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[filmscanners] Re: Real-World Scene Brightness Range

At 08:56 PM 5/12/2002 -0400, you wrote:
>I have read a lot of discussion on this, and I think a lot of you are
>missing some pretty important points.
>The zone system is a very good way of understanding the way film behaves.
>And you have to evaluate it in terms of the beginning and terminal media.
>In the case of B&W or color negatives, its how you record images on film and
>then print them on paper.  With slides, it starts and ends with the slide
>(you could argue that the projector and screen are part of the chain).  If
>you are using B&W sheet film, you can expand or contract the develoment of
>the film to get images of any brightness range to fit on the paper.  But its
>the film and the paper!
>If your image has a brightness range that exceeds what your media can do,
>then you have decide if you are going to lose highlight or shadow detail.
>The zone system gives you the power to be in control.  Obviously you have
>the most control with B&W sheet film, but you can use it with any media:
>slides, color negative and print, or even digital.

All very true, but I'm not (at present) trying to understand how film
behaves. I'm trying to find out what is the range of brightness present in
actual scenes. Whether film has the ability to record that range and the
placement of those brightness values on the film response curve would then
involve the zone system. Some people believe that many common scenes have
brightness values that range more than 10 stops, while others (myself
included) have rarely experienced ranges of more than 6 or 7 stops.

I guess the process I'm going through is:
1. What brightness range can be expected in common scenes?
2. Can film record that range?
3. If not, how can the range be represented in an image; if so, how can the
range be placed on the film curve to best represent the range? (Questions
that the zone system answers.)
4. How can the resulting images be scanned and printed?


Photography by Stan McQueen

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