Note Taking in the Field

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by bmac, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. bmac

    bmac Member

    Messages:
    2,156
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Now that I am starting to shoot a lot more LF, I am looking for a good way to keep track of everything in the field & Darkroom. I've seen various forms in the AA negative book, online, and even bought the Zone VI notes through Calumet, but none so far have made sense for what I want to keep track of.

    Looking online, I've found several small leather bound journals that look promising. I figure I can jot down exposure, development, filtration, etc, as well as notes about location, any profound thoughts I may have while working, etc.

    I'm wondering what others use, and if it is a journal style, how does that work out for you.

    Thanks,
    Brian
     
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,443
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary AB,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I use an army zippered up notpad thing. It has all the room I need for field notes. When I get back I enter them into a database program so I can search and do all that geek stuff.

    I go thru fits and starts when it comes to note taking. The minimum I record is the zone range, what I am placing at what value and whether I think it needs N or N+or-. That and of course the holder number and side etc.
     
  3. ann

    ann Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,920
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Shooter:
    35mm
    small tape recorder. Voice activated type. Litttle old ladies can get away with talking to themselves. Nobody notices.
     
  4. BobF

    BobF Member

    Messages:
    205
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Pikes Peak
    The main thing you need is discipline.

    Since I have little of that all the various note taking approaches I have tried have failed. I have tried mini-recorder, plain notebooks, zeroxed Ansel and other forms and even tried to put them into computer form. None lasted long as there is always something to interfere such as changing light, weather, my dog and of course the all purpose "I forgot".

    I still try and am lucky to get maybe 50% success but until I can buy some discipline the forms aren't going to do me much good. Good luck, you may already have the discipline and if so a piece of paper and a pencil will do.

    Bob
     
  5. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,746
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I went through a lot of printed forms - some designed by others - some by me. I never liked any of them. Now I just use a bound notebook of the type you're describing. A blank page gives me the freedom to note whatever I think is important at the time.

    Things I always note - Zone range, lens, film (I use more than one) and the negative holder number.
    juan
     
  6. PaulH

    PaulH Subscriber

    Messages:
    171
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Location:
    Hudson, New
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I have a small notebook with perforated pages. It's about 3x5. I put the date on the page, then record anything (or nothing) that seems important at the time. At the end of the day I tear the page(s) out and put them with boxes I transferred the film into. If I keep the negative I write the information on the envelope and throw the notes away... eventually.
     
  7. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    During my undergraduate and graduate school days I learned the value of a good notebook. My preference is for the rite-in-the-rain notebooks. They seem to have endless varieties of them. My preferences is for the small bound geology version. A great place to buy them is www.forestry-suppliers.com

    Now I have one that I use to record photo data. Sorry Eric, I'm not high tech enough to transfer it to a computer. If my department didn't give me a laptop, I wouldn't even be online. Oh well, anyways, rite-in-the-rain notebooks rock.
     
  8. photomc

    photomc Member

    Messages:
    3,575
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    bmac, good thread..have always wondered what others do..have tried a few things, don't seem to ever get too far..best luck has been with notebook of some sort. Place, time, film, exposure, equipment data then darkroom dry to at least write down temp, developer, time, etc. first good working print try to give a little more detail, such as enlarger, enlarger height, lens, any filtertration, time, developer etc.

    Does everyone find this hard to make yourself do? I know that I need to, need to start and slow down, nothing is going to run away.....
     
  9. bmac

    bmac Member

    Messages:
    2,156
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I think it is one of the struggles coming from the 35mm (and now digital) mindset. Shoot first, ask questions later. It could also have to do with living in "silicon valley" My life is mile a minute, cant think, must do.. hehe. Hopefully the notebook journal will be able to slow me down a bit.
     
  10. pierre

    pierre Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Ottawa
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I also use a little army field message notepad with a canvas cover. It's ideal. I've never liked being tied to a specific pre-printed form. I just write the usual date always in the same order, and I've got room for any additional info I want to write down.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,981
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    It depends, but if I want a long term record, I usually write my notes in a small notebook I have for the purpose. Sometimes if I'm shooting 4x5" I'll write my notes in the white space on my Grafmatics and transfer them to the notebook later. I find the notebook most handy for travel shots where I want to keep track of locations or for studio shots where I want to keep a lighting diagram.

    For 8x10" and 11x14" I'll either use the notebook or blank Post-It notes. Post-It's are handy, because I can transfer the note from the filmholder to the lab receipt if it's color and finally to the negative sleeve in the file, or sometimes I'll re-write the info directly on the sleeve.

    I suppose that if I wanted to be really efficient I could carry around neg sleeves and write my notes on them when I shoot, but I don't usually sleeve negs immediately. I file them temporarily and decide which ones I like and discard those that I don't think I'll ever print.
     
  12. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

    Messages:
    2,894
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I've been through several of the iterations mentioned above. I finally settled on two small notebooks. The first is a small 3x5 notepad for recording negative info; sheet holder number, subject, N or N+ or N- ect for development, once in a while, the shutter speed and f stop. I also assign a sequential number based upon the format, year, and exposure number for the year. For example, the fifteenth 8x10 neg taken in 2004 would be numbered 84015. A 4x5 neg would be numbered 44015. This provides the crossreference index that is carried over to the printing info.

    The second notebook, daytimer size, is used for the printing info. Take the negative number, paper brand/type/grade, exposure info, developer, development time, contrast filter if applicable. For the final version, the "fine print" all the above is noted along with any burn/dodge info.

