The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography, 6th Edition

Book description

This sixth edition of The Practical Zone System by Chris Johnson updates the classic manual on Ansel Adams's landmark technique for the digital age. For photographers working digitally or with film, in color or black and white, in the studio or on the go, this simple visual language helps to control contrast and, through a process called Previsualization, provides photographers with the power of free creative expression.


This new edition discusses recent advances in technology and potentials for their use in zone photography, including HDR, smartphone cameras that shoot in raw format and smartphone light meters. Johnson demonstrates how the Zone System is a universal visual and conceptual language that dramatically simplifies the problem of creating and rendering complex lighting setups.

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Preface to the Sixth Edition
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. Why and How to Read this Book
  9. Chapter 1 “Will It Come Out?”
    1. Introduction
    2. What Exactly Is the Zone System?
    3. Why Is Photographic Technique So Important?
    4. Is the Zone System Outdated?
    5. If the Zone System Is So Important, How Were Good Photographs Taken without It?
    6. Do I need a Spot Meter to Use the Zone System?
    7. Isn’t the Zone System Useful Only with View Cameras?
    8. How Does the Zone System Apply to Digital Photography?
    9. Can the Zone System Be Used with Smartphone Cameras?
    10. Can I Use a Smartphone Light Meter Application with the Zone System?
    11. How Does the Zone System Apply to the Use of an Electronic Flash?
    12. Can the Zone System be Used with Color Film?
  10. Chapter 2 Print Quality, Negative Contrast, and Dynamic Range
    1. Subject Contrast and Photographic Papers: A Bit of History
    2. The Photographic Procrustean Beds
    3. Working with Paper Grades
    4. Working with Problem Negatives
    5. Summary
  11. Chapter 3 The Control of Negative Contrast
    1. Expose for the Shadows
    2. Develop for the Highlights
    3. Normal Development
    4. Summary
  12. Chapter 4 The Zone
    1. Print Values
    2. Texture and Detail
    3. The Zones
    4. Previsualization
    5. Measuring Zones
    6. Summary
  13. Chapter 5 Exposure
    1. Light Measurement
    2. Exposure Recommendations
    3. The Meter’s Dilemma
    4. Exercise: How Light Meters Really Work
    5. Exposure Detailed
    6. Place and Fall
    7. With Handheld Meters
    8. With In-Camera Meters
    9. Using Smartphone Light Meters with the Zone System
    10. Summary
  14. Chapter 6 Development
    1. Measuring Subject Contrast with In-Camera Meters
    2. Normal Plus Development
    3. Normal Minus Development
  15. Chapter 7 An Overview of the Zone System
    1. Expose for the Shadows and Develop for the Highlights
    2. Zone System Frequently Asked Questions
  16. Chapter 8 Zone System Testing: Method 1
    1. Introduction
    2. Choosing a Photographic Paper
    3. The Use of Equivalent ISO (ASA) Numbers
    4. Zone System Testing: Method 1
    5. Roll Film
    6. Sheet Film
    7. Standard Printing Time Test
    8. Expansion and Contraction Development Times
  17. Chapter 9 Zone System Testing: Method 2
    1. About the Development Time Charts
    2. Development Time Charts
    3. Film and Developer: Questions and Answers
  18. Chapter 10 The Zone System and Digital Photography
    1. Introduction
    2. A Word about Structure and Understanding
    3. Basic Assumptions
    4. Digital and Film Photography
    5. Other Digital Printing Considerations: Large-Scale and Banner Printing
    6. Pixels: Size, Resolution, Bit Depth, and Quality
    7. Optimizing Digital Image Resolution
    8. The Scanning Process
    9. File Size Calculator
    10. Guidelines for Fine Digital Printing
    11. Bit Depth and Digital Exposure
    12. The Zone System of Digital Exposure
    13. A Summary of Digital Exposure Effects
    14. The Zone System and Digital Contrast Control
    15. Raw Converter Choices
    16. An Introduction to Adobe Camera Raw Utility
    17. Summary of Digital Photography Cardinal Rules
  19. Chapter 11 The Zone System and Studio Photography
