Compensation Method for Inaccurate Meters

Light-meter accuracy and consistency are essential for good results. Many large camera stores and repair shops will run a simple known light source test on your meter for a small charge. If the test indicates that your meter is reading one-half to one stop under or over normal and can't be adjusted for some reason, you can compensate for this by using an alternative ASA number. For example, if the meter is supposed to read f 5.6 at 1 125 set at ASA 400, but instead reads f 4 at 1 125, simply...

About the Development Time Charts

The development times provided below are the result of extensive tests done under carefully controlled conditions designed for accuracy and consistency and to avoid technical flaws such as reciprocity failure, lens flare, and so on. See Appendix F for a description of the process used to define these data and Appendix G for commentary by Iris Davis. Note For the technically minded, my test negatives were consistently printed at the minimum time that it took to render the film base plus fog...

An Overview of the Zone System

This chapter briefly summarizes the Zone System method of exposure and development and answers a number of questions usually asked by students at this point in the process. What we have learned is that when the contrast of the subject photographed is flat or con-trasty it is necessary to control the contrast of your negatives. Here are the general steps for producing consistently printable negatives 1. Previsualize your subject in terms of the finished print. This means that you should mentally...

Appendix N

Four interrelated numbering systems are commonly used to rate the speed of various films. This can be confusing if you don't understand how these numbers correlate with one another, but it's really very simple. ASA numbers increase geometrically as the film speed increases. As the speed doubles, the ASA number also doubles. When compared to a film rated ASA 200, a film rated ASA 400 requires one-half the exposure (one f stop less exposure) to produce a given density. Because of this logical...

Appendix T

A Brief Directory of On-Line Digital and Photography-Related Resources The Internet has become a vast and prime source of free information about digital and film photography, and also a venue for the display of creative photo-related artwork. This appendix makes no attempt to be a comprehensive listing of sites that are available. The following are some of my personal bookmarks that I've found useful or interesting. Also remember that the Internet is a volatile place so some of the sites listed...

Asa

By altering the size and composition of the silver grains in the emulsion, films can be made more or less sensitive to light. The more sensitive an emulsion is, the less light it takes to produce a given density. Very sensitive films are said to be faster than films that are less sensitive because they allow you to use a faster shutter speed in a given lighting situation. Films of various speeds are assigned numbers by the American Standards Association. These are called ASA numbers. The...

Basic Film Photography

This section is designed for students who need a brief review of basic photography to better understand some of the terms and concepts used throughout this book. In general, this chapter is a summary of those principles and techniques that relate to film exposure and development. Because the primer is intended to serve only as an aid to learning the Zone System, many important subjects aren't covered in detail. For a more comprehensive text on basic photography, I recommend the following books...

Christine Alicino

This portrait was done for Rolf Engle's 60th birthday so I was looking for an image of him that was stately, sensitive, and conveyed his dignity and creativity. What I love about working with lights in the studio is that I can control the technical aspects of the process so that I can concentrate on the mood and presence of the subject. This was especially important in this case because I was using Polaroid Type 55 film, which meant that the exposure and contrast needed to be perfect since...

David Bayles

This photograph was made with a view camera in the early 1970s, under the influence of reading John Cage and of wondering about randomness. I deliberately sought randomly organized objects as subjects among them scatterings of driftwood imbedded in wind-smoothed sand (see Figure 14, p. 21) and jumbles of fallen flowers and leaves. But by November, fallen leaves are drab. The negative was developed about N + 2 even so, there was a need for considerable burning of the darker values and some...

Dealing with Low Contrast Subjects

One of photography's more reliable truisms is that, in general, correcting the contrast of subjects with relatively low contrast is much easier than dealing with high-contrast situations. This is because, if properly exposed, all of the visual information in a flat scene will easily fit within printable dynamic range of both digital chips and films and papers. Your goal then is to increase the contrast of your image without pushing it too far. With film this is done by using the Zone System to...

Dedicated Film Scanners

These are ideal for producing high-quality scans of 35 mm film.You should always scan at no less than 4000 dpi and set the scale size to 100 .Anything more than these settings is interpolation. You can always redistribute the scanned pixels to end up with a larger image using the Photoshop Image Size command. The trick is to uncheck the Resample Image box as illustrated below. There are two types of larger format scanners, Flatbed and Professional Drum or Imacon scanners. Professional scanners...

