Very nice explanation LJSLATER.
Originally Posted by LJSLATER
Have you tried a real gray card (and use it as Zone V - ignore any drama about 18%)?
Or the palm of your hand (and "place" it on Zone VI)?
I would recommend Zone System to anyone "who is interested".
I also am very happy to help anyone use "any" method of working that fits their needs.
Ha, I'd wager my hand is closer to zone VIII or IX (front and back!). I was turned off of the Zone System by an overly-ambitious instructor when I attended community college (really nice guy, and a talented artist, but he expected a little too much). I own Ansel Adams' trilogy, and I reference it all the time, but the Zone System as Mr. Adams taught it just never clicked with me.
I would submit that after several years of experience, I've learned to "go with my gut" when metering is concerned, and I'm able to properly expose slide film without too much trouble. When it comes to black and white, I'm a fan of processing normally and printing "straight". Lost detail in the shadows or highlights doesn't keep me up at night. Maybe this comes from shooting so many slides, since there's basically nothing you can do about it.
I have not used a grey card. If I understand correctly, the issue in development is mainly with contrast correct? This is essentially what I think Barnbaum is recommending in his book in having two backs. If I shoot 10 shots of snow with dark tree line and 10 shots of dense fog on the same roll, in one way or another, either the contrasty shots (trees and snow) or the un-contrasty shots (fog) will likely suffer to some extent in development.
Am I on the right track?
Thanks for all the replies - this is a very productive conversation for me!
Instead of bothering with the zone system rather buy a exposure meter where you, instead of handling times and f-stops, see at the dial a range of stops arranged around a center and where you can "place" your exposure at these stops (for instance +1 for a skin tone). This aids you better in pre-visualisation.
Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac
something like this one:
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Exactly. The amount the shots "will likely suffer", as LJSLATER may agree, is not that much.
Originally Posted by mporter012
If you develop both normally, the snow shots might need a Grade 1 filter and the fog shots might need a Grade 4 filter (when you print). This is not a bad thing in itself.
Bruce Barnbaum would not like to have the poorer quality - it is measurable in terms of detail and grain and sharpness. Measurable but it's not much. Most amateurs are quite satisfied with the compromise you might make. Bruce and other very quality conscious photographers will strive for the very best negative, so they will talk about how you can still make perfect negatives with roll film and several cameras.
I personally am happy with a lot. But I also get great pleasure from understanding and applying these exposure and processing techniques.
I agree. And if I may submit one last thing, mporter012, if you're going to be sharing equipment and chemicals with other photographers, your film "will likely suffer" regardless! Not to be overly dramatic; hopefully your instructor will mix and monitor the chemicals....
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
I have the book you are reading. I have to say it is not one of my favorite.... I won't go into why it isn't because I don't want to turn your thread into discussion of the book itself.
I have to say you are WAY ahead of yourself, especially if you never developed your film. I'll go as far as to say all that is really unnecessary at this point. Today's film are so forgiving, if you can get the exposure reasonably close and develop it normally, you can get a decent image printed. My suggestion is to ignore that book for now for it will make what's easy very VERY complicated.
Since you asked though, I will share my experience.
I have 3 Nikon F-100. I never carry all 3 and label N, N-1, and N+1 as Mr. B suggests. Why? Because I find it unnecessary for my photography. For THAT much of adjustment, I can easily do it at printing time by using different filters. What I do is, if I encounter extreme situations, I expose the entire roll at N, N-1, or N+1 and develop it accordingly. Realistically, I've never been in a situation where I needed all 3 at the same time. Most of the time, I just expose it as normal and develop it normally.
Snow and backlighting condition require special handling. So as dark subject with dark background. It has a lot to do with proper exposure in a situation where in-camera light meters are likely very confused. What you said is called bracketing. It is a good idea but you'll learn how to deal with it as you study photography. It's not as difficult as it sounds....
Yes, if you develop your roll in certain way, you have committed your decision onto that film. But.... think about this too. Your film can record a huge range of brightness. If you error your metering somewhat, it will still record it. You might have to struggle a little when you print but you don't have to have a perfect negative to print your image. If you can get it reasonably close, that's all you need a lot of the time.
There are times you need to be precise. Then you need to do a lot of what Mr. B says. But ahead of that, you need to know how to process your film correctly, and ahead of that, you need to know how to expose your film correctly. Ahead of that, you need to recognize adverse conditions and know what technique to deploy to meter the scene. This is why I said you are way ahead of yourself....
There is a book called "Photography". It is written by Upton and London. (I think) It explains a lot of more applicable topic than the book you are reading. I think that'll be a better book to read.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
So what I'm gathering is that the general suggestion would be, at this point, to use one camera with my in camera light meter and expose at its suggestion or open up one stop, and then develop as I see fit.
I'm a huge proponent of the ZS, but I would urge you to take a much simpler approach to your beginnings. This book gets into some basic ZS discussion, but not before very good discussions on exposure and development in general, including a good discussion on the "the middle gray" standard. If you wanted to even get THE book on the ZS, just reading the chapter on exposure alone should help immensely on the basics. It is not difficult to read as many may eventually suggest.
Originally Posted by mporter012