how to shoot film and keep it organized …

Joined
Nov 11, 2008
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I thought, I'd share, how I do it with a minimum amount of complication:


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"I do not lug a notebook around, like one can see in the many internet fora, complete with fountain pen and Leica MP ;-)

This is simply impractical, but a nice distraction for the occasion, I admit.
Here is, what I do:

I have fresh film in one side of my bag and exposed film in another.
When I have finished a roll, I reload the camera with a fresh one.
Then I use a pen, to:
- overwrite the used ISO speed,
- write the date of finish and
- a small comment, so I can find my way through a few developed rolls

Here you see a roll of TX400, exposed @ ISO3200, shot with a Nikon F5, finished on the 1st Oct.
This roll has an extra as well, I changed roll mid film, having just exposed "frame 7".
So, If I pick up this roll again, I start shooting @ frame 9, to have no troubles with double frames.

After having written this info on the roll, I pack it in the bag and continue shooting.
When I unload my bag of exposed rolls at the lab, I take a grab of all rolls with my iPhone, as I do not get the film cans back and have to archive the film according to my notes and memory.
When picking up my negatives from the lab, I download these grab shots from my iPhone (with preview.app) and place each roll in one folder, naming it like this:

"2010-10-01 TriX ISO3200 D-76 F5 - text"

I then scan my negatives into this folder and have a folder for each roll.
Several rolls from one event go into a main folder.

I do my archiving with Lightroom and search and find via my keywording.

No fountain pens or moleskin notebooks involved - just a pen, an iPhone and a Mac."
 
Joined
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El Cajon, CA
way too organized! I envy your organization. I still have some negatives from the 1960's which are in sleeves and I'm not really too sure of when they were shot. My more recent stuff, the past few years I have put in clear sleeves and marked then with the date and place. It helps some. I process my own stuff, so it isn't too hard to keep track of it as long as I remember to mark the binder sleeves when I file the negatives.
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2008
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Baton Rouge, LA
I so rarely shoot more than one roll at a time. However, I did a few days ago. Four rolls in the span of a few hours. At the end of the shoot, my bodies, film, and lenses were everywhere. A mess. Wishing you wrote this before that shoot. Thanks for the help.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
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Location
San Francisco, CA

When I unload my bag of exposed rolls at the lab, I take a grab of all rolls with my iPhone, as I do not get the film cans back and have to archive the film according to my notes and memory.

I don't know how the lab you visit works, but a lot of labs wouldn't have a problem returning the canisters to you. I used to work at a lab, and we had no problems returning the canisters if requested.
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
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Shanghai
way too organized! …

Michael, I started with digital photography and expanded to film (still do most in digital). Only very late came my giving in and understanding, that exif data, lens data and all this stuff is completely irrelevant to photography ;-)
I like, to know the date of a roll and at which event I shot it though.

I have a very bad remembering and would sink in chaos, if not finding myself an idiot proof solution ;-)

… Wishing you wrote this before that shoot. Thanks for the help.

Sorry, too late Clayton :wink:

I don't know how the lab you visit works, but a lot of labs wouldn't have a problem returning the canisters to you. I used to work at a lab, and we had no problems returning the canisters if requested.

Jansen, the lab would return the cans as well, it is more hassle though for the lab, to keep track on the cans and for me, to take notes from the cans to Lightroom and dispose of the cans.

I found this easier.

A perfect solution would be a film leader + pen, that withstands development and handling in the lab and remains in my sleeve - this would even make rewriting the info on the sleeve redundant and would safe even more time.

If I shot film, I try lately, to shoot much and finish rolls off on the same day.
I don't like those monthly rolls, rotting in my cameras anymore ;-)

I used to develop myself in the beginning, but find the turnaround, price, quality and convenience of the lab, I use much superior to fiddling at home these days.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
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1,000
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Chris
That's nice Dirk - you are very organized indeed! I find a lot of those same annotations on my own canisters - which I manually transfer to the sheets when I contact the roll. Or sometimes I write on the plastic canister's top. But I gotta argue about the skip a frame between re-loads thing. Some of my most successful double exposures are the results of such happy accidents.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
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531
Location
South Africa
I used to do the same back when I was shooting more 35mm film...
I then moved onto keeping a sleeve of small stickers, and after finishing a film, I wrote on the stickers and stuck them on the canister... writing in canisters was a bit awkward.

Because I always lost my permanent markers and pens, I eventually gave up making notes completely.

Today, I shoot with a moleskin notebook in my back pocket, and a very small metal Pilot pen...very cool little thing costing the equivalent of about $8 US. This guy fits into the notebook and its the first pen I haven't lost within the first few months...
Since I shoot mostly 120 film, using a ballpoint pen is perfect. I label the films with a specific number, and note that number down in the notebook with some extra notes.

For me, an actual notebook is bloody brilliant...but it took some time to find the right one :biggrin:
I often think about film and developing in the most random places...away from the internet or a computer.

I have a little flow chart drawn up in my book that lets me decide at which EI I can a specific film within a category of developers. eg, Delta 3200 works well at ISO 1250 is studional, while with Rodinal I prefer shooting it at ASA 1000 or 800. All the combinations I can't always recall off hand.

Almost everyone I know has their own system...one has to find the right one, otherwise its painfully irritating and cumbersome.
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
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Shanghai
Martin, sounds, this works nicely for you ;-)

I am a special guy, I am all for experimenting, but know, that when the paint wears off after a few weeks and I start preventing a new thing, I better cancel it completely and look for an easier solution.

The iPhone method holds up now for amazing 2 1/2 months and seems, to prove itself for me ;-)

I am very interested in other peoples methods, keeping track of film.
I heard, back in the news days of roll film, tags were attached to film leaders, but I suppose, these where not used through the developers?
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2008
Messages
1,149
Location
netherlands
I too write on the canisters, speed shot at and possibly the switching of rolls halfway through (skipping one frame! ;) ). I develop myself, so it's easier to keep track of things, and I've standardized to a handful of combinations of film/speed/developer that work for me.

Rolls go in sheets, 7 strips of 6 frames. On the sheet I write the subject or event, the date of processing (hard to pin down the date of shooting anyway), the film, speed, developer, dilution and time. I might drop the processing info though, now that I never change anything anyway. And all rolls are numbered: I use those numbers when scanning, so I can always match a scan to a sheet. The scans are my 'contact sheets', but everything on the hard drive is by year and subject...well, no, actually everything is in a bit of a mess, but Windows 7 helps me search and filter :).
 

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