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Thread: Who are interested in a zone system workshop

  1. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    I hope you do not mind me saying this. But your writing shows some fundamental errors.

    Applying the zine system and using PS are totally different animals. Photoshop deals largely with processing of the image after the image is taken, whether digitally, or scanned from analogue sources. Zone system is an entire way to see light (something so fundamental to photo(light)graphy, and how to translate that to the negative and print.
    I don't mind you saying that as long as you can point out my fundamental errors

    Is it because I forgot to mention the "Full" Zone System of 11 print zones? Or some non mainstream interpretation of the original Zone System?

    The Zone System and Photograph editing are indeed two different animals or should I say: two different modes of transport. The Zone System is like a horse and Photo editing is like a car. I'm not stopping anyone from learning horse riding. I just think the time is better spent learning to drive a car because most people don't have the chance to ride a horse.

    Seeing light? How to translate that to print? Sounds like what I have said in my previous post:

    "The real zone system includes ways to expose and develop film to achieve print where every area of the photograph is printed at the zone (darkness or brightness) that the photographer intended. The discipline thus covers analysing the scene, lighting, light-metering, darkroom techniques (including chemicals used, time taken, type of paper used for printing), calibrating the entire system, etc., and has lots of reference tables and charts."

  2. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by singscott
    I agree with student. You seem to miss out a few important point. Largely zone system look like a exposure method for doing picture. That for people who have not gone in depth. Zone system is more than that.
    Thanks for agreeing with me that the Zone System is more than just an exposure method.

    To summarise my earlier post, it is a theoretical framework of understanding exposure and an empirical method of controlling and varying the exposure and development of the negative to get the prints you want.

    It covers a system that comprises The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. But it was conceived at a time when lens are uncoated, negatives are medium format, and print are in B&W. And instruments are less stable and require regular calibration. How many amateur photographers find the above relevant?

    Remember, the Zone System

    - cannot be applied unless the photographer has full control over the development of the negatives, and the production of prints

    - is difficult to apply on development of negatives that are smaller than medium format, this includes the 135 commonly used nowadays.

    - cannot be applied to colour photography without much convoluted modification to the system of camera, negative and prints.

    The fundamental error will be to mistake the Zone System for general camera craft.

    How to see creatively is not the Zone System. How to make use of light to take a good picture is not the Zone System. How to take correct light reading with your camera and compensate accordingly is also not the Zone System. Knowing the Greek root of the word "photography" is definitely not the Zone System.

    Except for the last piece of trivia knowledge, the rest are all photography skills that do not need any knowlege of the Zone System. Otherwise, you would have read about the Zone System in your camera manual.

    Don't tell me I am wrong. Point out where I am wrong.

  3. #43
    Senior Member The_Cheat's Avatar
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    Hope you guys don't mind me butting in to say something...

    Student & Singscott: I guess most of the misconception about zone system, in both this thread and the other thread (which I'd closed... apologies for that) is that resources on the zone system (internet and books) tend to focus on the more technical part of using and mastering of the zone system, and NOT on the previsualisation of images, and achieve the final representation via using the zone system as the means. In other words, to visualise the end, and to start from the very beginning and move towards the end.

    I think it might do a lot of good here, to clear misconception, if you could come out with nice analogies of using the zone system to achieve a certain effects on the picture, i.e. to make creative representation (pls take the word "creative" very loosely in this case). I think giving such examples may be a mind-boggling to some, but I seriously think that it would quell a number of misconceptions brewing with regards to the zone system.

    Hope I didn't say anything wrong... especially since I knew basically next to nothing on ZS a week ago!

  4. #44
    Senior Member The_Cheat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taku1a
    Thanks for agreeing with me that the Zone System is more than just an exposure method.

    To summarise my earlier post, it is a theoretical framework of understanding exposure and an empirical method of controlling and varying the exposure and development of the negative to get the prints you want.

    It covers a system that comprises The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. But it was conceived at a time when lens are uncoated, negatives are medium format, and print are in B&W. And instruments are less stable and require regular calibration. How many amateur photographers find the above relevant?

    Remember, the Zone System

    - cannot be applied unless the photographer has full control over the development of the negatives, and the production of prints

    - is difficult to apply on development of negatives that are smaller than medium format, this includes the 135 commonly used nowadays.

    - cannot be applied to colour photography without much convoluted modification to the system of camera, negative and prints.

    The fundamental error will be to mistake the Zone System for general camera craft.

    How to see creatively is not the Zone System. How to make use of light to take a good picture is not the Zone System. How to take correct light reading with your camera and compensate accordingly is also not the Zone System. Knowing the Greek root of the word "photography" is definitely not the Zone System.

