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  1. #21
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    The Zone System is an approximation model only, allowing you to get a ballpark worthy negative,
    and not a religion!
    I completely agree. Just like a religion, it must be useful and approach it in our own way and don't be dogmatic about it.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    It is also worth noting Richard Henry's tests showed that (at least for graded paper) the "maximum back" exposure time is not a reliable way to determine the proper print exposure to produce the expected print densities from negative densities.
    Michael,

    I assume you are referring to Henry's "Controls in Black and White Photography." Can you briefly recap the methodology/logic here? Thanks.

    P
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

  3. #23

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    Zone system question

    Thanks for all advice and suggestions. A number of points have been made which clarify things I have read, but perhaps not fully understood. I went back into the darkroom tonight and worked on a couple of the negs, trying to achieve prints that expressed what I had originally intended. I'm pleased to say that I had some success. I used the split-grade printing technique and managed to get sufficient detail into my highlights, without turning my shadows flat black. I had been using a faster than normal film because I was working with a medium format camera. I will now be examining the curves of other film/dev combos to see what may be more appropriate for my images. I'm also trying to concentrate on the images and not getting too tied down with technical issues. Alex

  4. #24
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Muir View Post
    I'm also trying to concentrate on the images and not getting too tied down with technical issues. Alex
    In the end, this is all that matters.

    The zone system (and split grade printing, and different developers, and...and...and) are all there to help you create the image you want in the simplest way possible. As St. Ansel said "there is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept". One of the reasons I like film is I find it simpler (even when using a 5x7 camera) since I am less tempted to play with settings and more focused on the image itself. For me, I want to know enough to make the images I want without knowing enough to worry if I am doing it right. I got into the technical aspects so it would be easier to make images, not because it would make better images - that only comes from doing photography.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  5. #25
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Kehler View Post
    In the end, this is all that matters.

    The zone system (and split grade printing, and different developers, and...and...and) are all there to help you create the image you want in the simplest way possible. As St. Ansel said "there is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept". One of the reasons I like film is I find it simpler (even when using a 5x7 camera) since I am less tempted to play with settings and more focused on the image itself. For me, I want to know enough to make the images I want without knowing enough to worry if I am doing it right. I got into the technical aspects so it would be easier to make images, not because it would make better images - that only comes from doing photography.
    these are wise words, but let's be honest, we love our tools and all the gadgets too
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Allen View Post
    Hi Alex,

    the key to your problem is the method you are using to test for minimum black exposure. The rebate of a film has not received any in-lens flair and is generally totally clear whereas a true Zone 0 area of a negative will have received flair during exposure and this is compounded by the affect on this tone during development. In effect your minimum black time is too long resulting in your Zone III coming out too dark.

    As you are clearly aware, the key to achieving consistently good negatives is the correct placement of your shadows when exposing the film and ascertaining the correct development time for achieving good separation without losing the highlights. A simple and relatively quick way to way to pin all this down for the future is to do the following (WARNING: reading these instructions is more time consuming and a lot more laborious than actually doing it!!):

    1. Find a scene with with a good range of tones
    2. Using the box speed, meter the darkest area in which you wish to retain shadow detail
    3. Move the camera so that you are only photographing this shadow area
    4. From the meter's reading close down the aperture by 2 stops or increase the shutter speed by two stops and then expose 6 frames at: the given exposure then +1 stop, +2 stops, -1 stop, -2 stops and -3 stops less than the meter has indicated
    Please let me know if I've got this correct or not. Meter your shadow area and stop down 2 stops. That would put your shadow area in zone III. Then:

    1. Use the setting above.
    2. Open 1 stop to zone IV.
    3. Open 1 more stop to zone V.
    4. Starting with settings in step 1, close down 1 stop to zone IV.
    5. Close down one more stop to zone III.
    6. Close down one more stop to zone II.

    5. Process the film

    6. Using the frame that was exposed at -3 stops less than the meter indicated (which should be practically clear but will have received lens flair and fogging - i.e a real world maximum black rather than an exposed piece of film that has processing fog) and do a test strip to find out what is the minimum exposure to achieve maximum black - Print must be fully dry before assessing this
    7. Do another test strip with the first exposure being what you have selected for achieving maximum black minus your dry-down compensation then plus 1 second, 2 seconds, etc
    Part 6 and 7 I'm really confused about. For part 6, how do you know which exposure on your test strip is maximum black? For step 7, is "dry-down compensation" something for fiber paper? I'm using RC paper. I'm also confused as to why making a second test strip is necessary, when maximum black was already found in step 6.

