want after printing the negative to choose a different interpretation than what was initially aimed for that is ok.
Coherence. That's what Otis Sprow manages in the third step
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
of his ZS calibration methods. He 'glues' the negative to A paper.
His article Zone System Photography - Prediction, Consistency,
and Perfection, is a good read. See, Photo Techniques Vol, 1
"Mastering B&W Photography".
David Vestal's article The Non-Cosmetic Print I find sympathetic
to my approach to print making. Perhaps you've read it. Dan
Is it your aspiration to become cemented into the picture making process so that no human interpretation takes part?
Originally Posted by dancqu
It seems that there is a great deal of idealogue being expressed here. It is very reminiscent of what a good friend of mine once characterized as "all hat and no cows".
I agree with what JJ stated. If we make expressive prints then we will depart from a purely literal representation of what existed before the camera lens. It is easy to make purely illustrative prints. It is another matter indeed to have the means to expressively print something that did not exist.
Illustration is about things. Art is about ideas.
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As I mentioned in my first post this thread the negative is
supposed to fit on Grade 2 paper and be processed in
Dektol. That is my understanding of the ZS.
Hi Dan, can I ask how long you've been using the ZS? I ask this because it sounds like you're assuming films, developers and particularly papers never change, and will always and forever more print as you expect on grade 2.
When I did my first ZS tests over 20 years ago I was using the original Zone VI Brilliant graded paper. When they brought out Brilliant II graded papers, they increased the contrast and what once printed on the old grade 2 had to be printed on the new grade 1...this meant that it gave my negatives no wiggle room at the low contrast end while printing. Instead of changing my negative development times I switched to Ilford Galerie graded papers, and it's grade 2 was the same contrast as the original Brilliant grade 2.
When I switched to VC with a cold light, to get my negatives to print with the soft and hard light at equal settings and give grade 2 contrast, I had to add 40Y filtration and switch to a developer similar to Ansco 120. Just because I battled to keep finding materials and methods to keep my "normal print contrast" the same all these years, doesn't mean I only print at grade 2!!!!! I'm just beligerant and didn't want to change my normal negative development time.
What I'm trying to stress is that materials change - equipment changes - your beliefs in how a print should look will probably change too as you grow with experience. Try not to paint yourself into a corner.
Added later...Oh ya, and sometimes they "improve" products and neglect to inform anybody...it's hard to hit a moving target.
Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 06-04-2005 at 11:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Hi Chuck1, I don't think there's a way to answer your question without writing a book!
Originally Posted by Chuck1
Excuse me if you've read this stuff already, but I thought it may help some people get a better understanding of what Ansel was going for concerning the ZS, and it'll occupy me while I finish my (rather big) bottle of wine...
From the Ansel Adams book, The Print;
"The reader must bear in mind that what these books are intended to accomplish is to present a concept (visualization) and a modus operandi (craft) to achieve desired results. This is obviously directed to serious participants in photography, but it should not be interpreted as dogma; each artist must follow his own beacons and chart his journey over the medium's seas and deserts. I wish to dispel here any thought that my approach is rigid and inflexible. I cannot repeat this too often! I have found that many students read descriptions of procedures in a rather strict way, and are then consumed with the effort to produce exact relationships between subject luminance values, negative densities, and print values".
From the Ansel Adams book, The Negative;
"If there is such a thing as a perfect negative, it is one exposed and developed in specific relation to the visualized values of the functional or expressive print. As our aesthetic and emotional reactions may not be ruled by simple numbers, we must learn how to evaluate each subject and understand it in relation to the materials used. Even so, it cannot be taken for granted that a properly executed negative will ensure that printing will be an easy process; the appropriate paper and developer combination, for example, may be elusive".
From White, Zakia, and Lorenz's book, The New Zone System Manual;
"Occasionally we find negatives that yield two or three equally vital interpretations, distinct "image statements" with differerences well beyond subtle variations. An advanced performer's relation to a negative, whether acquainted with this system or not, may be compared to musicians who change their occasionally interpretation of a score".
(Ya Ya Ya, I know that last bit doesn't make much sense...but that's the way it was printed...how about the way it was probably meant to be printed..."who occasionally change their interpretation of a score".)
Let's continue with the quote - "Their critics take note and their listeners make comment on the differences. The same could apply to photographers' various printings. As we have found, negatives contain vital variants. The photographer can elect to find the one most significant rendering (interpretation) of a negative, however long it takes. On the other hand he may elect to print the negative according to his mood, whatever that may be, whenever he reprints (plays) it. Musicians are expected to take time to uinderstand a score; experienced photographers report that the same is required of them by their negatives. Occasionally, a negative will keep pace with one's inner growth for several years. Comparing a rendering made ten years ago to a current print, the photographer frequentley is seen to have been in two different places. Whether one is "ahead" of the other is hard to say, but they certainly do differ".
So there you have it...the ZS was never cast in stone...and it was never meant to be concrete about your feet. Materials change...artists and their vision change...their relationship with their chosen media and subject matter continually evolve. Dogma sucks and anchors you down. Questioning, searching, striving to clarify ones way of seeing and working to gain control over the subtlties of ones chosen medium will always lead to...
For another take on printing read this from David Kachel's site:
Rather than highjacking this thread, I'll shift to a new topic on a different forum in which I'll assert that dancqu's position is defensible, and in some cases quite desirable.
Originally Posted by Donald Miller
Another way of looking at this-
We know from other threads on the site that materials are changing, dropping off, and will continue to evolve. I have done much testing and calibrating over the last 30 some years, and much of the other comments in this thread are familiar, and I agree with what someone said about Adams' methods being somewhat outdated to today's materials, at least in a practical sense, but not in principal.
To me these days, the most important thing is to get the most information you can into the negative, from the deepest value you want to have detail(driven by exposure), to the lightest(driven by development). Ideally, you should use as much of the film's density range as possible, through the classic exposure/development controls, to optimize separation (especially between adjacent values, e.g. Z5 to Z5.5-if these values are not separated in the negative, there's no paper contrast high enough to separate them in the print.) I would increase development until highlights become blocked, then back off to where you have highlight detail. Get the best negs you can, evaluating the negatives themselves. Make sure the shadows and highlights both have detail. Then find a paper that works for you. You will have the negatives forever, the papers will change. (As Adams used to say - the negative is the score, the print is the performance, and you will be using different orchestras in the future.)