How do you keep track of your work flow?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Xia_Ke, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum for this. Mods, please feel free to move if another would be more appropriate.

    So I wanted to do some printing tonight and wanted to revisit a shot or two I tried before but, felt could use some more work. There's one problem though, I never kept any journal or anything like that of what I did or where I was at :sad: I don't recall how long "this" was supposed to be dodged or "that" was supposed to be burned, etc. How do you guys keep track of your work flow for a given print for future attempts or replication?
     
  2. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights Member

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    I don't know by I damned well better start keeping better records. I'm not even sure where my negatives are half the time, I sometimes come across negs that were never contacted, contacts that I don't know where the negs are....GRRR!!

    My GF, who's become my sometimes printer as I've gotten her into photography has just made up a type of sheet with a number of boxes on a sheet, and in each box is a space with a line for all the relevant info to make the straight prints, and I've found that to be very helpful. This way I don't have to go back and make test strips all over again every single time I make a print.

    It has the size of the print, height of the head, lens and enlarger used, aperture, time, filter and a brief description of the picture. Really helpful!
     
  3. climbabout

    climbabout Member

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    journal

    I keep a handwritten journal in my darkroom. However, I only make detailed notes for printing negs that require extensive manipulation. Now that I'm mainly contact printing 8x10, there is much less dodging and burning needed.
    Tim
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  5. haris

    haris Guest

    I hope you make contact sheets and have it next to film of which you made contact sheet, that you put film stripes in sleeves and/or you mark contact sheet and film sleeves same way. I do that and then:

    I write something like this on back of my contact sheet: "Image 33, paper size 20x25, lens set on f11 (and which lens I use), contrast 4 (I also write enlarger type and do I use b/w head with filters in drawer or colour head using heads filters, as my colour head use 100W halogen lamp and light is diffused and b/w head use 150W incandescent bulb and is with condensors, I want to know that for future), overall exposure 34 seconds, dodginng this area for 5 seconds less than overall exposure, burning that area for 3 second more to overall exposure. Paper XY in chemicals QZ, processed for AB minutes".

    I also write on back of contact sheet other informations: Subject of photographing (name of model if model is photographed), location, time/date, film I used, camera/lens/filter... I used, exposure (speed/aperture) for every frame (If I know them, I usually carry small notebook and write those informations), in which chemicals and how long I processed film, and any other information I find interesting. I do that every time I use 6x7 camera, whe use 35mm sometime I do that, sometime I don't :smile:
     
  6. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    On the back of prints and contact sheets, I write how that one was made. Like F2, f11, 10, sl d top R would mean #2 filter, f 11, 10 seconds, slight dodging on the top right. If it gets more involved, or when I figure out the "best" one for that image, I write it ina notebook. All of my negs are in chronological order and have roll numbers. The 35mm ones are letter then number, up to about 30 for each letter. I have separate ones for color and B&W.
     
  7. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I use gaffer's tape on my film holders upon which I write the exposure info while in the field. Upon development, I can pull the tape from the holder and stick it on the neg's envelope. I add a strip of tape for the development notes and a strip for the printing notes. It's simple and I keep good notes this way...EC
     
  8. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    I have a binder with datasheets that I fill out after development (film or paper). I've been too lazy to transcribe to a electronic document, like a spreadsheet.
     
  9. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thank you very much everyone for your input. You've given me a good starting point to putting together a system for keeping track of things. Does anyone do diagrams at all for your prints? Like a basic outline sketch.. circle here dodge 5 seconds... circle here burn for 5 seconds... etc.
     
  10. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Xia, I stick post-it notes to my neg files as I print them. I make notes on enlarger lens used and at what aperture. All dichroic filter settings, timer setting and actual countdown time for base exp. Then I also note down paper used and its size, and add in dodge times and burn times and make drawings of where on the print they are. All this fits onto a small 3"x3" post-it note. It works well for me.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    "Work flow"? That sounds like some kind of computer-speak.

    I have a little Moleskine notebook where I write down information relevant to each exposure as needed, and if I have a print that involves a lot of dodging and burning, I'll make a diagram that I keep with the contact sheet or sometimes I'll make the diagram on the contact sheet or a work print.
     