    Thanks for any assistance.
    --
    Kenton Brede
    http://kentonbrede.com/

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Muir View Post
    I was out in Saturday making some landscape images. I used a spot meter to measure the area I visualised as zone III and set an exposure of two stops less on the camera. To make the initial print, I exposed a test strip of the film rebate against a portion of empty carrier to determine maximum black. I then made the print at grade 2 using the same time for max black. The zone III came out too dark, more like zoneII. Assuming my choice of Zone III was sound, does this suggest my meter is prone to over, or under exposure? I have tried, but can't figure this out in my head! Alex
    Of course there is no rule, but the print exposure time is generally based off the time that renders the important highlight values at the right density on the print. If, after establishing that, you find your Zone III area too dark you can try to change print contrast or if you like the overall contrast, dodge the Zone III area. With the negative, exposure for the shadows is key while controlling the high values with development------------in printing, exposure for the high values is key, while print contrast is controlled through development i.e. dodge/burn, VC filtration choices, print developer choice, and toning choices.


    I don't try to make an expressive print of every negative I make, but I do like to make a quick "proof" print of all my negatives:

    I sometimes like to make an enlarged proof print to 8x10 or 5x7 on RC paper (make note of your enlarger height), and I have used the minimum time for maximum black for that exposure; and you should determine that time through just the fb+f. It's just a quick way to get a positive image on paper to examine for more expressive printing later. Rather than a maximum black time, I now use my "proof" printing time based off a Zone V exposure of a middle gray matt board (totally blurred, no focus on the negative), I call it the MTMG time, minimum time for middle gray. Find the time in the enlarger that prints the Zone V negative to precisely match the tone of a gray card. Now, when I may get a few fresh negatives, I'll put each in the enlarger at a predetermined enlarger height, expose at the MTMG time, process on RC for a set of proofs, generally they are at a low contrast filtration so that all the info on the negative can be seen in the shadows without too much density. I find that this gives good insight to possible expressive printing options to meet the visualization.

  8. #28
    David Allen's Avatar
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    Please let me know if I've got this correct or not. Meter your shadow area and stop down 2 stops. That would put your shadow area in zone III (yes this is correct BUT only if the box speed is correct for your working methods and this is why you make the other exposures to check for your own exposure index). Therefore, you should ignore Zone System terminology at this point and just view the tests for what they are - tests to provide you with the information that you need to discover your personal exposure index.

    The tests at this stage are simply:

    1. Use the setting above.
    2. Open 1 stop.
    3. Open 1 more stop.
    4. Starting with settings in step 1, close down 1 stop.
    5. Close down one more stop.
    6. Close down one more stop.

    At this stage they have no relation to Zone System placings until you have completed the other stages 5 -16 of the testing sequence.

    At test stage 6, you discover your maximum black by doing the following:

    Use a permanent marker to make 10 equally spaced lines on a piece of paper and then do a test strip with varying exposure - i.e. give the whole paper say 4 seconds, cover the paper up to the first line and give another 2 seconds, cover the paper up to the second line and give another 2 seconds, repeat until the whole paper has had varying increased exposures. Process and wash test print and then dry it. You will find a point where the paper has reached black and the additional exposures have made no difference. The point at which this occurs is the minimum exposure required to achieve a maximum black on the paper you are using.

    Dry down is a problem with fibre papers. If you are using resin papers you can effectively ignore this BUT you still need to judge your test print when it is fully dry. The second test print is merely to double check for dry down on fibre papers - this is because the time that you found on your test might be a bit longer than necessary due to the dry down being unknown at that stage of the testing.

    Hope that clears the situation.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de

  9. #29

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    That helps. Thanks David!
    --
    Kenton Brede
    http://kentonbrede.com/

  10. #30
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Allen View Post
    Use a permanent marker to make 10 equally spaced lines on a piece of paper and then do a test strip with varying exposure - i.e. give the whole paper say 4 seconds, cover the paper up to the first line and give another 2 seconds, cover the paper up to the second line and give another 2 seconds, repeat until the whole paper has had varying increased exposures. Process and wash test print and then dry it. You will find a point where the paper has reached black and the additional exposures have made no difference. The point at which this occurs is the minimum exposure required to achieve a maximum black on the paper you are using.
    I am going to disagree with you slightly here: my experience (backed by others as well) is that a test print which gets blasts of 2+2+2+2 seconds of exposure is not the same as one 8 second exposure. This is because the bulb takes time to turn on, come to full power and then turn off in addition to mechanical delays with all timers (including electrical ones). I have taken to making test strips (I cut up an 8x10 into 10 - 1" strips which are 8" long) and then making a 2s exposure, a 4s exposure, a 6 sec exposure, etc. in order to decide my base exposure. While this seems a waste of paper, the number of times where my 2+2+2+2 gives me a print which is too light/dark and I have to make another print, more than compensates for this "waste". I write on the back of the test strip (before I even expose them) how many seconds it is, so I can keep them organized after developing.

    The other option is to have a "running test strip", where you set the timer for 20 seconds and just move the covering paper every two seconds, so the bulb on/off delay does not affect the print.
    Last edited by Kevin Kehler; 01-17-2013 at 01:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

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