Digital Zone System Editing

Black, White & Beyond: The Digital Zone System is a 3 hour and 40 minute training package that teaches you how to get the most out of your images with extreme control over contrast utilizing the power of the Zone System.

The zone system is comprised of 11 zones from 0-10 characterized.  Zone 5 is equal to the camera’s initial meter reading, every other tonal range falls either above or below Zone 5, Zone 0 being Black and Zone X being White.  An increase of 1 Stop or 1 Exposure Value effectively changes the exposure of Zone 5 to Zone 6.  Every other Zone would move one exposure up respectively.  This system allows the photographer to visualize what is happening to all of the tonal value in their photo before they even printed the picture!

With the Digital Zone System, we are able to make extremely accurate selections of our tones based on the 11 point Zone System to hone in and target specific areas.  In doing this we become much more efficient, I have cut my post processing time down by 90%, yes 90%.  What used to take me 45 minutes now takes 4-5.  This is because I am making more deliberate adjustments and cutting out the guesswork in my photos.


  1. Hi Blake,

    About a week ago I bought “Black, White & Beyond The Digital Zone System”.
    Its a revelation to, I’m learning so much and I enjoy it very much. At the end of video Part 4
    you name a shortcut to reveal the quickmask but I can’t fully understand what you say.
    Its something about “key next to the right bracket at the forward slash key” but whatever I try, I can’t reproduce that. At the internet I only find the shortcut Q for a quickmask but that doesn’t work. I just can’t evoke that red mask. Could you please give me the corrct shortcut?



    • Awesome! So glad to hear you are enjoying it. The Q button when the mask is selected or the “\” key should give you that quick mask look. I prefer the alt or option key to show the white on black and it is less taxing on the PC!

  2. Hello Blake,

    I’d like to better understand how your Digital Zone System action slices the tonal range of an image into the 11 steps. The images in your videos appear to be “ideal” in that they contain pixels with values throughout the 0 to 255 level range. What about low contrast images with much smaller range? In that case would zones 0,1,9, & 10, for example, just show no content if no pixels existed for those zones? Or does the action “expand” or “contract” to place content into all zones?

    Perhaps a better way to ask my question is, does the action work best if the image is adjusted beforehand to span the fully dynamic range without blown or blocked pixel values? Also, does the action work on 16 bit as well as 8 bit files?

    Thanks, and I’m looking forward to your Color Zone System release tomorrow!

    • Hello! Thanks for your interest.

      You are right on, if no information exists in that zone, no information will appear, just a black mask. I just use it as is, usually on HDR images, but it works well on Regular photos as well, I have used it on several portraits of my son that were not HDR. It works fine on 16 and 8 bit images. It will not work on 32 bit images as it cannot extract the curves layers.

      There is a big discount with it if you purchase it with the CZS!

  3. Blake –

    For some reason I’m not seeing the “Zones – No BW” option in the action titled CS6 Zone Editing System for the Black, White & Beyond product. Is there an update I’ve missed or am I just overlooking something. I see ***START HERE *** / BW + All Zones; then *** INDIVIDUAL ZONES *** with 12 sub-steps; then ***ZONES ACTIONS ***; then *** EXTRAS ***



    • Yes, that is normal. The CS 6 Workflow is slightly different than the CC workflow. In CC there are 2 options in CS 6 just the one.

  4. When I hear the words Zone System it reminds me of the film days and a man named Fred Picker. He had a book titled The Zone 6 Workshop. Great book and great man. I am sure the zone system would work well with digital media as well.

    • Hmm, I’ll look into that.

      I developed it from the teachings of Ansel Adams. It uses the same concept as his Zone System to break your photo down into individual Zones. This is in no way endorsed by the Adams Trust, but I used the concepts in the book “The Negative” by Ansel Adams as my inspiration. I will look into Fred Picker. Thanks!

  5. Hi watched the webinar on Tuesday, really interesting.Are the actions available to purchase? Richard

    • They sure are. Go to this page and scroll down, you’ll see them under the Zone Systems Video.


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