Read it. Go play. Read it again. Forget about it and go play some more. Read it in the bath, with a (large) glass of wine. Read something else. Play with your camera (but not in the bath...). Develop a few sheets/rolls of film. Feel disappointed and down hearted. Read it again. Drop the bloody thing in the bath. Go play with your camera and accidently stand on your spot meter. Use your backup meter to take a reading from a grey card and use that to set your "Zone meter" (have a look at Way Beyond Monochrome). Penny drops...

That's pretty much how I went about it. Not very scientific, but I got there in the end. Sort of learning by osmosis.

Read plenty of different texts but try not to take any thing as gospel. All of it is just advice; some will work for you, some won't. Just have fun with your camera and darkroom, and if anything actually works, well, that's a bonus!

Now I pre-visualise a scene and place areas into zones almost without thinking about it. It probably helps that I use a LF field camera which forces me to work slowly and methodically, and viewing a scene upside-down on a ground glass under a darkcloth certainly lends itself to a certain detachment. That said, an understanding of pre-visualisation and the zone system can help whatever format you choose to shoot.

Hmmmmm? I wonder if anyone is working on a "Zone" App for Instagram...