Develop for the Highlights

The amount of time that you develop your film will determine the density of the negative's highlight areas and its overall contrast. Just as exposure has its main effect on the shadow areas of the negative, the film's development time will determine how white or gray the lighter areas of the print will eventually be. If you inadvertently over- or underdevelop your film, the highlight densities will be difficult or impossible to print well. If exposure and development didn't act independently on...

Documentary Photography Sites

Some Other Art-Related Photography Sites Society of Photographic Educators Features a gallery, essays, and interviews. www.lenswork.com A site for innovative creative projects. www.lightfactory.org William E. Strickland's center of art and community service. A gathering place for artists, creative projects, organizations and other cyber-cultural activities. www.nearbycafe.com A very sophisticated site of on-line cultural material. www.desires.com features footprint A very sophisticated site...

Expose for the Shadows and Develop for the Highlights

Determine the correct development time for the negative by carefully metering the areas that you have previsualized as Zone VII (or Zone VIII depending on the subject matter). If this meter reading falls on the proper zone after the textured shadow has been placed on Zone III, give the film Normal Development. 5. If the meter reading for the Important Highlight Area falls above or below the previsualized zone, increase or decrease the film's development time according to how many zones away...

Exposure

To understand how Zone System theory applies to exposure, let's first consider the different types of light meters that are available and how they function. Light meters come in two general types meters that measure what is called incident light, and meters that measure reflected light. Incident-light meters measure the light that falls on the subject from the source of light (Figure 24). Incident-light meters are especially useful in lighting studios or on movie sets where the contrast can be...

Exposure Record and Checklist For Zone System Testing

Instructions for sheet film are enclosed in boxes. Check off each step as you proceed through the test. Paper (your normal grade and size) Draw your test subject above the Exposure Record. Meter your Zone II, III, V, VII, and VIII areas and fill in these values on your sketch. Enter your readings on the Exposure Record. Place the Important Shadow Area on Zone III. Does the Zone VII reading fall on Zone VII Set up camera. Put a Neutral Gray Card in the image area. Does the Neutral Gray Card...

Film and Developer Questions and Answers

Students and friends inevitably ask a number of general questions regarding film and developer combinations. The following are my answers to these questions. Keep in mind that these are very subjective responses based upon years of testing and working with these products. Other photographers may have different preferences that are appropriate for their work. Note The detailed explanations for these results can be found in Appendix E in the sections Developer Notes and Film Notes. Also see...

Film Photography

Langford Focal Press Technical Resource Books Basic Photographic Materials and Processes Stroebel, Compton, Current, Zakia Focal Press The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography Richard Zakia & Leslie Stroebel Focal Press On the Zone System Beyond the Zone System Phil Davis Focal Press The Zone System for 35mm Photographers A Basic Guide to Exposure Control Carson Graves Focal Press The Zone System Craftbook John Charles Woods Brown and Benchmark

Filter Factors

Colored filters are useful for increasing the contrast between objects that are different colors. A filter will transmit its own color and absorb its complementary color. Thus a red filter will lighten a red apple when used with black-and-white film and darken a blue sky. Filters can produce important effects, but it is necessary to remember that the filter is blocking some of the light that would otherwise be exposing the film. Unless you compensate for this lost light, the negative will be...

Inches

FIGURE 78 Using the Image Size box to redistribute pixels. Figure 78(b) is the Image Size box that would result if I later changed my mind and decided that I wanted to make a larger print without compromising the quality of my photograph. Notice that I've changed the resolution to 240, the minimum for high-quality ink jet prints but the file size is the same, 99.8 megabytes. The difference is that image pixels in the larger print will be a little bigger. The Resample Image box tells Photoshop...

Info

On the other hand, there are many good reasons why you may decide not to begin such a long procedure. You may, for example, already be confident that you know how the Zone System works or you simply may not have the time required to run a complete test. The problem is that you will still need a reliable ASA and Normal Development Time to effectively apply the Zone System to your photography. Testing Method 2, described here, is very simple. The first step is to...

