I saw Anchell's statement as distinguishing between "using the tool" and "being used by the tool", or if you prefer the difference between proficiency and mastery.
All the Zone System can do is take a scene and put it onto a negative without blowing the shadows or the highlights; that's all it is designed to do. This does not excuse you the artist from the job of interpreting that negative into a print; some of that interpretation can include toning, artistic dodging and burning, whatnot. This interpretation can be easy, or it can be very hard, but it should not be discarded in the name of expediency.
As an example, in Adams's Examples book, several of the forty negatives were cited as highly troublesome because of processing errors. But many of the negatives that were perfectly fine were still troublesome to print; I recall Clearing Winter Storm as being a fine negative but still requiring an enormous amount of work in the printing cycle to get the result Adams desired.
An additional thing that Anchell claims is that there was a cult of personality surrounding Adams and the ZS that, for example, eschewed warm tone papers and sulfide toners because he did. I cannot confirm or deny this speculation--I simply wasn't around at the time--but it gives his claim more context.
Further evidence: My roomate is taking a photo II class this semester. They are not even required to take their own photos, just have some they can work on in photoshop. ugh.
Originally Posted by Canuck
The last lesson you learn when learning to use the Zone System, sometimes years later, is that the Zone System doesn't work. (If you base your exposure on Zone III and give - or + development, Zone III moves from it's place on the curve and you have to change paper grade or paper development to get it back) It does ensure, however, that your negatives are at least "in the ball park".
I think the ZS gets a bad rap because of the glassy eyed cultish zeal of those learning and new to the system...I can remember actually believing that it would be possible to make prints only on grade 2!!!!! This devotion to technique is all part of the process; it's how you muster the long neglected technical portion of your artists brain to understanding film/developer, paper/developer, interdependance.
Anchell is right, in that if you blindly adopt the selenium toned Fine Print just because Ansel did, without questioning what printing methods/qualities are most appropriate for your own work, is wrong.
The Zone System is just that -- a SYSTEM -- not just an exposure/developing guide. It begns with visualizing the image as a finished print -- it cannot be taught in a day, or a week.
The zone system is a method, nothing more. It is supposed to make the rest of the process easier. There are people who use it, and people who don't. I use a modified or abbreviated version. Other people use it much more properly, as it was spelled out by White and Adams. Occasionally I have to live with the consequences (an impossible print), but not too often..
Zone work does not stop anyone from making sepia prints, it's the sulphurous stink that does. My answer to that was to wait until the weather is good - not a long wait in California, and then do the toning in the backyard. That way the house doesn't smell like bad eggs. I've only done one sepia that I really like so far, but a real master can do beautiful things with it.
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I started out as a faithful follower of the Fred Picker method of exposing and developing negatives. I was always able to come back with photographs. Only after reading Bruce Barnbaum's book did I come to realize that in proofing my negatives I needed to take a more relaxed attitude. Not all negatives are the same due to SBR and the proof will show that. Now I proof for Grade 1 to actually "SEE" what information is on the negative. I do not proof ALL negatives for exactly the same time anymore.My negatives and my prints have substantially improved. No actually, there is NO comparison. Getting stuck by proofing for Grade 2 will always render a denser negative. That was Mr. Pickers way. But I still use my meter that has been zoned and modified by him.
You have to learn to walk before you can run. It doesn't matter if it's the ZS or BTZS or the BS system. What counts is getting enough information on the negative to make a fine print. If I lived in the sunny Sothwest I doubt I would even have reason to use a meter. The light is very consistant. Just find a method that makes YOU comfortable and use it.
You still would, I guarantee. One of the prices of living out here is, the amount of contrast you get. It can be pretty harsh sometimes. Other times, not so much.
Originally Posted by peters
I think most people do not use toners because they smell like death or change the print too far and must reprint. I think too many people took the 'Zone System' too far and tried to make A.A.'s pictures A.A.'s way instead of thinking for themselves.
'Victims of the Zone System'= anyone who used it, it's defective. I did not roll the whole thing up and throw it at the world like a snowball, A.A. did that. It does not take into account too many variables to be useful.
1)There is NO SHOULDER on the film unless you put it there. Yes there are specialty films that will shoulder and yes you can use a staining developer but in general use there is no shoulder, no reason to fear blocking-up the highlights and NO GOOD REASON to compress the mid-tones. Just use more volume of developer.
2)There IS a definite max. exposure value for any film/camera combo after which you are not increasing exposure, you will inflict over-exposure and burn out the fine details the film can register. I am NOT refering to gross over-exposure and solarization. It is very easy to find with a fine resolution chart, an exposure series and a 50X microscope, just keep notes and place it to whichever zone you wish.
3)Standard Z.S. film tests do NOT indicate lens flare, baffle flare, bellows flare or light thru the view finder; F/stops are not T/stops and are not always accurate for exposure. The only way to test is to stop testing and take more pictures and make more photographs.
4)Any paper has limited RANGE of densities and a proper C.I. that looks correct. Basing film speed on .1 over base/fog only serves to make the thinnest possible negs and risks under-exposure.
Too many old favorite films are disappearing and Z.S. testing is not very useful for getting 'up to speed' with the new films.
Just a thought.
ZS is a great method to previsualize an image. It helps placing the midtones, highlights and shadows where they should be.
Unfortunaley for us 35mm users it makes life very hard, since we can't porcess each negative individually.....
Thanks to VC papers/split-filtering, etc. we can achiveve good prints, no matter if we did a n+1 or n-2 exposure and the film got developed to n .
I think we should be talking about a newer system
Mama took my APX away.....
Originally Posted by phfitz
Good evening, and thanks to all who have responded, even the AA haters, at least that's what it seems like. No sense of sarcasim here as I do appreciate the post, but I find it strange to read such things as shown above and feel that I must respond to it.
I believe in the ZS, I think it is entirely valid "method", "tool", "system", etc....I'm getting better at it all the time. Gotta tell ya though, I don't understand such thoughts of contempt for another individuals success. I'm certainly not trying to become an AA emulator (actually, landscapes are the last thing that I want to photograph), but gaining a firm grasp of methods that have obviously been proven successful can only make me better, as I see it.
AA wrote: The Negative, page X in Introduction
"When I began teaching photography I found that I had little to impart other than the way I worked, and I was aware of the danger of merely encouraging groups of imitators. Only the strongest minds and imaginations can overcome this form of "parrot" education. It became obvious to me that there must be some bridge between the basic theory of the medium and potentially creative means of application. I felt it essential to translate the arcane principles of sensitometry into a system of applied craft which would be both precise and adaptable by the individual to any practical or expressive aspect of photography. Out of this need was born the Zone System,......."
So, if you don't like it, then don't use it, but please don't be so arrogant as to berate it, and give less experienced 'analogers' and immediate sense its uselessness (as you see it). Seems your touting of its failure is equal to the very arrogance with which you accuse AA of "throwing" the ZS to the world. C'mon man, is that any way to be?
Regarding your statement on older vs. newer films. AA's thoughts on this were addressed, it seems to me, starting at the bottom of page 87 and continuing on page 88.
Sorry for the quotes and page references, but some things are better left unparaphrased.
Regards to all