Contents

Preface to the Fourth Edition How to Read this Chapter 1 Will It Come Out Introduction Chapter 2 Print Quality and Negative Contrast 6 Subject Contrast and Photographic Papers 6 The Procrustean Bed of Modern Photographic Papers 7 Working with Problem Summary Chapter 3 The Control of Negative Contrast 13 Expose for the Shadows Develop for the Normal Summary Chapter 4 The Print Values Texture and Detail The Zones Previsuali'zation Measuring Zones Summary Chapter 5 Exposure Light Measurement...

Color Managing Your System

Applying color management to your system only requires understanding three basic concepts. First, you need to choose the appropriate color space for the kind of images you plan to create. For the majority of digital photographers this is a very simple decision If you are primarily planning to display your images on the Web, choose sRGB as your working color space. If you plan to make fine ink jet prints from your digital files choose either Adobe 1998 or ProPhoto RGB. In practice the difference...

Q How does the Zone System apply to the use of electronic flash

A In general, the correct exposure with electronic-flash units is calculated by carefully measuring the camera-to-subject distance with the range-finder on the lens and using this to select the proper f stop with the exposure dial on the flash. You must use the shutter speed that is synchronized with your flash, usually 1 60 or 1 125 of a second (check your owner's manual). As noted in an earlier chapter, with modern electronic-flash units, the exposure is determined by a thyristor circuit that...

Developer Notes

In Memoriam One very unfortunate consequence of the digital revolution is the passing of one of my favorite developers, Agfa's Rodinal. Rodinal was actually the oldest commercially produced developer in the world and the developer of choice for photographers looking for the sharpest grain and most film speed and contrast when shooting at night. T-Max developer at 75 degrees is a good alternative for pushing films. The venerable Rodinal will be greatly missed. KODAK XTOL is a powder that comes...

Digital and Film Photography Similarities and Differences

The basic photographic principles relating to apertures, depth of field, shutter speeds, and metering, etc., are essentially the same as film-based photography when you're working with professional digital SLR cameras. This means that photographers beginning to make the transition to digital imaging don't have to relearn what they already know about basic photography and that's reassuring. But, as we will see, the fact that these basic photographic principles are being applied to digital media...

Zone System Testing Method

The ever-increasing dominance of digital photography isn't the only unsettling development that photographers have had to cope with in recent years. Until not very long ago film photographers could count on the stability and consistent quality of products from three of the West's most venerable names Kodak, Ilford, and Agfa. As of this writing, all three of these companies have undergone major reorganizations and have either discontinued or modified many of the products that were once the...

Water Bath Development

This technique was designed to dramatically reduce negative contrast with a minimal loss of shadow detail. It works best with sheet films because it assumes that there will be enough developer saturated into the shadow areas of the emulsion to allow them to continue developing after the highlight areas have exhausted their developer. It should be noted that, in an effort to improve sharpness and reduce grain, film manufacturers have reduced the thickness of most modern 35 mm film emulsions to a...

Q How can I override my cameras automatic metering system

A As we discussed earlier, most built-in light meters are designed to operate automatically, which means that when you adjust one of the exposure controls, the meter will internally adjust the other to maintain its recommended Zone V exposure. There are two types of built-in meters. Aperture-priority meters allow you to choose the aperture you prefer and the meter will adjust the shutter speed. Shutter-priority meters allow you to choose the shutter speed you prefer, and the meter will adjust...

The Procrustean Bed of Modern Photographic Papers

In ancient Greece there was a myth about a diabolical innkeeper named Procrustes who offered passing strangers an invitation to spend the night on his special iron bed which he claimed would magically fit all who slept on it. What he didn't reveal is that to enforce his one size fits all policy, he would either stretch unsuspecting short visitors on a rack until they fit his bed, or cut off lengths of their legs if they happened to be too tall. Historic photographic papers could generously...

