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I find these extremely useful. Perhaps the greatest value is that, by osmosis, they teach you about brightness and exposure. A pianist who diligently practices all the scales may turn her back and recognize what individual key someone may strike. By notating the actual value of light, you soon recognize different lighting conditions intuitively.


Many experienced photographers use Exposure Records for every picture they take. If you suspect that your light meter is acting crazy, this is the best way to find out. Some photographers find exposure records indispensable for testing new film and developer combinations, and teachers like them because they graphically show beginners how to fit a wide range of selected brightnesses - within the film’s limited sensitivity range.


When 2 musicians know what key, what chord pattern, and what time signature applies for a given tune, they can play with each other effortlessly. Likewise, the zone system is a wonderful shorthand tool for describing print tones. If you know that VIII or IX is a pale tone just below paper white, and that III is the first low value to show detail, and V is middle gray; the zone system is a great simplifier.[1] It allows you to easily think in print tones. When you make exposure notes, after a while you’ll know if you’re placing some brightnesses too high or too low. If zone VII flesh tone looks consistently dark, you’ll know to place it a little higher from now on. Without notes, you might think it’s an exposure or development problem – dangerous.


These Exposure Records are very quick to use. You list the values in candles per square foot. Sometimes you only need to list 2 or 3 values, sometimes only 1. The key stop is indicated as a reminder. You easily interpolate. Ex: You place 200 c/ft2 on VII. If f16 is your key stop; quickly you know 100 falls on VI, 50 on V - so 1/50 at 16 is the exposure, or 1/25 at f 22, 1/10 at f 32, etc. You can jot this down quickly.


Sound complicated? It’s not. That’s another useful advantage of these records – they graphically lay out the Exposure Formula. Do it for a while and soon you’ll be able to calculate exposure in seconds. And you’ll also understand how brightnesses and exposure really work. When I used to twirl meter dials and rely on zone stickers– there was a barrier between me and the exposure process. Intuitively knowing subject brightness and exposure helps your pictures.


And this discipline will come to your rescue someday, believe me. More than once I’ve had a meter stop working – in very inconvenient locations. But if I know for example, that in early overcast light, a green meadow in Rochester summers reflects 2 c/ft2, then placing that on VI gives 1 second at f 16, 3 seconds[2] at f 22, etc. In weak midmorning sun, the same meadow reflects 10 c/ft2, so 1/5 at f 16, 1 sec at f 32, etc. Easy. How do I know? – not because I have any extraordinary brain power, but because I’ve written it down so many times. (How high is your burner flame when you fry eggs? How do you know?)


These exposure records save time and money. Two sheets of 4x5 film cost $1.40 – 1 sheet of 8x10 costs $2.50. Wasting film because you missed something when calculating the exposure costs far more.


Eventually you may not need these exposure records except to make notes when testing films and developers. That’s the goal isn’t it? To play an entire concert without needing the sheet music?


Records are printed on quality bond paper and 3 hole punched for binder insertion, and easy use in the field. 8-1/2 x 11.”


$12 per 25 sheets.


[1] The zone system is also an effective straightjacket. Don’t be like a robot pianist who can’t play without sheet music and doesn’t “feel.”

[2] Reciprocity failure = more exposure.

Defender Exposure Records

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