    Except for the last piece of trivia knowledge, the rest are all photography skills that do not need any knowlege of the Zone System. Otherwise, you would have read about the Zone System in your camera manual.

    Don't tell me I am wrong. Point out where I am wrong.
    I think there are a lot of ways of doing the same thing. Some masters in photography never used zone system anyway, and they'd make masterpieces that everyone could associate to. But to say that learning one extra thing is wrong is perhaps unjustifiable.

    Just look at PS for example. You could use automated function of USM to sharpen your images, or you could with the understand of traditional darkroom method usage with the actual unsharp masking method, to sharpen the image as well. There's no right or wrong in either case.

    While it's very admirable of you to point out the difficulties in learning and mastering of the ZS, it's disheartening somehow that people focus on the limitations, sometimes using such as a reason to learn the technique. Remember, learning an extra technique wouldn't assure you that you'll be able to make good pictures; just like having to learn how caligraphy doesn't automatically ensure that you could write wonderful poetry artistically. Yet, I don't see what's wrong in having one more arsenal in your pouch.

  5. #45
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    Even with formal education in photography, the ZS is quite ellusive to me. I guess that my dad taught me well to see photo oppotunities in shades of grey. I have always taken good photos before knowing the ZS and will probably be using my technique till the day I day and also pass it on to my students and my children. Basically its the same as ZS except that I never documented it.

    The Cheat is correct to mention that many top photographers never use the ZS, but I rather think that they never really sees it as that. I am pretty sure they would applied some form of similar technique. However, knowing ZS formally is not too bad either as you may have discovered that you are actually adopting the same fundamentals without even realising it.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommon
    Even with formal education in photography, the ZS is quite ellusive to me. I guess that my dad taught me well to see photo oppotunities in shades of grey. I have always taken good photos before knowing the ZS and will probably be using my technique till the day I day and also pass it on to my students and my children. Basically its the same as ZS except that I never documented it.

    The Cheat is correct to mention that many top photographers never use the ZS, but I rather think that they never really sees it as that. I am pretty sure they would applied some form of similar technique. However, knowing ZS formally is not too bad either as you may have discovered that you are actually adopting the same fundamentals without even realising it.
    True. Even the creator of the zone, Adams himself, made a few masterpieces before the conception of the ZS too.

    In fact, it's rather foolish to think that when you learn the ZS, you'll be like Adams. It's just as foolsh as thinking that if you hold a leica, you'll be HCB too. But given a choice, who won't want to get his paw on a leica?

    And since there's a choice to learn the ZS now, at an as cheap as free cost, why would you not embrace it?

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Cheat
    I think there are a lot of ways of doing the same thing. Some masters in photography never used zone system anyway, and they'd make masterpieces that everyone could associate to. But to say that learning one extra thing is wrong is perhaps unjustifiable.

    Just look at PS for example. You could use automated function of USM to sharpen your images, or you could with the understand of traditional darkroom method usage with the actual unsharp masking method, to sharpen the image as well. There's no right or wrong in either case.

    While it's very admirable of you to point out the difficulties in learning and mastering of the ZS, it's disheartening somehow that people focus on the limitations, sometimes using such as a reason to learn the technique. Remember, learning an extra technique wouldn't assure you that you'll be able to make good pictures; just like having to learn how caligraphy doesn't automatically ensure that you could write wonderful poetry artistically. Yet, I don't see what's wrong in having one more arsenal in your pouch.
    If you need one more arsenal, then learn the basics of sensitometry on which the Zone System is based. A good book on exposure is "Perfect Exposure" by Roger Hicks and Franz Schultz.

    The pitfall of the Zone System is that there are many misconceptions propagated by those who read a book and never enter a traditional darkroom. So, it is very important to provide a counter-point, and I do not mind playing the role of a devil's advocate.

    The Zone System is a complicated and time consuming system that encompass mainly calibration, testing and most importantly darkroom development and exposure techniques. The three books by Ansel Adams: "The Camera", "The Negative", and "The Print" define clearly what the Zone System is. I doubt the workshop is going anywhere near a Tri-X film emulsion, let alone a development tank. The most it is likely to do is to borrow some terms from the Zone System to explain exposure. So how can it be called a Zone System workshop?

    By the way, the idea of using USM is the degree of control it has over other automated method of sharpening in Photoshop.
    Last edited by taku1a; 4th February 2005 at 09:25 AM.

