This may come across as absolutely going against the grain and suprisingly silly to some, but after a few thousand negs printing becomes easy.
I keep no notes , don't want them , they get in the way of what I am trying to do.
I do not look at test strips for longer than 10 secs and they are full prints at that. I only look forward and do not look back or compare. I like what I like and that is that.
All dodging and burning is decided in the developer tray and I absolutely do watch the image emerge.. the lights are only for a quick look at potential problem areas and to confirm my mental notes from the dev tray.
As the image emerges in the dev you can see all the areas needing attention and this is where all my attention to dodge and burn is aimed and I then decide where to go.
I am using a bastardized split printing method and all I am doing is working with percentages of filters and slight time adjustments. The apeture is always two stops down at the sweet spot and time and filter change are my variables.
Every negative is treated as a new adventure and I am not in the busness of copy work so all I do is go forward. I have not seen a large amount of repeat prints of the same negative, and I find the second,third ,fourth or more time I see a negative the better I get at printing it.
For me working in the darkroom is an adventure I don't want to spoil it by taking notes.
This has worked for me for several years. I've gone through many variations of the chart, but this is the one used for the past decade.
Originally Posted by Xia_Ke
If the lens doesn't read "ZEISS", then it just isn't.
I use the classic spiral notebook and I keep a pretty detailed log of my printing. I shoot mainly large format but also medium as well. I have a field notebook in which I record exposure information for each sheet. I do a quick line sketch of the scene so I can record the placement of the different zones. I only take notes on each roll if necessary (e.g., the whole role is to be developed N+1).
These notes are necessary for developing the film, but in addition, especially when you are still learning, detailed field notes really help you to understand the relationship between exposing, developing, and printing. Not that I am an expert, but my notes are really helping me.
In the darkroom, I can refer to previous notes on similar negatives to get a starting point for aperture/contrast/time, and it definitely saves me both money and time. I start each printing session in the notebook with the date, and a referral back to my field notes on the negative (e.g., March 15, 2008 - negative from March 1, 2008 - sky and shoreline). I record the information for each test print, both in the notebook and on the back of the print. I use a soft artist's pencil to write the info before printing. You can't do it when it is wet, and by the time it is dry, you forget what the hell you did anyway. If the information gets too long to write on every test print (e.g., complex split printing or dodging and burning), I just write a number and a date that refers me to the notebook.
This may all sound pretty nerdy, but trust me, I find this invaluable as a tool for learning. When my test prints are dry, I can sit at the kitchen table and look over all the different stages and possibilities, with notes on the negative and on the prints, and make sense out of the various change or approaches from both an aesthetic AND a technical viewpoint (the two have to come together at some point). Things always look different the next day, and not just because of dry down. Keeping good notes doesn't just save you money (hit and miss with large format gets really expensive). More importantly, it helps you keep control over what you do so you can produce what your imagination sees.
The "Rolf Horn" Way
I've got very inspired when I saw how Rolf Horn make print notes.
See the excellent examples at
click on "technique" and then at the first picture.
I made a similar log with some small modifications for my own use, which is attached to this post.
i use something similar to the above as well.
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The "Rolf Horn" Way - printlog in us format (letter)
I use a database, screen shot attached gives you an idea of some of the info I have. I also keep track of prints that are in shows, are sold, etc. (Nice to know what you submitted last year to an annual show).
I also like Bob Carnie's sentiment, and can ignore the info if I want.
I really started doing it because I got tired of looking for negs, and it grew from there.