The Zone System is Dead

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ypkennedy, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I am more meticulous than the Zone System - way more meticulous. But that doesn't mean slower or more convoluted. Ask an accomplished pianist if he stops to think about every time a finger touches a key. After awhile it all gets second-nature.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    No the controls are very significant and have a huge effect on final print quality in the right hands. Of course you also need to be able to master printing controls with any negatives but far less so when the ZS gives easily printable negatives.

    It's always interesting that the people opposing the Zone System (or BTZS) either don't post any of their own images or need to resort to extreme printing techniques to make an image.

    Ansel Adams might have written about the Zone System but most of his well known images pre-date it, his print quality is rather variable as some of us saw when his daughter's collection toured the UK maybe 10 years ago now, his contemporary prints weren't that good, later prints off the same negatives were excellent

    Minor White used the Zone System and had far better and more consistent print quality,. The Weston's never used anything, however their Pyro developers are almost self masking rather like Albumen prints, but with Pyro the process controls contrast build up through tanning and staining.

    Too much talk not enough practical experience.

    Ian
     
  3. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Think whatever you want about Zone System controls, Ian. I'm not an "opponent" of the Zone System. I just don't need it anymore. I'm interested only in the best possible print quality, and I know what is and isn't possible when making negatives.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    But you are arguing against control of negative quality which is the key to high quality prints. Why do you never post images or examples. I'm happy to show images on-line or in person, some - well a few here - have seen my prints first hand.

    You need to qualify your own approach, tell the world, then post some images to back up what you are saying.

    Ian
     
  5. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I'll post examples/images if you want. There are people who have seen my prints first hand, though I don't think any of them are active Photrio participants. I'm not arguing against control of negative quality. I think negatives should be controlled as much as possible. What I'm saying is the controls at that stage aren't very powerful in the context of print quality/tone reproduction.

    I suppose we'll just have to disagree - again :smile:. Please don't take it the wrong way - I'm not trying to cast doubt regarding the quality of your own prints whether or not you use the Zone System.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  6. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Talk about optimized print control and actually representing that on the WEB? Isn't that about the same as being given a Handl score and performing it with a gut-bucket, handsaw, washboard, and kazoo? Get real.
     
  7. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    You can get a pretty good idea with a web post whether an image is worth seeking out to look at in person, so they are of some use.
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Drew, we know your views on web images. I don't think anyone is expecting a low resolution scan of a print to reveal every possible nuance, but you can still get an idea of what's in the print. Some web images look darn good.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i've heard a hell of a handl score played on a washboard, spoons and jaw harp. it was probably better than the one i heard by the NYSO ...
    the web is able to give ideas of what photography is like. often times i see much hailed photographs in person and thought the bad reproductions
    in high end magazines and websites made them look much better. in the end it really doesnt' matter .. plenty of people talk up a blue streak on the interwebs
    and you see their oeuvre ( or is it oeufs ) and scratch your head and wonder what they were talking about because there is no congruency ...
    all i gotta say is take from the zone system what you want leave what you want. if something like the zs or btzs or wbtzs or wwbtzs can help figure out
    how to expose film and process it so you can figure out how to print it, great, if it is just over exposing your 40year old film by 7 stops souping in
    pee after you ate asparagus and then power printing it on lupex or 60 year old azo great .. in the end who cares .. if it makes you happy do it ...
    im gonna listen to my friend play the sawzall and hammer-drill at like 630, its a black tie affair. he said it will be like frank zappa playing the bike.

    YMMV
     
  10. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Well, maybe if I ever own a digi camera and set up a copy station again. Might be fine for basic tutorials, but hardly suited to any kind of nuanced visual communication.
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Jnanian - so you're advocating making asparagus prints? Or is that just the film developer?
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    only for the oxylate film developer, print developer is a whole different meal, and takes about a day to make...

    weird, the whole advertising and pr industry is run on digital imagery on the internet and in print, nuanced and lush, it is weird how it isn't suited for any sort of nuanced visual communication..
    YMMV
     
  13. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Advertising is inherently a game of "gotcha" - grab your attention as quickly as possible using some cute novel trick or loud hues (sheer color noise), or big scale. But that's all it has to do. I'm more interested in making highly nuanced prints which do draw you in, but also have lots of layers of detail and subtle content, or in the case of color work, sophisticated hue relationships, that keep rewarding the viewer year after year. 99% of what I print does not in fact translate well on the web.
     
