Fred Picker Zone VIII

Ian-Barber

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Just sat a watched a bunch of videos by Fred Picker which was very interesting and educating.
Unlike the approach Ansel took, I was intrigued to see that throughout the video, his approach was to meter everything to Zone VIII and not Zone III

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Alan9940

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Yep. He called it MPD (maximum printable density.) It's important to know that Fred didn't believe in minus development of the negative. He felt that the negative suffered--loss of film speed, possible loss of critical shadow detail, etc. His theory was that since the highest printable density for textured detail is Zone VIII, then expose for that zone and leave the shadow end fall where it may. This workflow also eliminated many mistakes because you exposed for only one zone and developed/printed per results from prior testing of your materials. I worked this way for many years before I started using pyro-type developers.

Another interesting postulated theory of his was that for plus development he would develop, for example, N + 1 1/2. He felt that an N + 1 development provided nothing more than changing grades of paper. In other words, if a normally developed negative was printed on grade 3 (assuming your "normal" grade is 2), then that's the same as an N + 1 film development style. You haven't gained anything. By splitting the difference and developing in-between the standard increments, you could vary the paper development to bring an N + 1 1/2 down to grade 3, or give normal paper development and get a small boost in contrast. Does this make sense? I'm pretty sure he explained all this pretty well in one or a couple of his newsletters. It may, also, be in is "Fine Print" book; I just can't remember the timing of it all.
 

Ian-Barber

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His theory was that since the highest printable density for textured detail is Zone VIII, then expose for that zone and leave the shadow end fall where it may.
I am guessing then that he chose his subject matter carefully knowing he was more or less working to a 5 stop range
 

Ian Grant

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There's been many ways of using or rather interpreting the Zone System, we need to find the one that works for us as insividuals. I started using AA's system in The Negative but soon switched to a more British approach which had come via Minor White. This approach was by practical testing rather than a densitometer which is simpler and works.

The danger is going to extremes takes away the fun element of shooting film, and BTZS is one of those extremes, it's best suited to those using alternative processes.

I have a sheet Peter Cattrell gave out at a workshop, it's essentially what most people use here. and the way the ZS is taught on Degree courses. It matches film, developer and time, with a chosen paper & grade, I aim for grade 2. You're scanning so better to aim for a slightly lower contrast negatives that I'd print on grade 3.

My experience is my negatives scan as well with my V750 as they print in a darkroom.

John Blakemore's book is the best way to go, he makes Ansel Adams look look like a novice when it comes to the Zone System.

Ian
 

Ian-Barber

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John Blakemore's book is the best way to go, he makes Ansel Adams look look like a novice when it comes to the Zone System.
I have the John Blakemore’s Black and White Photography Workshop book, is this the one you are referring to Ian
 

Alan9940

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I am guessing then that he chose his subject matter carefully knowing he was more or less working to a 5 stop range
Not really, no. With proper testing of your chosen film and your equipment, quite detailed texture can be seen in Zone III and with even the faintest, darkest texture revealing itself in Zone II; though, sometimes you really have to look hard to see anything in Zone II. ;) Therefore, we're looking at more of a 6 - 7 stop range.

One of the subjects that Fred liked to photograph was winter scenes in Vermont which, on sunny days, can involve quite high contrast. I've seen many of his original prints and I never viewed them as lacking anything. Therefore, he must have been doing something right.

Ian G - I, too, started with AA's books trying to understand and incorporate his techniques into my own B&W photography. Then, I found Fred and attended his workshop in 1979. He was a student of Ansel's (attended his workshops), but felt that AA's teachings were too involved and complicated, and that there was an easier way to utilize the Zone System without all the gobbledygook. He wrote a very thin book called "Zone VI Workshop" outlining his "watered down" version of the Zone System. The principles outlined in this book is what he taught at his workshops for many years. He was derided by many peers (not Ansel) because these peers felt that Fred's teachings on how to test for and use the Zone System were just too simple. I'm simple...so, naturally, I followed his path! ;)

Years later, I played around with Phil Davis's BTZS system to make sure I wasn't missing anything, but found his techniques much too complicated and involved.

I guess the point here is that there's no ONE way to do things, right? We all find what works for us and, if you're serious, you stick with it and get on with the hard part; making images!

IanB - you might want to give some thought to the negative crafted using Steve Sherman's EMA technique. IMO, though I don't have years of experience with these negatives, yet, the resulting negative using his development techniques might provide the perfect negative for both analog and desktop printing. In the analog darkroom, you can employ sophisticated split-grade printing techniques, and on the desktop you have a nice low contrast negative for scanning. So far, I'm finding that when scanning to a linear file, when I convert it using the ColorPerfect plugin I rarely have to tend to highlight clipping and the shadows are well represented, too. Works for me!
 

Ian-Barber

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IanB - you might want to give some thought to the negative crafted using Steve Sherman's EMA technique. IMO, though I don't have years of experience with these negatives, yet, the resulting negative using his development techniques might provide the perfect negative for both analog and desktop printing.
I would say that 99% of the time I am using this method and seeing what happens with all different lighting scenarios. I currently have one sitting in the holder where I need to do an N+4 as I am curious as to whether I can get what I visualised.

The reason why it's not been developed at the moment is that I am still struggling to understand why when doing such expansion, he moved his base ISO from 100 to 160
 

David M

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Ian (B),
In the Zone System, giving extra development is called expansion, but in the rest of the world, it's called pushing. As you will know, it's used in low-light situations to "increase speed." Hence the change of setting on the meter. In any case, it affects the whole emulsion, not just the Zone that you want to move up.
Opinions seem to differ on whether film speed is actually increased by pushing, but it does result in greater printable density and reduces the need for the highest-contrast paper. The advantage of this is that using middle grades gives more potential control. In scanning terms, it fills the histogram.
For my money, altering the meter dial by two-thirds of a stop for one shot is an optional extra. I'd welcome anything that increased shadow detail, even imaginary shadow detail. Clearly, others are more picky or better-informed then me.
 

Ian-Barber

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For my money, altering the meter dial by two-thirds of a stop for one shot is an optional extra. I'd welcome anything that increased shadow detail, even imaginary shadow detail. Clearly, others are more picky or better-informed then me.
Having read your comment twice :), the penny has dropped now David, I was going the wrong way in my head, going from 100 to 160 is actually making the film more sensitive.
 
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