View Full Version : BTZS is EASY! Here's why...

Bobby Sandstrom
11-Dec-2005, 12:07
BTZS is easy... Here's why:

You don't even have to understand how it works to use it!

1. With each filter (-1 thru 5) on your enlarger, you contact print a step wedge. You develop with your standard method/chemicals and dry.

2. You read these numbers with a densitometer and type them into the software (or have Fred at the View Camera Store do this for you)

3. You expose 5 sheets of film to a step wedge (or have Fred do it)

4. You develop those sheets per your usual method for 4, 5-1/2, 8, 11, 16 minutes.

5. You read the negs with a densitometer and type the numbers into the software. (or send them to Fred and he'll do it)

You're FINISHED! You now have all the numbers you need to precisely control your film. (Real world variables still apply.) Your negs will be tailored to your paper curve making printing a whole lot easier.

Out in the field you can use the incident metering system that Phil describes or you can use your spot meter. The choice is yours. If you want to plug the numbers into a Palm Handheld Device then you can, the Palm isn't a necessity. With BTZS you quickly arrive at all of the facts about your film/dev/paper so that they work together like a charm. No guessing at film speeds for various n developments and so on.

No learning how the motor is built to drive the car. If you want to learn, there's plenty of material to help with that! (try the videos)

I think with Phil's book the thing that scared most people, (including myself as I'm not a math major), is the math and all the chart drawing. It seems many couldn't get past that! I had to read the book many times to understand. But, I wanted badly to understand so I kept at it. Unfortunately, at the time, it was all manual work. Now the math and chart drawing has been eliminated with the software. Even the grunt work can be eliminated by paying Fred a few bucks to do it for you. ( I don't work for the View Camera Store. I just want to alert those that don't know about it that the service is available.) So, if you're a non-technical type and just want to get on with making photos, there's no excuse not to give this system a shot. It's FAST and tailored to your way of doing things.

Phil is a bright man and gave us a beautiful thing with BTZS. It's not some mystical religion... it's a cogent, concise method of attaining what we all set out to attain when we test our materials. It is quite an achievement. I'd venture to say he worked very, very hard to put it all together. It frustrates me to see so much negativity and misunderstanding when people who don't understand it discuss and knock it. As a brother in photography and passionate contributor to our craft, he deserves better than that. Unfortunately, the archilles heal of the system is that, in it's original form (book only), it scared people. If you got past that, the rewards were all yours. You could then quickly achieve numbers for any new film/developer/paper without the time consuming iterations of trial and error. Now, with the software system, there's NO learning curve to speak of. You can take advantage of it's power with minimal effort. However, it will cost you a few bucks if you want the View Camera Store to do the grunt work.

Granted, in the past (pre software) the system was hard and people had a logical reason not to use it. However, to justify their inability to understand and use it, some turn to bashing it declaring it's way too technical and simply unnecessary. Some say you're either technical or artistic conveneintly placing the confused into the artistic category. You can be both! But I digress.

BTZS is just a tool! Do you need to use it to make good photographs? Of course not. I acknowledge there is so much wiggle room built into the materials we use, any reasonably accurate system or even guessing at exposure with no meter and developing by inspection will get you close enough to make things work. BTZS simply centers and makes more narrow the margin of error. This just might be, to a greater or lesser degree, something good.

I you feel so inclined... TRY IT!

William Blunt
11-Dec-2005, 12:52
I use the "freeloader" method of the BTZS system. As Sandy has stated in previous posts that the numbers are tranferable. As I use the same method of film development as he does (tubes in a waterbath) I can use his dev. times for my film. When in the field I use the BTZS Power Dial ( a poor mans palm pilot of sorts) on side is for incident and the other for zone system. Both work quite well for me. I note the SBR on the film holder and when back in the darkroom I refer to Sandy's or Clay's times or Dick Arentz has tables in his book for the film and dev. combination I'm using, works great.If I am exposing and developing for palladium (my normal process) I just check the tables for developing to 1.75 for the SBR I have exposed the negative to. Some "tweeking" might be needed once in awhile but not much. There is such a thing as BTZS Lite from the View CAmera Store that really helps in understanding more about the system.