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  15. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    It's been about 40 years since I did Zone testing in school, but the success of our calibrations were based on the tones as they appeared on our chosen paper (I remember mine was the old blue box Oriental Grade 2). So, I'm a bit confused by your statement, as the negative and paper have a "symbiotic " relationship. The control is in both parts of the process.

    As far as the OP's system (or anyone else's), I don't think it matters how you get there, but you need to have enough understanding of your materials to get the results you want, and be able to repeat them. Although I no longer drag out a densitometer, that old ZS knowledge is subliminally there when I meter/expose/develop/print.
     
  16. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    eddie: By "calibrations" do you mean fitting the negative density range to the chosen paper?
     
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Yes. I mean the density range I chose to most closely translate what I wanted onto the paper. Whether N, N+, N-, the goal was to develop the film so the negative printed without extra printing gymnastics.
    From looking at your work, I think you're doing the same thing, so it may just be a semantics issue.
     
  18. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Not semantics. I don't view expansion/contraction as the powerful control I once thought it was.
     
  19. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Yes but I do use N+1 and it does work
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The point was that people spend time with useless and endless testing to change the IE, however the latitude of film is much greater now than then the Zone System was developed. The effort needs to be put into printing, not the endless and useless testing that results in half an f/stop reduction. Half an f/stop in the wide latitude of today's film is as useful as spitting into the wind.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Without the "synchromesh" of variable contrast papers!!
    How is that for a metaphor stretched too far!
     
  22. Kawaiithulhu

    Kawaiithulhu Subscriber

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    At five pages this thread is gaining traction :getlost:

    I think that the important part to any of these systems is that anyone who is interested in finer control over their art needs to cultivate scientific thinking. Systems like Zone and yours here are frameworks which the scientific mind may use to achieve the results wanted.

    That and without careful thinking you may spin out and end up in a creative ditch.
     
  23. zanxion72

    zanxion72 Member

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    Well said!!!
     
  24. Fritzthecat

    Fritzthecat Member

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    Amazing, through all the back and forth of this thread, the OP has remained remarkably silent, not one time returning to defend his POV or logic. Are we the victims of a grenade throwing troll?
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    IDK drew sounds like the same old digital is like bubblegum music
    commentary that people who have an axe to grind always say..

    un- nuanced or not sophisticated and layered?
    it is the same now as it was when they were shooting 4x5 or 8x10 chromes
    or their $10K hassy 15-20years ago
    to make blanket statements about a whole industry's worth of photography and claim it is crap
    because it is digital and therefore dumbed down to be presented as just a unsophisticated, "shiny thing" is kind of "out there"
    its like suggesting that every landscape photograph is a snapshot,
    or that people that go to exotic locations to do image-making ( with film or sensor ) do it because
    their work needsuch a location as a crutch because it is lame and all it has going for it is exploiting the location ...
    i wonder if jerry uelsmann's work is also dumbed down. unsophisticated, and un-nuanced / crap because it is digital ?

    my friend's sawzall and hammer drill duet was masterful btw the tools whined together in a block of carbon steel ... it was something else...
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  26. trendland

    trendland Member

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    Amazing, through all the back and forth of this thread, the OP has remained remarkably silent, not one time returning to defend his POV or logic. Are we the victims of a grenade throwing troll?[/QUOTE]

    So the difference of a person with special opinions to some issues AND a troll is to defend the opinon with logic ?
    :D.....
    with regards

    PS : If you like ZS it is not forbidden to use it - if you don't like ZS it is still alowed to avoid ZS .....
     
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