The Zone System

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by nikon90s, Mar 14, 2004.

?

Do you use "The Zone System"?

  1. Yes All the time.

    40.0%
  2. Nope, not at all. I use the force.

    33.3%
  3. Zone Who?

    26.7%
  1. nikon90s

    nikon90s TPF Noob!

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  2. vonnagy

    vonnagy have kiwi, will travel...

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    I am reading up on the zone system as well... I don't know much about enough to vote here but it would be interesting to get some of our more experienced photographers to comment on it. Good one Nikon and thanks for the links.
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I use the zone system and the force.
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I zone out on a regular basis...

    Oh, I mean I haven't looked into it much yet. I'm familiar with the basic concept, but haven't tried applying it yet. Since my camera's meter does a pretty good job, I haven't had the incentive to do so.
     
  5. voodoocat

    voodoocat ))<>(( Supporting Member

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    :lol: 8)


    I voted I use it all the time.
     
  6. MrEd31

    MrEd31 TPF Noob!

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    It has been well documented the Edward Weston and Ansel Adams once had a conversation about just this topic. Adams told Weston that he would take some pretty good pictures if he used the zone system. Weston replied that he would use the zone system if Adams could show him one good picture taken using the zone system.


    I would just add that the zone system isn't a precursor to taking great photographs. However, it is interesting and brings up a lot of points that learned photographer should be aware of. I don't use the zone system. I believe that it was intended to be a complete way of taking a shot. Therefore, you can't use some principles and then say it doesnt work.
     
  7. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Personally, I find it easier to work on one aspect of my photography at a time. Right now I'm working on my composition and finding a "style". I'd rather have an image that did something for me emotionally and be technically off than have a technically perfect image that doesn't do anything for me. Worrying about a perfect exposure right now would be putting the cart before the horse for my particular path. That said, I know I will look into it at some point. Even if I don't use it, I'm sure I would learn something from it.
     
  8. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    I use my camera's meter as a reference but generally shoot on gut instinct.
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    In had a "Fine Art Photog" teach who said that some folks use the zone system very precisely and others use it sort of on the fly. I'm sure some people would argue that if you leave out steps then you aren't using the zone system. But my opinion is that there is a lot to learn about the zone system, and much of it can be applied in bits and pieces, with out using the system 100%.

    Adams and Weston are two of my favorites. Personally I usually like Weston's images (the subject and composition) a little better than Adams'. But looking at real photographs in art museums, printed by the photographers, I've always thought that Adams' prints (darkroom finesse) were a little better.
     
  10. doxx

    doxx TPF Noob!

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    I don't use the zone system, but I got pretty good at guessing exposure,
    so I can work quick on the streets
     
  11. mrsid99

    mrsid99 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Thanks for posting those links.....much against my will I believe I've learned something.
    I've also discovered I appear to live in zone II ......the twilight zone!
     
  12. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    A metering technique that was taught to me by an early mentor was to meter anything black (camera bag, boots, coat, etc... in the same lighting as your subject), and then under expose two stops from that reading.

    When you meter the black object the camera tells you how to expose to get middle gray (zone 5). By underexposing two stops it gets dropped into zone 3, which is very dark gray with full texture. As you go below zone 3 you begin to lose texture.

    This method meters for the shadows rather than the midtones, and the usual advice is to expose for the shadows.
     

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