I started doing something a couple of weeks ago that has become a real time saver and provides a much more complete way of keeping notes in the darkroom. I started usin a tape recorder hooked into a footswitch. Instead of stopping to write notations about exposure, filtering, enlarger height and materials, I simply use the tape recorder.
For example, I will get the negative ready to print, switch on the machine and say, "11x14 print of factory wall detail, negative #112/08/99, height 11". Paper is Forte Fiber VC, in Dektol 1-2 for 2 min. test strips of 18, 12, 6, at F8."
After I make a good final proof or a final fine print I will record any detail about buring, dodging, filtering, and toning. Later after the print(s) are dry I will transfer the info onto the back of the pilot print I use for future reference and any notations on buring and dodging on the front.
For me, it seems much easier to go back and write up notes for a session all at once, then then stopping and doing it during a session. But then maybe I am a little more obsessive about keeping notes about printing then others. Any comments?
If I had a secretary to transcribe voice notes I'd do it too. But having used a tape recorder - as sparingly as possible - in the past as a journalist, I know the limitations of that machine for my purposes. It's just one more step between me and the information I need.
I prefer to jot notes on my contact sheets and work prints. Typically, date, paper type, enlarger lens, exposure and contrast settings, burn/dodge info or diagrams, etc.
If there was a way to use voice technology that fed oral notes directly into a computer database, I'd consider it. In fact, the technology probably exists now - but there's no room in my darkroom for yet another bit of gear.
Like Lex I'd need a secretary. I recently read another use for a recorder in the darkroom. If you prerecord developing and agitation programs on the recorder you can replay it everytime you use that particular process. Seems to me it would work as well or better than a programed timer with each tape being a different custom program.
There is a way to convert the voice files stored on a digital recorder to text on the computer. The software is called Dragon NaturallySpeaking from Scansoft, Inc. It is a speech recognition product that can take input either directly from the computer microphone or using other recorder devices to be later transcribed when connected to the computer.