The Zone System

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by stone_family3, Apr 15, 2010.

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  1. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    Anyone use this system? Our Adv B&W class requires us to use this, it's been 3 weeks and it just isn't clicking.
     
  2. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    yes,

    why not talk to your insturctor and get some help in finding out where your lost and how to get on track.

    It really is more difficult to read about than do, just takes a bit of practice. Slow down and think about what your class lesson have covered.
     
  3. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    I've talked to him several times, I also took the class back in 2003. I can manage it semi-okay with still life but not with live action shots.
     
  4. SoonerBJJ

    SoonerBJJ TPF Noob!

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    Yes.

    What resources are you using to gain understanding?
     
  5. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    Well aside from our text book, a lot of writing down exposures, a few charts, teacher help, help from other students, and a lot of practice. I can do okay on a still life but not on action.
     
  6. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It is a theory that can be very useful in learning to understand grayscale and seeing in black and white terms. If you were in my class i would suggest you not worry about the action shots as you don't have the time to meter, and make the same type of decision that one makes with still life or images that aren't moving.

    Have you tested your equipment to determine your proper EI and development times?

    THe system is a guide line, was development to help photographers to talk the same language and be able to control their tools. With , 35mm film , one needs to commit the whole roll to the conditions so you can't pick and chose which shot gets what type of exposure /development. So , pick what you think is going to work the best for you and the lighting and shoot, you seem to be over working this to the point of freezing.

    i mention 35mm film as i thought it was unlikely your doing sports with 4x5, altho, it has been done , in fact for years .
     
  7. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    Yes I've already determined proper EI and development times and also which developer works best with my film choice.
     
  8. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    good, so with sports, go with what the meter is reading for middle gray and use a fast shutter speed and let the other values fall where they may. In a normal daylight setting the values usually balance out
     
  9. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    Develop and print your negative 'normally'. If they need a little more snap, use a higher grade of paper. If they are too contrasty, reduce development.

    The zone system has no merit whatsoever and is a fraud.
     
  10. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The Zone System is not about the subject. It is about light.

    It is about manipulating the exposure of the film, development of the film, and printing of the film to create an end exposure.

    What exactly is not clicking about the Zone System ?
     
  11. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    The Zone System is actually rather simple, at least at its heart. It is merely a carefully controlled and calibrated variant of the ancient common widsom, "expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights".

    What it adds to that old rule is adjusting the film's tonal range by modifying development so that a particular scene's range from shadow to highlight fits the tonal range of the film. Complete application of the Zone System does require that each shot be developed differently. This is most practical with large format sheet film.

    For many users of small format cameras that shoot rolls of film such custom development of each shot is not practical. These users generally calibrate they film and its processing in a "one size fits all" way. They still use the Zone System rules for determining the optimum exposure for a given shot, but they live with the one tonal range (number of usable Zones) that their one film/development combination produces.

    For the bulk of my old B&W film days I used this limited sub-set of the Zone System (roughly a 20 year period). I did shoot a little large format and used image specific development modification. The basic concepts also apply to color film, though without the development adjustments, and digital.
     
  12. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    Over a broad range it makes no difference whatsoever (tonally) whether you adjust film contrast or paper contrast. The zone system was developed when VC papers were not available or primitive, and only graded papers were used. At that time, it was not possible to make small adjustments in paper contrast; one had to use grade 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Some papers (portrait types) were available only in a single grade. Subsequently, it became a religion to vary contrast by film development, even though it's easier and more practical to adjust paper contrast while developing film uniformly, and has been for decades.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2010
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