Summary of Digital Photography Cardinal Rules

This chapter contains many principles suggested techniques and working methods that together will help you produce better photographs with your digital camera. The reason I highlighted the following five Cardinal Rules is because they are easily overlooked and, if you did nothing else, these recommendations will greatly improve the quality of your work. Always use the lowest ISO possible with digital cameras. The ability to change ISO settings from one frame to the next is an important...

Pixels Size Quality Resolution and Bit Depth

The representational power of digital photography begins with individual picture elements called pixels. If you enlarge any digital image enough you will see that the apparently continuous tonalities of the image are actually created from these tiny individual image tiles. And yet, despite how familiar we are with the general idea of pixels, there is still a lot of confusion about what they actually are. There are three essential things you need to understand about pixels and each of these has...

Q Will digital photography make the Zone System obsolete

Digital imaging techniques have changed our approaches to photography in ways that we are just beginning to comprehend. For many years it has been possible to digitally manipulate images designed for reproduction with methods so convincing that our notions of photographic realism no longer have conventional meanings. As profound as these changes have been, they have had relatively little effect on photographers committed to the aesthetics of the classic fine print....

The Digital Linear Effect

The reason why all of this is important is because digital camera chips respond to light in a very simple and straightforward way that has important implications for digital photographers. We can say that the response of digital chips to light is linear and the following example illustrates what this means Imagine that Figure 146 is a digital light sensor that responds to light by filling up with photons until it reaches its capacity. As of this writing, digital sensors are able to record...

Processing

After a photographic emulsion has been exposed, it must be processed for the image to appear and remain stable. Processing means putting the emulsion through a series of chemical baths called developer, stop bath, and fixer. The chemistry and procedures are essentially the same for processing film and paper. The main difference is that film processing must be done in complete darkness to prevent the film from becoming fogged. Print processing can be done under a red-filtered light called a...

Color Spaces

Before we can move on to the practical steps for applying color management to your system, there is one other somewhat abstract concept we need to cover. As I mentioned above, computers interpret visual colors as numbers that they can manipulate to produce the effects we see on monitors and digital prints. To define and visualize the range of colors that different monitors and printers can render, color scientists devised a system that models these different spectrums of colors as if they...

Digital Image Sensor Pixels

The size of pixels on the surface of a digital image sensor inside of a camera is also rigidly fixed. In a 6 megapixel camera chip there are just over 6 million pixels on the chips surface and they can't change size. Digital chip pixels are organized like this These fixed sensor pixels store the visual information that computers use to create digital images. The amount of information recorded by a 6 megapixel sensor is enough to create an approximately 9 x 12 image that prints with 240 dots per...

Color Management Profiles and Color Spaces

I didn't really appreciate how efficient and inspiring digital photography could be until I produced the first print after color managing my system. Before that I was never sure that my monitor was a reliable tool for editing and previewing my work. After color management digital printing finally began to make sense and felt like a creative process. Color Management is the general term used to describe the coordination of the key elements of digital image processing that allows for consistent...

Normal Minus Development

The problem in this case is the opposite of the one in the previous example. Here the combination of bright sunlight and white surfaces causes this to be a very contrasty photographic subject. The goal is to show detail in the shadow areas (in this case, the model's shawl) while maintaining the subtle texture and brilliance of the highlights. If you were to place the shadow readings on Zone III and give the film Normal Development, the result would be a negative with overly dense highlights. In...

Bit Depth and Digital Exposure

It's often hard to believe that beautiful digital prints are ultimately created from numbers that could just as easily be printed out in undecipherable rows and columns. Nothing demonstrates this fact more clearly than the issues of bit depth and exposure with digital cameras. Earlier in this book we learned how the Zone Scale functions as a bridge between the meter numbers we use to measure subject values and contrast, and the tonal values of fine photographic prints. In digital photography...

Expose for the Shadows and Develop for the Highlights

The Zone System method of negative contrast control is as simple as that. Once you appreciate the importance of properly exposing and developing your negatives, it simply becomes a matter of working with the system long enough for the principles to become familiar.Your first attempts at applying the Zone System to your photography might make you very aware of other weaknesses in your technique. No system, however logical or straightforward, can compensate for faulty equipment or carelessness....

