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The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography


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Table of Contents

Preface to the Fifth Edition

How to Read this Book


Chapter 1 "Will It Come Out?"

Chapter 2 Print Quality and Negative Contrast

Chapter 3 The Control of Negative Contrast

Chapter 4 The Zone

Chapter 5 Exposure

Chapter 6 Development

Chapter 7 An Overview of the Zone System

Chapter 8 Zone System Testing: Method 1

Chapter 9 Zone System Testing: Method 2

Chapter 10 The Zone System and Digital 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 Films, Developers, and Processing

Appendix H The Practical Zone System Film/Developer Testing Method

Appendix I Film and Developer Commentary by Iris Davis

Appendix J Alternative Methods for Extreme Expansion and Contraction Development

Appendix K Contrast Control with Paper Grades

Appendix L Developer Dilution

Appendix M Compensating Developers

Appendix N Inspection Development

Appendix O Condenser and Diffusion Enlargers

Appendix P ASA/ISO Numbers

Appendix Q Filter Factors, The Reciprocity Effect, and Bellows Extension Factors

Appendix R A Compensation Method for Inaccurate Meters

Appendix S Zone System Metering Form

Appendix T Exposure Record and Checklist For Zone System Testing

Appendix U Suggested Reading

Appendix V A Brief Directory of On-Line Digital and Photography-Related Resources

Appendix W Examples: Zone System Applications

A Primer on Basic Film Photography

A Brief Glossary of Zone System and Digital Terminology


About the Author

Chris Johnson studied photography with Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, and Imogen Cunningham. His photographic and video works have been widely exhibited and he has conducted workshops and lectured on the Zone System in the United States and Japan. He is currently a Professor of Photography at the California College of Arts and Crafts and has recently served as Chair of the Cultural Arts Commission for the City of Oakland.



"I wish I had this book 30 years ago. I knew of the Zone system, but heard people talking of measuring densities and base fog and it sounded like a lot of effort. Chris is that rare teacher who can take a subject and make it accessible to all levels. I tell all my photographic friends- GET THIS BOOK. I have given it as a present. My copy is getting dog eared already. This is not just for film. He relates this to the digital world as well. If you aspire to move beyond PHD-(push here dummy) photography, this is essential reading."

"This is one of the easier books to understand on the zone system. It does not get too tied up in the details of the system but describes enough detail to allow the reader to understand the basics of the system. It takes the complex issues of the zone system and removes the calculations and just gives you what you need to know. Think of it like the difference between an art teacher who says 'Color the grass green' versus one who says 'The grass must be green because chlorophyll absorbs the green portion of the light spectrum and so reflected light appears that color.'"

"This book is the current bible of the zone system. Everything you want and need to know about it for both film and digital."

"I never developed a film in my life, but despite the fact that the original edition did not deal with digital photography and this book still talks a lot about film photography, this is one of the best most useful books on photography I've read so far."

"I liked the book. Just after I read it, I saw Annie Leibovitz's exhibition "A Photographer's Life", and the book gave me a much greater appreciation for her work."

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