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  1. #21
    djkloss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishotharold
    I'm am working my way through AA series, finnsihed the camera and aobut halfway through the neg. In the appendix he tests for effective film speed (I think he uses a different term)
    I just finished my first film speed test using AA's "The Negative". I picked up a Kodak densitometer for free. It's not digital, but it works for a 'starter'. The more you know, the easier it gets...so keep reading and pick the test that you like. (Everyone has a different method). Since I'm using Rodinal, I also had to factor in the dilution...not to add more confusion...but it was nice having that control. I'm now anxiously awaiting my first 'good' negatives to dry from my shoot using my 'personal EI'. One of the reasons I wanted to test the film was because I had never tried this film before and I found so many differing view points on how to develop it. Times and development dilutions were all different depending on which website you got your information from and what you were trying to achieve. I ended up with a (Rodinal) 1:100 dilution for 20 minutes. I didn't see that listed anywhere. The tray development looks better than the tank so I'm wondering if the amount of working solution per number of sheets has a factor in it as well.

    I'm hoping by doing this testing that I will have fewer 'bad' negatives. I got a lot of helpful suggestions from a thread I started about testing and densitometers. This may be of interest to you if you don't have one.

    Good luck to you!

    Dorothy

  2. #22
    DBP
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    Quote Originally Posted by djkloss
    It's not digital, but it works
    I know I trimmed down this quote and took it out of context, but it seemed like a good answer to the usual question.

    As for the subject of the thread, if one is just getting started with film, it is probably a good idea not to get too carried away with the finer aspects of the zone system, personal film speeds, and such. Black and white print film (can't speak for Scala) is extremely forgiving, as is color print film. Slide films are more forgiving than we think. Somewhere around here I have an article written back in the 50s on the subject of slide film latitude (specifically Kodachrome - which was pretty much the only game in town). If memory serves - and I may try to find the article later - they concluded that one stop either way was pretty manageable and that two stops underexposure was not fatal. Hence the "expose for the highlights rule".

    Personally, I regularly shoot Kodachrome 64 in a 1950s Argus using the 'sunny 16' rule with decent results, despite no precision in any aspect of that. There was a wonderful article by Roger Hicks (I think) a while back that talked about the cumulative margins of error between film batch, meter, shutter, and aperture to make the point that a lot of the precision we think we are applying is spurious. So I would try to get comfortable with a small set of films first (one slow, one fast, such as Plus-X and Tri-X or FP4+ and HP5) and probably one developer (something widely used like D-76), shooting at rated speeds, working on getting uniform results from your processing technique, then expand and adjust from there once you have enough experience to be able to duplicate results.

    (Roger - please forgive if I have either misattributed or misconstrued the article.)

  3. #23

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    Dear DBP,

    How could I possibly complain when you called it 'wonderful'? I'd take the credit even if I hadn't written it...

    Actually, I did do an article like that for Amateur Photographer two or three years back, and I'd certainly second your advice NOT to get into the Zone System and so forth when you're starting out. The neg/pos process is very flexible, and many people who think they're being really precise are actually being saved by that flexibility.

    My own view is that apart from the naming of Zones (a work of genius), the big drawback to the Zone System is that until you are a reasonably experienced photographer with a modest knowledge of sensitometry, the Zone System is merely a system of rote testing, and once you have enough experience and knowledge of sensitometry, you don't really need the Zone System anyway.

    In other words, if the Zone System works for you, great, but if it doesn't, walk away without a backward look. I expand upon this view in a free module in the Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com, 'Why we don't use the Zone System'.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  4. #24

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    For me the zone system really helped in theroy. It made me realize exactly what is going on as far as tonal values and how they relate. I'm a long way off from seeing the world in grey scale, but it made me think about it. However, in practice, I dont think I will goto the testing that he suggests. I'm more intrested in staying consistent and adjusting if a problem develops. Seem fair?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishotharold
    For me the zone system really helped in theroy. It made me realize exactly what is going on as far as tonal values and how they relate. I'm a long way off from seeing the world in grey scale, but it made me think about it. However, in practice, I dont think I will goto the testing that he suggests. I'm more intrested in staying consistent and adjusting if a problem develops. Seem fair?
    I think that is extremely lucid. For me, many theories and methods only begin to make sense with practical experience, even though I learned about them early on. I don't know of many photographers who actually use the zone system dogmatically, but there are some. I think most "Zoners" use a personal variation or adaptation that fits their temperament and working style. My personal zone system is always undergoing a slow evolution, as my understanding and work evolves. Consistency is the most important foundation of exposure, then when you make a change, you can be more certain that the results are not a random combination, and you remain in control of your proccess. This simple thing can be hard to learn. It was, at least, for me. On the flip side, don't let the science stifle your creativity, it is only the means to an end, and the end is important. I have seen many technically perfect pictures that lack soul, when some not so perfect pictures scream with the passion of the maker. Technical perfection with heart and soul, now there is the Holy Grail.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner
    I think that is extremely lucid. For me, many theories and methods only begin to make sense with practical experience, even though I learned about them early on. I don't know of many photographers who actually use the zone system dogmatically, but there are some. I think most "Zoners" use a personal variation or adaptation that fits their temperament and working style.
    Jason,

