How do you guys do when documenting your film rolls/negatives?
I mostly bulk roll, and started some time ago to scratch a serial number in the emulsion on the lead of each roll, then I take notes in a little book with one page per roll/serial number, the date the roll was "created" from the bulk roll, when I put it in the camera, what camera it went with, when I take it out, development date, and other interesting information around the roll etc.
The idea is of course to be able to backtrack good and bad results for future reference. Next step is to take notes on "recipes" used for development, and associate these with each roll.
What are your thoughts about and your processes for this?
Last edited by Felinik; 09-26-2012 at 11:41 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I number on sleeves (negative pages). Sure, the negs are unidentifiable once removed, but one strip or sheet at a time while in use isn't a big deal. The numbers are then used in all provenances both hardcopy and computer. But then, I am under no impression that my negs will ever be important to anyone other than me.
To identify separate cut strips of negatives it is probably ok to write the code number (used on the neg-page holding all the strips/sheets) between the perforations at one end, or wherever you want. Using a 0,2mm archival-pigment marker (or Rotring type drawing pen I guess) seems to work fine on the emulsion side, but I suppose one could write backwards to identify the strips more easily in contact prints. Note that there are also plenty of dye based, non-archival pens around . . . possible oops.
I do a terrible job. Since I've been at it for about 65 years, I generally have chaos. Lately I've gotten a bit better. I at least put the location and date on the sleeves. I generally use page type sleeves and keep them in binders (at least I have for the last 20 years or so, although there are still a quite a few stray negatives.) The last few years I have been scanning my negatives and indexing them in Lightroom using keywords. Each roll generally gets its own folder, although I'll group sheet film shots into a convenient sized folder. I put the folder ID on the negative sleeve for cross reference. That way when I find something I want in Lightroom, I can reference it back to the negative location. My filing system isn't perfect, though, and it may still take some work to find the negative.
On each printfile page, I write the date, subject, location, developer, and camera (medium format) or lens (lf). Film information is on the film itself from Kodak. Contact prints are made of each page, 3-ring punched and they go into a binder in chrono order.
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I'm not as systematic as I'd like, but most of my rolls will get sleeved and the sleeve will have written on it the camera used, rough dates and location, film used, developer and time/temperature used, and the EI it was shot at. When I scan the film I also tend to store the scans in folders with the camera, film, and sometimes developer and time, stored as part of the folder name, so I can usually back track to work out what the combination was when I notice an old photo with something about it I like.
However, I don't file things systematically, and there are older rolls where I didn't make clear notes on the sleeve, so it's not as organised as I'd want. I don't make or file contact prints, sadly. I do wet print occasionally, but I don't have a permanently set up darkroom, so I only wet print individual shots I've already identified as worth looking at from scans.
Each film gets an index number. I scan them and put the TIF's under that folder number. For 35mm, I might have a folder called 0121_xa2_20120901. (I add camera and date at the end, but this way I can still sort by index number). Inside are the scanned images:
depending on how many exposures I get. Then I'll have:
with notes about the shoot, exposure, film, development, etc. (Actually, I keep detailed development information in a dedicated spreadsheet.)
Then I sleeve them, and put the index number on the sleeve. And keep them all in a binder.
I like the OPs method but using 120 I don't have a leader to code. I generally us the neater sloppy method of taking the neg sleeve to my contact sheet with all the pertenent info written on the back of the contact, mostly printing instructions.
What I have adopted n works well for me over the years is to notch the very edge margine of the neg frames with a hole punch of the negs used for final prints.
Cataloging is another matter n that has never worked no matter what I try. Just fill boxes with date ranges.
Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.
In bygone years I have been rather haphazard, but since I have been retired, and got some medium format gear in 2006 and resurrected what passes for a darkroom, I have instituted a system that meets my needs. I store the negatives in archival pages in ring binders with each page identified with a roll number, film, subject and date. The roll number, since a series of GAS attacks, includes a prefix 'SQ' for the SQ-A, 'Pk' for the Perkeo II, etc.
On the computer I have an Excel spreadsheet, one page per roll, where I record more info including one line entry per frame that may include subject, exposure, filter, (lens if that is interchangeable) and possibly a short note. Being a retired computer geek, I have slowly evolved that into a master index page, a subject index page which has entries grouped by year and then camera (with 'Misc' for an assortment of little used cameras). The subject entries include the topic/location, date, and a clickable link to the associated roll pages.
When I'm "seriously working" I carry a small voice recorder into which I blather about exposure and any comments about the scene and subject. I later transcribe that to the spreadsheet page(s). I imagine if I were shooting a dozen rolls a day and under deadlines, much of the above might fall by the wayside!
Additional geekery has added some pages that track film purchases and a film index that allows clicking to individual roll pages from various film types so I can see how many rolls of PlusX I have left [sniff!] and what I shot on what, etc. Each individual roll page has links to go back to the Master Index, Subject Index and Film Index, plus also a note on processing -- either the lab if color, or the developer, temperature and time for B&W done here, as well as a summary of how they came out ("a little thin" etc.).
It sounds more complicated than it is.
(I am also known to use ExifTool to put the camera make, model and exposure into files from any frames I scan. )