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photography's technical mysteries. Let's take a look at some of these differences and see what they can teach us:

• First of all, digital cameras give you a small, instant preview of your image, along with warnings about excessive contrast that may be beyond the range of the process to render. This is like having a tiny, electronic form of Polaroid photography, which would seem to eliminate the need to precisely calculate your exposure in advance because you can always make adjustments as needed.

• Also, with digital processes there is no film to develop, and we learned in Chapter 6 how important it is to be able to use film development times to control the contrast of your negatives to facilitate fine printing.

• Finally, digital processes move your image into the vast realm of Adobe Photoshop and the almost infinite number of ways it allows you to manipulate and enhance your prints.

But, as you will learn, each of these factors contains insights into how important it is to better understand and apply some of the basic principles of the Zone System; although using methods that are unique to digital photography.

For example, the thumbnail previews that digital cameras provide are often useful but of course they only appear after you've already taken a given photograph. If that particular image was the one you wanted and it's badly underexposed, you have a problem. Understanding the principles of exposure and contrast control allows you to know in advance how your image will turn out.

Also, digital camera previews can be deceptive because those little images are actually altered by the camera's internal software based upon generalized assumptions about the way you will want the image to look. This is often helpful, but sometimes it exaggerates problems that are actually easily correctable if you understand how to manipulate the contrast of digital image files.

Finally, although Photoshop is by far the most powerful and complex image-editing tool ever created, there are practical limits to what you can do to correct digital images that are badly underexposed or have too much contrast. Understanding these limits is essential for getting the most out of your digital work. In this sense, film and digital photography have more in common than it may seem at first.

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