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zone system for beginners ??
Hey guys,.

What do you guys think of the zone system ? Is it just mostly made for landscape photography ? Is it a good system for a beginner like me to start learning SLR photography with ??.

Thanks much for your wisdom..

Comments (14)

The zone system is good for learning to place exposure, though it's more suited to B&W print film than it is to something like digital, where the exposure range is more similar to working with slide film..

There are many basic photography books, and most of them are good enough, as are a lot of art appreciate classes. If you learn better in a structured environment, Community Colleges normally have good classes..

If you like DVDs, I happen to think Ron Reznick's Sure Shot System set is a good deal, as it covers pretty-much everything you'd want to know about digital photography..

Paulhttp://PaulDRobertson.imagekind.com..

Comment #1

Dxtreme wrote:.

Hey guys,.

What do you guys think of the zone system ? Is it just mostly madefor landscape photography ? Is it a good system for a beginner likeme to start learning SLR photography with ??.

Thanks much for your wisdom.

Once you know zone system, you not beginner..

Seriously, it's a rather sophisticated way to look at exposing an entire scene. As originally conceived for black and white film and wet prints (and yes, mostly landscapes), it also involved varying the development of the negative to suit the contrast ratio of the original subject. I'm not sure how that translates to digital. I mean, if my histogram runs off the edges, all I can do is break down in tears..

There are probably a lot of other areas for a beginner to look at before tackling zones. You want a command of exposure, focus, depth of field, appropriate focal lengths and probably a lot more before you study squeezing the last bit of tonal scale out of your images..

Or it can make you want to get a 4X5 and shoot pictures of Half Dome. Which is not all bad..

Leonard Migliore..

Comment #2

The zone system is a way to visualize what you wish the resultant print to portray. The preconceived notion of the final result is the essential element..

In it's pure sense the zone system is a methodical way of achieving the desired output result given a particular input scene. While the classic examples demonstrated by Ansel Adams were mostly large format black and white negative film, the principles apply regardless of medium. The zone system is based on empirical measurements and physics. With digital the limitations and manipulations may be different but the principles apply equally...

Comment #3

Reading tonal separation is a great skill to have, and the best place to learn how it relates to digital imaging is to explore curves in photoshop. The manipulating of tonal gradation that was done in B&W film, exposure, processing, and printing can now easily be accomplished with curves layers and masking. One of the best reasons for understanding where tones fall is that you gain exposure control, and stop being a slave to your in camera meter. This is not a big problem in these days of histograms and the like!..

Comment #4

I'm not sure how that translates to digital. Imean, if my histogram runs off the edges, all I can do is break downin tears..

Not really. You have choices..

1) Shoot raw and recover about a full stop in the highlights..

2) Shoot at a lower contrast setting. Some cameras will reflect that change in the histogram. This is much like changing the development of the negative in the zone system..

3) Put the camera on a tripod and make two exposures. One to preserve highlights and one to preserve shadows. Combine them together later..

4) If multiple exposures aren't practical for the subject. Pick which part of the scene is more important. Highlights or shadows. You can still preserve one of them. In general, you will probably want to preserve the highlights. You can pull a lot of detail out of the shadows in most digital images and somewhat blocked shadows are generally less bothersome than blown highlights.

For your shot, it may be the other way around..

Jay Turbervillehttp://www.jayandwanda.com..

Comment #5

Any good book pertaining to the subject matter ? Hopefully one that specific to digital photography ?

Comment #6

The Zone System was coined as a method for placing tonal values on a B&W print. When a scene was higher or lower contrast than the print could accommodate. The Zone System allowed the photographer to adjust exposure then extend or compress processing times of the film so that the negative would print within the papers contrast range. One of the main components of the System was the understanding of what good exposure is! Ansel Adams book on Exposure is still a valid read, and digital cameras today have many tools to assist you in getting a good exposure. In order to use the technology without letting it rule you you need to understand how it works you will want to use the tools (meter histogram etc.) to help 'you' make good exposure judgments. On B&W film one could shoot for shadow detail and process the highlight into place but not so in transparency or digital...blow the highlight and it's game over! So shoot for the highlight and fill for shadow detail where ever possible (general rule of thumb).

Todays Photoshop or equivalent has curves too and in combination with a well exposed file curves gives you almost unlimited control over your image. Learn to work with curves and you will master the Zone System as it applies to digital imaging. Books I don't know, but eat up all the curves tutorials you can find!..

Comment #7

Dxtreme wrote:.

Hey guys,.

What do you guys think of the zone system ? Is it just mostly madefor landscape photography ? Is it a good system for a beginner likeme to start learning SLR photography with ??.

Well, I'm no "expert", but I have found the Zone System very helpful in my colour-print film photography (I still run through one or two rolls/week). I suggest you check out the following, and make up your own mind:.

Http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/zone.htm..

Comment #8

Rockwell tells a good story and writes many words that appear convincing. His writing is not based on the the most critical of thinking. Many notice this over a period of time..

The canonical source for the zone system is Ansel Adam's book entitled "Exposure"..

Believe whatever you wish but do so based on critical thought...

Comment #9

Mrxdimension wrote:.

Rockwell tells a good story and writes many words that appearconvincing. His writing is not based on the the most critical ofthinking. Many notice this over a period of time..

The canonical source for the zone system is Ansel Adam's bookentitled "Exposure"..

* Edit: "The Negative", not Exposure..

Believe whatever you wish but do so based on critical thought...

Comment #10

I haven't read all the responses but because of the ability to check in camera the status of your image via histograms, pic review, and over exposure warning, you don't need the zone system..

When exposing with digital cameras, over exposure is the big no - no. You want to move the histogram down so as to avoid anything displayed on the right side of the histogram (area over exposed)..

The dynamic range of digital is less than it was for film so traditional zone measurements aren't really necessary. However if you enter the interesting field of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, it somewhat resembles zone thinking. What you do is take, lets say three photos of a scene, setting each photo for a particular exposure to capture detail in one aspect of the scene. By patching parts of the photo together in photoshop, you can have a greater dynamic range photo.lRationally I have no hope, irrationally I believe in miracles.Joni Mitchell..

Comment #11

I'll second that..

Remember the Zone System was designed around chemicals and wet processing of large format negatives (can you imagine a 10" x 8" negative) and slow printing and then more wet processes. It was to get the best out of what was available then but still contains much that is right and useful but - these days - I think a guide is needed to it. And we are talking digital images and amazing software during and after taking the picture..

But read what Ken Rockwell says as he makes the point that it is important to understand exposure and no one spoke a truer word. Also KR likes the old Olympus Trip 35's (I've two of them) and, well, what more can I say?.

Regards, David..

Comment #12

Dxtreme wrote:.

Hey guys,.

What do you guys think of the zone system ? Is it just mostly madefor landscape photography ? Is it a good system for a beginner likeme to start learning SLR photography with ??.

Since you appear to be taking an intelligent interest in the "ins and outs" of exposure, you may find this very long (31 page) thread useful. Check it out:.

Http://photocamel.com/...m/photography-talk/28254-understanding-exposure.html..

Comment #13

Http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/zone_system.shtml.

It's not a comprehensive book about zone system but you may find the article useful.Rafy Sugirihttp://www.flickr.com/photos/rafysugiri/sets/http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/dna.php?username=79015415@N00.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #14

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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