Originally Posted by 2F/2F
Very easy to get hung up on zone system testing and spend time driving oneself nuts, with nothing decent to show for it...except for a bunch of tests. Don't concern yourself too much with shadow detail that you never find your unique vision/style and in turn deliver only very proper but boring images. Be daring!
1: Learn to develop your own film
2: Learn to print your own photos in the darkroom, or if you don't want to do that, get a GOOD film scanner and learn to use it.
3: Practice. A lot. Years of practice are needed to get really good. Its worth it. Don't be stingy about film, waste a lot of it, its not really waste, its practice and if you learn from your mistakes you will get very good.
4: Learn to get perfect exposure every time, it makes a big difference in your image quality. Either use an incident meter like 2f/2f suggested or learn the zone system and use a spotmeter.
5: The true speed of a black and white film is not what is marked on the box. Different developers affect the speed of the film, and you may need to use a lower or higher speed if your light meter is not in agreement with the meter used by the manufacturer to determine speed. Test your film.
The final result is to make Phographs
I look at black and white photography as a complete process. For some, the process can be quite involved and for others the process is very simple. Making exposures on the film is an early step in the process. Other steps are processing the film and making a print from the negatives.
You do not specify if you will be performing all of these steps yourself or if you will have a lab do some of the work. I strongly encourage you to develop your own film and make your own prints. Only through the hands on work of making a print is the process complete.
One pitfall can be an early sense of dissatisfaction that your photos aren't "good enough". Just start shooting the film and get into the darkroom and make some prints. Good luck.
"She's always out making pictures, She's always out making scenes.
She's always out the window, When it comes to making Dreams.
It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up."
From It's All Mixed Up by The Cars
Many good answers here... here are my 2 cents...
I found reading about (and understanding) the Zone System can only be beneficial, even if you don't do the whole testing afterwards... Good substitutes for me were "Finely focused" from Bruce Barlow (http://www.circleofthesunproductions...elyFocused.htm) and/or "Way Beyond Monochrome" (a bit tougher, but you don't have to read it cover-to-cover immediately (though I'm sure you will, sooner or later).
Incident metering is the easy way to get the right* exposure, and when in doubt I've found that it's almost always better to expose too much (within reasonable limits of course) than too few (in which case you'll loose some information you cannot recover).
Keep your process as simple as you can (the good old "one film, one developer" saying can go a long way, even if you'll want to extend the range later) until you master it.
With HP5 you can't go wrong, I personally rate it at EI 250, and it gives wonderful negatives.
Laurent "Je suis Charlie"
Thoe who don't read have no advantage over those who can't.
My APUG Blog
As someone else has said, the greatest satisfaction and best results (i.e. closest to what you want) are obtained by performing the whole process yourself. It's not difficult or expensive, and don't be put off by references to a need for great accuracy in temperatures, exposures, dilutions, etc.. That can come later (to the extent that you want it to). For starters, shoot a film (HP5 is an excellent choice), develop it, scan it if that's the only facility you have, but ideally learn to print the traditional way. A makeshift darkroom is easy to put together and needn't be expensive.
IMHO, don't get bogged down by incident light meters or the zone system until you've got a lot of practice under your belt, if at all. You don't say what model of Olympus you've got, but presumably it has Through-the-Lens metering, which is more than adequate for 90% of applications - you'll learn to interpret and 'tweak' the meter reading with experience. My father, a keen footballer, used to have an expression "Never mind the ball, get on with the game!" and I'd apply the same sentiments here - shoot some film, have fun, make the inevitable mistakes but learn from them. Don't get bogged down with detail (yet).
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Actually, the incident meter suggestion was to avoid getting bogged down with the technical details like exposure compensation that is required to get the ideal exposure 90% of the time with in-camera light meters. IMNSHO, incident meters are the #1 best way to simplify everything for a beginner, while also providing much better results. They are one of the first things that should be taught to beginners, the way I see it, if not the first, before even the camera.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
Thanks again guys. Personally I've never thought of developing my own film, as I don't know how to do it, or the space to do it. It's something I'd like to do at some point, but just now I'll be taking the film to my local photo processing store.
Out of interest though, how difficult would it be to develop my own film? I'd imagine that developing the film would be a simple enough process, but what is the process for printing a photograph?
Once again, thanks for your input, its really appreciated
I agree with 2F/2F about the incident light meters, but your in-camera meter will get you close on many scenes. Incident is better, however.
As far as developing your own film, if you have a kitchen sink, you can develop your own film. Just use a small film developing tank (Patterson or stainless steel), then get some developer, stop bath and fixer and jugs to store it in and you're nearly done. You need a thermometer and then either a film changing bag for loading the film into the developing tank in daylight, or a dark closet or dark bathroom. I develop my film in the kitchen sink. When I'm done, the chemicals get poured back into storage jugs and taken back to the basement for storage.
My darkroom is in the basement but I don't have running water down there so that is why I use the kitchen sink.
On the same site, read Taking pictures in black and white and Thinking in black and white. Lots of good information. I was told once that black and white photographers "see light".
Those who know, shoot film