Film ID #2
In the book, Way Beyond Monochrome, Ralph Lambrecht describes a binary numbering scheme for plastic film holders. He suggests notching the inside lip of the lower flap to create corresponding patterns on the exposed film's edge that when lined up with a ruler equate to the holder's sequence number.
I was interested in trying this, but have had little success with it. Since his suggestion is to notch only the inside lip, the outer lip of the holder still creates a shadow that, in my experience anyway, prohibits adequate exposure in the notched area.
Has anyone else tried this?
Perhaps other's would be willing to share how they track exposures when shooting lots of film.
Thanks for your thoughts.
I guess it depends to a degree on how you define "lots of film". For me, six sheets is a pretty big day. I have a half dozen of those new-fangled riteway holders that have the little wheels that make a number on the exposed film sheet. Each side of every film holder is marked with a unique two digit number and prior to loading each film holder, I set/verify the little wheels to match the corresponding number printed on the holder. The only problem I've had with this system is that the little wheels occasionally get bumped in the dark while loading the film and then, they "imprint" the wrong number.
I have some Linhof holders with number tag, which expose the number on the film. But most of the time I trust I will remember where I've been, at least when I see the pictures. If there is any doubt I write it down in a little notebook.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
The book is fantastic. You've got to cut your notches all the way through both hinge lips. It's a great system and works for up to 18 holders. I have notched all of mine this way.
When I remove the film from the holders, I sometimes clip a corner with in a sort of binary code with the film ID notch facing one way (lower right for example). Since you have 4 corners, I think you can number to 15. You would have to stack the holders in order when removing the film in the dark.
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Those old double darkslides by Arca Swiss have a small clear plastics section on the inner lip where a number is stamped, that shows up on the processed film without intruding into the image area.
I have notched all my 3x4 and 4x5 holders. Assuming i don't get a deep shadow part of the image, they show up just fine. If they don't, file a little bit more. As soon as i have developed them, I make notes on the negative file holders as to film, development, camera, lens, and exposure, as well as subject. Amazing how soon you forget what's whhat in our littl eheads.
tim in san jose
Where ever you are, there you be.
I have notched all my 4x5 and 8x10 holders. I used a Dremmel tool with a griding bit to create the notch. You just open the holder and press down on the inside lip of the holder to cut out a "U" shape.
I do not use the binary system however. Too complicated for me. I notch the left side for tens, middle for fives and right for ones. So, when I look at a contact print that has the following notches, u u uu, I know it was in holder 17, 10+5+2.
I find notching valuable for two reasons. First, if I have two identically exposed negs that are developed differently, I can quickly identify which one is which. Second, when a holder develops a light leak, I can go straight to that holder and fix the problem.
Unfortunately, none of these nifty notching solutions is very applicable to the plate holders used with the old plate cameras -- these are metal holders, loaded through the open face (camera side) of the holder, and no part of the holder itself shadows the film; instead, the film is carried in a film sheath that adapts the film to fit a holder made for glass plates. Problem is, the sheath is too thin to notch with a Dremel or similar tool, and in any case the sheaths aren't permanently mounted to the holders; they have to be dismounted for loading and unloading, and can get swapped in the process if you have a bunch of holders in a changing bag or on a darkroom counter.
My solution so far has been to shoot few enough sheets this isn't a problem, but I'm up to a dozen or so usable (single plate) holders for one of my cameras, and can easily envision a situation where I'd use all of them on a single outing -- which would make identification a significant issue. My current technique, of using masking tape on the back of the holder on which I write exposure details and such, has been working okay, but depends on handling few enough holders in the changing bag to keep the tape strips straight and get them on the right developing tubes. Since I can only develop six sheets in a session right now anyway, due to number of tubes, it's still not a major problem, but I've got designs floating in my head for either sheet film reels to fit my larger stainless tanks, or a plastic "slot processor" minimal liquid solution that would hold a bunch of sheets at once.
I'd love to see another method of identifying the film that doesn't take up image area on the 9x12 cm negative.
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
One of the most interesting methods I've seen for this, though I haven't done it myself, is to cut out a thin strip on the edge of the flap with a router and insert transparent labels printed on a laser printer with a number and anything else you want to print on the film rebate, like a copyright notice or logo.
One question is--why is it so important to number individual sheets at the exposure stage? I've come to the conclusion that it usually isn't, except for the purpose of diagnosing filmholder problems. Maybe if you shoot something like theatre or sports in LF, where the sequence of shots isn't obvious from the image itself, it would be handy to number the sheets.
It doesn't help to sort them out for processing, because the numbers are only visible after processing, unless you do something like clipping a corner or notching the film.
If the sheets are from a portrait or model shoot, is it so important to know the sequence? For the purpose of identifying negatives, you could just write a number on the negative in the rebate after processing.
If the sheets are from travel/landscape photography, isn't it enough to look at one's notes and the scene in the photograph to determine the location?
Even for film/lens/filter/developing tests, it is usually pretty easy to tell which sheet goes with which test condition, as long as you aren't getting some really strange results.