11-Dec-2005, 13:34
How do you pronounce it, Butt-Ziss?

Richard Schlesinger
11-Dec-2005, 15:55
I have been using the Zone System for over 40 years. Learned it for Ansel's books and the man himself. Phil Davis, in my not-so-humble opinion has succeeded magnificently in making it complicated and opaque. I have been trying to read his book for several years and it puts me right to sleep. Along with convincing me that black is white and up is down. Oh well.

Jay DeFehr
11-Dec-2005, 18:02
A.A.'s books were the first I read on the subject of process control, and even as a newbie, I knew something was amiss. How can film speed be independent of development? Why should I have to test for every lens/shutter/camera I use, but not for the printing paper? What's with all the roman numerals, and plusses and minusses? Compared to Adams' text, Davis' is utterly transparent and illuminating. I read once Davis' comment that he wished he'd never included ZS terminology in his book, as it only serves to confuse the basic concepts, and I agree wholeheartedly. Cut to the chase, and give me the straight dope. I can take it.


steve simmons
11-Dec-2005, 18:07
I don't test for every lens but I do try and match the film. film developer and paper. This is your 'team" and they have to work together.

steve simmons

11-Dec-2005, 18:51
Jay DeFehr: "Compared to Adams' text, Davis' is utterly transparent and illuminating. I read once Davis' comment that he wished he'd never included ZS terminology in his book, as it only serves to confuse the basic concepts, and I agree wholeheartedly. Cut to the chase, and give me the straight dope. I can take it. "


I completely agree with you. I have Adams' book on the negative and find parts of it very difficult to understand, whereas the concepts Davis puts forth in Beyond the Zone System seem remarkably simple to me.

On the other hand, I have seen a number of very intelligent and well-educated persons who react to Davis as Grump did. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

steve simmons
11-Dec-2005, 19:14
Which Adams book are you referring to. The early, thin, edition was very difficult for most people. The later thicker one was much easier. The early Adams appealed to a few, the later Adams book appealed to a lot more, The Picker approach (with or without reading the zone 1 with a densitometer, appealed to many as well). Apparently BTZS has its followers as well.

steve simmons

11-Dec-2005, 19:58
I have both of the books, the thin one and the larger one. However, I was in fact thinking of the thin one in making my comment about my difficulty in reading it.

Picker did make Zone a lot easier for me to understand than any of the previous works, say by Adams or White.

Duane Polcou
12-Dec-2005, 01:50
This is a wild, wild, totally out there new concept.

1. Rate your film at half the listed ASA and develop 30% less than recommended to insure negs with adequate shadow detail and manageable overall contrast.

2. Learn to dodge and burn until your prints look good.

Whoa!! I know, I know, totally cutting edge. I'm pretty sure I'm going to introduce a line of interactive DVD's called BLOPPLSYDRN: Beyond Lining Other People's Pockets Learning Stuff You Don't Really Need.

William Blunt
12-Dec-2005, 05:27
I used to think that way too until I found out that method was a good way to produce a totally useless negative for my needs. I print with platinum and palladium.

Dan Jolicoeur
12-Dec-2005, 07:10
I have been trying to read his book for several years and it puts me right to sleep.
And I thought it was just me! After checking it out of the library three times I went to the eye doctor. "Doc I can seem to read with out falling asleep." Now i have damn progressive bifocals and cant see, and I gave up on Phil Davis's book.

steve simmons
12-Dec-2005, 07:30
The BTZS is currently the in thing with some people. In the mid 1970s Picker's first book was the in thing. Minor White's approach was the in thing for awhile. Ansel has always been the driving force. He set the standard and there have been several attempts to reinvent his wheel. Adam's first book was very difficult for most people to use. His second one was much more approachable. Picker helped a lot of people. Sometime in the late 70s there was the Yob System. This was a series of articles written by Parry Yob that appeared in Petersen's and then came out in a book. IMHO this was a convoluted mess and I don’t think it ever developed very many followers. Now, BTZS is helping some people.

