I am using a Spider2 colour calibration system for monitor calibration, so while it is possible it is my monitor that is wrong, I suspect not (I recalibrate once a week). I tend to meter by one of two methods, either by placing an 18% gray card in the scene and reading from it or by using my meter's highlight/shadow function by finding the darkest/brightest part of a scene and metering from there. I like to see the picture in my head prior to pushing the shutter, knowing whether the emphasis will be shadows, highlights or somewhere in between. I have never worked with the Zone System as: (1) my initial photographic instructor thought it to be a waste of time and never encouraged anyone to study it and; (2) given that I shoot medium-format (as opposed to large format), my understanding was that it would require the entire roll to be exposed along very similar lines otherwise the development process would erase any gains made from the exposure calculations. Perhaps my assumptions/training are wrong (it wouldn't be the first time) and I need to study more.

When I scan a negative, I adjust the levels prior to the scan to encompass all light points present, which leads to a flat scan but gives me maximum information in the Tiff for when I adjust levels after the scan. While I appreciate your comments Phenix, to my eyes, the first shot has large dark splotches that don't seem to have details and second shot is a series of gray areas. Perhaps I am being overly picky but I have never found that to be a bad thing (in photography, of course).