How to organize and archive negatives?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Usagi, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. Usagi

    Usagi Member

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    Hi,

    I have organized and archived my negatives from the beginning at the binders.
    Every film has running number, so identification of the single negative is not a problem.

    In the binder is also data sheet, where I have wrote all necessary data of each negative. There's also contact print and printing charts.
    Everything hand written without any kind of exposure data sheet.

    That works, but the searching of particular negative is really painful at the times.
    If I remember negative, then it's quite easy to found, but if I am looking for, say negative that contains moon, then I am lost.
    I probably remember couple but have forget many.


    Solutions?
    Just some thoughts...

    - Keep database with keywords on the computer. This I have partially done at least five times. Never finished the program and/or database..

    - Nowadays as I scan most of my negatives for web, it could also be easy to add keywords as tags to the scanned picture. Could this be the best aproach?
    Ofcourse, If I lost my scanned pictures, then I will lost my computerized 'database'.

    In the first, traditional approach the database can be backuped easily to multiple places so there's no fear of losting it.


    Something ofcourse comes to my mind, like doing double work when writing data sheet and then again partially same data to the either computer database or the metadata of the scanned negative.
    Is there any handy tools for combining these? For example tool that stores everything in the database and then allow me to print data sheets for binders would be nice.


    However, I don't want to reinvent wheel, so I am asking how do you handle all the negatives?

    Is keeping data sheet, contact prints and printing data (burn+dodge charts, ...) together with the negatives good idea?
    Sometimes I feel that it would be easier to browse thru negatives if I had all contact sheets separated from the negatives. Then I could easily just watch them and perhaps find a picture that I have forgot.

    Or is scanning better approach? Scanned pictures are also easy to browse.
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    I do keep records of printing times for each negative I print. That's not so difficult. I have a printing journal that my wife gave to me for Christmas last and I use it proudly.

    As to negatives, I keep them in three ring binders, a rough list. But that's all. For the most part I just go hunting until I find one I think will be fun to print. I know where my favorites are but on the whole I don't waste too much time on organization and more on the fun.
     
  3. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I think your first decision is to figure out whether you want to keep everything analog, or make things partly digital. This depends on your workflow, really.

    If your style is to make contact sheets of everything and examine them by eye to decide what to print, then you probably really don't need to do anything else. Just find a place to keep your notes about each image's printing/development data, etc. You could use a binder with data sheets keyed to each image, or to each roll of film. Simple is good.

    If you want to keyword and/or store your processing data for search, you'll have to go digital with this info to make this possible. If you plan on scanning all of your images for the web anyway, then you're halfway there. There are a number of digital asset management programs out there to help you manage this task. (I use Expression Media.) Or, if you are handy with MS Access or FileMaker you could build your own simple database for the same purpose.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Usagi

    Usagi Member

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    Partly digital is the way, because I already have scanned most of my recent work.

    In my workflow, I mostly need particular image and it's data when discussing about pictures over the internet. It has happened many times that I remember that I have some negative that is good example but I don't know where it is.

    So at least some kind of digital solution is required. web-sized scans from all negatives is enough.
    As I always name my scans according to the negative filing code, it's easy to find scan if I know the code. Thus some kind of database is required. A Real database or even only spreadsheet -even metadata tags perhaps?


    Christopher: The printing journal is good idea! I haven't thought that. It is way better than having all the printing information scattered around the binders.

    Does your printing journal have kind of form or just blank pages for writing and sketching?
     
  5. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    I use binders by subject/date for the negatives themselves and then software to help me keep track of everything.

    iView MediaPro works well for me. I scan all of my material and loosely organize it by collections such as people, places, things, etc. There are lots of ways to enter information as well as ways to sort through it all. I may remember what a photo looks like, but not what it was called, and so I look at thumbnails. Sometimes I have a date but don't remember what the photo was ("Hey, do you have any of those photos we did back in September?"). Sometimes I only want to see photos I rated highly, other times the ones I rated poorly. You get the idea.

    I'd think there were other programs out there that will do the same types of things, just look for something that's customizable to fit your particular needs.
     
  6. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Just blank pages. I put the date and which negative. Chemistry mix ratios and times. Brief sketch with contrast control times for burning and dodging and also the size of the print. Lens aperture. And the like. All pertinent information that can vary if I do not record it because I will not remember it. That way I can figure differences in time for different enlarger heights in a snap. I have been toying with the idea of going so far as getting a sprial notebook for each negative so that I don't have to leaf through the journal to finsd the info I need. I also keep any custom cut contrast control tools inserted on the page of the printing info for handy access later.
     
  7. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I don't shoot much color negative, but all that I have shot remains with the packet of photos as if it just came back from the lab. They all have index prints on the front so they are easy to identify.
     
  8. mpirie

    mpirie Subscriber

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    I scan all my films in specific folders named with their related unique number. Then I let Adobe Lightroom scan the entire drive folder adding anything new into it's own database.

    Once it's into Lightroom, you can edit the data generated and stored in Lightroom.

    I can then add all sorts of information and keywords making the films easy to find in future.

    However, the disappointing part is that there doesn't seem to be any room for processing data such as developer used. For that, I've had to resort to another database that I can carry on my iPhone and add the data at the time of taking.

    This then sync's to the master at home, but means I effectively have two databases to keep up.

    Mike
     
  9. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I put them into three ring binders, wth each film getting a plastic neg sleeve. Margin of the neg sleeve page records rudimentary developer information. Detailed developer notes are kept in a bound notebook, and the neg number assigned to the film after it is filed is put into this notebook. Contact prints go in front of the film page. On the back of the contact page I write in the date when I print an image and the date corresponds to my entry in a separate bound printing notebook. The printing notebook gets working proofs etc taped ito it. The back of the finished print gets the neg number, and the date it was printed to let me track back to how I made it.

