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  1. #11
    mooseontheloose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DF View Post
    I'm very serious about my B&W photography, shooting as well as darkroom. I'm coming from a creative angle, but I do want to understand the technical or scientific side of what's taking place. So, when I start reading for instance "The Negative", I find it frustrating and difficult to comprehend, let alone relate to.
    Repeat this to yourself: "I am not alone".

    Adams books are I think for a very specific audience, yet so many well-meaning photographers often recommend it as the go-to book for beginners of black and white photography! (not that you are one). When I was new to black and white I bought "The Negative" like a good girl, and found it extremely obtuse and hard to follow (and this is after reading numerous photography books prior to this). I've since bought the whole series, and have tried, multiple times, to get something out of the books, but it's always ended in failure. I might try again in the future, but it's unlikely. When I moved to Japan 3 years ago, Ansel's books are some of the few photography books that I did NOT bring with me here. I've learned a lot more from books by Ralph Lambrecht, Tim Rudman, and Stevel Anchell to name a few. And don't forget the incredible resource that is APUG -- being able to discuss problems you are having here, in almost real time, is also very educational.
    Rachelle

    My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Friday View Post
    .............Nevertheless, I found Adam's description of the ZS in The Negative the most frustrating, obtuse and confusing description out there.
    I'm just using your sentiment as a sounding board, because the likes of it has been uttered so many times, nothing personal. I'll just never understand what is so confounding about that text to so many people. The closest I can come to it is to say that it's a classic example of folks not seeing the forest due to all of the trees.

    DF----just keep at it, but I caution you, don't let yourself get caught up in a multitude of other personal "versions" of the ZS, that will bind you up like cheap government cheese.

  3. #13
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    There are a lot of things, not just in Adams' books, which don't make sense immediately. But one day you will be doing something and you will remember something you read and it will begin to make sense.

    There#s too much information in most books to be remembered and understood at the first reading so even if you read a section that makes sense, it is likely that you will have forgotten a lot of it after a couple more chapters.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  4. #14
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    I have those books.

    I recommend reading something like this, before you try to tackle A. Adams books:
    http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Zone...ds=zone+system


    I don't get the updated for *D* snaps as well, but I suppose that's one way to re-sell your book, "New edition with additional information for *D* shooters".

    I found that book to be a very easy to understand approach to the principles of the zone system.
    -
    "Nice picture, you must have an amazing camera."
    Visit my photography blog at: http://helino-photo.blogspot.com

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPorter View Post
    I'm just using your sentiment as a sounding board, because the likes of it has been uttered so many times, nothing personal. I'll just never understand what is so confounding about that text to so many people. The closest I can come to it is to say that it's a classic example of folks not seeing the forest due to all of the trees.

    DF----just keep at it, but I caution you, don't let yourself get caught up in a multitude of other personal "versions" of the ZS, that will bind you up like cheap government cheese.
    Big +1 on this, and also Stephen's advice to simply keep at it. It really isn't all that complicated. I also have to second what CPorter says about Adams's writing. I have never understood what people find so bewildering about his writing. I have read many books on the subject and still find his description the clearest.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DF View Post
    .......... when I start reading for instance "The Negative", I find it frustrating and difficult to comprehend, let alone relate to.
    The core purpose of the ZS is to support visualization----that's the key conceptual lesson behind it all. And while I appreciate the other threads you are seeing that dive into the very highly technical side of tone reproduction theory, where you see lots of talk about the ZS----------I'll put forth another caution to you, stay away from them. Concentrate on the task at hand before you even think about going there, IMO, there's time enough for all that if you're that interested. It's all valid stuff, don't get me wrong, it's just not all necessary to succussfully and intelligently use the ZS. Just my opinion.

  7. #17

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    I'll chip in to say I read a dozen on-line guides to the Zone System without being able to make head nor tail of it, but when I finally read "The Negative" it all became perfectly clear. The fact that I use roll-film, and don't own a spot-meter or keep notes in the field doesn't mean I haven't found it really helpful to improving the printability of my negatives.

    I'm now just in the middle of "The Print" and despite the fact that I don't use Dektol, can't obtain the papers he used and don't have a permanent darkroom, it's extremely illuminating and helpful.
    For me, he writes rather gracefully, is encouraging and not remotely narrow-minded or dogmatic.

    I recently also re-read Thornton's "unZone" article and it's rather a splendid adjunct to Adams.

  8. #18
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    Not all brains are created equal, deal with it.

    There are more than one ways to explain the zone-system.
    -
    "Nice picture, you must have an amazing camera."
    Visit my photography blog at: http://helino-photo.blogspot.com

  9. #19

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    DF, another thought on the Adams "process"

    In reading through some of the responses to the first post, what might be obvious hasn't really been mentioned. Most of Ansel Adams most published work was with single sheet film holders. There is a different process in a world where you can handle and adjust individual images in the processing phase that might (at best) be a memory to many of us from previous years. The detailed notes, scene descriptions, etc. were a tool for the pre-production of the negative, and helpful for the print phase but a primary reference for development and processing. This can get lost in the world of 10 or more exposures being your processing equivalent to a single sheet.

    Roundabout way of saying that unless you have interchangeable backs or bodies, the nuances of processing the negative are missing in the current practice of "batch" negative development. For many of us, we are limited to expanding tonal range for an entire roll of exposures through exposing at 1/2 of ISO speed and "pulling" one f-stop in processing (as an example).

    I don't know if this helps explain the Adams "environment", but it was a very different era from current practice. I recently read a book by Adams that was titled "40 images and how I created them" or something along those lines (from the Library) and it was instructive because Adams went into details related to the environment, lighting, time of day, etc. that really put perspective into pre-visualization. A good read.

    FL Guy

    Quote Originally Posted by DF View Post
    I guess that's what's so great about photography. You can excell at it reguardless of whether you're left-brained or right. 'Course if you left-leaning, it'll show in your photos - aesthetically that is.

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL Guy View Post
    Anything Ansel Adams or Zone System related is not a "Instant Coffee" moment. It will take many readings and likely attempts at replicating the images (or frustrations related to that end) to get under the philosophy related to this level of artisan imaging. If you know of a Analog photog in your area.......this is all worth a conversation.

    Best of luck, it is a great journey (it never ends).........

    FL Guy
    Yes, there's no "plug'n'play' here.

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