Taking notes at shooting
What kind of information you keep when taking photos?
I'm not good taking notes but I'd like to learn from your experience.
I only do it with large format, and very occasionally in cases where I'm using rollfilm for studies of something that will eventually be shot in LF. All I write down (in a post-it on the darkslide) is basic equipment-and-exposure info: camera, lens, filter, date, film and EI, shutter and aperture, and the location if it won't be obvious from the image. This is way more information than I've ever needed, but I can at least imagine wanting to have it later.
Normal rolls just get the date, camera/lens, and EI if different from box speed. It's pretty hard to fit more than that into the space on a 120 roll anyway.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
When I do it, I usually record the date, exposure or filmholder number, a description of the location and subject, camera, format if it's a camera that shoots more than one format, lens, filters used, aperture, shutter speed, film, developing instructions for film speed and contrast (like "Efke 100, EI 50, ABC Pyro +1" or "TXP, EI 640, Acufine"). I like to use unlined Moleskine notebooks. If the exposure is complicated, I might write down the bellows factor and reciprocity factor, just to be sure I haven't forgotten something.
Last edited by David A. Goldfarb; 12-29-2012 at 08:31 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Like Nathan, I only do it for sheet film. I write down the holder number, lens, fstop/ss, filter, date/time, how it was metered (I use a spot and will note what I metered off- i.e. " shadow under bush for Zone III" and what development I will use- N, +1, -1, etc. With Readyloads, I write it on the cardboard. If I'm using holders, it goes in a notebook, so I can unload it into the proper box for development. Also, like Nathan, it's more information than I probably need, although time of day has helped if I plan on returning to a location.
Sometimes I'll sketch the scene, noting the Zone placements, but not very often.
I pre-wrap all my 35mm rolls w/ a piece of masking tape. After I expose the final frame of the roll, I mark the piece of tape with the date and camera used. During development, I transfer the tape to the Patterson tank and later to the negative clip while drying. Once I cut the negatives, I move the tape to the storage sleeve. In the notes section of the sleeve, I also note developer type, dilution, time and temperature.
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I'm not good at either, but I generally do it when shooting 8x10. Lens, aperture, shutter speed, film type and subject. Hand written in a moleskin that fits in my back pocket.
This is what I do, not really uncommon from what anyone else might do who is into the zone system way of doing things......I used to take notes in the field, but came to not wanting to fuss with writing while in the field. I find it far easier now to just use a digital voice recorder to document the notes, then, usually in the truck before leaving, I'll quickly put them on a card like this. It takes practically no time to do........I find that notes not only help diagnose problems but they also reinforce what went right on those occasions too.
I second the digital voice recorder. That's what I generally use when on "serious" projects with medium format. The Sony that I have is about the size of a candy bar and can record two hours of my silly blather. For me, this is way easier, a one-handed operation, than trying to scrawl stuff in a notebook while the wind flaps the pages around (not to mention more readily understood weeks later than my handwriting!)
The saved files can be downloaded as MP3s and stored "forever" on the computer, if desired. For the Bronica I record back number, film, lens used, meter used and date. I then note the subject, shutter speed and aperture, and any filter, plus any lens changes, and any unusual conditions for each frame as I go along. What I like about the recorder is I can also blather sudden thoughts -- 'note to self' -- that may or may not be directly related to the project. ("Should come back here and check out the old farm across the road some day.") I can record way too much info and edit later.
At home I transcribe the basic info into an Excel page for each roll. Some of the non-related stuff may go to a "to do" list or future photo project/destination list. Eventually the developer, time and temperature (and agitation), and maybe a one sentence assessment of the results, wind up on the page for a given roll.
If I'm just taking a few snaps on a hike with one of my folders, I may not bother with all those details. I still create a page for each roll detailing the subject matter.
I have little pre-printed sheets that go in the ziplocks with each 4x5 filmholder that are similar to CPorters above.
I'll note the aperture, shutter and dynamic range of the scene. Then I'll note what development will be appropriate.
Then I'll note the lens used, and filters of course.
Date, location etc….
At one point in time, I was jotting down zone values and development adjustments for each roll of B&W in a little notebook I keep in my camera bag... I used to make my own little zone diagram like CPorter's example provided. I haven't really done that lately, since I generally don't take that camera bag (along with the little notebook) out with me. I keep trying to get back in the habit, but it's been to easy to be lazy. I just hate it when I get a nice exposure and I can't remember how I captured it...
I think everyone's contributions above just might help me get back into the habit of recording information again! Hopefully!
"If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed." - Stanley Kubrick