  8. #48

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    I really hope that we can all come together to talk about this thing called the zone system. Then we can go into "details" (oh, how I hate that word. It makes things so much more complicated that it should be!) I just prefer to simply things!

    Let me deal with the issues together.

    I will have to use some information from the excellent book titled "Art of Photography" by Bruce Barnbaum. I really have no problem with what taku1a wrote as 9 zones in the printed image. But the first thing a photographer need to do is NOT to make a photo, but rather to make a latent image on the negative. The next thing is to make the latent image on the negative into something that can be used for printing. The tonal relationship in the original scene is fixed at the point of "capture". Increasing exposure or reducing exposure cannot change the tonal relationship. Only development (and judicious use of filters, amongst others, such as inducing a reciprocity failure) can change the tonal relationship. And in the negative, the zones can go way up beyond zone 9 and 10. In prints, zone 9 is paper white, but a zone 9 or zone 14(!) in the negative can have very useful information, which can be translated to the print. So there is a need to distinguish between the zones in a negative and a printed image.

    We can discuss this further in the "workshop".

    taku1a brought up an example of the horse (ZS) and a car (PS). I am not sure if that analogy applies. I admit my ignorance in PS at this stage. To me, the analogy is that the ZS is like the wheels, and PS the mechanic that comes into play to refine things (perhaps change the fabric seat to a leather one) or to repair things when things go wrong. I think the ZS is something more fundamental.

    I will emphasize that one DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW THE ZS AS FORMULATED BY ANSEL ADAMS AND FRED ARCHER. Not at all. And examples can be given to show how great images can and have been made by those "ignorant" of the ZS. Two great examples are Edward Weston and his son Brett. They have cultivated the ability to use light without meters. In Edward case, well, his way of exposure is to use the "T" on his shutters and leave it on for a few hours. Unfortunately when the big trucks passed by, they caused vibrations (just like those on Benjamin Sheares Bridge), and Edward had to start all over again! (I had tried this way of exposure once, and it worked! I left the shutter opened and went for tea, and returned half an hour later! No, this was not night photography! When I compared another negative of the same scene taken with all the careful calculations, they were not very different from each other!) And another thing, Edward's negatives are so horrendously dense that you can use it to see soler eclipse! So much for the ZS!

    But for most of us mortals, an understanding of the ZS goes a long way to making better exposure, whether one uses film or digital capture. To correct an incorrectly exposed image (film or digital) in the final print always entail some loss of quality (even for digital, unless in RAW mode, as I was instructed my by IT savvy colleagues this morning). And to learn "correct" (or the "desired") exposure is really very easy with once a person understands understand the ZS (Give me 10 minutes!).

    It is true that in the formal teaching of the ZS, much calibration is required. And here, I agree with that when the need for calibration was formulated and taught in schools and workshops, scientific precision was sorely lacking. I have with me an Ilex shutter that obviously do not work as precisely as my brand new Copal shutter! So the idea to calibrate the equipment is needed. I am not sure calibration is needed today. All the calibration that is needed is the true speed of the film emulsion. and I don't even need to do that with the information freely available on the net.

    I have little need for sensitometry which deals with absolute tones. But real life photography are not simple tones. Even black has variations of light in it!

    Regarding this "workshop". Frankly I do not care what it is called. This "workshop" serves, in my opinion, to help people to make exposure, whether film (color or b&W) or digital. This "workshop" has nothing to do with creativity. If someone already knows and makes negatives with good inforamtion, he does not need to come.

    Some specifics on the Zone system. Remember,

    1 ZS can be applied even without the full control of the negative and printing. Full control is ideal, but to those who do not have full control, even a partial application can be extremely useful

    2 ZS can be applied to any format, including 135. There are ways to deal with 135 and roll films

    3 ZS can be applied to color photography. But its application is harder. Read "Art of Photography"

    4 ZS is not complicated and, in my opinion, do not need a lot of calibration, especially with high precision equipment today.

    5 For most of us, the error will be NOT to use ZS as a fundamental for general photography.

    Zone System as it stands is not creativity. How can any tool be creative? It has no mind! It is a tool to help photographers to make better negatives. However, to those who are creative, the understanding the zone system can help to make creative images, such as those departs from reality.

    A tool is a tool. If a person do not know how to use a tool for creative output, the problem is not the tool, but the practitioner!

    Yes indeed the pitfalls of the ZS system are misconceptions propagated by many, including many posts in this thread.

    No wonder it is so misunderstood!