It has not been my intent to attack any one system. But I have been around long enough to see these cycles and to see them come and go. Whatever system works is fine. Dogma about one over the other is the problem (IMHO). Perhaps my reaction to the Yob System was based on my allegiance to the Zone System. I do think it is important to learn to use your equipment and materials. But this knowledge can be obtained with a few simple tests that only rely on some film, chemicals, paper and an enlarger. If you want to go beyond that and study sensitometry that is fine. But it is questionable whether or not you will make more evocative, engaging images.

If you are attracted to large format photography because of the technical issues you can dive into terrific. If you want to do large format and keep many of these formulae and charts and curves at bay that will work as well.

I guess this is my dogma

Steve Simmons

Ed Richards
12-Dec-2005, 08:02
All of these systems are based on matching negative range to paper range. If you are doing hybrid work - film to digital - the game changes some and probably gets a little simpler because you are less worried about the range of the paper. I am pretty sure that any negative that makes a good silver print will scan well, but it is clear that there negatives that scan well that will not make good silver prints.

Jorge Gasteazoro
12-Dec-2005, 10:12
The BTZS is currently the in thing with some people.

LOL......My second edition of the BTZS is dated 1988, the first edition I beleive appeared in 1983.....The BTZS has been around for a long time. This methodology is not a fad based in the wrong assumptions like the Picker method.

William Mortensen
12-Dec-2005, 10:50
"How do you pronounce it, Butt-Ziss?" --jj

It's pronounced "but-zis." Contrary to popular misinformation, it was originally created by French photographers, who, having trouble with Ansel Adams' instructions, would say, "I use zee zone system, *but zis* negative, it sucks!"

Any other questions you have on photo-history, just ask...

Richard Schlesinger
12-Dec-2005, 11:05
Ansels second book is, without doubt, much easier than the first. However I have never quite understood the difficulty with the whole business. Shades of gray (grey?) in a print corespond to densities/opacities in a negative. Giving them numbers doesn't seem all that complex. Nor does the fact that the longer one keeps a piece of film in developer the more opaque/dense it becomes.

Take the Zone System

Like all seminal ideas/concepts this one is elegantly simple. To my way of thinking the BTZS business serves only to make it more complicated. I must admit I am completely illiterate when it comes to computers so the parts about setting up programs or whatever is completely beyond me. There are so many vagaries in the photographic process, i.e. which zone do you choose for which particular area and whether your exposure meter is dead on, nearly so or otherwise, is your shutter speed accurate and consistent etc. etc. that there seems a limit to the precision obtainable outside a loboratory. Along with processing variations, inconsistencies in paper etc. it's a wonder one can produce a print at all. Certainly trying to limit the variables as much as possible is necessary - but the time and energy spent in endless testing and refining of the process, while fun and interesting, especially when it becomes an end in itself, seems somewhat counterproductive. Enough already.

Case in point. Since I purchased a laser alignment tool I have spent many hours (happy/unhappy) playing with the alignment of a rather poorly designed, sloppily manufactured enlarger. Do I make better prints because of this? Of course not. Is it a certain kind of masochistic entertainment? Yes. Is it harmless? I hope so.

And so it goes. I trust someone is offended or insulted by the above. If not, please let me know and I will try to supply a personal slight tailored as best I can to the recipient.

12-Dec-2005, 11:23
"I use zee zone system, *but zis* negative, it sucks!"

have you been reading the European Union common language policy?

The European Commission have just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

The Germans were initially reluctant to accept this but conceded after negotiations with Her Majesty's government.

