The Zone System

What is the zone system?

It is a photographic techniques used by many photographs to help create the perfect exposure for all of your photographs. The zone system was founded by Ansel Adams and here is a quote explaining this “I take this opportunity to restate that the Zone System is not an invention of mine; it is a codification of the principles of sensitometry, worked out by Fred Archer and myself at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, around 1939-40.”

The zone system is a scale in which helps you to pre-visualise the outcome of your photograph. Now you have to remember if you are using a light meter, this will always give you the ‘perfect exposure’ meaning it will always give you ‘mid-grey’ (zone 5).  Lets take a silhouette into consideration, if i wanted to take a silhouette infront of a bright source of light, I would want to take the light meter reading in the lightest part of the area. However if I wanted my subject to seem as they are falling into the light, I would take the light meter reading in the darkest area of the scene.  Once you have taken the reading, the light meter will give you the correct F-Stop and shutter speed to create the vision you seek.


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