Clouds, Trees and Zones

Sunrise and clouds at Auckland's Botanic Gardens

Sunrise and clouds at Auckland’s Botanic Gardens

I suppose I’ve always liked looking at clouds, especially at different times of day. This morning as the sun was rising there were some rather lovely oranges and pinks. The first shot is at the Everglade Drive end of the Botanic Gardens here in Auckland. Interesting shot as to rely on the camera sensor would probably result in an overexposed sky and little detail in the grass and bush around the lake in the centre of the image. Exposing just for the sky would probably result in loss of detail in the shadows. Using Liveview and the histogram can really help here, but so can use of Ansel Adams’ Zone System.

Sunrise on Totara Trees

Sunrise on Totara Trees

Ansel Adams’ Zone System divides “exposures” into eleven “values” numbered from 0 through to X. Zone V (the middle value) is the average or close to an exposure for an 18% grey card. Values at the extremes (0 and X) are either black or white with no discernable texture. As such, I through IX are the extremes we really want to deal with. These would allow for slight detail retention at the extremes. Each zone is separated from its adjacent zone by one stop. So, carefully looking at a scene, you can decide on which zone each element in your frame falls and expose accordingly.

I’m just reading and experimenting and haven’t decided yet whether Liveview and histogram have replaced the zone system or if perhaps it compliments it. Remember, the Zone System was really created to ensure reliable and consistent creation of black and white negatives. We’re now working with colour and digital sensors.

In a bit of bush at Totara Park

In a bit of bush at Totara Park

If nothing else, deciding on which zone each area in your frame falls slows you down and makes you examine the shot you’re about to take. I suppose this makes the whole process of taking a photograph more enjoyable … certainly much more so than point click and shoot! You may also feel more in control and feel that you took the photo rather than relied on the camera to work things out.

Whilst walking through the bush I noticed in a nearby field a large family of rabbits. Up near the ridgeline was one rabbit obviously acting as lookout. Very cute! Hopefully you can pick out the ears!

One of the lookouts keeping the tribe safe near Totara Park.

One of the lookouts keeping the tribe safe near Totara Park.

Last shot from this morning’s stroll is of a new bit of growth on an more aged tree fern trunk. I quite liked the richness of the colours in this image. Often the bush can look a little “grey”, but this scene looked lush and vibrant.

I’ll play a little more with Mr. Adams’ Zones and perhaps mention them in more detail in a subsequent post.

New growth

New growth

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