Advanced Exposure Techniques/The Zone System for Color Photography

What Is the Zone System?

In the late 1930s Ansel Adams and Fred Archer devised the Zone System as a method of explaining exposure and development control to students in black-and-white photography. It is based on the old photo adage: “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.” Since then, it has been continually refined and expanded. According to Adams, its purpose was “to provide a bridge between sensitometry and practical creative work by offering step-by-step working methods that do not require extensive training or equipment.” Today it offers a conduit between analog and digital processes in color and black-and-white photography.

What Is a Zone?

A “zone” ...

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