Inspection Development

This classic technique allows you to examine the film for a few seconds while it is developing using a very dark green Kodak Safelight filter 3. The purpose is to give photographers an empirical method of determining when the negative's highlights are developed to the proper density. The film has to be at least two-thirds developed before you can safely turn on the light without danger of fogging the film. Read the directions that come with the filter very carefully. Developing by inspection...

Kodak D

If you're ambitious and have a decent scale for weighing chemistry, Kodak D-23 is a formula you can mix yourself. The ingredients are available from any chemical supply company or from Photographer's Formulary (see Appendix T). Follow the formula for D-23 carefully and mix the ingredients in the order given. Water (125 F) Sodium sulfite Water to make The working temperature of D-23 is 68 degrees.

Light Measurement

The first responsibility of any light meter is to simply measure the quantity of light reflected by the subject. Many light meters measure light using Exposure Values or EV numbers. As you saw in Figure 23, EV numbers provide a very simple and intuitive way to measure amounts of light the lighter the surface measured, the higher the number. We also learned that because EV numbers and zones both measure amounts of light that double as they increase, you can use one to represent the other. If one...

Non Linearity Zones and Human Vision

Let's consider how this corresponds to the familiar Zone Scale and, more important, to the ways that we perceive light. What the characteristic curve shows is that there is less contrast in the darkest and lightest values than there is in the middle tones. This corresponds to the fact that when the light in a room is very dim it is hard for us to see the difference between various objects on the walls and floors. This is also true if the light is blindingly bright. It is only when a moderate or...

Normal Development

For every combination of film and developer, there is a certain development time that will produce negative contrast that is equal to the contrast of the scene that you are photographing. This is called Normal Development, which is symbolized by the letter N. If, for example, eleven minutes is the Normal Development time for your favorite film and developer, that will be true as long as you continue to use that combination and don't change any of the other variables that affect development...

Optimizing Digital Image Resolution

Pixel editing software makes it possible to radically alter many characteristics of digital images, which include the size and color of pixels and your image's contrast and sharpness along with many other qualities. But in this sense, bit depth and resolution can be considered Core Digital Values because the only time it's possible to establish these qualities is when the image is captured, either by a digital camera or a scanner. This is because bit depth and resolution are functions of the...

Optimizing your Scan

Scanner types fall into categories defined by the material they are designed to digitize and the level of quality they can produce. It is also vital to understand the difference between the actual optical resolution capabilities of a scanner and the amount of information it can literally see, as opposed to the virtual or advertised resolution of the scanner, or the amount of information it can fake through interpolation. Once again, always use a scanner's optical resolution as your standard....

Overdevelopment

If a negative is overdeveloped, either from being developed for too long or in a developing solution that was too concentrated or too hot, or from being agitated too aggressively, the highlight areas will be too dense. Because these densities are relatively opaque, the corresponding light areas of the print will be too white or blocked up. Burning in these areas when you make a print will make them darker, but it cannot replace the lost texture and detail. Note Although there are no films or...

Overexposure

Overexposure results in negatives that are too dense in the important shadow areas of the print. Prints made from negatives that are overexposed will be gray and lack richness and depth. FIGURE 2 An example of a print made from an overexposed negative. Overexposed negatives are often excessively grainy with shadow areas that are too light, but it's possible to correct for this to some extent by giving your print more exposure under the enlarger. 10 Chapter 2 Print Quality and Negative Contrast...

Paper Grades

Photographic printing papers are available in a wide variety of textures, thicknesses, and tonalities. Resin-coated (RC) papers require much less washing and dry more quickly than fiber-based papers. Fiber-based papers are generally preferred for exhibition-quality printing because they are more archival. There are a number of excellent, exhibition-quality papers currently on the market. These include Ilford Galerie, Ilford Multigrade, and Bergger Prestige Fine Art Supreme. Single-weight papers...

Photographic Emulsions

The essential component of photography is a light-sensitive coating called an emulsion. When this emulsion is spread on one side of a piece of transparent material, we call it film. When an emulsion is applied to a piece of paper, it is used to make photographic prints. Film and prints may appear to be very different, but their emulsions are essentially the same. FIGURE 158 Film and paper emulsions. All photographic emulsions respond to light in a simple way Wherever the emulsion is exposed to...

