A couple posts back I mentioned that I carry a notebook around with me to record data on photos that were shot with film. I got a few questions about it and figured a post might be helpful for anyone else who may want to do something similar.
For me, it’s really helpful to get a roll of film developed and be able to look back on the data I recorded for each frame. If a shot was successful, I’ll know what I did right. And if a frame blows, I’ll have at least some idea of what may’ve gone wrong.
At first, I started out with really good intentions, as pictured above. My first few rolls were meticulously gridded out and I made sure to pen everything in neatly.
Then, things sort of went downhill. I got lazy. I’d be scribbling stuff down while Chris or others waited on me. Or on a train. Or, as evidenced by my impatiently huge letters, at the beach not wanting to worry about being tidy. :)
Still, no matter if I write it down nicely or in my natural styling of chickenscratch, I’ll always be sure to document the following information:
- Camera & Lens, if applicable.
- Date Loaded / Finished. Not hugely necessary as I also write down the date each frame was taken, but it’s helpful when flipping through in a hurry.
- Frame #
- Subject – A small description, usually just a few words like “Sunglasses bench” or “Felix bathroom rug.”
- Date / Time. Usually the time is an approximation, but if I want to return to a scene and get the same or similar lighting it’s a big help.
- Shutter / Aperture settings, if applicable.
- Light Quality, if outdoors it’s usually just a note about the weather. “Sunny,” “Overcast no shadows,” “Sunset,” etc. Indoors will read “Natural,” “Morning,” “Magic Window,” “Incandescent,” etc.
- Never Eat Shredded Wheat. Every great once in awhile I’ll note what direction I was facing when I clicked the shutter. I don’t dedicate a whole column to it – I’ll just draw a circle with an N, S, E or W inside.
This is a roll I’m yet to finish. My film shooting sort of came to a dead halt once winter rolled into town, which is nice because when I do shoot I have time to be neat and tidy yet again.
And if for some reason I don’t have my notebook with me when I shoot a frame, I’ll write the info down on a scrap of paper, receipt or in my phone and transfer it over.
Yep… I’m that anal. :)
Since writing this post I collaborated with my best friend to create a custom exposure log, which he now sells here. It’s bigger than the pocket-sized Moleskine notebooks, but the layouts help me when I’m frantically scribbling information down.