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The DSLR Field Guide by Michael Freeman

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Applying the Zone System

The Zone System is just as relevant today as it was in the days before digital capture. The reasons for this are twofold: easy, accurate measurement and the ability to adjust brightness and contrast after the event. Using it in the run-up to shooting, as was originally intended, is even better, but in real-life situations, this may be an unattainable luxury.

To begin with, concentrate on the following three important zones: Zone V (midtones), Zone III (textured shadow), and Zone VII (textured brights). Identify them in the scene and then, if you have the time, measure them with the meter (camera’s spot or handheld).

It’s important to understand the differences in dynamic range between the camera and the media on which ...

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