Pixel Size

The easiest way to confuse a beginning digital photographer would be to ask him or her, with a straight face What size is a pixel The reason this is a trick question is because the size of a pixel entirely depends on the kind of pixel it happens to be. This is why the definitions of pixels and resolution can be so confusing. The word resolution refers to the number of pixels there are per inch of a given imaging media. In terms of size, pixels come in two different types Fixed Hardware pixels...

Scanners

Scanner manufacturers represent the fixed, optical resolution of their products with two numbers 1200 x 2400 dpi for example. In this case 1200 would be the number of sensors that are positioned horizontally in the scanner head and 2400 would be the number of steps the carriage motor can take as it travels one inch down the film or document being scanned. When they claim that their scanner has a maximum resolution of 9600 dpi they are describing the amount of information the scanner software...

Screen Pixels

On the surface of a computer monitor, a pixel is a fixed and rigid physical entity that can never change size. The resolution of monitors is set to values like 72 or 96 pixels per inch and that always remains the same. But keep in mind that these monitor pixels are only the tiny dots that create the image pixels you see on the screen. When the screen is displaying a digital image, these screen pixels are used to create image pixels that can be almost any size. For example, when one of these...

Step

The lack of contrast in these subjects means that the relatively few levels of pixels in the image must be stretched out to render them with a full range of tonal values in the final print. For this reason, whenever possible you should scan at high bit depths or shoot your images in raw format so that there are enough pixel levels to work with in this process. The 8 bit images allow each pixel to be no more than 256 different tones or colors per channel. Most cameras provide the option of...

Subject Contrast and Photographic Papers

It is easy to visualize how dramatically the contrast of photographic subjects can vary from one situation to another. Imagine the difference between photographing a dark tree surrounded by * These densities can be measured with an instrument called a densitometer. The Procrustean Bed of Modern Photographic Papers 7 brightly lit snow on one day and then shooting a portrait of a blond woman wearing a light dress on a beach when it's cloudy. The relative contrast of a given scene depends on how...

Summary

Let's briefly review what you have learned about zones in this chapter. Zones and the Print Starting with a continuous gradation consisting of all the possible tones in a print from black to white, zones are formed by following this procedure 1. Divide the spectrum into ten equal sections. 2. Blend each section into one tone that represents all the tonal values in that section. 2. Blend each section into one tone that represents all the tonal values in that section. 3. Number each section with...

Tank Development For Sheet Or Roll Film

FILM ASA NORMAL N + 1 N + 2 N - 1 N - 2 Tmax P3200 2400* 18 20 22 16 15 400TX 320 8.5 12 16.5 6 400TMAX 400 12 17 N.R. 10 9 HP-5+ 400 Delta 400 320 11 12 13 10 9 125PX 80 FP-4+ 80 100Tmax 80 Delta 100 100 11 12 13 10 9.5 Pan F 50 13 18 N.R. 5 4 *For this film we used D76 as a stock solution.

Texture and Detail

In a fine print, each zone has a different amount of texture and detail. There are three types of zones a. Zones that have no texture and detail that are used to represent extremely dark or pure white objects in a photograph (Zones 0, I, and IX) b. Zones that have a limited amount of texture and detail that are used to represent very dark or light objects that are slightly textured (Zones II and VIII) and c. Zones with full texture and detail that make up the greater part of most photographs...

The Camera

Essentially, any camera is simply a device that uses a lens to focus the light reflected by an object onto a piece of photographic film. It's very important to understand and remember that only a certain amount of this reflected light must be allowed to expose the film. When this is done properly, we say that the film has been given the correct exposure. The camera has two mechanisms that control the amount of light that's allowed to expose the film. The first is called the diaphragm. The...

The Meters Dilemma

Unfortunately, finding the correct exposure isn't always that simple. The problem is that light meters have no way of actually seeing the objects they measure. An exposure meter is simply a device that measures quantities of light and the problem is that both a light surface and a dark surface will reflect the same amount of light if the light falling on them is changed. On a bright, sunny day a dark wall might read meter number 11, but so might a light wall on a cloudy day To your eye, the...