Exposure Recommendations

The second thing a light meter does is to convert its light reading into an exposure that you will use to take the picture. It's as if the meter were saying I can see that the wall is light gray the measurement so I'm recommending that you use this combination of aperture and shutter speed the exposure to make it look that way in your print. Analog hand-held light meters have an indicating arrow or pointer that is used to line up opposite the indicated meter number. When this is done, the...

Robert Bruce Langham III

I was exploring an old building not intending to photograph, when I found the attic three floors up.The space was tight. The light was harsh to non-existent. Illumination came from an overhead trap door. Wasps and spiders lurked in every shadow. I returned three times over the course of a month, bringing magnolia and yucca blooms from the overgrown lot below and finally Tri-X 5 x 7 pre-exposed to Zone II. The development times shrank to the minimum dared. Minus three. I boosted the shadows with...

Film Notes

New Kodak Film Controversy As I mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 9, there has been a great deal of confusion and some controversy about the extent to which Kodak's films have changed. What is clear is that Kodak's emulsions needed to be modified to accommodate the relocation of the plants they use to apply the emulsions to their film bases or the coating alleys as they are known . Many photographers have discovered that prints made from these new films have more pronounced...

Previsualization

Experienced photographers make a number of technical and aesthetic decisions before taking a given photograph. First of course there are the general considerations like deciding whether the photograph should be in color or black and white, a close-up or a long shot, or vertical or horizontal. What the Zone System does is extend this before-shooting decision-making process to include previsualizing the actual tonalities of the final print. This means looking at your subject and mentally...

Contrast Control with Paper Grades

For historical and technical reasons, paper grade 2 or variable contrast filter 2, or the equivalent mix of blue and green light on variable contrast heads is usually considered Normal for negatives with Normal contrast. For example, this is the grade of paper I used as the standard for my testing procedure see Chapter 9 . This means that paper grade 2 would become the target of all of your Zone System negative contrast adjustments, and theoretically your negatives would print well on that...

The Digital Photographic Process

There are four basic steps that every photographic frame goes through that each has a dramatic effect on the quality of the final print Both film and digital photography share these steps and it's important to understand them. Experienced photographers take each of these steps very seriously and therefore get generally better results. Beginning or casual photographers don't understand the implications of these steps and either neglect or try to automate them, which is why they generally get...

Stretching the Histogram

So far what we have is a static representation of the pixels in this digitized image. To understand how digital editing software tools use histograms to manipulate the contrast of digital photographs, and how all of this relates to digital exposure, begin by imagining that you are trying to reproduce a smooth, continuous gradation by drawing thin lines of tonal values on a strip of rubber. If you think of each line as a pixel tonal level this becomes a very good analogy. If you use enough lines...

Overdevelopment

Look at those prints that are too contrasty with empty, glaring white areas. 5. When you compare the negatives of these prints with negatives from prints that have detailed and textured highlight areas, you will see that the overdeveloped negatives are too dense or opaque. Overexposed or underdeveloped negatives are slightly more difficult to read, but the principle is the same. The reason exposure and development affect the film in different ways is a function of the way film responds to...

Julio Mitchel

I begin by setting my meter to an ASA that gives me one stop more exposure than the manufacturer's indicated speed, they usually exaggerate . Then I take a reflected reading as close as possible without disturbing the subject in the area of the darkest tone where I want the minimum amount of detail. Back in the darkroom I develop for the highlights. Generally this means 20 less development under normal contrast lighting conditions. If the lighting is completely flat I then leave my reading at...

Judy Dater

This untitled photograph was taken very late in the afternoon after the sun had set. I was attracted to the strange and inexplicable white boulder sitting on the dark red-brown earth. I wanted to heighten the contrast of the white rock, rope, and figure against the dark ground. I metered the earth and placed it on Zone III. Then I metered the rock and found that I would have to develop the film at N 2 to bring it up to Zone VII. This produced the desired effect. Judy Dater is one of the best...