Exercise 1.6

The Zone System in practice

Demonstrate your awareness of the principles of the Zone System and your ability to take accurate light readings by producing three photographs taken in relatively high dynamic range, i.e. contrasting light conditions.
Make sure that your exposure choice renders as much detail as possible in the brightest and darkest areas of the photograph.
Collate your work and any reflections in your learning log.

LP&E, p.53

[25Oct21] My plan for this exercise is:

  1. 1. use a tripod
  2. 2. photograph an interior scene including a window
  3. 3. photograph the camera’s histogram too
  4. i metering the interior
  5. ii metering the window
  6. iii manually adjusted by histogram
  7. iv 3 shot 2 step bracket
  8. v process the bracket
  9. vi cut and paste i and ii

I tried it in my hospital room, but it needs doing properly at home.

Take 2

[1 Nov] A run at home this morning using one of the Mondrian stained glass windows. It might have been better to wait until this afternoon when it is better lit – I’ll just go and check – I’ll use Take 3

Meter for the Window

As expected, this underexposed the wall …

Meter for the Wall

… and this over-exposed the window,

Adjust using the histogram

Manually adjusting the exposure using the compensation dial did improve things somewhat, but the window is still over-exposed.


Bracketing +2 and -2 stops allows Affinity (my preferred HDR processor) to balance the exposure. Fig. D5 is the “Normal” setting, fig. D7 is the Affinity standard “Dramatic”.

I often use bracketing and Affinity on its “Detailed” setting and manually reduce the Tone Compression and Local Contrast settings.

Cut and Paste

This is a manual cut and paste of the first two exposures (Window, fig. A1) and Wall (fig. B1).

For the hurried third run this afternoon I did not use a tripod and therefore made life easier by straightening both images in Adobe Camera Raw. This has resulted in the images being cropped by ACR and so a Transform Scale was necessary on the paste. The result is quite successful, but allowing a margin for the crop would be important for anything other than a technical demonstration.


The limitations of a camera sensor (in this case the Fuji X-E3) has been demonstrated, along with the effectiveness of bracketing and restrained HDR.

LPE Exc 1.6 References

Alexander, J, Conroy, A, Hughes, A, & Lundy, G (2019) Landscape, Place and Environment [LPE]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.