Michael R 1974 -
I must say, Barnbaum's book has been the biggest photographic inspiration for me yet (as well as Michael Kenna and Vivian Maier prints). Barnbaum has a couple PhD's and spent at least a part of his career in Mathematics, so it is line with his ideology that he seeks to explain part of photography systematically or mathematically - which is partially what the ZS is, if i understand it correctly.
I don't mean to speak out against Bruce Barnbaum. He is enthusiastic and he encourages giving film sufficient exposure. So that's not bad.
If I shortchange him by summarizing his approach as "expose shadows on Zone IV", it's because of his video which emphasizes that.
But if you do take his approach, don't use "half box speed" as that would push you one more stop. At that rate you would be exposing your shadows at what the light meter says, Zone V. So you have to be thoughtful if you mix your mentors.
That's excellent advice, BIll.
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
"The difference between a very good
print and a fine
print is quite subtle and difficult , if not impossible, to describe in words."
---AA (The Print
mporter and Waynecrider:
Barnbaum is certainly a fine photographer and printer. My issues with his book concern his writings on the technical aspects of film speed, the Zone System and extreme compensating development (both of which are topics under what could simply be called "applied sensitometry"). The problems begin right away with his characteristic curve diagram. He is quite proud to proclaim at the outset he has never owned a densitometer. Following that statement, he should have omitted a lot of the things he says. He's not getting what he thinks he's getting when it comes to the densitometry of his negatives, but it doesn't matter because he's developed his printing technique.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with not owning a densitometer. You don't need one. With practice and experience you can dial in your process every bit as well and make great prints. But - if you can't present actual data, you shouldn't assume the materials are doing x or y and write it all as fact. You also shouldn't be as critical of other methods and observations (which he frequently is in the book) without presenting any evidence. This is what I don't like about his book. In some cases he's got the right general idea (for example using the higher Zones, not underexposing when seeking contrast expansion etc), but the specifics often don't hold.