The agreement was that the English spelling had some room for improvement and it was accepted that a five year programme of change would be done to implement these spelling changes in a new "EuroEnglish".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump for joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e" in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.

By the 4th year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz year, ve vil hav a realy sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tou nderstand each ozer.

Finali ve hav von!

Kirk Gittings
12-Dec-2005, 12:03
"It's pronounced "but-zis." Contrary to popular misinformation, it was originally created by French photographers, who, having trouble with Ansel Adams' instructions, would say, "I use zee zone system, *but zis* negative, it sucks!"

This is hilarious. I haven't laughed so hard in weeks.

William Mortensen
12-Dec-2005, 12:23
" do think it is important to learn to use your equipment and materials. But this knowledge can be obtained with a few simple tests that only rely on some film, chemicals, paper and an enlarger. If you want to go beyond that and study sensitometry that is fine. But it is questionable whether or not you will make more evocative, engaging images. " --steve simmons

Photography being, at least for me, a recreational and expressive activity, leads me to agree with Steve. Whatever system, or lack thereof, that yields the print you desire with consistency you accept and a process you enjoy is fine. BZTS sounds quite practical, and I've ordered Davis' book on it. Whether I'll become a convert is an open question, as I like my negatives as they are, but more knowledge, even useless knowledge, is infinitely better than ignorance.

My problem is likely that I prefer the "know your materials and use them by feel" approach, more akin to cooking than chemistry. I didn't learn to make chicken soup by opening five cans, putting one pinch of salt in one, two in the next, three in the next... then splitting them up and cooking for twenty minutes, thirty minutes, forty minutes... No, not a fair analogy, but it's how I am. Just a personality thing, and we pick the process, in part, to match our personality, which is likely why it sparks such a debate.

Kirk Gittings
12-Dec-2005, 12:32
" "know your materials and use them by feel" approach, more akin to cooking than chemistry"

I realy agreed with this till I thought of my dear wife who is a professional chef and who has spent her life studying nutrition, organic chemistry, the history of food, etc. to make cooking as creative and predictable as possible.

Kirk Keyes
12-Dec-2005, 14:38
"...to make cooking as creative and predictable as possible."

Or to make photography as creative and predictable as possible. That's what tools are for.

William Mortensen
12-Dec-2005, 14:55
When cooking, to beat the analogy to a proper death, one wants an oven that can be set to a consistant temperature, a clock that won't let you overcook, spices you're familiar with... Tools and ingrediants that are safe and healthy, familiar and predictable.

But I bet when Kirk Gittings wife cooks, she goes a lot by tasting, how those particular ingrediants look, what else is on the menu and wine list, and who's coming to dinner...

I like to kid myself that by playing with lens choice/time/temp/agitation (or lack thereof), developer strength and exhaustion, voodoo chants, etc. I can push the heel and toe around a little to mute the shadows or drag the highlights up. I usually make cryptic notes to myself about it at exposure time and stick them on the darkslide. You can tell the difference in the print, if you close your eyes and pretend...

Don't know how the BZTS will work with that, but it will further inform and confuse my decisions.

Jay DeFehr
12-Dec-2005, 15:10

your condescension towards BTZS practitioners is not well concealed by the little disclaimers you interject into your criticisms. When you write:

"The BTZS is currently the in thing with some people."

followed by:

"Ansel has always been the driving force."

you make an obvious value judgement.

When you write:

"Dogma about one over the other is the problem (IMHO)."

followed immediately by:

"Perhaps my reaction to the Yob System was based on my allegiance to the Zone System."

Your entire post devolves into meaningless equivocation intended only to smear BTZS users, in favor of a system based on the exact same principles, poorly and incompletely presented.

You can't have it both ways. If you want to criticize those who prefer BTZS and use densitometers in their sensitometry (the over-arching field upon which all process control systems are based), then please do so openly and with vigor, and refrain from the little justifications and equivocations that pepper your writing. Those who agree with you will see you as an advocate, and those who don't will repect you for your forthrightness. As it stands, you just come across as bitter and whiney.

