The various Ansel Adams books on photographic technique published over several decades were great for the technically inclined photographer. Other photographers did well enough merely by exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights. Mystically inclined photographers may even have been inspired by Minor White's Zone System Manual. For the 21st century, Way Beyond Monochrome by Ralph Lambrecht and Chris Woodhouse may be expensive, but certainly worth it. You can sample some of it at http://www.waybeyondmonochrome.com/.
I thought AA's explanation of things was basically kindergarten material. Worth reading, esp if you had
the companion book, "Examples...". But the films and papers he refers to are nearly all obsolete. I gave
most of these books away long ago. The information quickly makes sense if you just practice exposure
and development of sheet film for awhile. It's harder to learn with roll film because one tends to lump
diverse lighting conditions onto the same roll. The Zone System ain't that big a deal, nor is it a religion. You take from it what is useful to you personally, just like any other exposure model. But as they say, practice makes perfect.
From reading his books, it seems to me that he saw things basically as a series of processes. Once one process was finished, I.E. visualizing, then the next one started. By working in a series of processes, large tasks become smaller and less confusing.
By breaking down the processes into a more fundamental set of "knowledges," each step could be learned with decreasing difficulty, as the series built upon previous learning.
His work made photography available to anyone by giving them a good set of tools and knowledge that few were willing to share outside their circles. Read the various sections at your pace, and in the order that works best for you, it's more accessible that way, and you can identify more with the lessons learned.
Read it. Go play. Read it again. Forget about it and go play some more. Read it in the bath, with a (large) glass of wine. Read something else. Play with your camera (but not in the bath...). Develop a few sheets/rolls of film. Feel disappointed and down hearted. Read it again. Drop the bloody thing in the bath. Go play with your camera and accidently stand on your spot meter. Use your backup meter to take a reading from a grey card and use that to set your "Zone meter" (have a look at Way Beyond Monochrome). Penny drops...
That's pretty much how I went about it. Not very scientific, but I got there in the end. Sort of learning by osmosis.
Read plenty of different texts but try not to take any thing as gospel. All of it is just advice; some will work for you, some won't. Just have fun with your camera and darkroom, and if anything actually works, well, that's a bonus!
Now I pre-visualise a scene and place areas into zones almost without thinking about it. It probably helps that I use a LF field camera which forces me to work slowly and methodically, and viewing a scene upside-down on a ground glass under a darkcloth certainly lends itself to a certain detachment. That said, an understanding of pre-visualisation and the zone system can help whatever format you choose to shoot.
Hmmmmm? I wonder if anyone is working on a "Zone" App for Instagram...
[QUOTE=Hmmmmm? I wonder if anyone is working on a "Zone" App for Instagram...[/QUOTE]
I was only joking! Heaven forfend that anyone does develop such an App...
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After picking up the negative again for my nightly read, I couldn't agree more.
Originally Posted by kintatsu
Also while I don't know anything about, nor do I ever have an inclination to using Instagram. I did see one of my co-worker's show us a ZS app on the iPhone- we all had a good laugh with it, apparently you can record your notes as an .mp3
"The real work was thinking, just thinking." - Charles Chaplin
The thing about learning that way, is that it is often more intuitive. Given that he was a trained musician, it makes sense that he would teach that way. It also makes reviewing sections easier and more productive. Given that style, it makes it easier to learn once you "see" the processes as such. Too often, photography books are all about "do this to get that," or a special method. The basis of what's being taught is glossed over for simplicity.
The Zone System does more than make exposure and values understandable, it gives us a common point of reference when discussing images, and makes understanding how shots were made easier. With only a couple bits of information a better understanding of a viewed image is obtained. You don't need to know f/64, 1/8 second, ISO 250, as that tells you nothing. Knowing that 250c/ft2 was placed on Z VI makes the image approachable and allows us to assess our own work more creatively. This knowledge helps us understand how we can use similar settings to "concretize" our own values to match our vision, without having to resort to a mythical magic formula every time.
Last edited by kintatsu; 03-19-2013 at 01:54 PM. Click to view previous post history.
No you don't... you just visualize it.
Originally Posted by Grumpyshutter
Aggghhh!!! Go and find your copies of The Camera, The Print and The Negative and tell me the title of the first chapter of each book.
Originally Posted by Grumpyshutter
"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.
St Ansel's books, perhaps especially The Negative aren't the best starting point, but they do have a lot of information. Like others have said, I tried to read it long ago, got completely lost and put it down for twenty or so years before looking at it again. In that time I had learned enough from other sources that it began to make sense.
I would recommend reading Fred Picker's The Zone VI Workshop first, then start slogging through Adams.
Exactly, I'm finally understand through the process of trial and err
Originally Posted by FL Guy