Labels and notes on prints

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hiroh

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Do you take notes on the back of the prints about the exposure time, paper, developer etc?

I take notes on my phone/computer, and I have a label (#no) for each print, and that's how I know what note is related to what print. Sometimes I have dozen of the same print, when I'm testing something, and it's important to know how each is processed.

I'd like to hear other practices?
 

koraks

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Oh man, if only I were that disciplined!

I do take notes when testing specific things mostly with alternative processes, but never save the records for an extended period of time. Only for immediate use. After a couple of days or weeks, it's all lost unless I save it in Excel somewhere.

For regular silver gelatin prints, I don't see the point in taking notes, really. I don't do complex burn & dodge operations and whatever I do I just figure out on the fly, make the print and be happy with it (or not). I never try to re-print exactly what I've made before as I just don't see the point in it.

When printing color I do take note of filter settings but again only within a particular session. Most finished prints don't have anything written on them. When it's done, it's done.
 

Don Heisz

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If there was any possibility someone might want one of my prints, perhaps I would take notes. Generally, I make a single print (or mess up one and throw it away and make another). No notes.

I did have a date stamp I was using on the back of prints for a while. I couldn't find it for a little while, By the time I found it, I discovered that a "little while" was over 4 years (since it had the last-used date on it). I threw it away.

But -- yes, if I had a negative I would be enlarging numerous times, I would write notes on the back of a workprint of the negative.
 

MattKing

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If I make notes, I write them on a photocopy of the work print. I have a home laser printer/scanner/copier/fax at hand for the copy. It is easier to write notes and add diagrams on plain paper.
 

VinceInMT

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I keep complete data for the finished print, written by hand in a notebook. I rarely go back and use the data but it’s there.
 

Sirius Glass

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When I get my C-41 color film developed, I write the year and roll number on the back of each print so that I can locate the negative quickly if I later want to have more prints made.
 

Daniela

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I write down exposure info on a notepad to refer to and make decisions as I'm printing, and in case I want to reprint something. I never go back to read those notes, though...🙄
 

cliveh

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No, because I always use the same film, film developer, paper and paper developer. Notes on paper development are not needed as I seldom return to print a negative twice.
 

Steve Goldstein

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I don't put printing notes on the backs (I record and store that info separately) but I do record the negative number and the printing date on the back in the margin area. I'll add a notation once the print has been toned. Prints that get mounted get a copyright notice in the center of the back as well. All with an 8B pencil and a light touch.
 

Sirius Glass

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I don't put printing notes on the backs (I record and store that info separately) but I do record the negative number and the printing date on the back in the margin area. I'll add a notation once the print has been toned. Prints that get mounted get a copyright notice in the center of the back as well. All with an 8B pencil and a light touch.

But many of my prints are borderless.
 

btaylor

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I use photos of gray scales/color charts for reference. I make a balanced print, then write the film, paper, time and filter settings down on blue painters tape and stick it on the face of the print. I put the reference negative in a sleeve and tape it to the wall on top of the print. Not always super accurate, but gets me close on the first try of a neg where I know the film and light.
 

ic-racer

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A few years ago I started dating and signing the the back of the prints. I keep a printing log. Not too difficult to go back and determine which negative was used in a printing session and match it to the print.
The printing log usually just has the negative numbers and not much technical info. Each time I print a negative, it is going to be a different interpretation.
 

Kilgallb

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I put the negative number and the date I made the print. That way I can easily find the print log notes.

I usually take a print that is flawed, maybe the second to last print attempt and print technical data on the back of the print. I often use a grease pencil to mark dodge and burn areas. That print is three hole punched and stored in my print log books.
 

bdial

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I write exposure and filtration on the back of my test prints with a Sharpie marker, plus any burn or dodge notes, if I do any.
If a negative makes it to the stage of making a fiber print, I usually record notes in a spiral notebook.

Though, since some papers have undergone generation or availability changes, notes to a future you might not be super helpful.
 

Pieter12

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I take notes in a motebook with a description of the image, frame number and print size along with the lens used and any dodging and burning desciptions and times. I use this info if I reprint or make a larger print.
 

Hilo

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Interesting question!

No notes here. Part of the beauty of printing is figuring out how to do the print. Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes it is not and it can be a fight. Sometimes it is very difficult and it is exactly that what has interested me most. Since the late seventies.

We become different over the years. For me the print of a certain image can become different too. I have become a better printer, ideas of what is a good print change, I have found certain parts of these old enlargers that make a difference, going from graded paper to multigrade made a difference, losing certain papers (Record Rapid) made a difference.

Digital's arrival changed things too. I never made the switch, but I profited a lot from this change. Second hand enlargers became so much cheaper, everything became accessible. I make 24x30cm workprints on fiber paper and I scan those using my 50 euro A4 scanner. Sometimes I use these scans to show myself different ways to go about things like dark and light, more and less contrast, burning and dodging . . . This has helped when making final darkroom prints.
 

brian steinberger

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I take notes in a motebook with a description of the image, frame number and print size along with the lens used and any dodging and burning desciptions and times. I use this info if I reprint or make a larger print.

+1

I would recommend everyone take notes, on paper. You never know when you wish you had written down the dodge/burn charts for a print, or the toning sequence for another print which looks fantastic.
 

