photo m. bartel © 2002
This is a zone system assignment for Art 315 or Art 255. Students in Comm/Art255 may elect to do the Still Life zone system assignment in place of this assignment. One zone system assignment is required in Art/Comm 255, Bartel section. 
This assignment is NOT written for color film.
Art 315: Photography students are encouraged to review this assignment and continue their study of the zone system.

photo m. bartel © 2002


Landscape can mean many things. The definition goes beyond the "grand view" with great vistas. Land forms, vegetation, utility lines, cloud forms, intimate views, water, rocks, buildings with character, trees, root forms, and aerial views are but a few examples of subjects within the landscape genre.


You may print this assignment in the darkroom or using a laser printer. Print and mount for exhibition fully enhanced and retouched. Make at least one final print. Save zone system records of metering and processing. Also turn in negs, trial prints, enhancement records, printing records, and so on.


You may wish to study the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and other photographers and painters who have made us appreciate views we travel to see. Use the library and books in room 22. Please do not take books out of the Visual Arts building and please return them to the shelf as soon as you have finished with them.


Whether you elect to stay near campus or find a more rural setting, try to define for yourself the visual qualities that attract you to the setting. Use a whole film with the intention of finding the best way to communicate the special feeling that attracts you to the setting.

Look for both the most intimate detail and the largest view that your viewfinder can encompass without including distractions. Remember to try various camera angles and heights. If possible, try several lens focal lengths, to see which rendition seems most effective. See London/Upton, Chapter 14 on composition and/or Langford's coverage of photographic composition to see if you have overlooked some ideas to help your photo sing.


If you include buildings, select a time of day and camera angle to bring out the form. Including both a sunny and shady surface generally does this. Avoid heavily overcast days as they produce flat lighting and buildings lack dimensional quality. Buildings may look best from an angle, which emphasizes the front while including one side. Face buildings into the composition.

Because of their orientation some buildings will require morning light, while others will require evening light. Early morning and late evening are unique and often very beautiful. It may be the only time to get good light on a north facing building. A north facing building with a good east side would be photographed from the northeast in the evening. A north facing building with a good west side would be photographed from the northwest in the early morning.

Light rooftops often blend in with light sky. If possible, try again at a different time of day or when the sky is different. Also see "filters" below.

Animals, birds, and so on may need to be placed against contrasting tones. Face them into the composition. If there are directional forces in your composition, allow some balancing pace so the eye isn't led off the picture.

Adjustments may be prudent because of wires, poles, trees and other distractions. Or, express your environmental concern by using distractions intentionally to make a statement about viewscape pollution. Remember to consider the directional and compositional forces of wires, poles and other clutter.

Framing always cuts something off at the edges. Leave enough or cut it out all together. Avoid ambiguous mergers between objects and edges. Avoid continuations between foreground and background objects. Run your eye around the edge of the viewfinder to look for ways to organize and simplify. Avoid cluttered distracting backgrounds by trying another angle or get the camera lower.


Use very short film(s) so you can fill the entire film(s) with only one zone system contrast setting. If your first film doesn't have correct contrast or tonal coverage, do a second film of the same subjects in the same light and make it better.

Select film for the grain and effects you want. For a grainy surrealist effect (green leaves and grass look white) use High-Speed Infrared film (ASA 50) with a red filter. For a more realistic, but grainy effect use Tri-X 400. For smooth toned fine grain rendition, use T-max 100. If you want super fine grain for enlarging larger than 8 x 10 you may wish to try Technical Pan film. If you select Technical Pan you'll shoot at ASA 25 and process with Technidol developer formulated exclusively for Technical Pan film (cost is a bit extra). The grain, however, is very fine and our camera lenses wouldn't be able to resolve anything finer. A 35 mm neg can be printed up to 16 x 20 with no grain showing.


When using filters for the first time, be sure to do exact comparison shots without filters. If you are using a handheld meter such as a spot meter, be sure to place (tape may help, but don't put tape adhesives on the surface of the glass) the filter over the meter lens while metering in order to factor in the light loss caused by the filter. Red filters may be checked out.

