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Thread: Exposure notes and keeping track of films

  1. #1

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    Hi everyone - your resident wacko here ;-)

    In order to try and learn more about my Horseman 4x5, I've been taking notes of my shots; Exposure, meter readings, what I've done to compensate for bellows extension, subject - that sort of thing. But ya know, sheet film isn't numbered like 120 film, dang it!

    Do you wise folks have any advice on how to keep things straight so that I am able to compare my notes with my developed films?


    p.s. Still having a blast :-D

  2. #2

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    Several things you can do. You can get one of those Fiskers corner rounders and/or a 1/16" hand punche to correlate a developed film to an exposure record. Any art craft place sells them for a pretty reasonable price. Online they are $7-$10.

    Another option is to get a Grafmatic film holder that records the exposure number (1-6) on the permieter of the film.


  3. #3

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    I went with the notched film holder idea. I learned about it in school years ago, and it's worked great. I notched the 10 holders I had in school, and after years of acquiring new ones and telling myself to notch them all, I finally did, and it's made life a lot easier.

    Originally I used a triangular file to make the notches. That was fine for 10 holders back then, but I now have approx. 40 holders, and the filing was taking WAY too long. So, I actually used a small drill bit on a drill press, not drilling straight down, but keeping the bit in one position, and moving the holder in and out to carve out the notch. Worked pretty well, and went a lot faster. I did all 30 in about 30 minutes.

    I can totally understand why some people wouldn't like to mess with there holders like this, and I can see how you could easily slip and ruin one. As you can see by the images I posted below, there is no light leak in past the notches, as long as you don't carve too far. Iíve been lucky in that not a single one of mine has had a problem.

    My method is this: notches for 10's on the left, 5's in the middle, and 1's on the right. So, 3 notches on the left, 1 in the middle, and 2 on the right is the #37. See this page for a few images to illustrate this better I hope:

    Notching Film Holders

    Now, the way I usually shoot is to take two sheets (more if the shot warrants it, or the light is changing rapidly) of each shot, record the holder number and info (shutter, f/stop, lens, filters etc, etc) on my little digital voice recorder. When back home or in camp at night, I transcribe my notes to paper. Then I download one sheet from every setup into the same box (unless there are any pushes or pulls) and have the lab run them normal. When I get them back, I know exactly which sheet is which, and can judge how to run the remaining sheet from each setup if any adjustments in exposure are needed. I used to have to download into lots of separate boxes, and that is a real pain.

    I will admit the only problem I have with this method though. When shooting an image that is very dark or black on the edge with the notches in it, it is very hard or next to impossible to see the markings on the film, so that can make for guess work. The way I've gotten around that is that with my notes and memory of what order I shot them in, I'm able to narrow it down, and it all works out.

    Of course, Readyloads and Quickloads are great ways for easy organization, but they are a lot more expensive I'm afraid. I use them when backpacking, but stick to the holder most other times.

    Best of luck, and I hope I didn't ramble too much Take care!!


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    Are you processing the film yourself? If so, number your holders, make notes with pencil and paper after each photograph, then keep track of which sheet is which in the darkroom. I process six sheets at a time in BTZS tubes numbered 1-6. The film stays in the tubes until the fix stage. For fixing I use six 5x7 trays numbered 1-6, then remove the film in order from 1-6 and put them in the washer (a slotted Salt Hill film washer) in that order. Then I hang them to dry with clips numbered . . . . . yes, you guessed it, 1-6. If you don't process yourself then you'll have to resort to some sort of notching sysem.

    The Palm Pilot exposure program sold by The View Camera Store is great for storing all the exposure data for each sheet, it does so automatically as you make each photograph, but you're still faced with the problem of keeping track of the sheets as they're processed.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2000

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    One thing that helps keep track of shots is to make a digital snapshot with a pocket camera after each large format shot. Since I travel with three or four different formats I include a part of the camera in each snapshot. The digital record shots show the sequence of the big camera setups,which camera was used, and the time/date each was done. I generally don't keep exposure or other technical notes but I find this does help keep track of subject notes, whowhatwherewhen sort of thing.---Carl

  6. #6

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    You noticed that, did you? No frame number? For those of us who work in an anal-retentive field like engineering where organization and documentation are compulsions, finding out there are no numbers on sheet film felt like being blindfolded and thrown onto the freeway!

    I numbered all my film holders, both sides, and keep a notebook in my camera bag that lists what is loaded in each holder. If I want notes on a particular shot, I record them in the book when I take the picture.

    I use a Combi-Plan tank that holds 6 sheets of film, so I melted a little dot on one side of the carrier and I start by loading the first sheet (from the lowest numbered holder) next to the dot. When processing is finished, I hang the sheets on numbered clips to dry. When they are dry, I use a fine tipped permanent marker to write notes in the narrow clear strip along the notched end of the sheet.

    Since I am planning to do tintypes this summer for paying customers, I am going to have to get even MORE organized to keep customers and their pictures matched up and to control "collections".

  7. #7

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    Notching my film holders will be easy enough as right now I have all of TWO! LOL Yeah, more are on my list :-)

    You mentioned Quickloads as making it easy... Well, what if you don't get the jackets back from the lab? I guess you have to request this, yes? Am I missing something here? Please let me know because, thanks to a good friend, I have tons of the stuff.

    Jane, I'm using the Combi-Plan thingie too so your idea will make for a nice solution to the stuff I do at home.

    Thanks for the tips everyone - Hope you all have a wonderfully romantic Valentine's Day ;-)

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2003

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films


    The film in the Quickloads has a series of 4 letters outside the image area. The letters A-J, if I remember correctly, create a series that corresponds to the sequence of the numbered film jackets.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Rio Rancho, NM

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    Notched film holders and such help match up your field notes to your negs immediately after developing. But, you may also want to consider an image numbering scheme that relates to your filing system, so you can find specific images later.

    For example, I use PrintFile sheets for all negatives, regardless of format, and organize these by project into file folders. Each PrintFile sheet gets labeled at the top with an abbreviation of the project name, month and year of exposure, and roll or sheet number (more or less organized by the sequence of shooting, with LF sheets getting an alpha sheet designator). Individual negatives add the frame number or, in the case of large format, sheet position. And, the whole naming sequence then gets used for the file names of scans. For LF negs, the whole neg number can be marked in the notch-end margin with a fine-tipped marker. So, DV0203-0315-550MosaicCanyon2bw.jpg ends up being the file name for the scan of frame 15 of roll 3 of the February 2003 trip to Death Valley, and DV0203-A4-550bwMosaicNarrows.jpg is the file name for the scan of negative 4 of the first sheet of LF negs from the same trip. Location info is added to the scan file name to make it easier to pick out images from file listings, and the "550" indicates the size of the scan in pixels.

  10. #10

    Exposure notes and keeping track of films

    Ellen, you hit it right. When using Quickloads, I just number them on the sleeve before a trip, then when taking notes in the field, I just specify that it is "QL #3, etc when recording on my digital recorder, or just simply write the info on the white strip on the QL. When at the lab, I ask them to not only return the QL sleeve, but also transfer the QL number to the acetate sleeve the film comes back in. Works like a charm.

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