Michel Hardy-Vallée

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I've been using the Analogbooks for recording processing and printing data, and I gotta say it's allowed me to stay efficient.

The two main advantages were to have a record of reference exposure times (ex: a typical 8x10 from 6x6 negative), and also to have useful data for reprinting. I usually print first on RC, which serves as an enlarged proof, and when I want to commit to finer printing on FB, I do a bit of math on my RC times and usually arrive within 1/4 of a stop, thus saving test strips and paper.

Most of the data I record goes of course unused, but the occasional benefit outweighs the effort.

I seldom write data on prints, unless I'm doing heavy testing and I need to compare a given factor systematically. Sometimes I'll note a reference number, but otherwise my volume is small enough that I know which is which.

If you're curious about more elaborate practices of writing notes on the back of prints, contact sheets, and boxes, well I wrote an article about that recently in an academic journal (no paywall, enjoy!):

 

Ian C

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I just made a print a few days ago. On the back is written in fine tip permanent black marker along the bottom edge:

A50-10 12s, G3, +5s to sky, MGIVRCWT 2015 Huron River Near Willow Road

I use the Omega letter system to denote enlarger size to identify film sizes.

A = 35mm or smaller

B = 6 x 6 cm (or 6 x 4.5 cm)

C = 6 x 7 cm (or 6 x 9 cm)

D = 4” x 5”

E = 5” x 7”

F = 8 x 10”

“A50-10” means 35 mm B&W film number 50, frame 10. The exposure time is 12 seconds, I used an Ilford Grade 3 filter to control the contrast. The note “+5s to sky” means that I selectively increased the sky exposure by 5 seconds to make it dark enough to harmonize with the rest of the scene. I printed this on Ilford Multigrade IV Resin Coated Warmtone paper. It was shot in 2015 along the Huron River (about two miles to the west of my home) near Willow Road in Huron Township, Michigan (Huron River is the southern border of Wayne County about 20 miles south of Detroit).

I could have added the aperture of the enlarging lens but felt that the above data is sufficient to locate the negative, to identify the scene, and note the materials used should I want to make more prints from this negative at a later date. If the negative is color, then I append “K” after the size code. For example, CK57-3 denotes 6 x 7 cm color negative #57 frame 3. There are many marking schemes you could devise to keep track of relevant information.

I used an Hakuba Photo Marker. So far as I know photo markers are no longer marketed as such, but suitable permanent waterproof markers can still be had.





An Internet search will give you more choices. The print I mentioned was made B&W and marked on the back. About two weeks later, I toned it to sepia in Kodak Polytoner (no longer made). After the toning and washing, there is no change to the markings on the back, since I used a waterproof permanent marker. I see no evidence of any bleed-through of the lettering with the marker I used.
 

GregY

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I have a Write-in-the-Rain notebook sitting beside my enlarger where i enter information for each negative. I don't write anything on the print
 

Sirius Glass

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I take notes on card stock printed from the Ansel Adams store in Yosemite. I keep the notes with the set of negative that the print came from with YY-Roll-Frame.
 

momus

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I actually put notes on the front of the photo, in the white margin. It saves a LOT of time and work! One can tell at a glance what camera and lens were used, what film and filter, what developer, what the date of the shot was, etc. That's a huge help to me. I've always done the same w/ my drawings, pastels, paintings, etc. Or, at least I put the date on it. Again that's big stuff, you can tell at a glance whether you're improving or have slid backwards.
 

ridax

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I use either a common pencil (mostly on FB) or an equally common ball pen (especially on RC). Those withstand the wet processing quite well. But I often leave no marks at all...
 
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When I'm working on a print, I keep notes on a simple pad of paper, mostly to remember and compare different exposures, dodging, burning, etc. When I have a fine print, I also have all the info about f-stop, exposure time, paper, contrast filtration, split-printing combinations, dodging, burning and bleaching, etc.

When I'm done, and before I start another print, this all gets transferred to a form I have in Word. There's a "printing record" autotext entry that brings up a table that has the following fields:

~Title
~Negative number (I number my negatives by binder number and film holder number, e.g., 34/19. There may be two number 19s in the binder, but the subject matter and date would be different, so no confusion.)
~Negative date
~Negative size
~Film
~Place
~Printing Date
~f/
~ ... sec.
~Developer and dilution
~Developing time
~Temp (I enter developer temperature if needed here, but usually I use a compensating timer, so this stays blank.)
~Paper and size
~Grade or filtration
~Enlarger and lens
~Enlarger light intensity (e.g. low or high setting)
~Enlarger head height
~Easel dimensions (I crop images differently, so I keep a record of the exact cropping.)
~Alignment and cropping (this is for where to place print borders, e.g., align right, crop T down to XX, etc.)
~Horizontal or vertical or panoramic image (with abstracts, this comes in handy sometimes...)

Below the table I enter dodging and burning schemes in real times and percentages of the base exposure as well as and split-filtration exposure info or burning/dodging with different filtration. I also enter whatever bleaching I do plus notes for retouching.

It takes a lot less time than you'd think to do this. When I scale up a print or reprint on different paper, all I have to do is find the base exposure and refine the contrast filtration and then I have a good starting point for calculating dodging and burning times based on a percentage of the base exposure as well as a good idea of what I have to do so I don't waste time figuring it out twice.

Best,

Doremus
 
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