Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/09/27

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Grey Zone
From: "Anthony Atkielski" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 11:52:14 +0200

From: Eric Welch <>
Sent: Monday, September 27, 1999 04:35
Subject: Re: [Leica] Grey Zone

> But the Zone System isn't something to pooh pooh too
> quickly. Just like learning scales will help you play
> the piano better, so the zone system can help you take
> the photographing process by the horns and make it do your
> bidding. Think about it.

Every time I think about the Zone System, I get the impression that it is very
time-consuming.  The kind of pictures I like to take are not of a type that will
stand still for twenty minutes while I calculate zones in my head.  Manual
exposure in itself is not too much of a problem in most situations, insofar as I
can set the exposure in advance for a constant light situation and get good
results.  Anything beyond that, though, may introduce so much delay that I'll
miss the picture I want simply because I'm still trying to figure out the

The experiments I've done thus far and the rate of improvement I've seen in my
exposures implies to me that I'll be able to get very good exposures just by
practicing with the meter in my M6 and getting used to different situations.  I
don't know that study of the Zone System would materially improve this,
especially given the highly improvisational pattern of my shooting.  Besides, if
exposure is that critical for a given photograph, I could always use my F5,
which is probably more accurate than I could ever be even if I were an expert in
the Zone System.

> What makes great photography stand out on the
> museum wall.

Yeah, well, I don't expect that any of my work will ever be hanging on anyone's
wall.  About the most I can hope for is being someone's desktop wallpaper.

> But just as playing scales will never get applause at Carnegie Hall,
> well-exposed boring pictures are still boring pictures.

I agree.  My biggest problem in photography is that my pictures are not
interesting.  Perfect exposure would improve my photography by perhaps two
percent.  Better subjects and composition would improve it by perhaps 95%.  This
being so, there's a limit to how much investment in careful exposure is really
practical.  I want to get my photographs correctly exposed overall, but that's

I see my Leica as being suited to sessions when I want to take lots of pictures.
I see my F5 as being suited to sessions where I need technically perfect images
(which matrix metering and autofocus can consistently provide, at least on the

  -- Anthony