What method to use to keep track of films and individual frames as your archive grows

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by ted_smith, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    With my digital camera, each photo has a unique incremental number, e.g DSC12345. When\if I buy a new one I can tell it to start from the number of my previous camera. This enables me and any customers to uniquely request\find an image from my archive.

    With film, I am struggling to devise a system that's not too labour intensive to enable me to keep track of my film shots in the same way. For example, if I shot 36 exposures at a given shoot, and 5 are almost exactly the same, when the cutomer see's the scanned in versions of the image I don't want to accidentally send the wrong frame to the lab for printing. I want to know that the one that has been asked for is the one I send to the lab, even if there are several that look very similar, and perhaps indistinguishable from the negatives.

    What method do you guys use to keep track of your films and individual frames as your archive grows?
     
  2. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i make a traditional contact sheet. each sheet has it's own code number that is placed on that sheet and on the printfile page that contains the negatives.

    i file by project and put the negatives in an archival three ring box.

    i.e. project may be New Orleans 01/2009, next roll would be New Orleans 02/2009, etc.
     
  3. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    A system that I used for over 30 years: 3C for 35mm, C for color neg, S for slide and B for Black and White.
    6 would stand for 6x6, 7 for 6x7 and 9 for 6x9. For 4x5 inch I just put them in a box with cards: name of the architect and project name.

    You can make a computerlist with links to seperate pages for additional information, like numbers send to clients.
    For digial I have a different system: one RAW file where I put every thing as a back-up and seperate folders for each client
    and sub-folders for each of their projects. You can do the same with scans.
     
  4. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    Each negative has a unique number that is composed of:
    A letter-digit-combination indicating camera and lens
    The date the image was taken in ddmmyy format
    The number of the roll of film for that camera, that day, if applicable
    The frame number, or, with sheet film, the number of the shot taken that day
    Each section separated from the next with underscores.
    Negatives or slides get that identifier when they're scanned, I write it as a range on the neg filing sheets and it ends up on the back of a print with all the othe information.
     
  5. david b

    david b Member

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    I shoot only 120.

    Each roll is labeled 09-001 then 09-002 then 09-003. (09 being the year)

    So if I need the 10th exposure on 09-002, it is labeled 09-002-10

    Also, each negative sleeve is marked with the exposure date, development date, and the developer and dilution.

    Makes my life really easy.
     
  6. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    David Bram's method and mine are nearly identical; his is more concise! For instance, I just shot my second roll of 2009, so the fifth frame of that roll is 2009002_05 (don't know why I used underscores rather than hyphens....) This is the same regardless which size film it is, though the vast majority of my film these days is 120. (Probably never return to 35mm after seeing a 6x7 negative.)

    For 4x5 it's a bit strange, 'cause there are no "rolls" to constitute a natural grouping; I just fill up those four-pocket Print-File negative sheets as the images come in. Each sheet gets a new "roll" number, with the images being sequenced _1 thru _4 on each sheet. I make proof scans of each image and rely on metadata in a DAM program to find and classify the images.

    Since the majority of my prints are made by methods out of bounds for discussion on APUG, suffice it to say further that back when I found myself with "derivative" image files, certain suffixes having to do with size and resolution got affixed to the base filenames as described above. This way every image could be traced back to its master, and the negative is always at hand.

    Also like David, each sheet gets the processing information for the "roll". I've never met Mr. Bram but I'm convinced we must be unheralded geniuses since our great minds are thinking so alike!

    :smile:
     
  7. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    hmmm...considering the pile of negatives is beginning to build up, maybe it's time to try one of these out. Right now the method is "ruffle through until you find the one you want"...
     
  8. Palantiri7

    Palantiri7 Member

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    ^^ :rolleyes: I wonder if I'll break out of that habit.
     
  9. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    Oh sweet lord, it's a writhing gelatin cacophany. Negs grating into eachother overlapping in the same sleeves, neg sleeves fluttering for freedom unleashed from their dusty ring folder tomb, about 2 contact sheets and not one single 4x5 neg sleeve in sight. A lost cachement that got levied from my unguarded locker in school à la Capa but alot less exciting. I need some sort of containment unit like wot is on Ghostbusters. At least things are easier to identify as I'm moving up formats.
     
