spontaneous zone system shooting

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Can one follow the Zone system while taking spontaneous photos

-- Deanna (deannanyc@aol.com), December 11, 1997


Spontaneous zone system

I believe the answer is yes. The zone system is to me a method that you learn so you can look at light, which is, after all, the subject. With continued practice of the system, its application becomes very intuitive. However, I must admit that it is doubtful that the first time anyone tries to utilize the system they will be very spontaneous. It does take a little time to learn and implement.

-- Jef Torp (JefTorp@aol.com), December 11, 1997.

to expand on Jef's answer, most definetly! he is 100 % correctin his thinking that the zone system is a method. what you end up after all of the testing and work to develope your own personal film speed, exposue technique, film developing times, and printing formula is a very stream lined approach to the film exposure. i know, for instance, on any given day exactly what my exposure should be with out even un-holstering my spot meter. how? it is simple, i have calculated the proper exposures, using zone system discipline, for any lighting condition in the part of the country that i am in. and i have taken pictures, developed them and printed them in all of these conditions. i have the prints and know what works. why do i still carry the meter? because in lower light conditons it is more reliable, and i dont have to keep looking up the times for various lighting schemes [yes i have them written down]. but the important thing to remember is, you have to take the readings learn what the zone sustem can and cannot do, and make prints. do that and you will see that the benefits of the zone system really do carry over in to virtually any tipe of photography. an excelenr resource for study of this technique and the place that i learned it from is the zone vi newsletter #24 by fred picker. i dont know if the issue is still available from the zone vi studios {it was put out april 1980} but it would be well worth the time for you to look into its availability, it has a lot of good info and suggestions for developing your own personnal zone system.


As an interesting comment to what has already been said, Ansel Adams said in his book "Camera and Lens" that when he changed locations to shoot an assignment in a different part of the country that where he had been used to photographing, all his "instincts" had to be re-learned. After he went through the new learning curve, he said that it became just as intuitive as before.

Thats the whole point: to be so at home with your materials that they no longer get in the way of the "seeing"

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), September 22, 1998.

I enjoy strolling around San Francisco doing "street photography." And I most often use an older camera without built-in light meter, without range-finder. This requires that I get "all set up" for the shot before I even exists.

When approaching an area (street, alley, park), I use a hand-held meter to decide on exposure I'm likely to encounter. Yes, I make this decision based on the Zone System. Also, I decide on my most probable focus / depth of field requirements. Oh yes, I most often use ASA 400 film rated at 200 or -- in low light conditions -- I use Neopan 1600 rated at ASA 800.

Then I walk along and shoot at whatever interests me. I think of this technique as converting a 45 year old, fully manual camera into a point and shoot.

-- Bill Birnbaum (73744.64@compuserve.com), January 27, 1999.

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