Zone system - how to understand it?
As far as I know, it grades scenes by degrees of detail required. That's fairly easy to replicate. But upon what is the system based? Is it based on the Sunny 16 system or is there more to it? How does one assess a scene without a lightmeter? Is this built into the system also?
Buy "The Negative" by Ansel Adams. The Zone System isn`t explained in a few lines on an online forum. Do a Google search too, you`ll find TONS of info.
-Digital is nice but film is like having sex with light-
The zone system is based on a normal scene. tim
The old standard was "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights".
The zone system is an attempt to answer the obvious questions: "Yes, but how much exposure is right? And how much development is right?"
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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You will only understand it by attempting to read on it.
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, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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My understanding of the zone system is fairly minimal but, I've always understood it to involve a light meter.
Last edited by BradS; 05-03-2006 at 01:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I'm lucky in being both a film and a digital photographer. I use my trusty Nikon FMs - all with prime lenses for film and am trying to get used to a Canon digital SLR.
I'm looking at the zone system and at reading the exposure from the environment rather than relying upon a meter, purely because I'm not keen on the way digital camera meters work. I can do a lot more with a negative - even if the meter's out because it has more lattitude. Once I can get my mind around the zone system and get hold of the ANSI exposure guide rather than looking at simply the Sunny 16 rule, I should be on the path toward developing a better understanding of exposures and hence able to take better photos whether they be digital or film.
My idea is to be able to assess a scene, work out exactly what the exposure should be and shoot that picture in film or digital and for it to be spot on for both mediums. In fact, I should really equate digital to slide film as the thinness of lattitude is about the same.
As the ansi guide seems so hard to obtain, would you suggest using a spotmeter and designing my own exposure guide? Also, do you think that global dimming has had any effect on the accuracy of the ansi guide?
Don't be afraid of a good light meter. This will give you a starting point. 'The Negative' by Ansel Adams will take you from there, Chapter 4 to be precise. Not to avoid answering your question in detail, but it would take pages to do the Zone System service and Adams laid it out in an easy to follow format.
The zone system is easy.
1. select where you want the darkest point that still has some texture
1b. Expose for that.
2. Select where you want the brightest areas that still has some texture
2b. Develop for that.
In the course of being able to do this, it is imperative that you know your films, papers, chemichals, enlargers and darkroom hardware and other procedures.
Just like any good car mechanic:You immers yourself in your celler you have to apply darkroom-fu, and secret stuff that really only works for you (well , maybe that crazy geezer in Edinburg too) and after a fey days you reëmerging with stunningly beautyiful prints
Men, said the Devil, are good to their brothers: they don’t want to mend their own ways, but each others.
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