The Zone System is Dead

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

  1. Raghu Kuvempunagar

    Raghu Kuvempunagar Member
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    OP can defend himself but I can understand his silence as most of the discussion in this thread is on Zone System and very little on OP’s proposal. The ‘brazen’ title of the thread is to be blamed partly.
     
  2. Willyekerslike

    Willyekerslike Member
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    Quite, if the OP had added ? to the title I think the content of the thread would have been much much better.

    As it is the Zone stystem will live on while ever there are folks using it......
     
  3. RauschenOderKorn

    RauschenOderKorn Subscriber
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    No, No, No.
    If you look at the end of the video the credits, the op has been reading/participating (?) here before and he thanked PE for the encouragement to do the video. He knew what he was up to.
    Besides it is interesting to see how other people work, especially if it is not conventional.
    And about the title of the thread: well, you attract flies with honey, so he gave us what we wanted.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    ypkennedy

    ypkennedy Member

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    OP could not have said it better himself. Vielen Dank.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber
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    Well I partially agree, but it largely depends what films and developer you are using, and also papers, I haven't used N+/-1 development controls for well over 20 years, maybe I never have, but +/-2 definitely. I've used VC papers almost exclusively since about 1990, not by choice but when Agfa stopped Record Rapid it was replaced by MCC a VC paper and I quickly learned ho to get the same (or rather very similar)results

    Yes the ZS was supposed to calibrate negative processing to a chosen Grade of Graded paper, VC papers these days are superb and I don't find using them an issue. Neither has been switching from Record Rapid/MCC to Forte Polywarmtone (not a lot left now), and more recently to Ilford MG Warmtone paper.

    Expansion and contractions are only useful in certain circumstances, definitely not all. I've shoot a lot in fog/sea mist, if I used the ZS pedantically I'd kill the atmosphere completely. This is where craft is important it (by experience) over-rules other conventions.

    Ian
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I think we're probably closer in opinion than I originally thought. I agree with much of what you're saying - especially that the Zone System should not be used pedantically and that mastery of craft and experience are critical if one is to avoid the potential pitfalls of using any system simply by rote.
     
  7. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber
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    If a photographer makes the Zone System a religion, it stop being a tool.
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Not what I meant, but yes I suppose that's also true.
     
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member
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    I'd agree that the ZS relies too much on dev exp and contr when there are other tools to help do this. I particularly dislike scrunching micro-tonality in order to sandwich the targeted endpoints of film, and would rather have my cake and eat it too by masking the film. Don't think I've done any "minus" dev for the past decade. But I don't believe in throwing away any useful tool either.
     
  10. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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  11. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Nice to see you back, Stephen.
     
  12. MattKing

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    +1
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member
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    The zone system as Ansel devised it was simply applied sensitometry, adapted to the then available materials which have undergone great changes since. Ansel even wrote about how to use it with color materials. A solid understanding of ZS was very valuable to me, sometimes I still use it, and sometimes I don't, but always I have the understanding of the chain: scene range-exposure-development-print.
    It's not dead, just in it's chrysalis.
     
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  15. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    Thanks. Good to see so many of the experts still around.

    Having only glanced at the video, I was struck by the missed opportunity to fully utilize the step tablet. It was good to see someone using the paper as a determinant for the film development aim, but not attempting to ascertain the values from the film and paper seems like a waste. One way the results are numerically defined and can be effectively communicated, and the other way they're not. On the subject of whether the Zone System is dead or not, the OP has only demonstrated a method of testing. The Zone System's strength come from associating the visual aspects of image making with sensitometry. At best, the OP can only postulate he has a better testing methodology. To which I would like to offer Beyond the Zone System or actual sensitometry for consideration.
     
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber
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    Good to hear from you Stephen!
    I agree it seems wasteful to not try to find the values from film and paper. But I applaud OP for developing a completely independent system without using any of the original ideas. It’s like the kid who spelled “usage” “yowzitch”
     
  17. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber
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    To me, the Zone System comes down to this. Intention and visualization.
     
  18. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    Thanks Bill. Perhaps the biggest hole in the Zone System books is that Adams doesn't deal with the sensitometry of paper. I'm not exactly sure where he writes how the print is the creative side, so it's not necessary to deal with paper sensitometry. There's lots of instructions on how to test a negative, but little to none how to relate it all to the paper LER. The savor is the little table of aim negative density ranges tucked toward the back of The Negative. I don't think it was in the earlier editions. While the aim values are not correct, they at least offer some value to test for..
     
  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber
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    Kodak wrote similar cautions. That the choice of paper LER for a particular negative might be suggested by the numbers but in the end it’s a subjective decision.

    I often tell how I was poised to do paper tests until I found two negatives - one that was almost too contrasty for grade 2 and the other that was thin and flat and just barely looked good on grade 3.

    After that I had my hammer and screwdriver. So long as I aim for a negative between those extremes I can get a print.

    All my effort goes towards falling between those two negatives because I really don’t want to print anything harder to handle than that.
     
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member
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    I wonder how often the high priests of previsualization changed their minds mid-session in the darkroom, and printed it different themselves - My guess would be 80% of the time. A manifesto is one thing, the real-world interaction of neg and paper another.
     
  21. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber
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    You mean post-visualization? Score vs. performance, which I think is something AA addressed. Certainly printed Moonrise differently during the course of his life. Curious where you came up with your 80% figure. Is that your experience with your own work? You see something in the field and use all your skill to capture it, and then change your mind completely when you get in the darkroom. Nothing wrong with that though. It's the final image that counts.
     
  22. mark

    mark Subscriber

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    Click bait title. Too bad. If he had dropped a hot model into the thumbnail title page for Youtube it would have been total cliche click bait. At least the OP did not go that far.

    Lofty claim to make and does not reach the heights it hopes for.
     
  23. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member
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    My own rate is a lot closer to 100%. I do previsualize to the extent I routinely bag versatile, accurately-exposed and well-processed negs. But then the real dance begins in the printing session. Otherwise, the 80% remark was a sheer guess.
     
  24. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber
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    Development and printing technique has little effect on what you captured in the camera. For me capture is the supreme goal.
     
  25. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member
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    How do you figure that? All photograhy is ultimately a form of illusionism, some convincing, some not. The mere fact you've pointed a camera a particular direction and selectively transposed a 3-dimensional world onto a 2-dimensional rectangular surface means all bets are off. And this is itself meaningless unless its viewable. Capture what? A wink don't get a gal to the Prom, and a mere neg ain't a picture yet.
     
  26. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber
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    In a few years technology will have advanced to make the most dismal negative/print into the most wonderful image. But it can't change the original capture.
     
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