    Short, sweet, no forms, no holes to punch. I can easily find print info for any neg I've printed.

    Those little GI message books are great if you can get them. My horded supply ran out years ago. (Duhhh, the daughter is in the service now!)
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,981
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Burn/dodge info I record on separate sheet or sometimes directly on a contact or work print. I've taken to notating the amount of burning/dodging in stops (e.g., +1, -1/2, etc.) rather than by time, as I once did. This allows me to apply the same information to different sized prints without having to recalculate and gives me a good starting point if I want to reprint at some point in the future with a different paper/developer combo.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

    Messages:
    1,627
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    When I'm shooting and find I want to keep notes I always write on the polaroids then staple it to the proof sheet. I also keep printing notes and attach those to the proof sheets. For the most part though while shooting, being in the moment, seems to be enough to bring back the memory for the details of the circumstances while pursuing the shot. Unless I'm testing, note taking is a distraction. Each shot I take I do save the final polaroid and attach it to my print work sheet. Being involved in absolute detail for me does not give me the freedom to be in the moment.
     
  16. dr bob

    dr bob Member

    Messages:
    871
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Annapolis, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Some years ago my daughter gave me a tiny tape recorder with a voice activated control (vox). I slip this in a shirt pocket or equivalent and talk out loud throughout a shoot. One might think this would elicit some strange looks, but it usually goes unnoticed. When in the privacy of the “office”(?), I record succinct information in bound journals like Alex above. I have capitulated to modern technology in the use of the Mate’s ink-jet printer to put proper information on the back of 8x10 proof prints.

    I have found the above procedure(s) very helpful and it offers hands-free operations when it is necessary.
     
  17. Leon

    Leon Member

    Messages:
    2,075
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Kent, Englan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have a form I devised that I use until I get to the stage that I can predict how a film/developer combination will react, then I stop using it. More often than not, I would forget to record anyway, my mind obsessively thinking about the next shot.

    The forms still come out whenever i change my practice though, at least for a while.
     
  18. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

    Messages:
    446
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Location:
    Manhattan Be
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Every negative I possess is on an Excel spread sheet. The laptop synchs to a Palm Vx, which has an abbreviated form for exposure data, filter factor, bellows extension, and development. Every holder has a label and gets a "*" if there is a note for when I return to the darkroom. I've used this system since 1996 and it has saved my bacon on numerous occasions.
     
  19. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,443
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary AB,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I have uploaded two photos of the notepad I use and the type of notes I take.

    They are in the non-Gallery section of the gallery.

    This little book works very well for me and cost next to nothing. I can replace the paper insert, the pages are the type you can tear out and their is a carbon sheet in the back in case you want to make a copy of your notes to give someone else.
     
  20. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

    Messages:
    2,512
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2002
    Location:
    Omaha, Nebra
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I place adhesive mailing labels to the film holder listing exposure info, film ei, filter used and development required and the date. I will usually make a notation about the location in a notebook at home with the corresponding file number for the neg. I will also record the date and location of any neg
    I keep on the margin of the negative if it is sheet film. I will also record in the notebook the developer details.

    In the darkroom I try to tape record important information and then later sort out and record the important stuff on the back of a proof print. I will also use a marker and indicate on the proof areas that have been burned or dodged, with what filter and by f-stops.
     
  21. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Cary, North
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    BMAC - Make up your own forms and such, if you feel it is necessary. This is part of the lifestyle of a Zonista. The exposure record is all well and good only if you are committed to reviewing the field notes and comparing the negative with your visualization. IF you are committed to recording, studying and (most importantly) using the knowledge to change your zone placement (a big IF for most photographers) then exposure records are a good tool for learning and improvement. Once you can place a zone, then you can leave the notebook at home and spend more time photographing.
     
  22. bjorke

    bjorke Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    SF & Surroun
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I use a Palm PDA program called GoPix. I use it so much, I bound it to one of the main PDA buttons, and every piece of film exposed for the past 3 or 4 years has been recorded on it. I use it all the way through development, and then export the notes to text, print them and save them with the contact sheets.
     
  23. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

    Messages:
    475
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    Bratislava,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I can't find this GoPix on the net. can you suggest any address to download? thanks

    jk
     
  24. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

    Messages:
    166
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    North of Cal
    I am like some of the others and now use a digital voice recorder. I tried the paper notes but found it difficult and/or time consuming recording enough information about a scene to help me evaluate the final print in regards to the scene layout. Notes on exposure, zones, N-development and such just was not sufficient for me to learn from.

    On the digital recorder I just "babble away" describing the scene, my intentions or visualization, the film holder # and EI, the N-development and any other things I think may help. I then just keep this on the recorder until such time as I print the neg. If I want a long term record I then transpose the information, otherwise I just erase it.

    This recorder is very small and also permits me to save the recording as a "wav file" for future reference should I wish to erase and reuse the space. I have yet to use this but it is nice to know that it is possible.

    I really find it much easier and considerably more helpful if I can just verbally describe my intentions and the scene during the shooting and then refer back to that when I am developing and printing.

    Just my thoughts,
     
  25. bjorke

    bjorke Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    SF & Surroun
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  26. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,127
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2002
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use notepads to record exposure info, dates and locations. I've tried forms but you need something to push against when writing which I never have. The notepads have a cardboard backing which is enough. I transfer that into a MS-Access DB which also records film development and enlargement info. This is designed for roll films and I need to add something to suit sheet film. I print a report (usually 1 page) and stick that with the contact sheet in a clear sleeve which goes in the neg folder in front of the negs.