  12. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I note on the back of contact sheets filtration, exposure, and developer and paper. I do the same with test prints, usually the paper is MG IV RC, but not always.
    I also have a spiral notebook, and I make notes in it for anything that progresses beyond initial tests, I note each round of test prints, with paper and exposure details and notes on any burning or dodging. If I do a variant with another paper or develper, or whatever then that round gets added.

    Some of the workflow is just mechanics, for example I have a piece of masking tape on the enlarger rail which marks the positions for contact sheets with an 80mm lens and a 135. So setting up a contact sheet consists of running the enlarger head to the mark, putting in the appropriate lens and empty carrier then focusing on the carrier edge. The height is determined by what it takes to make a full-frame 8x10. In this way there is never any variation for the enlarger height, or where the lens is.

    Contacts always start at the same exposure and filtration, and I'll make a second if I have unusually thin or dense negs that I want to evaluate as positives. My holy grail is to not have any unusually thin or dense negs that need compensation.

    The contacts get filed along side the negative sleeve pages.
    For negs that get final prints I mark the sleeve where the negative sits with exposure, paper and filtration.
    About the most important tool in all this is a fine point sharpie.
    Though the spiral notebook works fairly well for this, I am likely to buy Jason's print record and try that out, as the notebook lacks organization.

    I was thinking that too, it reminds me too much of my day job, don't get me started on WorkFlow...
     
  13. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Three ring notebook going back to the very beginning for silver printing. Printing notes (f stops, times, # of exposures), sketches, enlarger settings developer, time and all that good stuff. A separate book for pt/pd prints.
     
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  15. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    For the average negs that don’t require a lot of manipulation I’ll keep the info in a binder. For the difficult negs (to many to mention), instead of a sketch I’ll make a straight print at about ¼ of the regular exposure and use my Sharpie to mark all the dodging and burning info. Usually I indicate the info in terms of +2x, -½ , etc. All the regular info is also on the print.

    Mike
     
  16. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Guess my computer background shows huh? I started years ago with CAD, graphic design, and 3-D graphics. Then a little over a year ago decided I needed a new hobby and was bitten by the photography bug. Started out with digital and a D50. Last Summer I started getting frustrated because I wanted film feel with my B&W shots and couldn't get it with digital. Sold the digi and started shooting film and scanning until I could get the funds to put together a darkroom. Finally got that going about 3 weeks ago. Excuse me while I vent for one second now...

    Tonight was the first night in a long time I missed the "comfort" of Photoshop. It's what I know. Feel like I'm starting photography all over again. Just could not get a damn thing to work out the way I wanted. I'd show you what I mean but, it's all in the trash now. ARGH! :mad:

    Okay, I'm done. Just needed to get that out...LOL

    Thanks everyone for chiming in :D
     
  17. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    kinda simple

    File negs into three ring binder sleeve. Print a contact sheet. Number the film and contact sheet. 2008-3-x where x is the number of the film that has made it into the contact sheets in the order that they get there this month.

    Contact sheet backlog binder. When I print, I always try to pull some out of this binder to print before the night is done. A printed neg gets the contact sheet image it corresponds to circled by a sharpie marker, and the neg number and date on the back of the contact sheet.

    The print gets the neg number and the date printed on the back. A ring bound notebook records what every print session does , in terms of paper, dev, exposure, dodge/burn etc.

    When the contact sheet is what I feel mostly worked over, I file it into my 'year binder'. Any contact sheet related info, like model releases, contact information, etc also goes together with the neg and contact sheet.
     
  18. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It takes a while to get everything smoothed out, and even then you'll come up against a neg here and there that simply vexes. Its part of the schtick. Usually if I have a neg that is vexing, I'll quit on it and revisit it fresh. That usually does the trick. The other piece of advice is not to struggle with a bad neg. The best I ever did was make it not suck. These days, I save my energy for the ones that can sing.
     
  19. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Sometimes with a sheet film neg that is for platinum printing I will write the formula I used down on the film sleeve. When doing a large (16x20) custom print for someone there is a good chance of damage in washing and drying so I write down basic details. For my own silver gel work I don't want to try to do the same thing everytime. I would rather have the chance that I might see it differently. I do however, when experimenting with different paper and developer, write on the back of a print before processing it what is the paper type and developer. But unless there is some reason that you know you have to repeat exactly what you did, it is far more interesting to start fresh if you are going to reprint. I have had negs that were near impossible to get what I wanted out of, then went back sometime later and started over and they nearly fall on the paper. There are so many approaches to do the same thing and so many different ways of seeing something.
     