  10. Palantiri7

    Palantiri7 Member

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    Woo hoo! I've got company!!
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    if it is 4x5, i either add them to the stack, or
    put them in a glassine sleeve and then in an unbuffered envelope
    and then in a archival shoe box. 5x7 gets the empty box treatment
    and larger is just stacked ( paper and film )
    35mm and 120 goes in print files and is either stacked, or in binders
    110 stay in proccessing envelope lab gives me
    and sleeps with their prints in a desk drawer.

    i used to do contact sheets of every sheet of negatives,
    write codes on print files, notes on envelopes,
    but i just got out of the habit.

    when i search for a negative, i always find things i am not looking for
    and enjoy finding a surprise, which of course side tracks me.

    yep, i have holes in my pants too.
     
  12. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I have long used this one:

    Each roll is given a roll number, this consists of a 2 digit year and a roll number within that year, I use enough digits, to cover a years worth of rolls. Then there is a 2 digit frame number, this is the number of the frame on the roll. Proofs are then marked with the roll and frame number on the back. If you scan then you can use the same number as a file name, or bury it inside the EXIF data, since I give digital files their own numbers in the archive, scans are also given these numbers. So if someone really wanted a copy of image F0030019, I would call up that file, see that it's a film image numbered 050119 meaning it's on the first roll I shot in 2005 and is the 19th frame. I pull out the negative book that contains 2005 negatives and flip to roll number 0501 and look for frame number 19.

    I can then either print it on silver paper, or send the strip to a lab for printing.

    If you asked 10,000 photographers what system they use, you will probably get 11,000 answers......
     
  13. jslabovitz

    jslabovitz Member

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    I use a date code plus a frame sequence -- YYMMDDx.FF. So if I started a new roll of film today, it would be called "090104", and shot #5 of that roll would be "090104.05". If I shoot more than one roll per day, the additional rolls are tagged with letters -- eg, "090104b" would be roll #2.

    I like this method more than a roll-number because I never have to remember how many rolls I've shot so far. I only have to figure out today's date, and whether I've already finished any rolls today. I can also find images fairly quickly, as I can usually remember approximately what year/month I shot them in.

    I keep all the other metadata (actual shoot date of a frame, camera, lens, film, etc.) separately -- usually, text files which get processed into EXIF tags that are added to the scanned images, which are then stored in Adobe Lightroom.

    I actually keep track of my digital files (what little there are) this way, too, by renaming the blasted DSC* files into the YYMMDDx.FF format (treating each set of images shot on a particular date as "roll").

    I've been using this system for over 10 years and it's worked really well for me.
     
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  15. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I finally got tired of looking for negs, even though they were somewhat cataloged, so I finally put together a database with Filemaker Pro (which I use at work, or I never would have). I track books and pages (Printfile sleeves and 7 binders). I can also store lots of info about each roll, or image, like developer, times, etc, location, subject type, filter and other shooting conditions. Also printing "recipe" instructions, what shows prints have been in (so I don't submit the same ones twice to annual competitions), etc etc. I even have a check box that tells me what needs to be printed, so when I'm going to print, I can search for these, and decide what to work on. (this way I never forget them either)
    It's also great for keeping track of testing different films and developers.

    At first I thought that the Dbase would take more time than it was worth, but not so, at least for me.

    If anyone would like an empty clone of the Dbase, I would be glad to send one (you need Filemaker Pro vs 7 or greater). PM me if interested.
     
  16. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    I do what a lot of others do, which is label each roll of film with the year it was shot then the number of the roll then the frame #. So, frame # 7 of the 35th roll of 2009 looks like this- 2009-035-07

    I go one step farther though. I use Lightroom to keep track of everything. Lightroom is a godsend for cataloguing. I bulk scan all of my 35mm through my Nikon scanner regardless if its black and white or color at low resolution. That way I keep track of everything on the fly. If I make a print of a negative, I scan the print and that replaces the neg scan.

    I have been trying to streamline it even more. I think I am going to start using metadata for film types, developer, etc.

    For printing data I do it the old fashioned way. I keep a binder with everything in it. When I make a print, I simply write the page # on the neg. sheet with a china marker.

    I keep track of prints I need to make inside Lightroom. So when I see an image I need to print it is a simple matter of noting the # of the negative, going over to that years binder and picking it out and referencing the # I have written on the neg. sheet to find the print information. Easy!

    Setting it all up after years of throwing negatives around was not so easy!

    Patrick
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    When you are planning your setup, it is worth considering a lot of issues, because once you start using one system, it is very difficult to change.

    If you are working commercially, it would be a good idea to have room in the database for a job number, a client number, or both.

    I find it useful to have date information in any designator.

    For costing and business analysis, information about format and material (E6, C41, B&W, etc.) can be useful too.

    If you have specific areas of concentration in your work (e.g. canine photography :smile:) it is useful to have that designated as well.