    Even those of us working with color transparencies work with sort of an abridged version of the zone system. Since we normally only have 3-4 usable stops, we have to place our 18% to get the most out of the scene (that and/or work with ND Grad filters or change the composition).

    My friend Charlie Campbell author of the Ampoto book The Backpacker's Photography Handbook came out with what he calls the ChromaZone system particularly useful for transparency work over 10 years ago. This entails the use of a series of colored cards that are used in the field for adjusting the exposure in as little as either 1/2? or 1 stop increments from 18%.

    Rich
    Richard A. Nelridge
    http://www.nelridge.com

  7. #27
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Rich, when I have shot transparency I have placed my exposure square in the middle of the average (for an average scene) because it seemed the safest place given the latitude of film. Do you feel that transparency film has more tolerance toward highlights? and if so where would you place your exposure in relation to 18% given a typical simple landscape shot (good light, foreground, distance and sky) Average of foreground and distance, and a grad for the sky, perhaps? Like 40 asa for Velvia, and the grad?

  8. #28
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    An attraction of the Zone System and that "rote testing" at the beginning, I think, is that it provides a way to learn photography from books and get some control of the process, if one doesn't have someone to show them what a good negative looks like, and if one may not have access to many galleries or museums that display fine prints. Once you've got that control, though, I agree, it's probably not so necessary to think about the Zone System very much.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner
    Rich, when I have shot transparency I have placed my exposure square in the middle of the average (for an average scene) because it seemed the safest place given the latitude of film. Do you feel that transparency film has more tolerance toward highlights? and if so where would you place your exposure in relation to 18% given a typical simple landscape shot (good light, foreground, distance and sky) Average of foreground and distance, and a grad for the sky, perhaps? Like 40 asa for Velvia, and the grad?
    Hi Jason,

    First, for Velvia 50 for over about 15 years I have rated it at ISO 40. I do not expose my transparencies the way most photographers I know. I will describe what I do below and then bracket in either 1/3 or 1/2 stop intervals to CYA. First thing that I do is to check the exposure range of the scene. If the scene will hold on film it is relatively easy. If not I have to either rethink the composition or grab generally a 2 or 3 Stop ND Grad (I also just got one of the Singh-Ray 2 stop Reverse ND Grads for when the sun is near the horizon and therefore the brightest part of the scene). Of course, if need be you can combine the ND Grad filters (something I have yet to do).

    The way that I check the scene is to check the brightest and darkest part of the scene with my Zone VI Modified Soligor Digital Spot Meter. I expose according to the brightest part of the scene so that the highlights will hold. To set the exposure, I open the aperture about 1 1/2 stops more than the meter indicates for the highest meter/ev reading. Basically what I am doing is trying to hold some detail in the highlights the same way that you would open the aperture by 1 to 1 1/2 stops to correct for transparencies shot with either snow or white sand. If the exposure holds at between 3-4 stops everything drops in place. I let the dark/black areas go dark. If I have to grab a ND Grad filter, I align the grad filter and generally try to adjust the exposure based on the number of stops for the 2 or 3 stop correction from the amount for the 1 1/2 stops mentioned (adjust as much as I can by shutter speed, the rest by aperture). Again, this almost always works. Bracketing takes care of the rest.

    Rich
    Richard A. Nelridge
    http://www.nelridge.com

  10. #30

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    ZS

    I was well into the zone system for quite a few years (about 20) The system you really want is the one that works for you. Lately it's just so simple that it makes me laugh. My Ricoh TLR loaded with Fuji Acros 100 developed in Rodinal 1:100 on a motor base. I haven't bothered with N+1 or N-1 for quite a while. My negatives are printing fine on a grade #3 paper with Amidol as the dev. That's not to say all the negatives are perfect but the % is high enough that it works for me.
    Best, Peter

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