Q I can understand how the Zone System would be easy to use with a view camera where each frame is developed individually but how can I apply these methods to roll film

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 that this connection exists at all. In most situations, this won't be a problem. For example, if you are shooting outdoors on a clear day, you will find that the contrast won't change very much. Take one set of readings, shoot the whole roll, and indicate on the cassette how it should be developed. If you are in the middle of a roll and you find that the contrast is changing, either because you have to change locations or because of a change in the incident light, you have two choices. You can either quickly shoot the rest of the roll and start another, or take another set of readings and make note of how much difference there is between the contrast of the two scenes. If there is less than one stop's worth of difference in contrast (i.e., if the first scene required Normal Development and the second situation calls for N + 1), don't worry about it. Just recalculate the exposure for the second scene and count on higher or lower grades of paper to compensate for the difference. If the difference is much greater than this and you can't change rolls, you may have to sacrifice the contrast of one scene or the other when you develop the roll or split the difference in development (i.e., if one situation required N - 1 and the other N + 1, you should develop the roll using Normal Development). A good rule of thumb for roll-film photographers is when in doubt, overexpose and under-develop. It is much easier to compensate through careful printing for a slightly flat negative than for one that is too contrasty. Also, the reduced development time will minimize grain.

You will find that ingenuity and compromises are sometimes necessary when using roll-film cameras in certain situations. If you are using a camera with interchangeable backs, such as a Hasselblad, you have the option of labeling one back Normal, another N + 1, and so on. This will allow you to switch backs as the situation demands. Eventually you will find that your awareness of the importance of subject contrast will make you very sensitive to changes in the light. Roll-film cameras are designed to make bracketing very simple. If you take advantage of this and pay attention to how the contrast changes from one moment to another, you will gradually develop instincts that will make adapting to this situation much less of a problem. Another alternative is self-rolling very short rolls of film with the intention of shooting one roll per subject. If this is done carefully (dust in the bulk loader's gate can be a serious problem), it will work and save you money. In the long run it is probably better to "waste" the extra frames on a normal roll of film. (I put the word waste in quotes because often your best shots will be on those extra frames.)

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