The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography : Classic Tool, Universal Applications book cover
6th Edition

The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography
Classic Tool, Universal Applications

ISBN 9781138206311
Published August 4, 2017 by Routledge
374 Pages 263 Color Illustrations

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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. "Will It Come Out?"

2. Print Quality, Negative Contrast, and Dynamic Range

3. The Control of Negative Contrast

4. The Zone

5. Exposure

6. Development

7. An Overview of the Zone System

8. Zone System Testing: Method 1

9. Zone System Testing: Method 2

10. The Zone System and Digital Photography

11. The Zone System and Studio Photography

Appendix A. Color Management, Profiles, and Color Spaces

Appendix B. A Primer on Studio Lighting Photography

Appendix C. What is a Pixel?

Appendix D. Bit Depth

Appendix E. Exposure and the Digital Linear Effect

Appendix F. Digital Light Meters and the Zone System.

Appendix G. A Primer on Basic Film Photography

Appendix H. Films, Developers, and Processing

Appendix I. The Practical Zone System Film and Developer Testing Method

Appendix J. Film and Developer Commentary by Iris Davis

Appendix K. Alternative Methods for Extreme Expansion and Contraction Development

Appendix L. Contrast Control with Paper Grades

Appendix M. Developer Dilution

Appendix N. Compensating Developers

Appendix O. Inspection Development

Appendix P. Condenser and Diffusion Enlargers

Appendix Q. ASA/ISO Numbers

Appendix R. Filter Factors, the Reciprocity Effect, and Bellows Extension Factors

Appendix S. A Compensation Method for Inaccurate Meters

Appendix T. Zone System Metering Form

Appendix U. Exposure Record and Checklist for Zone System Testing

Appendix V. Examples: Zone System Applications

Appendix W. Suggested Reading

Appendix X. A Brief Directory of Online Digital and Photography-Related Resources

Appendix Y. A Brief Glossary of Zone System and Digital Terminology.

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Chris Johnson is a Professor of Photography at California College of the Arts. He is a photographic and video artist, curator and writer; his work has been exhibited in numerous gallery and museum shows. He is the creator of the Question Bridge video project and Co-Director with Hank Willis Thomas of Question Bridge: Black Males.  This project won the 2015 ICP Infinity Award; was published as a book by Aperture, and the video installation has been inducted into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.