In black and white work, a red or orange filter is recommended to darken the tone of blue sky. See page 85 in London/Upton. Clouds are much more noticeable and skies are less apt to print white. If your meter is not through the lens and filter, be sure to subtract the filter factor.

If the sky blends in with parts of the building, a polarizing filter may also be helpful. It can also control reflections from windows and the surface of water. See pages 84 to 87 in London/Upton.


Time of day, camera position, and weather conditions can all greatly contribute to the effects that you are after. Recall your previous results with natural light. Avoid direct sunlight on your lens surface. In some light, bright rooftops are hard to differentiate from sky tone. Cross-lighting that skims over the surface of textures and contours produces good definition and brings out textures better.


An accompanying page and a special chapter in the text explain the zone system. Also see instructions for the Still Life assignment.  Use the zone system to produce negatives with a full contrast range while having good shadow and highlight detail. If working with only a camera meter, find a dark shadow area nearby which corresponds to the darkest shadow area in your scene. Meter only the dark of the shadow to get a reading to determine the exposure value (which will be set 2 stops darker than this reading). If the darkest shadow is f-4 at 1/60 of a second, the picture can be taken at f-8 at 1/60 of a second.

Also use the gray card to see if it comes close to the exposure you calculate for the zone system. If the gray card gives you a significantly different reading, do some bracketing to include both the gray card and the zone system results.

The next reading, from the lightest portion of the scene, has nothing to do with taking the picture, but you need it to know how to develop the film with correct contrast. If a white cloud is the lightest area you may use the backside (white side) of your gray card. Never allow light to fall on the front of a camera or light meter lens surface when metering. Shade it from the sky or the sun. Light hitting the surface produces falsely optimistic readings.


If your exposure time (shutter speed) is longer than 1 second, there may be a need to adjust for film reciprocity failure. In general, bracket some significantly longer exposures. Triple the time. Ask for adjustment factors for the film you are using.


Perspective lines and depth are exaggerated and distortion is more likely with wide-angle lenses. Telephoto lenses compress depth, making the view appear less three-dimensional. If you have more than one lens, do some comparisons.


Use a tripod, cable release, and long exposures to utilize your lens' smallest aperture. Example: 100 ASA film rated in a high contrast setting with a 50mm lens set at f22 with a red filter in evening sunlight may require a shutter speed of 1/8th or 1/4th of a second. Bracket the exposures by keeping the smallest aperture while varying the shutter speed. Wind motion is a problem. If possible, select a calm day.

For good depth of field, use f22 and hyperfocal focusing. Most lenses have small secondary f-stop numbers. Set the infinity mark on the f-number you are using and the same f-number on the opposite side will indicate the distance of the closest sharp focus. As you can see on the chart below, everything from 6 feet to infinity can be sharp with a normal lens if the hyperfocal setting is used.


50 mm lens (taken from Pentax) others are similar (this is a normal lens on a 35mm camera)

At f-22 focus on 12' and all is sharp from 6' to infinity.

At f-16 focus on 15.5' & all is sharp from 8' to infinity.

At f-11 focus on 20 and all is sharp from 13' to infinity.

Larger apertures are not useful for hyperfocal focusing.

35 mm lens (taken from Minox lens) (or a zoom set at 35 mm) wide angle

At f-16 focus on 10' and all is sharp from 4.5' to infinity.

At f-11 focus on 14' and all is sharp from 7' to infinity.

At f-8 focus on 20' and all is sharp from 10' to infinity.

28 mm lens (Pentax)(or a zoom set at 28 mm) wider angle

At f-22 focus on 4' and all is sharp from 2' to infinity.

At f-16 focus on 5' and all is sharp from 34" to infinity.

At f-11 focus on 8' and all is sharp from 42" to infinity.

At f-8 focus on 10' and all is sharp from 5' to infinity.

135 mm lens, telephoto lens

At f-22 focus on 60' and all is sharp from 40' to infinity.

At f-16 focus on 100' and all is sharp from 50' to infinity.



What is your film speed? _____

Lens focal length? _____

Does your rewind crank turn when you advance film? If not, it could mean the film was not loaded correctly.


Give the contrast range for your exposures - so you know how to process the film.

photo m. bartel © 2002

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