The Language of Light: Understanding The Zone System for Digital Photography with Kris & Lauren Penland

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Learn the secret of perfect exposure!

Did you know that light has a language? It’s called The Zone System, and it’s not just for film! The Zone System is a perfect tool for any photographer (in any genre) who wants to grasp the advanced concepts of exposure. Learn the basics of The Zone System and how to use your camera’s meter to correctly expose in ANY lighting scenario including difficult light such as harsh light, back light, and low light. Then dive into creative exposures and how to expose based on your vision for a scene. You’ll see how Kris + Lauren control their exposures in difficult lighting scenarios, see the important role that mood plays in image-making and learn what to consider when making effective and intentional artistic decisions. Finally, you’ll see Kris + Lauren’s process for editing images and how The Zone System relates to the decisions they make in post-processing.

what you’ll get:


An eBook covering The Zone System, light, and how to put everything together to start executing your vision

Outdoor Shooting Video

Outdoor shooting video covering harsh light, back light, and flat light


Indoor shooting video covering direct light, back light, low light, directional side light, fall off light, and creative ways to use these different types of light


Editing videos showing how Kris + Lauren apply their knowledge of The Zone System during post-processing Hand edits of color and black and white images as well as direct light, back light, flat light, fall off light, directional side light, silhouette, landscape


Exercises to get you thinking deeper about your own work and to put The Zone System into practice in your own work right away​

*Please note: All items in this listing are digital downloads that must be downloaded to a computer (you may transfer to an iPad after your original download to a computer).  Due to the nature of digital downloads, they are non-refundable.

what you’ll learn:


The basics of The Zone System + your camera’s meter, how to put The Zone System into practice and expose properly


Learn all about dynamic range and how (and why!) to think about it when making decisions


How important it is + how to start visualizing scenes


Understand how versatile and diverse light is, Learn how to use The Zone System to manipulate light and when to manipulate light


​Learn how to expose in difficult lighting both indoors + out


Learn how important establishing a mood is and how you can use The Zone System to manipulate mood


Learn how The Zone System plays a role in Kris + Lauren’s editing process


about your presenters

Kris + Lauren Penland of Sea + Rhythm Photography are family + newborn storytellers, photography educators, new podcasters, and Offset artists living and adventuring in Alaska with their 3 daughters. They have a passion for documenting their family and inspiring others to do the same. You can view more of their work and learn more at

7 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Exactly what I was looking for!

    Posted by Jennifer Wilson on 3rd Jun 2019

    So glad I purchased this. As I was teaching myself manual mode, I had questions about obtaining a proper exposure. "Expose for the highlights," "expose for skin," -- what did that really mean? (hint: "correct" exposure does not always mean exposing at "0.") Even though I'd taken a full workshop and a few other breakouts, none of them had really explained this. This breakout explains it and makes it so easy to understand, it was a huge leap forward for me in learning manual mode.

  • 5

    Posted by mariana e raschke on 23rd Apr 2018

    This was my very first breakout and is amazing. I am a novice in the capturing-life-photography journey, and this breakout has been so helpful. It makes perfect sense and it is worth it. Definitely recommend it!

  • 5
    wonderfully informative breakout

    Posted by Unknown on 10th Mar 2018

    This breakout session was really well done. They provided lots of wonderful information in a clear, concise and accessible format.

  • 5
    I have been shooting in manual mode and practicing the zone system faithfully for about one year now...

    Posted by Candace Kieluk on 4th Mar 2018

    ...however, I was still questioning “correct” exposure in difficult lighting situations, therefore always shooting in flat light. Thank you to Kris & Lauren’s breakout, I am ready to step out of my comfort zone and break the rules to get the images I so desire –I find myself now anxious to try difficult lighting situations that I have always tried to avoid. So many ah-ha moments in this breakout, I’m not sure where to begin, but what really resognated with me was how Kris & Lauren get you to ask yourself specific questions and what to look for before taking the shot to help you achieve your vision in camera AND specific tips where you should spot meter in diffucult lighting situations. I find so many photographers/instructors share their settings and histograms but fail to share “how” they got those settings and why. This breakout is completely the opposite, no stone is left unturned, you will learn the how and the why in great detail throughout the pdf and the numerous videos provided. Thank you Kris & Lauren for sharing your knowledge with us all, I hope you offer more classes in the future as your teaching and instruction are second to none! Thanks again!:)

  • 5
    I’ve come across The Zone System before but it never really stuck or made sense to me until now.

    Posted by Tina Fisher on 4th Mar 2018

    Kris & Lauren have done an amazing job at breaking The Zone System down! I feel the system here eliminates the need for “chimping”, it’s the concreteness I’ve been looking for! Thank you for this simple and easy explanation! Wonderful breakout!!!

  • 5
    This is the first online class I’ve ever taken, and I have to say I lucked out!

    Posted by Kristina G on 4th Mar 2018

    The amount of information and personal help and questions answered has been unbelievable. So glad I found this, I’ve been looking for ways to improve my photography and this is definitely going to do that!

  • 5
    This breakout has been completely awesome.

    Posted by Bethel Richardson on 4th Mar 2018

    I really was both entertained and informed by reading the PDF and watching the videos. I think this breakout is nice for both beginners and advanced photographers. This is my first breakout and I can definitely sense why so many people buy these..I am definitely a fanatic now too.