    If you create a database, you can associate the additional information with the slide or negative or roll's individual designator, but you need to be careful about how the data is entered.

    I wonder if any of the litigation support software that is used to track documents in large court cases might be suitable for this? (It would most likely be expensive).

    The most important thing to do is to think very carefully how the information will be used both in the short and long term, and leave room for the possibility of change (Y2K anyone :smile:).

    Matt
     
  18. mpirie

    mpirie Subscriber

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    Like Patrick, I use Lightroom for cataloging all my negs.

    Each film is allocated a sequential number. Once processed, the film is scanned at relatively low resolution into it's own named folder and the scanning software increments each frame number adding it to the file name. So last nights efforts included the creation of a folder (called 1636-January 2009) which then received scans of 1636-001, 1636-002 etc. If I shot a second roll, it would have been called 1637-January 2009 etc.

    Lightroom is setup to check the primary folder each time it starts so the folders are catalogued quickly.

    All that needs to be done then is to keyword the files.

    The scanning software adds the metadata for scan date and scanner, but this can be changed if the scans take place later than shooting date.

    I'd like to use Lightroom for the processing data too, but have yet to find a way of doing so.

    Any printing that's done then has the reference number (1636-015) written in chinagraph on the back because it removes a date reference from the print/image.

    Mike
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I use this method for my 135 and 120. The film goes into negative pages. I keep one set of prints for color and contact sheets for black and white. The pages go into a loose leaf notebook in yyyy-rrr order.

    Steve
     
  20. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I only shoot 35mm. I stopped making contact prints about 20 rolls after I started developing my own stuff. I use a simply YYYYMMDD-rollnumber-framenumber system. 20090109-1-01 for the first frame from the first roll from that date. Has the added advantage of sorting correctly by date in most computer OS's. Negs are sleeved with basic info (roll number, EI, camera used, dev, and times/temps) and put into binders. I also make a note of this stuff in a little notebook. Scanned frames get this information attached in EXIF using Photo Mechanic.

    When I make prints, I jot down the negative number, and basic exposure info so I can match it up with the more detailed info written down in the notebook.
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I cannot use YYYYMMDD-rollnumber-framenumber system because I am using four cameras and one of them has interchangeable film back. So I can have a roll in a camera for a couple of months and use a camera that was loaded earlier or has a new roll in it.

    This is a direct fallout of G.A.S.

    Steve
     
  22. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

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    No contact sheets - 120/220 film. Negative sleeves, dated, labled with description of content, organized by dividers in a three-ring binder by content or project. As I shoot some images for clients (projects) These are kept separate from my 'art shots' which I organize by content and date.

    Nothing fancy, but it works for me.
     
  23. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Maybe just year and roll number, the other option is to pick a date, for example date loaded, date unloaded, date processed. Probably the date unloaded or date processed makes the most sense. The date loaded requires that you track the date somewhere, if your shooting it all in one day, the load date and unload date will be the same, and if your shooting it over a month or more then the load date doesn't really matter.

    Another option is to keep a constables note pad, with a page for each camera/back, then keep notes on your images. I tried this once, in the heat of shooting though, it's easy to forget to take your notes.

    What the heck is G.A.S.?
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Gear Acquisition Syndrome

    Q.E.D. :smile:

    Matt
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Color or black and white, 35mm, 120, 4x5 - whatever.

    1. I use PrintFile archiving, so I can make notes on each set of negatives.
    2. I record in Chronological order, for instance: 2007-04_001-05 means:
    Year 2007
    Month 04
    Print File# 001
    Frame 05
    If you shoot more than 999 rolls of film per month, you can use four digits for the third part of the nomenclature. If you shoot less than 100, you can use two. But who knows what number films you might be shooting in the future.

    So, I scan all of these and keep those as proofs, labeled according to above nomenclature.
    Then I keep an Excel spread sheet with developing information for all of those rolls. E6 and C41 too.

    There's a lot to be gained from a system like this.

    I keep the negatives in folders that contain all of the negatives, contact sheets (if any) and print records year for year, but I'm going to start employing a vertical drawer system with hanging files.

    - Thomas

     
  26. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    Every LF negative is dated and sequenced in the format YYMMDD-nn so the first sheet from today will be 090110-01. For roll film I use the same code except that I add the frame number on the end so the second frame on the third roll I exposed yesterday would be 090109-03-02. The sequence is unique across all formats used in a day so it's not necessarily in order (although I like it to be). The advantages to me are that it's simple (so I can understand it), it supports any film/camera/lens/etc that I happen to pick up, and it also allows records/scans to be sorted easily on my computer.