Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by francisco_bal|1, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. HI im just self studying zone system the syaing that "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights"
    does it mean that in zone system my actual and final exposure would be the zone III or its still the
    midgray the zone v lets say the zone III is 9EV and the zone V is 11EV and I get a highlight of zone V11
    at 13EV and luckily ang get 7 tonal range that i want to expose which expusure should I use the 9EV zone
    III or the 11EV midgray, thank you in advance for your answer

  2. Expose for the shadows simply suggests metering the shadow area in which you want to hold detail. A zonie might place that reading in Z3, Z3 1/2, Z4 or whatever based on the detail and contrast desired in that area. Develop for the highlights simply suggests using a development time which will allow the highlights (Z6-8) to reach an appropriate density for the results you plan. Development will effect shadow densities very little but effect highlight densities greatly. Too much development will blow the highlights creating too much density in those areas. Negative contrast will be too high. Printing will be more difficult or impossible. Too little development will result in too little density in the highlights. Contrast will be low.
  3. You actually use the Zone V exposure settings. You check the shadow area you want detail in. Then close down 2 stops to get the ZV exposure that places the shadow on Z3. Everything the meter reads is ZV exposure. You take that reading and adjust it to place whatever you are pointing at on the Zone you want it to be on. Note that some people like to put the shadows even higher on Z4. Hope this makes sense and that people will correct any errors. If you don't already have it get Fred Picker's Zone VI Workshop book.
  4. The Zone System "Bible": http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0821221868/104-7953597-8348735?v=glance&n=283155

    I highly recommend it.
  5. Francis,

    Guess you have your EI established. All the books out there for ZS will provide more than sufficient information and techniques for you to follow.

    I do the following :

    Spot meter what I want to be Zone III
    Spot meter what I want to be Zone VII

    If they are 4 zones/stops apart then I will develop to N, if 5 then N+1, if 6 then N+2, if 3 then N-1 and if 2 then N-2.

    Check that the highlights fall on VIII and that no large areas are in zone IX. Do the same for the deep shadows ensuring that there is no large areas of zone II or I (unless desired for asthetic reasons). If this test fails then I review my initial view on zone III and VII or move into split grade filters if the sky is the culprit.

    Take care
  6. When I learned Zone System back thirty plus years ago it was still the wild west. The thing about zone system that is so powerful is that it teaches the discipline of the B&W photographic processes in an organized way. That is really quite excellent and is it�s true grace. What is most important about the learning of the zone system is that it will deliver something quite important and that is �Visualization�. If any of the books or courses do not place this prime point as the hall mark of what they are presenting, then you will have learned nothing. The instructional manual that was used for our course was the �The Handbook of Contemporary Photography�. The section on Zone System was but a few pages but was quite though. The process of doing this thing called Zone System need not be complex, in fact it should not be. The complexity will come after the fact. The question that you posed is a classic confusion question regards the methodology. I think perhaps what you are studying may be to technically involved. I remember that in a class of 22 students we were all nervous when we turned in our first parametric graphs, we were nervous because we all though we had it wrong. The instructor flipped through the graphs, smiled and said we did fine. We were relieved, then though he had not given time to weeks of our work. He explained that every one of us had gotten the EI at just around double the manufacturers value, that was the marker that told him we had done things correctly! What he wanted to see was our B&W 8X10 untoned Dektol print of our normal scene. We spent the rest of the two hours talking about how to �see� with our meter and our mind to understand how that all translated into the prints that were before us. He hammered away with the fact that our notebook would not be there to help us, that we needed to learn to visualize, that but a few facts were all we could have to help us get the image. He even explained that too much technology would be detrimental because it would distract from our visualizing.

    To answer your question directly; choose where YOU want detail in the shadow of the scene, take a reading there. Your EI is set on your meter (Why would it not be?), remove two stops of light from that indicated reference on your meter, THIS IS THE EXPOSURE. Take a reading from where you want �detail in the highlight�, if from this reading output, you have FIVE stops difference from this new reading to the actual exposure you made, then this is a normal �N� scene. If 4 stops difference in the two readings, then an �N+1�. If there are SIX stops differences, then you have an �N-1� scene. Any thing more complex will keep you from your work.
  7. To Gurney Tim: You have your expansion and contraction development backwards.
  8. I only have a medium format camera, and I am trying to adapt this to my b&w work. My objective is to develop metering that can be used to improve each shot on my 10 shot roll, without changing development times, etc. Is this possible or advisable?

