Zone System for E6 Film : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Peter Norquist has a nice site for Color Film Zone System photography. But, it doesn't get into film development. I am about to embark on trying to figure this out for myself (with the help of Ansel Adams book "Polaroid Land Photography"). Has anyone out there worked with development changes (I use Velvia and E100S) to control contrast in E6 films? Are there any sources of official information regarding this subject?



-- Joseph Alsko (, September 29, 1999


Questions about color/transparency zone system adaptation have been asked on

For Zone System and Color Transparencies:

Zone System and Scala B&W Transparencies:

-- Larry Huppert (, September 29, 1999.

I recently bought Christopher Burkett's book Initmations of Paradise, a collection of his 8x10 color nature photos. In his technical discussion, he says that he controls constrast during printing, not during development. He does this with a complicated masking technique. He makes a b&w contact negative that is then sandwiched with the color positive (i.e., used as a mask) in the enlarger when the color print is made. The b&w negative mask is made in such a way that, for instance, only yellow areas of the image register on the b&w negative. So, when the color transparency and b&w mask are sandwiched, the contrast of the yellow portion of the image is altered.

I don't know all the exact details, but it's complicated. Christopher Burkett says he spent 15 years perfecting the process. He says any given image is usually printed with about 5 or so different masks. He claims to spend 2 months a year exposing film, and 10 months a year in the darkroom perfecting the prints.

I'll bet you're wondering about the quality of the print using this masking technique. I had the opportunity to see some of his prints at a gallery in Carmel, CA, and I can honestly say they were the most beautiful prints I have ever seen (including Ansel Adams originals). If you haven't seen one of his prints in a gallery, be sure to do so as soon as possible. His 30x40 prints have more detail than you can beleive. They seem to have an inner glow, almost as if lit from behind. It sounds very labor intensive, but his methodology is the way to go if you're looking for the best possible quality. Forget learning color technique from Ansel Adams, he was a b&w master, yes, but not a color master. Color was too complicated for him. (I might receive a few flames for this, but I think it's true.)

See for more info.

-- Joel Collins (, September 29, 1999.

Although I've shot VERY little slide film in large format, I've shot lots and lots of 35mm. I always use a modified zone system, where I meter and expose for Zone VII or VIII. Then I develop for the shadow areas (note that this is the opposite of the "standard" procedure for black and white), usually Zone II or Zone III. When developing, I usually modify both the first and color developer times when using Kodak's E-6 development kit. They say that a +2 to +5 minute increase in development time or +8 to +12 degree F increase in temperature is worth a 1 to 2 stop expansion, while a -2 to -3 minute decrease in time or a -6 to -13 degree drop in temperature is worth a 1 to 2 stop contraction. If you are going to overdevelop, you better underexpose to avoid seriously sacrificing color saturation and contrast. I've found Velvia to be sensitive from a color standpoint the way that Tech Pan film is sensitive from a contrast standpoint.

-- Chad Jarvis (, September 29, 1999.

Joel it doesn't even deserve a response quite frankly, you should read up on your Ansel.

-- mark lindsey (, September 29, 1999.

A simple, though maybe not meeting the most critical standards, is to pull process slide film with one stop, i.e. five minutes in Kodak E-6 first dev. The exposure latitude increases about two stops compared with normal development. If you expose for zone V, zone III and VIII will be positioned rather accurate within their range. This works well with ektachrome 64. I suppose velvia will need a little more of pull, maybe 4,5 min. to achieve the same result.

-- Jan Eerala (, September 30, 1999.

pre-exposure can help also, see adams-the negative or is that the polaroid book? one or the other.

-- mark lindsey (, October 01, 1999.

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