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coops
2-Mar-2011, 18:06
I recently completed my first effort at testing film, and so far the results are pretty decent. I shoot HP5 at 200, develop in D76 1:1 for 8:15 at 75 degrees. I place my highlights on zone 8 and while out shooting today i thought about the advantages of re-testing and using zone 7 instead. What do you guys do? Or do you test for both and use whichever works best for the shot you are taking?
Cheers

bbuszard
2-Mar-2011, 18:11
I place them on 8 as well. I shoot Ilford FP4+ mostly, and that has plenty of room left at the top end for highlight detail even past zone 9. I worry more about catching the shadows at zone 2, and might lift them to zone 3 or pre-expose if I have any doubts.

walbergb
2-Mar-2011, 19:50
I'm with Brad regarding exposing for Zone 2/3. I'll measure important highlights and adjust development to achieve Zone 8. I shoot Tri-X 320 (EI 200) and develop it in D-76 1+1.

Doremus Scudder
3-Mar-2011, 01:24
The Zone System is a visualization tool.

You place high values where you want them to be rendered in a final print, not at some arbitrary point. Sure, you can "get all the information on the negative" by making sure everything lies between certain exposure points, but then your not thinking of how the final print will look.

(The same applies for shadows; you place them based on how you want them to look in the final print, Zone II, III and IV or even sometimes V are all shadow values.)

When I was learning, I made Zone Rulers for the film/paper combinations I was using and carried them with me in the field. I would consult them to get a direct idea of what a particular zone would look like as a print tonality. I now carry these around in my head.

For me lit textured snow goes in Zone VIII or a little higher, as would sunlit white clapboard, etc. Maybe for you too, IF that's where you want them. Whites are tricky; you have to compromise between brilliance in the print and the loss of detail and contrast on the paper shoulder when you get between Zone VIII and IX, but that's more of a printing issue.

On the other hand, painted plaster walls, raw concrete, etc. might get placed in Zone VII, or even Zone VI if it's darker and you want it rendered "skin tone."

I often think in third Zones (since those are the intermediate units on my light meters).

Again, the object should be to visualize the desired tonality in the final print and do your best when exposing to arrange the values on the negative that way. Of course, this in rarely 100% possible; that's what fine tuning contrast, dodging, burning, etc., etc., are for...

Best,

Doremus Scudder

Joseph Dickerson
3-Mar-2011, 14:19
Coop,

You haven't said, so I assume you have not, done your paper testing. Film testing is only half the calibration procedure. If you're determining zone VIII using a densitometer, you'll also need to see how your chosen paper renders that negative density.

Zone III is where the exposure is usually anchored to assure texture in the darker tones. Zone VII or zone VIII placement is quite arbitrary as it is easy to move the high tonalities up a bit with paper choice or intensification of the negative. However, it's not so easy to move them down, especially if they're already up on the shoulder of the curve.

I tend to place highlights at zone VII and 1/2 to make sure I haven't "overcooked" them. You really need to shoot more negs, taking careful notes and make some prints. That should tell you everything you need to know. That's the beauty of the zone system, it's what you want it to be. Don't let it become your master instead of your tool like so many do though.

JD

Michael Kadillak
6-Mar-2011, 18:26
Coop,

You haven't said, so I assume you have not, done your paper testing. Film testing is only half the calibration procedure. If you're determining zone VIII using a densitometer, you'll also need to see how your chosen paper renders that negative density.

Zone III is where the exposure is usually anchored to assure texture in the darker tones. Zone VII or zone VIII placement is quite arbitrary as it is easy to move the high tonalities up a bit with paper choice or intensification of the negative. However, it's not so easy to move them down, especially if they're already up on the shoulder of the curve.

I tend to place highlights at zone VII and 1/2 to make sure I haven't "overcooked" them. You really need to shoot more negs, taking careful notes and make some prints. That should tell you everything you need to know. That's the beauty of the zone system, it's what you want it to be. Don't let it become your master instead of your tool like so many do though.

JD

At the end of the day it is all about print tonalities and how they are represented in you final result. I know from direct personal experience that it is very easy to get all boggered down in pointing that darn spot meter all over the place and spending inordinate amounts of time and energy just getting things dialed in. Being an engineer only magnified my anal retentive tendencies. That was a long -time ago.

Remember that you should always be cognizant of lens flare that could impact your light meter. Secondly, you should always make sure that the area that you are metering is at least 4X your spot circle. Lastly, if it takes you longer than about 10 seconds to meter a scene with your spot meter, you are taking to long. I suggest trying to just look at what you are photographing and estimating what your shutter speed and f stop and your development time should be be BEFORE you pull out your meter. Reliance on the meter sometimes takes your eyes out of the equation.

Andrew O'Neill
6-Mar-2011, 18:48
Depends on what look/effect I want. I aim for VIII, sometimes placing highlights on V and gave N+3. Sometimes I've placed a zone VIII on X and given minus 2 in very dilute developers.

Heroique
6-Mar-2011, 18:57
Here’s a practical moment to share (in the N. Cascades, Wash. state).

My principal aim was to keep the fine, dimpled texture in the sunny snow. I loved it. I wanted to bring that texture home with me. A secondary aim was to preserve details in the dark evergreens; however, I was willing to send the trees into the black to keep the snow. At first, I thought trying for both aims was asking too much.

“Expose for the shadows...”

I put the darkest evergreens just below zone 3, which placed the snow well above zone 8!

“Develop for the highlights...”

Back home in the darkroom, I developed the film in a very dilute concentration of HC-110 – about 1+123 direct from concentrate (not stock), and developed it for 19 minutes in 68 F, w/ a little bit of agitation every few minutes. Compensation worked its magic, and even left behind a pleasing dose of contrast. It prints under my D2v w/ ease, no dodging & burning necessary.

Tachi 4x5
Schneider 150/9 g-claron
Ilford FP4+ (in dilute HC-110)
Epson 4990/Epson Scan

Brian Ellis
6-Mar-2011, 19:31
Depends on the print you want to make. Could be VIII, could be IX, could be V, just depends on what you want the print to look like.

IMHO it's not a good idea to think of the zone system as a system designed only to make a print with dark but textured shadows, bright but textured highlights, and shades of gray in between, i.e. a standard "good print." The zone system actually is a creative tool, a system that will allow you to make the print you want to make, hopefully with the least amount of effort.

neil poulsen
6-Mar-2011, 21:23
I look for what I want to be highlights with faint detail, and I place them at Zone 8. It's the way I'm built; it just feels like the best way to do it.

I like crisp black and white photos, so I guess I'm making sure that the photo has crisp highlights.

jvuokko
7-Mar-2011, 01:02
Depends on what look/effect I want. I aim for VIII, sometimes placing highlights on V and gave N+3. Sometimes I've placed a zone VIII on X and given minus 2 in very dilute developers.

Sorry about bit offtopic, but what film + developer do you use? I haven't got much success above N+2, even N+2 seems to hard to reach with some films.

I use N+ developments usually during winter which sounds backward approach to many who thinks that ZS is only for getting maximum information on film.
During winter, I see and feel the snow as very bright - and I wan't that snow be bright in the prints too. That leads usually N+1 and N+2 developments.