IME reading the The Negative to try and understand the zone system is pretty daunting.
Fred Picker's The Zone VI Workshop is a better introduction.
It's also worthwhile to keep in mind that the materials, especially papers have changed tremendously since either of those books were written. Neither Ansel nor Fred were working with variable contrast papers which give you a lot more flexibility than graded papers ever did.
I would suggest that you would do well to forget about the zone system for a year or so.
Here is a simplified approach which will take you very far;
Pay attention to the fact that your meter is paying the most attention to 18% grey, so point it at what you want to end up as middle grey in a print. Use that reading for your exposure. Start with the film's box speed or go slightly less. Then;
Develop the film
Study your result
After you get proficient at that, dive into all the rest of it. If and when you make changes know why you are making that change.
Last edited by bdial; 08-25-2013 at 09:47 AM. Click to view previous post history.