Zone System - for Digital Photography

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > Zone System - for Digital Photography
07/01/2013 - 16:32



New Year, New Challenges…


Having tried to get my head around it before, it was a delight to read in an excellent book by Michael Frye recently how to simply apply the ‘Zone System’ to digital photography (it was original designed for use with large format ‘view cameras’ and transparency film originally)

An excellent instructional article from Frye appeared in Outdoor Photography (USA) magazine:


Frye's book called 'In the footsteps of Ansel Adams and The Great Masters' is hugely inspiring and one of the best photography books I have ever read ... It goes into further depth about the Zone System and beyond.


A very good review of the book here by Doug Chinnery in an edition of On Landscape magazine



So here is my first effort:



'Zone 7'




A tiny waterfall on the River Ashburn  - near the hamlet of Waterleat, South Dartmoor.


Just a 'photo sketch' really,  trying to use Ansel Adams' & Fred Archer's 'Zone System' for the first time - here exposing for the highlights (in this case the white water at 'Zone7') using 'spot metering' for a change (rather than Evalautive/ Matrix metering I normally use - which tries to evaluate the scene in general)


Pentax K-x

Pentax 18-55mm SMC/ DAL lens

Hoya Circular Polarizer


Manual mode

Focal length = 24mm

Aperture = f/8

Exposure duration = 0.7 seconds


Spot metering

*Camera balanced at ground level on some small rocks! (because my bean bag camera support wasn't actually in the camera bag at the time, I came to there's a lesson there too!)


Minimal processing / black & white conversion of RAW file in Lightroom


This first go with the Zone System was very pleasing as a trial so I shall be continuing with experiments this year as an ongoing project - alongside using Graduated filters, High Dynamic Range and Exposure Fusions where the light dictates their use.




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