  20. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I try to make brief notes on the back of each print - after printing and before putting the paper into the developer. I use FB paper for most of my work, and a soft pencil works fine. If I'm using RC paper, I use a Sharpie. However, I will admit that I'm not always as careful or as thorough as I should be.

    I also keep a set of notebooks that contain proof sheets and records sheets for each set of negatives - 35mm roll, or set of four 4x5 negs. I always record the negative processing details on the record sheet, and for the 4x5 work I record the exposure information. The record sheet includes space for printing information, and I try to record the final printing information (paper, exposure, lens aperture, brief burning and dodging instructions, etc) as a starting point if I want to come back in a later session and reprint that negative.
     
  21. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thanks Jason. That was part of the problem, I was trying to print some bad negatives of shots I really liked and was able to fix before in Photoshop but, couldn't come close in the darkroom. Hopefully someday I'l get good enough to be able to print them. Need to remember I still have tons to learn and it won't happen over night :sad:
     
  22. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    This may come across as absolutely going against the grain and suprisingly silly to some, but after a few thousand negs printing becomes easy.

    When Printing
    I keep no notes , don't want them , they get in the way of what I am trying to do.
    I do not look at test strips for longer than 10 secs and they are full prints at that. I only look forward and do not look back or compare. I like what I like and that is that.

    All dodging and burning is decided in the developer tray and I absolutely do watch the image emerge.. the lights are only for a quick look at potential problem areas and to confirm my mental notes from the dev tray.

    As the image emerges in the dev you can see all the areas needing attention and this is where all my attention to dodge and burn is aimed and I then decide where to go.
    I am using a bastardized split printing method and all I am doing is working with percentages of filters and slight time adjustments. The apeture is always two stops down at the sweet spot and time and filter change are my variables.

    Every negative is treated as a new adventure and I am not in the busness of copy work so all I do is go forward. I have not seen a large amount of repeat prints of the same negative, and I find the second,third ,fourth or more time I see a negative the better I get at printing it.

    For me working in the darkroom is an adventure I don't want to spoil it by taking notes.
     
  23. Rolleijoe

    Rolleijoe Member

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    This has worked for me for several years. I've gone through many variations of the chart, but this is the one used for the past decade.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rolleijoe/2214980444/in/set-72157603908519658/


    Rolleijoe
     
  24. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    I use the classic spiral notebook and I keep a pretty detailed log of my printing. I shoot mainly large format but also medium as well. I have a field notebook in which I record exposure information for each sheet. I do a quick line sketch of the scene so I can record the placement of the different zones. I only take notes on each roll if necessary (e.g., the whole role is to be developed N+1).

    These notes are necessary for developing the film, but in addition, especially when you are still learning, detailed field notes really help you to understand the relationship between exposing, developing, and printing. Not that I am an expert, but my notes are really helping me.

    In the darkroom, I can refer to previous notes on similar negatives to get a starting point for aperture/contrast/time, and it definitely saves me both money and time. I start each printing session in the notebook with the date, and a referral back to my field notes on the negative (e.g., March 15, 2008 - negative from March 1, 2008 - sky and shoreline). I record the information for each test print, both in the notebook and on the back of the print. I use a soft artist's pencil to write the info before printing. You can't do it when it is wet, and by the time it is dry, you forget what the hell you did anyway. If the information gets too long to write on every test print (e.g., complex split printing or dodging and burning), I just write a number and a date that refers me to the notebook.

    This may all sound pretty nerdy, but trust me, I find this invaluable as a tool for learning. When my test prints are dry, I can sit at the kitchen table and look over all the different stages and possibilities, with notes on the negative and on the prints, and make sense out of the various change or approaches from both an aesthetic AND a technical viewpoint (the two have to come together at some point). Things always look different the next day, and not just because of dry down. Keeping good notes doesn't just save you money (hit and miss with large format gets really expensive). More importantly, it helps you keep control over what you do so you can produce what your imagination sees.
     
  25. wiggywag

    wiggywag Member

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    The "Rolf Horn" Way

    I've got very inspired when I saw how Rolf Horn make print notes.

    See the excellent examples at
    http://www.f45.com
    click on "technique" and then at the first picture.

    I made a similar log with some small modifications for my own use, which is attached to this post.
     

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  26. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i use something similar to the above as well.