The argument that some put forward, suggesting that too much understanding gets in the way of the creative process is absurd. One is either creative, or not, and understanding one's materials can only help in either case. The bottom line is that we all use sensitometric principles every time we make a decision regarding exposure or development. Some do so completely unconscious of the underlying principles, and work in blissful ignorance, enraptured by their results, but many others struggle to control their process in order to fully exploit the creative possibilities of their materials. So, to mangle a colloquialism; if it's broke, but you don't know it, it won't occur to you to fix it.


12-Dec-2005, 15:59
There seems to be some kind of disconnect in this discussion. Zone itself is a method of bringing the controls of sensitometry to the photographic process. Zone is not based on intution.

And BTZS is not antagonistic to Zone. In fact, once you have carried out the basic testing of your film, which establishes the relationship between tones on the print and on the negative, you can make your exposures in the field either with the Zone system, using a spot meter, or on the SBR system, using the special incident method developed by Davis. Davis fully describes both methods, and discusses the advantages of each, in Beyond the Zone System.

But however you choose to expose in the field the basic film testing is both more precise and can be done much faster.

William Mortensen
12-Dec-2005, 16:33
Okay, I've reconsidered my position...

If you learn the Zone System from the Ansel Adams Guides and determine an image needs 4 seconds at f/32 on FP4, and development of 9 minutes in Rodinal 1:25, you'll probably get a very printable negative, but you're an Ansel Adams imitator and nothing more.

But if you use BTZS and determine the same image needs 4 seconds at f/32 on FP4, and development of 9 minutes in Rodinal 1:25, you'll have a much more precisely made negative, with all the control a modern technician demands.

Whereas if you follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine that same image needs 4 seconds at f/32 on FP4, and development of 9 minutes in Rodinal 1:25, you'll only have a marginally printable negative, and you really should consider learning how to do it right.

And if you're like me and just figure that image needs 4 seconds at f/32 on FP4, and development of 9 minutes in Rodinal 1:25 by pulling numbers from your nether regions, well, you're just ignorant, your negatives will suck, and you deserve the lousy prints you get.

A true artist will have learned the zone system from Minor White's manual, and will know the only true combination that will draw an inner emotional response to that image is 4 seconds at f/32 on FP4, and development of 9 minutes in Rodinal 1:25.

End of argument.

steve simmons
12-Dec-2005, 16:55
Thanks Mark Sometime a too heated discussion needs some humor.

In my last post I was trying to give the scene some historical context and also interject some humility by acknowledging that I may have my own allegiances. If you still take the whole thing so seriously and feel condescended... well I guess that is your choice. You are taking this much, much too seriously.

steve simmons

12-Dec-2005, 17:14
"Tools and ingrediants that are safe and healthy"

Not really, I want lots of red meat, real butter & loads of ice cream & cake for dessert.

William Blunt
12-Dec-2005, 17:22
I guess there are only four ways to screw up........ over expose, underexpose, overdevelop or underdevelop. Avoid those and things should work out.

Eric Biggerstaff
12-Dec-2005, 17:24
Mark Sawyer-

Thanks for the best answer I have read in a long time!


Witold Grabiec
12-Dec-2005, 18:08
Mark is indeed dead on. This does not however, negate Ansel's greatest contribution to convincing photographers about getting it right. I'm awaiting my own copy of the "Butz" stuff and cannot comment on where its content will land in my little world just yet. If better, all the happier. I must say however, that after Picker's orientation nothing in Ansel's books has since been difficult to understand. Since some have already commented on Davis' boring style, it just seems that what works for some, does not for others.

