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Thread: Zone System

  1. #1

    Zone System

    Hi, I just can't remember it! I know the theory. Expose for the shadows, develop e for the highlights. Can anyone give me an example. This is how I understand be st. If you meter the shadow, and place it in Zone III, and meter the highlight, and place in Zone VII, what do you do next? How much more or less developement f or N-1, N-2, N+1, N+2? And how do you know if its N-1,N+2, etc. I have a Gossen Luna Pro F, and the Zone System calculations are on the face of the meter. This is very simple to use. I just can't remember. I appreciate any feedback. Raven

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Zone System

    I would urge you to read Ansel Adam's "The Negative", which is probably the best photography technique book ever written. You will find the answers to all your questions there. A close second is "The Print", the next book in the series.

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Zone System

    By all means, read Ansel's books, as mentioned. Zone VI Workshop (I believe that's the title, by Fred Picker, is also good) The Zone System works because the photographer calibrates it with their own equipment and ways of working. No actual numbers from my circumstances would work with any certainty in yours. You have to work out your own.

  4. #4

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    Zone System

    Hi I would urge you to follow the advice suggested above. To answer your question, use your light meter to place your important shadow areas (where you want to retain detail) on Zone III. Now measure you important highlight areas where you want deatil and see which zone they fall on. If the highlights fall on Zone VII, go ahead, shoot and develop normally. If it falls on Zone VI, shoot (well, overexpose slightly), and give N+1 development. If it falls on Zone VIII, give N- 1 development. And so on. DJ

  5. #5

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    Zone System

    Just to clarify my last post. You can't place shadow and highlights because natural scene contrasts vary. You place one and see where the other falls and that gives you development times. Re development times, you will have to calibrate to your equipment - you light meter, you shutters, the enlarger you use etc. Start with the time recommended by the manufacturer. Ideally, run a few tests as suggested in the books recommended above. DJ

  6. #6

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    Zone System

    Duh, me again. You overexpose slightly when you're doing N-1 dev and not N+1 as I'd mentioned in the previous post. I'm really leaving the building this time. DJ

  7. #7

    Zone System

    Or you can do it the way Fred Picker's followers do, expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may. Read The Fine Print as has been suggested, and I beleive there a couple more schools of Zoning out there. Pat

  8. #8

    Zone System

    Unfortunately, Fred Picker's technique just doesn't work when you are doing photography in the Utah desert (and many other places). I have run into many, many, many situations where if I placed the highlights on zone VIII, the important shadows would fall on zone I or below. No amount of development would save the shadows in these cases. I would advise against using this technique.

    Christopher Cline

    Salt Lake City, UT

    http://www.wcslc.edu/pers_pages/c-cline/cline.html

  9. #9
    Robert A. Zeichner's Avatar
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    Zone System

    Back to Raven's question. The concept of exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights is the foundation of contrast control in black and white negative making. The Zone System is a means of quantifying that concept and applying it in a predictable and useful way over a broad range of shooting situations. The real trick is to train your eye to properly select the part of the scene that should fall in Zone III or Zone VII. What is your idea of distinct textural detail? And once you find out, how do your materials and technique translate that perception to the final print? As for placing any part of the scene on Zone VII? Has someone discovered a film on which shadow detail can magically be enhanced with increase in development? It works the other way! The thinnest portions of the negative are pretty much done by about halfway into the prescribed development time. It's the highlight areas (densest areas on the negative) that continue to develop beyond that point. The whole concept of N, N- and N+ is to control how dense those highlight areas get. The first meter reading you take helps you determine exposure, the second helps you to plan development. This is of course, just a very basic explanation of what happens. I, too would suggest some reading. An old college English prof. once told me that the sign of an intelligent person is that they agree with you! I don't know of anyone who agrees with placing anything on Zone VII!

  10. #10

    Zone System

    Raven, I would still suggest Picker's method, and also suggest that you check out Ansel's method and there was one I heard of that was something about Beyond the Zone System, if you find them interesting do the test so that you will know for yourself what the results will be. I think they might all work, just different approaches, but Fred's is the one that I tried and found that it worked for me and there are several other's in my neck of the woods who use it also. If you do the test for your personal exposure index and do the test for zone VIII, it will work for you anywhere in the world. Pat

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