View Full Version : Organizing film holders - what system do you use?

19-Apr-2019, 13:56
When I started a few months ago, I only had 6 film holders. Keeping track of what was in what, what was loaded, what was shot, what was empty, was reasonably simple.

Now I have 18 holders, and realized the other day that I need a system to keep track of what film's in what and what holders are empty. The unexposed/exposed part is easy enough as long as I remember to flip the dark slide after making an exposure (already forgotten that one several times).

I wonder what system(s) others use for keeping track of what holders are empty, and what are loaded with which emulsion.

I also tend to make notes of each exposure, and marking each film holder unambiguously to allow easy of identification makes that a bit easier (until I unload the holders, especially when I've taken several shots with slight adjustments of the same subject and lighting).

Looking forward to hear how others organize things.

19-Apr-2019, 14:20
I label each darkslide one side "exposed" for empty and exposed holders, and "loaded" for unexposed loaded holders. With these two options, I am not able to shoot an empty holder since I look for "loaded" before putting it in the camera. I store them in pink antistatic bags to keep them clean, only taking them out to expose a sheet or to reload. Once reloaded, I flip the darkslides back to "loaded". This does not protect against forgetting to flip the darkslide and double exposing, but no system can prevent that.

I use a label maker to make the exposed, loaded, and a sticker for the film type (such as tmy2 or fp4+) I use a $5-10 ammo box to transport 7 film holders in my vehicle or to have some ready to go on short notice. People have mentioned I use the wrong side of the film holders, but I learned by reading not by formal training, and it makes sense to me how I do it.

In the darkroom I have a shelf on the wall with a 2x3 grid big enough for the ammo boxes or just stacking film holders. Left side by the door is loaded unexposed film holders in static bags or ammo box ready to go.
Middle 2 slots are for exposed film needing to be developed. Right two slots are for empty holders and film boxes.


19-Apr-2019, 14:59
I use colored tape with a letter written on it (e.g. "H" for hp5). I keep empty plates in one closet and
unloaded in another, dark strip out. Exposed film waiting for processing goes into a labeled box.

Kent in SD

Graham Patterson
19-Apr-2019, 15:00
Empty holders (in the darkroom) are stored in their bags with the slide in the unexposed state but the flaps open. No, don't put weight on them - stand then in a shoe box! Why set the dark slides to unexposed? It avoids loading in a rush and realizing the slides are the wrong way around. Make changes under the least amount of stress 8-)

In the field, holders that have two fully exposed sheets go in the bag slide handles down. That's a tactile and visual clue. It carries over to the darkroom, where I keep exposed separate from empty, and separate from loaded.

Since I also do 4x10 in my 8x10, I have to keep post-its in those bags to show the arrangement of each exposed half sheet. Post-its with development deviations from standard go in the bags too.

I don't use many film stocks, but I have simple codes to go opposite the dark slide number.

19-Apr-2019, 15:21
I store empty holders in a darkroom drawer with the black side of the slider out and the little lock thingy turned inward to indicate an empty holder. Once I load several, the white side of the slide is out and the wire thingy is turned to prevent the slide from accidentally being pulled out. All holders go into clear zip-lock bags and I toss a small piece of paper in there indicating film type. I generally take only one film type into the field, so when I'm going out those loaded holders are put into an RRP Cascading Film Holder and I know what film I'm working with.

Jim Jones
19-Apr-2019, 15:51
JP and Two23 have practical ways of managing film. I start by identifying each side of each film holder with a unique number. It is marked on the outside of the holder, and in binary numbers with a series of narrow or wide notches on the loading flap. In the field and darkroom any desired notes can be keyed to the number. After developing this number can be expanded to accommodate a lifetime accumulation of film. I file processed film in numerical order. It can be catalogued by location, subject, date, or any other category. If the catalogue is computerized, a word search can quickly locate all images in any category.

19-Apr-2019, 17:38
4x5(many holders), 5x7(10), 8x10(30), and 11x14(10). A system would be nice...

They are all numbered, more or less. The 4x5s I have not used much over the last 25 years and entropy reigns there. The 5x7s and 8x10s are numbered with sides A and B. The 11x14s are numbered with all sides with a unique number (no letters). Identifiers are noted in my exposure notebook in the field. Only white shows if loaded with unexposed film. Countless times I have shaken holders with the black showing to hear if there is film inside. If there is, I go to my exposure notebook to figure out what it is and how to develop it.