Negative management

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by semi-ambivalent, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Now that I have been shooting (35mm) again I have been labeling the negative pages with the year and the roll for that year, e.g. 2012-007. A print will be noted with the frame number in my notebook, e.g. 2012-007-22. This works fine for me but when I have seen mention of negatives in magazines or museum catalogs they often seem to use a system that is undecipherable. Has anybody used a system as simple as mine and later realized it had a flaw in use over time?

    s-a
     
  2. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I've been doing exactly what you do for more than ten years without any issues.
     
  3. martinez

    martinez Member

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    When the roll comes out of the camera I use a marker to note the date and the camera I used along with any special processing instructions. If I've finished multiple rolls in a day with the same camera I attach a letter. (e.g. PCM060812b FE2 N+1)

    My negative pages get all that information along with my initials (to distinguish from my wife's negatives), the developer I used and the date I processed.

    The back of the print gets the date, frame and basic exposure information (PCM060812b 11 sec @ f16).
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Haaa, I use a 4 digit number, YQRR (year, quarter, roll). Didn't think too far in advance.

    Four decades later...
     
  5. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I have used the following system for ages and it works very well for me. Negatives are given a 6 digit number which is the date in the form YYMMDD. The rolls are thus numbered in ascending chronological order. If I should shoot more than one roll then I add a dash and a roll number. This would be YYMMDD-N. I feel this gives me more information then just a year and a roll number would.
     
  6. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    My system is much like Gerald's: yyyy-mm-dd-xxx. Each of my film holders is numbered, so the holder number becomes the xxx to distinguish multiple exposures made on the same day. If I make an exposure today the file number would be 2012-06-08-13ab (if the negative holder was number 13.) The ab signifies that both sheets of film were exposed on the same subject, which I almost always do. On the rare occasion that I shoot roll film the film holder would be replaced with a serial number (01, 02, etc).

    I find this reverse chronological order system works well for me, because if I am searching for negatives that I made several years ago, I can usually recall the season, which narrows my search significantly.

    I have also begun recording my negative files in a spreadsheet with the numbers, location, and subject(s). Then I can often find the file I am looking for by doing a word search on the subject. Trouble is, I have several years of earlier negatives to log and a distaste for sitting at the computer doing such busywork when I could be Making Art.
     
  7. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    I too use the 'year-roll' method. In addition, I use a letter prefix to denote the format. L is for large format, M is for medium format, and S is for 35mm. LF usually turns into year-page as I tend to develop 6 to 8 sheets at a time.

    Mike
     
  8. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

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    I shoot digital as well as film, so my computer offers Lightroom 4 and Elements 9. Film negatives and slides I scan into Lightroom using an Epson V700, add keyword tags, etc. Each roll has a folder on the computer with the date; film folders have the suffix film or mf for medium format. Each film image has a unique (I hope!) file number, the negatives are slipped into Vue-All pages, each page notated with the folder date and the file numbers of that page, along with whatever extra info I choose, such as camera used, lens, developer, etc. The Vue-All pages are kept in photographically inert boxes, like 3 ring binders, the boxes snap closed and seem to provide pretty good dust protection.

    Thus Lightroom serves as a master catalog for all my images; it can be searched by keyword or by date. Lightroom also allows collections to be made of related images. Of course I have a little while to go before some fifty five years of images are all on the hard drives.

    Then I can start on pictures my father shot. I'd love to be able to share these with my brother and sister.

    Securing digital data is a real concern. While I have negatives and Kodachrome slides my father shot in the 1930's, a hard drive will fail, the question is when. I have a 1 Terabyte RAID I internal array; should one of the two drives fail all data is still "safe" on the remaining drive. I periodically back up the array to alternate drives in a drawer. Additionally I use BackBlaze, a cloud backup system. BackBlaze does work, as I found out when a prior external RAID I array had both hard drives fail within minutes of each other. A true horror show!

    If ALL the drives fail and BackBlaze "craps out" I'll lose all the digital stuff, but I'll still have the slides and negatives. I'm really undecided about using CD-ROMs or DVDs for backup purposes, other than a recent, expensive CD-ROM using "mineral" media the life span of these media sounds worse than film, given proper storage conditions.

    I am debating whether to make traditional contact sheets, as I did in the past, or to let the images on Lightroom serve that purpose. I'm leaning toward the Lightroom solution, given the cost of printing paper and the fact that Lightroom will let me evaluate sharpness better than a 35mm contact.

    Comments and suggestions are welcome.
     
  9. ROL

    ROL Member

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    I'm afraid you've missed the crucial point of numbering negatives. Creating coded numbers, mysterious unto only the creator, is necessary to establish the photographic work's esoteric and metaphysical worth within the rarefied atmosphere of fine art.
     
  10. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    I LIKE IT! HOW MUCH FOR THAT CINDY SHERMAN THERE SONNY?

    s-a
     
  11. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Ohhh and here I was thinking that this was going to be about how the executive run my place of work....

    (Sorry, couldn't resist - my negative management is non existent)