Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.Ansel Adams
The Zone System
If you have been following my tutorials of late, you might have noticed a pattern regarding my topics of discussion; ‘color theory for photographers’ and then ‘histogram.’ Therefore, this show is the next evolutionary step: post-processing.
What Blake and I are about to share with you (I firmly believe) will change the way you post process your images forever. I am not kidding; once you understand it, you will never worry about how to post processing your black and white or colour images again.
Blake’s technique of editing photographs opened my eyes, better yet, changed my workflow in a positive way. It helps me to produce excellent photos without spending hours on the computer.
Let’s start by asking Blake where he got this idea? Well, he was happy to explain.
It all started with him trying to understand how to do everything better; it developed from trying to produce better black-and-white images. Then it advanced into how he could process color.
In the beginning, Blake didn’t know which black and white conversion to use and had no idea what those black and white conversions could do. He wanted to know how to control tones.
Blake sums up the Zone Systems as layer intensive not labor intensive. The good thing is when you focus on these layers and get used to them, they’ll certainly make your editing at least 80 percent faster. With those several Layers, how is that possible? I knew that is the big question that will come into your mind. I wondered too!
Well, Blake explained that the Zone Systems provide accurate, deliberate, and efficient editing. We will break these down:
1. Accuracy-For any photograph, it’s imperative to know what you’re editing. He added that there’s no other program or technique available on the market that can offer excellent editing services like the Color Zone System.
It shows you precisely the selection of your color; so, you know what you’ll edit. For tone, the Digital Zone System will help you achieve the same. While Photoshop, ACR, and Lightroom are designed to be deliberate and efficient, they’re all missing this crucial element- accuracy.
2. Deliberate-At first, when Blake started editing images in Photoshop, he felt like he was in hog heaven. He said that he was bouncing all over the place. He lacked a clear procedure for handling his post processing.
He would find himself handling Exposure, Levels, Curves, Saturation, etc. without following any plan or procedure. He would create all types of hodgepodge edits and unable to reproduce the same effect exactly like the previous one.
Being structured and meticulous, the Zones Systems are well-designed for careful editing. Thus, it makes the reproduction of an effect from one image to another very easy.
3. Efficiency-Although many products available on the photo editing market are efficient, he said that they don’t create a blueprint for your workflow. They’re designed to be in and out and have the necessary tools in the correct place.
While that’s efficient, it doesn’t reduce your time in the program used. The Zone Systems are blue-print-structured for efficiency, Color and Tone modification, Dodging and Burning, and maybe sharpening.
With all those features, you’re free to go! Blake revealed that most of his Masterpiece edits take him less than ten minutes to produce, which initially used to take hours.
As he stated in his words, Blake became obsessed with diving deeply into tones and understanding what tone is so that he could better understand color images. At the time he thought he was just making better black and white photographs.
Later, it turned out that once he realized that color is nothing more than a tonal value, he was able to edit not only black and white images better, but color images as well.
Using Blake’s ‘Zone System,’ you break down an image into 11 zones (0-10). We understand highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. What he’s done is to breaking it down to eleven distinct areas, allowing greater control over the tones.
But it’s not just limited to toning your image; there is also a function to check the contrast, along with controlling the color. If you follow Blake’s lead, you’ll be using tone, color, and effects in all your images.
Watch the next video a short demo using the zone system.
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