View Full Version : Keeping up with the flat stuff

Herb Cunningham
11-Feb-2007, 11:47
I did a search and did not get any threads. It is a simple question but does not necessarily simple answers: how does one keep up with the hundreds even thousands of images in their various formats, i.e. negative, print, matted prints etc.

Is there a cross reference system already out there? For that matter, the mere physical keeping up with this stuff is a problem for folks like me who are by nature messy. I was told Ansel Adams had 10,000 unprinted negatives when he died. Can that be so?

How many really great (and valuable) shots are languishing in a pile on the darkroom table?

Humblest apologies if this is an old topic

Sheldon N
11-Feb-2007, 13:05
I usually develop a stack of negatives (multiple formats) and sleeve them into a 3 ring binder. When I get a chance to head into the darkroom, I print up the ones that I like the best - within my time contraints.

Usually a lot of stuff gets left in the sleeve never to be looked at again, because I happened to want to print one image over another.

Perhaps I'll have to go back and revisit some of those negatives one day...

11-Feb-2007, 14:57
Binders for me too.

Tough to organize for me. I've told myself to scan them all, build a database, and keep everything in meticulous order. I even started the project a few times.

Too much work.

I do occasionally re-visit the neg books and sometimes find stuff I like now though I didn't think much of them when I took them.

11-Feb-2007, 15:14
Sleeves in binders but no detailed list of the pictures, just general titles. 10 000? I have about a half of that at home, with the rest in stock agencies it will surely be more than that. Once a stock director wanted to have very specific data about a few of my images (a scientific publication)- I was surprised I was able to tell him the year and the month I took the picture, even the size of the specimens and where they were found (wild orchids) - with no notes at all, just the mental service. To make a list and to keep it up to date is too much work for me, the general categories are sufficient to find it anyway.

Ed Richards
11-Feb-2007, 15:27
I scan all the 4x5, generating a small JPG for filing and a full tiff for working. The JPGs get filed in Imatch, which is a image catalog program. They are catagorized so I can find them, and are also sorted into directories with related files. I can then view all the images in Imatch. If I find one I want, I can go the Tiff or back to the original negative for a recan.

Ralph Barker
11-Feb-2007, 15:37
I use the Swedish Bikini Team to do my filing. ;)

Actually, I use PrintFile negative sheets, labeled with the location or subject and the month and year of the shoot. Rather than putting them in binders, I file them in manila file folders, similarly labeled and stored in file drawers, as that takes up less space. The files are loosely grouped by category (people, locations, projects) and then alphabetized.

Scans of images get file names that are abbreviations of the subject, along with month and year, so the scans can be easily tracked back to the original negs or transparencies.

I started a computerized database of image info once, but quickly decided it was far more work than was justified - especially for smaller formats.

11-Feb-2007, 16:24
I use the PrintFile sleeves in a binder. On the outside I stick a label on it with the date range of the negatives inside. On the inside I put a piece of paper with the negative numbers and a short description of the subject, along with all the exposure information papers. But this method is not a long term solution because at six binders I'm having trouble when I want to go back to find a negative trying to remember what date range it might be in. I have to come up with a better way too. Plus I've been getting lazy about keeping the exposure info based on the outcome of the negative, if I'm happy with it I take better care with the records.

Robert Oliver
11-Feb-2007, 16:44
Print file sleeves also take a hanging rod and can hang in a file cabinet. I buy mine at Calumet.

They hang very flat. Less chance of them getting damaged that in a 3 ring binder or in evelopes IMHO.

Every time a take a series of pictures they get a new file #. The first two digits are the year ('07). The next three digits would be the File # (001). The next 3 or 4 digits are the image #. (I usually just use the year and file # with 4x5's. 35mm and digital got the full 8 or 9 digits every time). 07001001vernalfalls.TIF would be the first picture of the first file of 2007 that I shot of Yosemite. I don't know if the windows systems like such long file names but it works like a charm on the mac.

When I scan anything, the image name has the file #.

I use a program called Iview to catalog, caption, add search keywords and copyright information along with batch renaming.

When I want to search for an image I can either use iviews search function to go through encapsulated data or I use the filename search in my Mac OSX. I can type in Vernal and every file and caption that has Vernal in it would pop up rather quickly.

That's my way.

Alan Davenport
11-Feb-2007, 16:55
When I started shooting LF, I decided to use that quantum leap as the point where I actually started keeping track of my photos. The startup was kind of rough, and I still find myself staring at an occasional film and wondering about it, but I manage to keep track of most of them.

First thing is to actually take the required notes at the time the film is exposed. I think that's where most of us mess up. If you have exposure information written down, including date, location and tech data, you can often reconstruct much other information later on. If you don't have notes, then your processed film is just another piece of film. Presently, I use a database called PhotoAssist, which runs on a Pocket PC using SprintDB Pro. It doesn't really make any difference what you use, just use it.

Back at home, I wrote a simple database on my PC, that assigns a filename - it's simply a unique number - which I then use to name all files and derivatives of each image. It includes the film format, the year the image was made and a sequential number: 4506123 is a 4x5 image, taken in 2006, and is number 123. All files on the PC, from the original scan on, go into a folder that is named by that numeric name. The database lets me include all of the tech info that I was supposed to write down at exposure time, plus it displays a small jpg of the photo to help me in finding the shot I want. Still a work in progress, but does most of what I need.

Transparencies and negatives go into PrintFile sleeve in 3 ring binders. Usually one binder holds my 4x5 stuff for a year, with the films ordered according to the filenames assigned by the database. I include a printed note with the image number and a small version of the image for quick ID. Likewise, backup CDs and DVDs get stored in a zippered CD notebook, in order and labeled with the numeric filename.

Since I started using this system, I've always been able to find anything to do with any image that I've made and catalogued. So far, anyhow...


andy bessette
18-Feb-2007, 23:51
Yo Alan,

very nicely done!

best, andy


19-Feb-2007, 03:18
I use my DSLR !

I put the sleeve on my light table, and I shoot it with my DSLR; I then invert the image, crop, rotate + "auto level" and there you go, a nice, indexable contact sheet. Of course the idea is not to have the greatest quality etc, but for a quick reference, it's great.

Then when I have more time, I can scan them properly; but this gives me a quick preview, without even having to remove the negs from the sleeve (and start the dust war!)


19-Feb-2007, 06:32
I store my negatives in 8 1/2 x 11 sheet protectors from the office supply store - so far as I can tell, they're made of the same plastic as the more expensive negative holders. I file in a manila file folder in a file cabinet and just number sequentially by year.

I had begun scanning my negatives instead of proofing in order to check for defects, focus, etc., and realized that the simplest way to keep up with them was to save a small image of the scan and use my web page designing program to create what is essentially a web page on my hard drive. Since I now use the BTZS program for the Palm, I save all the recorded data on the web page with the image. I can organize a thumbnail by year, by film size, or any other sort function I set up.

village idiot
31-May-2007, 18:55
Presently, I use a database called PhotoAssist, which runs on a Pocket PC using SprintDB Pro.


Do you use the reciprocity failure calculator in Photoassist, and if so, is it accurate?