Joyce's Film Favorite and The Zone System Part 2

Hello December! I can't believe we are already arrived at the last month of 2014. Time flies, doesn't it? Today I would like to continue my  Zone System - The Basics series and share one little tip with you.  In the last post on The Zone System, I shared with you all a FREE  The Zone System Chart I created for my workshop, Embrace The Grain.  If you haven't gotten a copy please feel free to do so right now.

Do you know The Zone System correlates and works seamlessly with the camera settings at full stops increments?

I often hear from students at my intro to film workshop, Embrace the Grain, on how difficult it can be trying to calculate how many stops of over/under exposure while chasing after runaway toddlers during a fast moving session.

Here are couple of tips to keep your session running smoothly:

  1. Be sure all of your gear (cameras, handheld meter) are all set at the same number of stop increments.  For example, if your camera is set at 1/3 stops and your handheld meter only meters at full stops, it will take you much longer to figure out how many "clicks" to get to where you need to be for proper exposure.
  2. The Zone System can be easily integrated with full stop settings without the need for constant re-metering.

Let's put this in a real-life scenario for you:

I want to photograph son playing in the snow with a film camera,  how should I meter for a scene properly without losing details in the highlight of the snow? Let's put The Zone System to work!  First, I'd take a meter reading of the snow using a spot meter.  This meter reading gives me the camera setting I'll need to properly expose the snow scene at middle gray (Zone 5).  From The Zone System Chart, I determine that the textured snow should be placed in Zone 8.  So now all I have to do is taking the spot meter reading from my handheld meter and overexpose it by 3 stops, or 3 Zones.

For Example:

My spot meter reading  (Zone 5)is  f8 at ss 1/2000

To properly expose snow with texture (Zone 8), I can either set my camera at f8 at ss 1/250, f4 at ss 1/1000, or any aperture and shutter speed combination that will expose the snow at Zone 8.


So, for those of you who have modern film cameras that allows you to set 1/3 or 1/2 stops, I highly recommend switching your camera settings to 1 stop increments.  Also, it will make your session go a lot smoother and quicker if you have all of your gear set at the same number of stops increments.

For now, let's take a look at my black and white film favorites for December 2014:


Lorna Oxenham Momtography


Heather Chang Photography

JaclynShepard Photography

Jaclyn Shepard Photography


Jennifer Capozzola Photography


Miriam Dubinsky Photography


Simply Splendid


Blog Contributor and Writer:  Joyce Kang

Joyce Kang selfie black and white on mamiya c330Joyce Kang is a children & family photographer in Austin Texas.  She is also a mentor and an instructor for Embrace The Grain, an intro to film photography workshop.  She is married to her best friend and enjoys outdoors with her family.  She loves to curl up with a good book and has a terrible addiction to any thing that tops with a heaping scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate fudge!

Follow Joyce and see more of her work at: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+