Jay DeFehr
12-Dec-2005, 18:13

your quip assumes that all of the methodologies referrenced will deliver the same exposure/development recommendation. If that were true, any method would be as reliable as any other. Unfortunately it's not true, and everyone who exposes or processes film must determine for themselves what approach to take. What is important, and bears repeating, is that any approach is rooted in sensitometry, wether or not the practitioner is aware of the fact, and some are more direct than others. If the touchy-feely approach to sensitometry suits you, so be it, but ending posts with "end of argument" is just wishful thinking.


Richard Schlesinger
12-Dec-2005, 20:03
I hope those of you unfamiliar with Phil Davis'book and planning to obtain one will report back at some future date in the not too distant regarding your success or failure with it.

Richard Schlesinger
12-Dec-2005, 20:47
Kirk, does your wife use an Ohaus scale and measure ingredients to 1/1000 of a gram?

Michael Kadillak
12-Dec-2005, 20:56
Hopefully, a real life experience will have some material bearing on this discussion.

I was very fortunate to have photographed with Sandy King last summer in several of my favorite places in Montana (my home state) and Wyoming. He was considerably gracious in sharing his experiences when we found several locations worthly of setting up our ULF cameras. After having viewed many of his prints I was elated at the unique opportunity of being graced in person with his vast experience and knowledge base in the photographic process as it directly translates to the Carbon. Palladium and Azo photographic print.

Being a Zone system devotee I was taken away with the prospect of anyone using an incident meter in the exposure process. For several minutes Sandy humored me while I conveyed to him my Zone system exposure process for a particular photograph and he explained to me the premise of the BTZS methodology and the importance of ascertaining the subject brightness range and how it specifically related to a particular film and developer combination.

For a particular photograph in the Wind River Canyon that had very even lighting with little descernable lighting variability that I could isolate properly with my Pentax Digital Spot meter I was having a hell of a time arriving at a proper conclusive assigned Zone designation. With the BTZS Sandy had this exposure and developer combination dialed in as quick as the dickens. He showed me how he emulated the quality of the shaded areas with shading over his incident meter to arrive at a proper exposure and then compared this reading to the incident reading unshaded incident reading to compute the SBR. Talk about efficient. Needless to say, I was impressed with the simplicity and the speed at which usable data was directed into action. With my spot meter I have a propensity to spend far to much time being analytical and that has changed for the better. Now I use my spot meter as a quick check not as the base exposure instrument.

At the conclusion of our very productive trip I poured through the BTZS book I purchased years before and understood where Sandy was coming from. A light went off in my head and I found the system was actually far easier than any Zone iterations I have used up to this point. No, I have not completely divorced myself from the Zone system because it has been with me for a long time but I greatly appreciate the BTZS techniques because it has made things considerably simpler and quicker.

Particularly in very even lighting situations when you want to arrive at a SBR, where flare may be impacting your spot meter measurement causing over exposure (if it can affect lenses then it can also affect a spot meter), for keeping things simple if you are not photographing daily and for testing film and developer combinations to ascertain a data set of operating conditions quickly and easily, I honestly feel that the system is invaluable.

Yes, through process iterations (expose, develop, print and evaluate) you could very likely arrive at a pretty similar set of field conclusions, but considering how valuable the time is I have to devote to LF photography I am always interested in being as efficient and consistent as possible.

Lastly, when you are exposing and developing to a predetermined density range for contact printing on Azo my only normalizing variable is a water bath as I have only grade 2 and 3 to work with. Because of the imposed conditions I am driven to be as consistent with my process as I possibly can. BTZS is simply workable information that simply works.

Whatever makes your clock tick ....

Kirk Gittings
12-Dec-2005, 21:39

I don't follow her that closely to know. My job is to clean up after her and reap the rewards. However she seems to work quantities more by taste and texture and compatibility than anything else, Except for baking which apparently is very precise.

13-Dec-2005, 05:14
First, I want to thank Mike for his kind comments, but more for his great generosity in spending the time and sharing with so many parts of his west. I spent most of my life traveling in other parts of the world when I was younger and only found the west some six or seven years ago so I am still pretty much in awe of the landscape.

