Welly, unless you are planning to place your shadows on zone V, the easiest method is to meter your shadows and highlights before placing your shadows. That makes it easier to determine the spread. So, for f16 you meter your shadows at 2s and highlights at 1/250. Now you know your spread (9 stops). Then simply place your shadows and count nine zones up from there to determine where your highlights will fall with normal development. In your case, zone III for shadows puts your highlights on zone XII.
I am very often working with very long luminance ranges when I photograph. And I would warn, as I have done in many other threads, against using the zone system too "rigidly" under these circumstances. Assuming the highlights you metered are not specular and you want to render them with detail, the zone system math says N-4 development.
I caution people to do a more thorough evaluation of the scene, and how they want the final print to look before making that decision. I'm refering to wet printing here, but the principles still apply. Simply developing to bring bright highlights down to zone VIII does not necessarily mean they will have detail in the print. It means only that the scale of the negative will fit onto the paper without manipulation. That is not the same thing at all. Zone VIII on the paper will only have detail if it is in the negative.
Where long luminance ranges are involved, the relationship between what is in the negative and the scale of the paper is fundemantally misunderstood by many zone system users.
Last edited by Michael R 1974; 03-08-2012 at 09:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by CPorter
I owe your plumber big time! I put in a vent and now my darkroom sink drains every time.
You and Michael have hit the nail on the head. A scene that meters 9 stops difference between important shadow and important highlight might need to be treated in the darkroom like it has 10 or 11 stops.
USe the two meter readings, without any adjustment for zone placement, to determine the contrast range.
I'm shooting from the hip in regard to zone system. I don't spot meter, but do consider the shadows and what level of detail they should have in the final image and that affects exposure choice, just like the OP. I use tmy2 and don't worry about the highlights because the film can capture it.
Then for a big-range scene, I develop it in PMK with has some nice compensating treatment of reining in the highlights.
A scanner or VC paper can handle this with some modest flexibility. Zone system predates quality variable contrast paper (or scanners) and film like tmy2, so it was not so optional in it's time. Regardless, there is much value to having the negative as ideal as possible.
Scanning can pull a huge amount of data out of shadows, but it's still nice to not let things be too weak.
Actually I think I'm saying the opposite.
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
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Bill, i'm at work now and thought about my post way early this morniog. If you were meaning n-2 after considering a zone III shadow Placement (I'm sure you were), then i agree with -2. Seven stops from that is a high value of X I assume then, that it is a desired high value that -2 Will develope to a zone 8 Negative density for better printing. I was considering the very high zone v placement only for some strange reason in my post
Thanks everyone for your very useful advice and suggestions. You've given me plenty to think about! At this point I'm not printing in a darkroom and am just scanning/inkjet printing so I guess I've got room for a bit of manoeuvre, however I'd like to get the technique correct and understand exactly what I'm doing rather than just throwing darts blindfolded and fixing up later in photoshop! It's not what I got into film photography for
Awesome for you, glad to hear your plumbing is working good.
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
[QUOTE=Michael R 1974;1313789]
But of course------detail has to be on the negative before there's a chance of any detail being transferred to the print -----------at the risk of sounding upety (it's not meant to), I view this as rather obvious and independent of the ZS itself. I practice the ZS for value control, or tone control if you will. So, subjects with texture are inifinitley more interesting to me than mere tone alone. Since a textured object can "block" up, proper minus development or compensating development techniques (within reason) will reveal it, this much is a well established fact.
Simply developing to bring bright highlights down to zone VIII does not necessarily mean they will have detail in the print
. It means only that the scale of the negative will fit onto the paper without manipulation. That is not the same thing at all. Zone VIII on the paper will only have detail if it is in the negative.
I agree that there is much fundamentally misunderstood about the ZS.
FWIW, I find it cumbersome to take a Zone V reading and then subtract two stops to find Zone III. See if you can find a Zone dial/sticker for your meter. There are some available for free download on Ralph Lambrecht's Darkroom site. A Zone dial will allow you to place the Zone III (or whatever) value and then easily see where the other values fall.
If not, I would set my meter's ISO two stops higher than the film is really rated so I could just point it at an important shadow and get a Zone III reading at least. You will then have to count stops to find where the other values fall, but you can do that on the fingers of one hand most of the time.
As for ic-racer's method of just using VC paper; if you choose to do this, I would advise that you standardize on a bit less development (i.e., less-contrasty negative and use the VC to build contrast. VC papers at low contrast (e.g., 00-1) have some evenness problems in the middle values (loss of separation at skin-tone value, etc.). These go away above about 2-2.5.
For me, I have development schemes that go from N-4 through N-2, although I too, use changes in paper contrast and figure that in when determining development.