The Reciprocity Effect

Ordinarily, f stops and shutter speeds have an equal effect on exposure. Changing the f stop from f 8 to f 11 is equivalent to changing the shutter speed from 1 60 to 1 125 of a second. In either case, the exposure is one stop less. This is because f stops and shutter speeds are calibrated to be equivalent, or reciprocal. Unfortunately, this is true only within a certain range of exposure times (camera shutter speeds). If your exposure is longer than 1 2 of a second or shorter than 1 1000 of a...

The RIP Solution

The procedures and principles I've described in the preceding sections are vital for all digital photographers to know and understand but I must admit that, in real life, I base my digital printing workflow on an expensive but extremely effective alternative called a Raster Image Processor (RIP). There are a number of these on the market but I use the ImagePrint RIP produced by Colorbyte. A RIP completely replaces the color management systems built into the Photoshop Print w Preview box and the...

The Scanning Process

In Figure 77 my intention is to make an 11.4 x 17 inch ink jet print of this image, but we will use this scanning illustration to learn what's involved with creating optimal scans for a variety of different uses. 1. Bit Depth. Notice that I have set the bit depth to 48 Bit Color. Note The number 48 means that each of the three color channels Red, Green, and Blue will contain 16 bits of visual information. 16 x 3 48. More on this later. This setting will create a digital file with the highest...

The Shutter

The second mechanism that the camera uses to control the amount of light that exposes the film is called the shutter. The shutter is a device that determines how long the film is exposed to the light that passes through the aperture. The longer the shutter is open, the greater the exposure. The shutter is controlled by setting the shutter speed dial. Typical shutter speeds are 1 60,1 30, 1 15, and 1 8. These numbers represent fractions of a second. Therefore, 1 60 of a second is less time than...

The Two Layer Technique

The following is an example of an image with a dynamic range of 10 stops of dynamic range from the mask, which is Previsualized as Zone II, to the wings that I want to be Zone VIII. This is clearly far beyond the range of contrast that can be controlled using normal digital processing techniques. FIGURE 117 Very high contrast digital image. FIGURE 117 Very high contrast digital image. Here are the steps required to combine two very different exposures of this still life into one image with both...

The Zone System and Digital Contrast Control

In Chapter 2, I used the myth of the ancient diabolical innkeeper Procrustes as an analogy for how the Zone System allows you to modify the contrast of your negatives so that they print well on the grade of photographic paper that you prefer for your work. The myth tells the story of how Procrustes would either stretch his unwitting shorter clients on a rack until they were long enough for his bed, or chop off their legs if they were too tall. This is similar to the way that the Zone System...

The Zones

It is the blackest black that the photographic paper can produce. Zone 0 has no texture or detail and appears as the most transparent areas of the negative. Because of the slight color added to the film base by the manufacturer to prevent halation and the chemical fog resulting from development, this density is sometimes referred to as film base plus fog. ZONE I is also completely without texture and detail. A glance around you will reveal many areas that should...

Two Bath Compensating Formula

The Two-Bath method was made popular by Ansel Adams for extreme Contractions. It utilizes Kodak's D-23 formula listed above as part A, and the following formula as part B. Two-Bath Formula Part B The working temperature is 68 degrees. The procedure for using this Two-Bath formula is as follows 1. Agitate the film continuously for four minutes in part A (D-23). 2. Move your film to part B and let it rest there, without agitation, for three minutes. The result of the Two-Bath method should be...

Underexposure

The simplest way to define a good exposure is to say that it means choosing a combination of f stop and shutter speed that will allow the right amount of light to expose the film. It is important to understand that if the film receives less than this optimum amount of exposure, the negative will be too thin in the areas that correspond to the darker parts of the subject. What makes proper exposure so crucial is that the only time your film can record visual information in the darker shadow...

Virtual Magazines and Journals

An online photography bookstore. www.photoeye.com A bi-monthly guide to local, national, and international exhibitions. www.photography-guide.com A journal, gallery, and photography-related newsletter www.photoreview.org Online magazine of photography. Sightphoto.com photo.html

Working with Problem Negatives

Let's consider the four basic problems that photographers encounter when trying to make a good print from a negative that has been improperly exposed and developed. As you will see, these four problems fall into two categories Overexposure and Underdevelopment are serious problems that are more or less correctable in the printing process. Underexposure and Overdevelopment, on the other hand, are essentially fatal negative flaws that are uncorrectable. One great advantage of the Zone System is...

