Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Exploring the Zones

“When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!” 
― Ted Grant

There are two aspects of photography, which I tend to shy away from, black & white and portraits. I never really had any interest in exploring theses areas of photography since purchasing my first digital SLR camera in 2009. Even looking back four years ago, I only shot at aperture mode, I knew nothing about manual exposure or even shooting in manual mode to be honest, I was completely in the dark when it came to photography. Shoot first, edit later was my motto. Any images that were workable, was down to luck!

Around February this year, whilst I was exploring film photography, my friend Aristotle suggested I read about the Zone System, to help further my understanding with exposure and film. The Zone System is a technique that was formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer back in the 1930′s. You can read more about the Zone System here: if you are unfamiliar with the technique.

After understanding a simplified version of the Zone System, (5 zones as opposed to 10) , I felt the urge to start experimenting with black & white portraits, having been influenced by Jan Scholz's work,

Obviously, Jan Scholz shoots exclusively on film and the images below were captured on digital. Black & white is a whole new world to me, the emotions are emphasised, the mood is darker, and the light is more intense than with colour. Even today, if I am shooting digital or film, I try to see the zones in every location before I press the shutter button down. This enables me to shoot and move on quickly, knowing that I have nailed the exposure and not having to worry about looking on the LCD screen.

I hope to do more B&W portraits on 35mm film soon. In the meanwhile, enjoy these portraits.

Model: Claudejyne Pontanos.


  1. Beautiful set of black and whites Fabiela. The contrast is just right and the little bit of light sneaking through those blinds makes such a huge difference.

  2. Thank you, Kelven. I agree with you there, B&W always looks much better with sunlight :)


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