    Normally I set the L-358 meter to the film speed, so Delta 100 would mean the meter is at 100.

    Reading "Darkroom Basics and Beyond" by Hicks and Schultz they talk about three approaches to making the perfect negative: Spot metering, Limited Area metering, and Resetting the film speed.

    Spot metering-I don't have one so I'll skip this.

    Limited-area metering-he says to meter the darkest area you want detail, then give 1-2 stops less. For instance, if the shadow metered 5.6, then set the camera at f/8 or f/11. Is that correct?

    Resetting the film speed-He says to reset the meter to 1/2 the film speed. For example, for my Delta 100, would I set the meter to 50? This is my question: Wouldn't doing this overexpose? Seems like if ISO 100 needed f5.6, then ISO 50 might need 4.0, more light = overexposure?? This statement seems to go against the "Limited area" metering example above.

    What am I missing here?

  9. Response to Steve: usually for roll film, the recommendation is not not change the
    development times but to bracket. ( This can be seen as an advantage ). Which means
    generally you take 3 shots of a given "scene". One at Normal exposure, one at a stop
    higher and one at a stop lower ( you can bracket as many as you feel you need). Then
    when you develop the whole roll( never heard of anyone developing roll film for MF as
    individual frames.IMO it would be very impractical to do so) in N time, you will have
    multiple negs to choose from or print different sections of the image from multiple negs
    ( time consuming and a pain but the results might be worth the effort).
    As far as halving the film speed, I have not read the book you mention, but I gather that
    the idea is in lieu with the 2 mantras "Expose for the highlights and dev for the shadows"
    and " Better to overexpose then to underexpose".
    For large format, I do lower the film speed because, in my case, the film size needs more
  10. i normaly over expose a little, like half to one full step, and then underdevelop between
    20% and 30% . it works for me. i shoot 36 exp 35mm rolls.
  11. As much as zonies like to suggest "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights" as the only way to a great print, I'd like to remind that this is hogwash. It's simply not the methodology of many great photographers. Ralph Gibson, Daido Moriyama, Michael Ackermann, etc. You may be limiting yourself.
  12. FWIW I don't think Ackermann or Moriyama ever did or wanted to get a great print from their nags...
    They are probably the most technically-incompetent artists the photo world has ever seen. Ackermann's "END TIME CITY" (Scalo, 1997) is full of grade-Z prints that would make Uncle Ansel die a 2nd death & Moriyama's "Bye Bye to Photography" (1972) is even *worse*.
    BUT these are great books from great artists. That goes to show in photography ingorance of technical matters can produce stunning results.
    PS : Francisco, dont follow their example & always try to get good negs. Bets of luck to you :)
  13. "FWIW I don't think Ackermann or Moriyama ever did or wanted to get a great print"

    How is it that their work is stunning, yet their prints suck? You're contradicting yourself.
  14. Sorry if I missed it but how are you supposed to know what the developing time is for the
    highlights? Is there a mathmatical way to determine developing times for highlights?
  15. Not to my knowledge! There are so many combinations of film and developer that you have to experiment. You first have to pick a film and a developer that you think will give you the characteristics that you like. Then you have to determine what ISO you want to use to expose the film. (Many shooters use a slightly slower value than that given by the manufacturer; that is, they slightly over-expose the film.) The idea is to find the right development time so that the contrast of the negative will give you detail in the highlights as well as the shadows. To accomplish this, you have to expose the negative so that the film gets enough light to capture the shadow detail. If the highlights are very bright (too many zones between the shadow and the highlights; i.e. a high-contrast scene), then you have to reduce the development time so that the negative contrast doesn't exceed what can be printed. It's a trial and error approach. You might increase the development time for negatives shot on an overcast day (low contrast scene) or decrease it on negatives shot on high-contrast days. And, of course, the subject matter will come into play, as well as your artistic intentions - do you want a high- or low-key image for example. Experience, experience and experience are the factors that will allow you to achieve your goals.

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