Measuring Subject Contrast with InCamera Meters

The principles you have just learned apply as much to in-camera meters as any other type, but the above examples may have been confusing because in-camera meters don't use meter numbers like those used in my illustrations. Instead of using EV numbers, an in-camera meter translates its readings of the Important Shadow and Highlight areas directly into recommended f stop and shutter speed combinations. Let's briefly review how this works. In-camera light meters have various ways of telling you...

Q I can understand how the Zone System would be easy to use with a view camera where each frame is developed

A The process for using in-camera light meters along with the Zone Metering Form that I outlined in Chapter 6 makes applying the Zone System to roll-film cameras relatively simple. But, now that you are aware of the relationship between the contrast of your subject and the negative's development time, you will find yourself automatically adapting your shooting methods to ensure that the roll for each subject is developed properly. The problem most photographers have is that they are unaware...

Q What problems will I encounter if I cant use a spot meter

A As you have seen in the previous chapters, a spot meter's ability to read small, isolated areas from a distance makes it the perfect tool for using the Zone System. On the other hand, you can achieve reliable results from any meter if you know how to use it properly. A wide-angle meter will give you an accurate reading of any area if you get close enough to the metered area and are careful not to include unwanted objects in the meter's field of view. A built-in meter, aside from being...

Q What role do ASAs play in applying the Zone System to my photography

A Most photographers think of ASA as simply a rating of a given film's sensitivity. This is true as far as it goes, but there is more to it than that. Earlier I said that ASA numbers can be related to f stops and shutter speeds in the following way As the ASA number gets smaller, the amount of exposure needed increases. Keeping in mind that the amount of exposure determines the negative's shadow density, we can state the above rule in another way The lower the ASA number you use for a given...

Q What is the highest film speed that renders a fully detailed Zone III and a Zone II that is black with texture

A Film manufacturers must necessarily use consistent and scientifically objective criteria for determining the ratings of their films. Photographers, on the other hand, need ASA ratings that they can count on to give them the amount of shadow detail they visualize when considering a given subject. This is a very subjective evaluation and will vary somewhat depending on the kind of work you do and other variables such as the paper grades you like, and so on. The standard we have used for these...

Q What is the minimum development time that renders a fully textured Zone VII and a Zone VIII that is white with some

A The Normal Development Times recommended by film and developer manufacturers are based on scientific standards such as developed to a contrast index of 0.56. Anyone so inclined will discover that there are very rational reasons for doing it this way, but all that most photographers need to know is that a given development time will give them negatives with printable highlights. It is always best to work with minimum times to avoid highlights that are blocked up. Higher than normal grades of...

Word about Structure and Understanding

This chapter has two related objectives. The first is to provide readers with a clear and simple method for obtaining the best possible quality in their photographs. The second goal is to provide a broad understanding of the basic technical concepts that underlie digital image processing. These two goals might seem to be the same but they really aren't. If what you are looking for is a general understanding of digital exposure and contrast control so you can get better results, this text is...

Digital Camera Choices

The digital camera I used for the examples in this chapter is the Nikon D70, one of the first DSLRs to provide both professional-level features and quality at a consumer-oriented price. There are many other digital cameras that fall into this category, most notably the Canon EOS 20D but, once again, all of the principles I cite apply in very similar ways to cameras in this price and feature range. In general, point-and-shoot type cameras aren't capable of producing images that will work with...

The Quality of Digital Images

It's always a little ironic when someone looks at a fine digital print and says that it looks just like a real photograph. But of course what this really means is that the technology is doing exactly what it hopes to do that is, translate a purely electronic digital file into what appears to be a full-fledged, continuous tone photographic image. In purely technical, and very general terms, most digital photographers would agree that Figure 71 is an example of a high quality image and Figure 72...