And Mike added, “Lastly, when you are exposing and developing to a predetermined density range for contact printing on Azo my only normalizing variable is a water bath as I have only grade 2 and 3 to work with. Because of the imposed conditions I am driven to be as consistent with my process as I possibly can. BTZS is simply workable information that simply works.”

This is an important point. When we work with graded papers such as AZO, or any of the alternative processes, it makes sense to be as efficient as possible. Although most of these processes have some contrast controls it is always best to start with an optimum negative, and that means one that is both well exposed and developed to exactly the right density range needed for the exposure scale of the paper.

Most of my work is printed with the carbon process, which is one of the more time consuming of the alternative processes. To obtain even a modest degree of productivity (which I would describe as being able to make 5-10 keeper prints a month when working for 6-10 hours every day of the month) requires that my negatives be as close to perfect as possible in terms of shadow density and density range. If I begin with a negative of unknowing printing quality it will take at least a good day of work to zero in on the basic exposure and contrast controls needed, even with the use of a densitometer.

How other people choose to work is not my concern. I like to do different things so if I were the only people out there in the world using BTZS I would be perfectly happy. In fact, the desire to not follow the crowd and do my own thing is what makes printing with alternative processes so attractive. So understand, I don’t expect people to agree with me, in fact I prefer the opposite. I would really much prefer to be off on the side of the mountain than having a bunch of folks follow me down the valley.

Struan Gray
13-Dec-2005, 06:00
I don't do much, if any, testing in a rigorous sense, but I like to read about it in the same way that I like to read about lens design or semiconductor manufacturing: it's a symptom of innate curiosity. If I were to start doing tests, the BTZS methodology makes most sense to me.

I liked Jorge's point in the unmentionable thread about how he knew just how sloppy he could be and still get away with it. Non scientists often don't understand that mapping the bounds of validity is just as much real science as undermining the foundations of theory. Real science has error bars.

I also like the idea that BTZS tests seem to be transferable and general. It is good if I can get Sandy and Micheal to do half my testing for me. It is good if I don't have to repeat film tests when I use a new paper.

Precision was long ago taken out of the hands of most photographers and sealed in a dark coating hall where the initiate elves made film and paper for them. I don't think it is surprising that those who really value the effectiveness and efficiency of BTZS are those who are printing with alt processes who need precisely-tailored negs and who can't afford to waste time and paper on too many test prints.

Finally, I suspect that in the shrinking world of film-based photography it will become more and more important to be able to characterise materials for yourself. Partly because the churn of manufacturers and own-label supply chains will force users to change materials more often, and partly because with small manufacturers the batch to batch consistency is likely to get worse.

Richard Schlesinger
13-Dec-2005, 11:00
Kirk, I think your answer is a copout! As a small child I observed my mother in the kitchen as closely as possible (got stepped on a lot). Later, when I became for a time addicted to the Food Network, I taped and re-played Jaques Pepin many many times, watching for nuances in his technique. Finally, being an avid eater with many years experience I find it impossible to believe a man of your obvious taste and talent would not have availed yourself of the opportunity to observe closely and in detail the performance of someone the caliber of your wife.

When Ansel came to town and to my home for dinner (I drop names whenever possible) I performed in the kitchen (under my wifes supervision of course) to her exacting standards. (I was limited to pouring the vodka but we can't all be stars.) Later, I followed Ansel closely, observing his every move as he photographed UCI, noting with which hand he operated various Hasselblad parts, which eye to the light meter etc etc.

And you expect me to believe you don't know what your wife is doing in the kitchen? I wasn't born yesterday!

Kirk Gittings
13-Dec-2005, 13:44
Reverend Grump,

This may sound ridiculous, but its true. I haven't had a full day off in 2 years and 8 months. For better or for worse my mind is almost always on work.