What if there was a simple system that allowed photographers to take exactly the photo that they want, every single time? In the 1930s, long before the luxury of a digital viewfinder, two visionaries devised just a solution: the Zone System.

The Zone System is one way to bring the madness of life before your lens into order, just in time for the big shot. And this methodology is so technically sound that photographers can still put these ideas to work today. Here’s how the Zone System works as a guide for photographers.

What Is the Zone System in Photography?

Cameras? They’re blind. They don’t know what they’re looking at—all that they know how to do is perceive light, and converting light into an image is not always a simple matter of apples to apples.

The Zone System was invented by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer, two of the most

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