    1. About Bill Brandt’s Photograph
    2. Introduction
    3. Digital Workflow and the Power of the Zone System
    4. The Lighting Studio as a Creative Environment
    5. Understanding Flash Meters
    6. The Creative Sketching Process in the Studio
    7. Studio Exposure Methods: Flash Spot and Incident Meters
    8. Understanding the Lighting Studio Zone Chart
    9. Incident Meters Never Lie
    10. The Masterwork Re-creation Process
    11. Some Comments Regarding Equipment and Workflow Equipment
    12. Steps in the Process
    13. Summary of Preceding Steps
    14. The Shooting Process
  20. Appendices
    1. Appendix A Color Management, Profiles, and Color Spaces
      1. Profiles
      2. Color Spaces
      3. Color Managing Your System
      4. The RIP Alternative
    2. Appendix B A Primer on Studio Lighting Photography
      1. Controlling Strobe Brightness in the Studio
      2. The Visual Qualities of Studio-lit Subjects
    3. Appendix C What Is a Pixel?
      1. Pixel Size
      2. Screen Pixels
      3. Digital Image Sensor Pixels
      4. Scanners
      5. Printers
    4. Appendix D Bit Depth
    5. Appendix E Exposure and the Digital Linear Effect
      1. Linear versus Nonlinear
      2. Nonlinearity, Zones, and Human Vision
      3. The Digital Linear Effect
    6. Appendix F Digital Light Meters and the Zone System
      1. Digital Light Meter Settings
      2. The Zone System and Digital Meters
      3. Previsualization, Placement, and Contrast Measurement
      4. Exposure Determination
    7. Appendix G A Primer on Basic Film Photography
      1. Photographic Emulsions
      2. The Negative
      3. The Print
      4. Processing
      5. ASA
      6. Paper Grades
      7. Graded and Multigrade Photographic Papers
      8. The Camera
      9. The Aperture
      10. The Shutter
      11. Exposure
    8. Appendix H Films, Developers, and Processing
      1. The Basics
      2. Developer Notes
      3. Film Notes
      4. Processing Notes
    9. Appendix I The Practical Zone System Film and Developer Testing Method
      1. The Testing Process
    10. Appendix J Film and Developer Commentary by Iris Davis
    11. Appendix K Alternative Methods for Extreme Expansion and Contraction Development
      1. Expansion
      2. Contraction
    12. Appendix L Contrast Control with Paper Grades
    13. Appendix M Developer Dilution
    14. Appendix N Compensating Developers
      1. Compensating Formulas
      2. Two-Bath Compensating Formula
      3. Water Bath Development
    15. Appendix O Inspection Development
    16. Appendix P Condenser and Diffusion Enlargers
    17. Appendix Q ASA/ISO Numbers
    18. Appendix R Filter Factors, the Reciprocity Effect, and Bellows Extension Factors
      1. Filter Factors
      2. The Reciprocity Effect
      3. Bellows Extension Factors
    19. Appendix S A Compensation Method for Inaccurate Meters
    20. Appendix T Zone System Metering Form: In-Camera Meters
    21. Appendix U Exposure Record and Checklist for Zone System Testing
      1. Materials
      2. Materials for Sheet Film
      3. Steps
      4. Roll Film (Alternative A)
      5. Sheet Film (Alternative B)
    22. Appendix V Examples: Zone System Applications
      1. Christine Alicino
      2. David Bayles
      3. Dan Burkholder
      4. Judy Dater
      5. Chris Johnson
      6. Robert Bruce Langham III
      7. Wynn Bullock
    23. Appendix W Suggested Reading
      1. Film Photography
      2. Digital Photography
      3. Technical Resource Books
      4. Creativity and Ideas
    24. Appendix X A Brief Directory of Online Digital and Photography-Related Resources
      1. Some Digital Technical Reference Sites
      2. Digital Photography Resources
      3. Photoshop-Related Applications
      4. General Photography Sites
      5. Some Virtual Galleries and Museums
      6. Documentary Photography Sites
      7. Some Other Art-Related Photography Sites
      8. Photo-Artist Sites
      9. Virtual Magazines and Journals
    25. Appendix Y A Brief Glossary of Zone System and Digital Terminology
  21. Index

Product information

  • Title: The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography, 6th Edition
  • Author(s): Chris Johnson
  • Release date: July 2017
  • Publisher(s): Routledge
  • ISBN: 9781315465319