Zooming in on the Zone System

Some 75 years ago, Ansel Adams and Fred Archer devised a simple (to them, anyway) method for analyzing the various brightness levels of a scene and using that information to anticipate and manage the way those brightness levels would appear in the final print. They called it the Zone System.

Their intention wasn’t to create any sort of dogmatic methodology. Instead, they wanted to give a photographer the ability to effectively and efficiently evaluate the light qualities of a scene and follow through with the confidence that the information necessary to make vision reality would end up on the film.

Over the years, well-meaning, but often misinformed, folks tried to explain and clarify the Zone System to the point it’s one of the most misunderstood photographic tools in existence. And that’s a real shame. When used as designed and intended, as a tool and not an exacting approach, it’s a gold standard when it comes to nailing exposure efficiently and accurately. Most important for today’s photography, it works with both film and digital applications.

From some back story on how the Zone System came to be, to some of the science behind exposure, to hands-on examples of how to use the ZS and a spot meter to determine exposure, this workshop will demystify and simplify the ZS once and for all. Among the specifics Alan will cover:

  • Why the Zone System is still relevant for today’s photography
  • Approach vs absolutely methodology…the ZS is not a religion!
  • How the Zone System can get your film and meter in sync
  • Using the ZS to adjust development times in the darkroom
  • Digital applications…using the Zone System to plan and anticipate tonal values rather than letting your camera make those decisions
  • Nailing your exposure with just one reading

Limited to 5 participants. $50 per person. Sixty minutes of interactive and learning, with a side order of fun.

Current schedule:

New schedule coming January 2021

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