  9. #49

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    alamak...i think the more ppl offer an explanation/debate abt ZS, the more silly the thread becomes...simply because not all of us have the same thinking abt ZS although is abt the same topic called "ZS".

    although i have little knowledge abt ZS...i see it's usefulness once i treat it like painting. It doesnt help in your composition or photography skills...but it helps in putting dimension to the image that you wish to capture or the image you wish to realise.

    That's how i view ZS...so lets cut the TOO MUCH explanation crap, make it simple and easy for starters...sign up if you want to know, if not, no need to sign up...as for me...i signed up...cos i want to hear the views of ZS and how ppl actually used it. There might not be much hands-on...but it's a start to B/W photography.
    blog: inbloomphotos.wordpress.com

  10. #50

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    1) vince123123 (if free hehe - no mention of cost so far)
    2) Quekky
    3) Yeowww
    4) The_Cheat
    5) Imagine
    6) Camedia
    7) B&S
    8) stefyxz
    9) tucker
    10) eagles_creek
    11) wainism
    12) Madman
    13) Digit
    14) Litechaser
    15) tonysantos
    16) Khairi
    17) Syrinx
    18) agape01 (Currently interested)
    19) superman
    20) javaman
    21) juste_millieu (need to confirm the date & time)
    22) Tech_Girl
    23) Venom81
    blog: inbloomphotos.wordpress.com

  11. #51
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    I see it more like Zone system is the engine and Photoshop is the like the power steering. Zone system is a mean to tranlate how many good photographer see, think and do photography. They might not even know they are using ZS. As I said earlier Ansel Adam come up the zone system because he need to teach other photographer of what he know. Some of these information were pass to him from other master photographer, just that he put what he knew into the zone system. Any way can we put these discussion in the zone system thread let not fill this thread with this discussion as we need to see how many people and who are interested in the workshop.

  12. #52
    Senior Member The_Cheat's Avatar
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    Hmm... is the workshop still on?

  13. #53
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    1) vince123123 (if free hehe - no mention of cost so far)
    2) Quekky
    3) Yeowww
    4) The_Cheat
    5) Imagine
    6) Camedia
    7) B&S
    8) stefyxz
    9) tucker
    10) eagles_creek
    11) wainism
    12) Madman
    13) Digit
    14) Litechaser
    15) tonysantos
    16) Khairi
    17) Syrinx
    18) agape01 (Currently interested)
    19) superman
    20) javaman
    21) juste_millieu (need to confirm the date & time)
    22) Tech_Girl
    23) Venom81
    24) Nexus17 (need to confirm date and time)

  14. #54
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    Oh yes. Sorry for not updating you guys. At first I am worry with departer of student from clubsnap but he graceful enough to let the past to slight. There a lot interest so in order to house every one we are try to get Epsite. And boy are they pack. But jcryan55 are working very hard to make this workshop happen. Also the good doc is away from mid of march to early april. So the date for the workshop most likely in early march or mid april.

  15. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by singscott
    Oh yes. Sorry for not updating you guys. At first I am worry with departer of student from clubsnap but he graceful enough to let the past to slight.
    OT a bit...
    what do you mean? he's not be around in CS anymore?

  16. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by popeye
    OT a bit...
    what do you mean? he's not be around in CS anymore?
    Oh! I am around! Just a brief cardiac arrest! Had a bit of a out-of-body experience, but now down to earth again!

  17. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Oh! I am around! Just a brief cardiac arrest! Had a bit of a out-of-body experience, but now down to earth again!
    cool...cool to see you here again...he he he...
    blog: inbloomphotos.wordpress.com

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by khairi
    cool...cool to see you here again...he he he...

  19. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by singscott
    Oh yes. Sorry for not updating you guys. At first I am worry with departer of student from clubsnap but he graceful enough to let the past to slight. There a lot interest so in order to house every one we are try to get Epsite. And boy are they pack. But jcryan55 are working very hard to make this workshop happen. Also the good doc is away from mid of march to early april. So the date for the workshop most likely in early march or mid april.
    Hope to hear from you guys soon.
    Keep it up.

  20. #60

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    1) vince123123 (if free hehe - no mention of cost so far)
    2) Quekky
    3) Yeowww
    4) The_Cheat
    5) Imagine
    6) Camedia
    7) B&S
    8) stefyxz
    9) tucker
    10) eagles_creek
    11) wainism
    12) Madman
    13) Digit
    14) Litechaser
    15) tonysantos
    16) Khairi
    17) Syrinx
    18) agape01 (Currently interested)
    19) superman
    20) javaman
    21) juste_millieu (need to confirm the date & time)
    22) Tech_Girl
    23) Venom81
    24) Nexus17 (need to confirm date and time)
    25) Aim

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