    The front of the neg binders have a sheet slipped into them to summarize what subjects/events are in them. I fille all formats and colour and balck and white films in the same binder. I satrt a new 1.5" binder per year, and some years a second binder is needed, if the first on gets too full.

    The next step would be to computerize at least the subject headings, but so far the binder shelf organized by year lets be find things in less than 10 minutes, if I can remenber that I took the picture.
     
  10. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I use the three ring binders, with negs in Neg file sheets, and the contacts behind each one. But more to the point of your question, I maintain a simple log book of every roll of film I shoot, listing the date, roll number, and whatever other pertinent data I wish to save. For the first 20-odd years I used simple bound notebooks. When I started using computers, I made the list in a word processing program. Now I use an Excell spreadsheet. The log books are separate from the neg files, but they direct me to which neg file binder I need.
    As for printing information, I kept that in another log book, then in Lotus spreadsheets, and now in Excell.
     
  11. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I got tired of looking for negs, and forgetting processing info, etc. So I built a database in Filemaker Pro some years ago. It took awhile to do, but I build and use databases for work, so it's not a big deal. And the payoff is substantial, it keeps track of a lot of info, and cross references better than Excel could even dream of.
    I've attached two screen shots of 2 layouts, just to show the variation in the way information is seen - they are two layouts of basically the same information base.
    You can see from the attachments some of the detail that can be kept - when I am printing, I use a palm pilot to record, then copy and paste into the Dbase later.
    I also track submittals, so I don't submit the same stuff to the same annual competition twice. I can search by any of the fields you see in the Dbase image, including what needs to be printed, etc.
    Too much to explain if you aren't interested, but if you are, pm me and I'll go further. I would also be glad to send a clone (no records, but all the functionality) of the data base to anyone who wants to use it for themselves. Filemaker runs under $300 US.
     

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  12. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I had a Mac Plus with a red gel taped over the monitor. I forget the software I used, but it was a very early database-spreadsheet type application that was insanely useful and handy.. I wish I could remember but it's been a long time.
    That was fun to have in the darkroom.

    I use Micro Logic's Info Select for the pc (version 6) to keep track of all my photography notes, formulas, articles, etc. What is nice is the ability to search through all your databases.. nice if you know what you're looking for but can't remember exactly where or exactly what you need.
     
  13. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I identify and file my film with a reverse date followed by a serial number. For example, if I shoot a roll today it would be 2009-07-09-01; a second roll would be 2009-07-09-02, etc. I still need to do some searching for a specific roll shot several years ago, but it is surprising how often I can narrow the search down to a month or two, by remembering it was shot in summer, or the year I went to Iceland, etc.
     
  14. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I have tried to keep negatives in order by date shot. I think I will also have to consider setting up some sort of database for things I have shot. This was apparent to me last night after receiving a call from my dad for pictures of his late brother whose funeral is this morning. His (my late uncle) grandson wants any pictures of him I can give him.

    Well, several of the pictures in question were never printed. I was able to find some specific ones from Christmas of 2007, where I had my dad, his late brother and his brother's son in them. I knew it hadn't been very long since I'd taken the images, and was able to find (and scan) them. However, it pointed out the need for me to try and get a digital archive going.

    At the moment, everything is in binders labeled by format and date. This has been a decent system, but as I get older and there are a lot of photos of family buried in there, it would be nice to be able to do a search by the keyword of a person's name and be able to pull up a list/thumbnails of images which I could then find.

    I was fortunate this time to be able to find the images I needed. I might not be in the frame of mind to find (or scan) images if it is one of my relatives that passes the next time.
     
  15. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    My numbering system for negatives is similar to @FirePhoto's; each roll/image gets a date-based number, such as 2009005-09, which is the ninth frame shot on the fifth roll of 2009, regardless of format or type. I put as many Print-File pages as will fit in an archival dust-free binder and these are lined up like books on my office shelf.

    I scan everything so I use metadata in an image-cataloging program to identify the particulars of each roll. I can find out pretty quickly which images were shot on, for instance, 400TMY2 and processed in D-76 1+1. My system thus counts heavily on metadata for searching, and might be too bare-bones for someone who is 100% analog, at least when it comes to quickly finding a particular image.
     
  16. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I used to file all B&W formats in printfile pages in a binder, with the contact prints filed right next to the negative pages. I sequentially number all rolls/sheets. I wrote on the back of the contact prints rudimentary printing info (only print a couple negs per roll usually).

    It turned out that I decided I didn't need to riffle through my negatives every time I wanted to look at contact sheets, so in the interest of keeping the negatives safe and clean, I separated the contact prints and the negatives into two different binders, still sequentially numbered. I'm still getting used to this and it means I have to have two binders with me in the dark-closet, so I'm not sure if I'll go back to the interleaved method or not.
     
  17. OP
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    Usagi

    Usagi Member

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    Thanks. Lot of good ideas.
    Now I just have to decide and evaluate which direction I will go. Probably I will add metadata to all my scans and then keep the analog side as it have been. Or try BetterSense's style to put contact sheets on different binder. Ofcourse, If I will have most of my stuff scanned, then I don't need to browse thru contact sheets much.

    For stupid historical reasons, I have b/w 135 and 120 films different numbering scheme than all other formats. For these b/w rolls I have year-roll-frame format (like 2009-43-2, roll 43, year 2009 and frame 2). Big disadvantage is that it doesn't tell much about time when pictures are taken.

    For all other (color films, sheet films) I have numbering scheme that is based on the day when roll or sheet has exposured. Then there's counter for every day. Identical with Fire-Photo's system.

    Now I am thinking if I should go with that scheme with all my b/w roll films too from now on.