The Zone 8 Photographic Society


First & Past President: (The late) Kenneth A Nelson, Hon.FZPS ...............Founder/Administrator: Brian SL Allen, Hon.FZPS, AHFAP


Calls to our Spanish home 0034 952752492

If out, please use answering service (in English)

Preferably please use e-mails for contacting and enquiries, etc. (Clickable link above)


Spanish time

GMT + 1 hour


Villanueva del Trabuco

Andalucia - Spain



UPDATED: Sunday, 27 September, 2015 15:19


* Please note that Brian SL Allen, Hon.FZPS,AHFAP has now retired to Spain, after 32 years of offering workshops and personal tuition but continues to administer the Society and all the facilities, as well as produce the Newsletters, Booklets, TILs, books and so forth, including running the free (to Members) Advice and Help services. 2015 is the 38th Anniversary of the Society


Brian Allen, a Professional Industrial and Commercial Photographer - though always an amateur at heart - was the first, in 1972, to offer photographic courses in the UK that were entirely independent of any official educational sources.

To some extent, they were a natural development from workshops for novices, sponsored by the Bristol Photographic Society and subsequently, evening courses in photography run on behalf of the local authority in Exmouth, Devon, which Brian ran with assistance from two keen amateur photographer friends, Cyril and Ruth Morrey. In fact, without the great help and support from Cyril and Ruth, whose house and grounds were originally used for the first workshops, they may never have evolved.

Brian Allen's photographic business was based in Exmouth, known originally as Bicton Studio and later as Bicton Studio & Gallery. The self-funded gallery gave many unestablished artists, working in oils, water colours, ceramics and photography their first opportunity to show their work; many shows and the artists were featured on local television. Workshops, for several years, were run under the name of the Bicton Studio Photographic School and gained an enviable reputation.

Most courses were held over weekends, using selected local (in Exmouth) guest house accommodation. During Summer months, there were also two week-long courses based in Exmouth, with two other week-long courses, one in Spring and another in Autumn (the Fall) based on a beautiful riverside caravan park in Snowdonia, North Wales, this being a favourite location for Brian to find personal landscape images in an area where he had, for many earlier years, enjoyed mountaineering and rock climbing. All courses proved both popular and successful.

Every year, Brian and his son, Dave S Allen, together with Ken Nelson (later to become the Society's first president) would have a week away, based in a cottage or caravan in North Wales and photograph independently in the area, all using 5"x4" equipment for subsequent high quality fine-art monochrome prints. In due course, exhibitions were created comprising an equal number of prints from each and these proved very popular at various galleries in the UK.

All three gained their Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society in the same year, Dave being at that time the youngest to ever achieve that honour. However, due differences in opinion, when the RPS permitted trade produced prints they, alongside a great number of distinguished members of long standing of that society, resigned but continued, in various ways, to support the primary objectives of the RPS.

Workshops included hands-on practical sessions on many varied photographic topics, ranging from basic techniques for Novices to Advanced techniques for Professionals and more experienced Amateurs. One unique course majored on Brian's "Zone 8 Exposure System", which he had evolved from the Zone System made famous by Ansel Adams, Fred Archer and Minor White, amongst others. Brian's derivative system permits all controls to be "in camera", coupled to standardised processing of negatives. This proved especially popular with users of 35mm and 120 rollfilm cameras for whom the need to change processing to suit requirements was neither convenient nor practical. Such was the success in quality terms that it became Brian's preferred system for his own work using 5"x4" sheet film as it proved unnecessary to adjust development, even though with sheet film that is a straightforward process.

Interestingly, the system has proved applicable to high quality digital imaging too. Brian now uses it with his preferred digital SLR cameras, the Sigma SD9 and more recently, the SD14, both with the unique Foveon sensor. Such is the high quality from this combination that Brian is perfectly happy to display prints, both monochrome and colour, alongside those via his 5X4 conventional equipment.

Brian's reputation as a fine teacher began to spread far and wide to countries outside the UK but always the courses were restricted to around four or five people as a maximum, which he felt was the limit if virtually individual teaching was to be achieved; this was backed by his being a qualified Training Instructor. His own fine monochrome prints became a quality standard that others wanted to emulate.

Despite being a busy professional photographer, Brian Allen's deep personal knowledge of quality archival fine print monochrome techniques, based on personal research over many years since early beginnings at 12 years of age, meant an increasing demand for workshops. It was through suggestions by some who had become regular visitors that the society's origins formed in March 1977, with the introduction of a duplicated Newsletter to keep the keenest in touch and provide updates on Brian's latest researched techniques, on topics suggested by the members.

With Brian's links, from early mountaineering ventures, with Snowdonia and his love for wild, mountainous landscapes he and his wife, Mave (the Rave!) moved from Exmouth to a large mid-village house in Talysarn, a small village in the Nantlle Valley in June 1987, where (after a lot of refurbishment done on a DIY basis) they established the Residential Photographic Training Centre, known as the "Snowdonia Centre of Photography". The club became "SCOPCLUB", derived from the Centre's initials. In due course, after many requests over several years from long standing members, this formed the basis of the "Zone 8 Photographic Society", the name evolving from the unique "Zone 8 Exposure System" taught and refined over many years of personal ongoing practical research and during workshops.

Brian contributes regularly to Forums (especially the Sigma Forum and Printing Forum) hosted by the excellent online digital imaging facility, under the pseudonym "ZONE8" and administers the ZPS Members Forum.