Urban Zone System in Decatur

Yashica Mat, Medium Format Film
January, 2015
Decatur, GA

Urban Zone System in Decatur: Pairs of scans from the Atlanta Street Photography Group‘s walkabout in Decatur, Georgia and re-embracing the challenge of film photography.

In 2009 I began taking an interest in film photography and fell madly in love. I had signed up for 2 sets of classes and built a darkroom in my basement in no time flat. Something happened along the way though…

I realized how demanding, unforgiving and relentlessly interesting shooting film, developing film and printing it yourself can be. 

Urban Winter in Decatur


So naturally, I got intimidated and backed off a little.

I think my shying away started somewhere around the time last year when I tried to understand Ansel Adam’s Zone System. Anyone reading this who has tried to understand it, understands what I’m talking about. The concept of a camera always trying to shoot at 18% grey wasn’t the challenge for me. It was trying to figure out how to see with my eye after the camera tries to do its thing.

I sat down with a friend of mine who is part of my Atlanta Street Photography Group and is one of the most serious street photographers I know in Atlanta. In 15 minutes, he “dumbed down” the system for me just enough for a small light to go off in my head! And so, a slight improvement on my flat, grey scans.

I have a long way to go, but feeling inspired to keep improving my film shots. I plan to seek the guidance of more experienced film photographers this year and hope to see more improvements in my work by the end of the year.


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