Digital Exposing for the Highlights

It should now be clear that there are important technical advantages to properly exposing digital image files, but using the Zone System with 35 mm cameras always requires some extra efforts. With roll-film cameras the problem always is how to apply individual contrast control to frames that must be developed together. That isn't a problem with digital 35 mm frames, but there is still the issue of metering selected areas with built-in light meters. Since it's so easy to preview digital...

Custom Camera Profiles

With professional-level digital cameras, it's possible to use the manufacturer's software to apply special profiles to your images that internally modify the contrast of each photograph as you shoot. These profiles have the effect of either increasing or decreasing the image's contrast in subtle and non-destructive ways. You can even use special software to create custom profiles that you can upload into your camera for use in unusually flat or contrasty situations. The problem with using these...

Dealing with High Contrast Subjects

Because of the limited dynamic range of current digital photo sensors, there are more special techniques and proposed software solutions to the problem of dealing with high-contrast subjects than almost any other issue in digital photography. One very useful feature in this regard is Adobe Camera Raw's Highlight Recovery feature that is specifically designed to pull any detail that there may be in what otherwise appear to be totally clipped highlights. For this feature to work, your highlight...

Films Developers and Processing

Despite what advertising may suggest, no film or developer is ideal for every use. Developers and films all have very specific qualities that are best suited to particular applications.Your goal should be to define the kind of photography that you intend to do and decide on the appropriate materials. As you begin this process it's easy to feel that you may never learn enough about all of the various developers and films available and their effects. There is in fact a much more direct and...

Condenser and Diffusion Enlargers

The function of an enlarging light source is to provide enough light to cast the shadow of the negative onto the printing paper. Condenser and diffusion enlargers differ in terms of the quantity and the quality of the light they present to the negative. The light from a condenser enlarger is usually provided by a tungsten bulb. The light from this bulb is focused on the negative through a series of large lenses called condensers. This focused light strikes the film in very straight, or...

Examples Zone System Applications

The idea for this appendix was inspired by my favorite Ansel Adams' book, Examples The Making of 40 Photographs. In this classic, Ansel describes in great detail, and with thoughtful autobiographical comments, how he created many of his greatest images. His book allows one to begin to understand the complexities of his creative process and the role the Zone System played in making his photography masterful. Contrary to some misconceptions, the Zone System is an extremely versatile tool with...

Zone System and Digital Terminology

Acutance The term used to describe the degree to which a negative renders a sharp distinction between adjacent print tones. Acutance is related to negative contrast and shouldn't be confused with image sharpness or resolution. Dilute developers and long development times will increase acutance. Banding In a digital image, banding appears as distinct tonal steps where there should be a smooth continuous gradation. This is generally considered to be a problem that is caused by the loss of pixel...

Chris Johnson

June in Sevres was taken in a small town outside of Paris with an Olympus XA 35 mm camera using Kodacolor II film normally rated at ASA 100.1 previsualized this as a rich, somber image with saturated color and June's back as a bright, pure form against the dark grass. The XA is an aperture-preferred automatic camera, and its recommended exposure would have shown detail throughout the image. To bracket exposures with automatic cameras, it is necessary to bypass the meter's preference by changing...

Choosing a Photographic Paper

Although paper grade or variable contrast filter 2 is standard for Normal contrast negatives, experienced photographers know that every brand and grade of paper has unique characteristics. One of the objects of Zone System testing is to match the contrast of your negatives to your favorite type and grade of printing paper. Having standardized your normal printing, you can use the higher and lower paper grades when extreme Expansions or Contractions are required to compensate for very low or...

The Limits of Digital Photography

Digital and film photography share one common goal to capture as much subject information as possible so that it's available to work with when you make your finished print. In film, severe underexposure results in shadow detail that's lost in clear, empty areas of film. Extreme overdevelopment creates highlight film densities that are opaque and print as empty pure white areas. Similar problems exist in the world of digital photography, but the causes and terms we use to describe them are...

The Adobe Camera Raw Advantage

The process of converting a digital image from its latent state, as it exists after exposure on your camera's storage media, to the edited version in Photoshop is extremely complex and a detailed discussion of this process is beyond the range of this book. (See Appendix S for reference to a book that will fully explain the details of working with images in Adobe Camera Raw.) But it's important to have at least a general idea of what happens at this stage so you can make informed decisions about...

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...

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...

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...