View Full Version : Do you - or did you, make notes? Show us a sample...

03-24-2011, 01:06
I was digging through some old boxes of "junk" (my wife's definition, not mine) the other day and came across an old notebook I used to keep track of my photo settings, subjects and locations. It brought back a lot of memories and reminded me of a few things I had forgotten. To date I've been pretty good about remembering when and where most of my old film shots were taken but the notebook helped to clarify some things I wasn't sure of.

Sadly, I haven't always been this diligent when it comes to making notes and I only have records from certain specific "periods" of my life. Still, something is better than nothing. If you kept any notes yourself it would be interesting to see samples...


03-24-2011, 01:18
That's pretty impressive.
Before starting a roll, I always make it a point to keep notes, but ultimately laziness takes over the determination. :bang::bang::bang:
I am hoping some day I will be able to break this cycle, but I don't think I will be making such detailed notes, hell I don't even remember the last time I used a pen and paper. :bang::bang:
Oh man, this thread is depressing....

03-24-2011, 01:21
Keith, an interesting find, I'll bet. I used to use 4x6 file cards, one for each roll of film or related sequence of several rolls. It had subject data and technical data including developing and print-making. I numbered each roll and the number appeared on the file card, the negative sleeve, and on each print by frame number.

Back around year 2000 I changed my roll numbering system from sequential to date related yymmdd.

I usually make the notes after returning from a photo excursion; if I'm in truly unfamiliar places I may make some notes as I shoot.

After I got a computer in the mid-1980's, I transcribed all this info to a database, and I've kept it current on the computer ever since. My memory needs all the help it can get.:o


03-24-2011, 01:24
Can not post right now (not that impressive anyhow) but I do make notes when starting a new roll. Depends how quickly I get through I would note the location. But more detailed notes I only do for 4x5. I use the small (~ A6 size) black Moleskine notebooks as they are well done and do not fall apart if carried in a back for a longer time (and I love the way the paper feels)

03-24-2011, 01:27
When I started photography 35 years ago my father adviced me to take a notebook with me.
"You might note the settings for each picture" he said, "then you will progress quickly, comparing your notes and the results".
He was certainly right… I never took notes when I was photographing, and it's certainly the reason that 35 years later I'm always a bad photographer.

03-24-2011, 01:27
Wow, I can't really imagine keeping such meticulous notes for 35mm. I think if I were shooting 120 or large format, I probably would though..

03-24-2011, 01:42
I try to make some notes when I have time, on random pieces of paper, in small notebooks, on the phone (in writing or as audio), etc. Once I get home, I put the notes on my computer and store them with the files/scans and in Aperture. Very seldom do I actually use the notes for anything, but having some extra information available never hurts.

03-24-2011, 01:49
I carry a Moleskine notebook to keep notes in, but I don't bother keeping exposure notes like that. I keep notes of what I photograph. Locations, subject matter, dates...stuff that's useful to know years from now when I am famous and my work is published. Exposure data isn't really useful or needed unless you're experimenting to test a new film or testing a camera you suspect is not working right.

03-24-2011, 01:54
Not me, "life's too short to stuff a mushroom" as someone said ..

03-24-2011, 02:03
I've tried doing that with film, but I'd forget a shot or miss something and mess all the following ones up.

With digital, the EXIF automatically records shot technicalities for you.

I do however have an 'ideas' moleskine that I write in, and record possible lighting setups etc. Not very well though...

03-24-2011, 02:09
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4011/4530745558_54ae6013b7_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lilserenity/4530745558/)

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4530755914_12723f7ef1_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lilserenity/4530755914/)

Of course :)

03-24-2011, 05:13
I don't take notes and only remember stuff vaguely. That's life.

03-24-2011, 10:16
That's pretty impressive.
Before starting a roll, I always make it a point to keep notes, but ultimately laziness takes over the determination. :bang::bang::bang:
I am hoping some day I will be able to break this cycle, but I don't think I will be making such detailed notes...

Not all of my notes are that detailed; and for some periods I have none at all. The ones I've shown were from a "learning and experimenting" period so for two or three years they were very detailed but more on the technical side--like EXIF info. At other times I was more interested in recording time and place and perhaps some thoughts about my subjects. There were, however, also many gaps where I have nothing whatsoever for records and now, looking back, I wish I had been more diligent. Time and discipline are required and sometimes I lack both--as I'm sure do many others.

All I can say to all you "youngsters" on here is that if it's at all possible for you to keep some notes--however skeletal they may be--you will most likely treasure them in your later years. I know I do...

03-24-2011, 10:51
It's fun to be able to search back to see when and how often I used certain gear, film, developer, etc... but I think the most useful in the long run is subject/date/location. Over the years, buildings go up and down, businesses change, streets/roads are widened or re-routed. The notes identify what might well be unrecognizable later on. Finally, it's all an aid to my own memory as to what I was doing at that time.

03-24-2011, 10:59
I take notes when I am out shooting work for the paper. They need names and location information when were going to publish photos. I don't usually take notes otherwise.

03-24-2011, 11:02
Wow are those detailed notes. Only on a long vacation type trip do I take a small pocket memo pad and write down where each roll was shot and if I change the ISO from the manufacturer's stated speed. Otherwise, on a 1 or 2 day photo outing, everything is jumbled together.

03-24-2011, 11:28
I'm kind of an oral type so no notes only intentions.

03-24-2011, 11:43
When I started taking photography seriously with my first SLR in 1996 I was quite strict with myself. I learnt on slide film after I quickly discovered labs could print out exposure errors. I used to have a small note book and note the aperture & shutter speed next to each frame plus any relevant info such as exp. Compensation for snow, beaches, dark subjects etc. It served me well and I quickly mastered exposure. Of course now I shoot RAW on my Nikon but I'm greatful of that discipline when shooting slides in the Leica. 99% of the time I can guess to within 1/2 stop of what it's meter says and adjust from there. It even proved useful when I 'argued' with the meter, which made me check the back of the M6 TTL, only to discover I'd not changed the ISO setting from 400 to 100. :o
I write all my b&w info on the negative sleeve, iso, dev, ratio & time.


03-24-2011, 11:43
I take notes using an ancient Palm OS program on my almost as ancient Treo phone (now waiting for a friend to do an iPhone version).

Some old threads on the subject:



03-24-2011, 12:00
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4011/4530745558_54ae6013b7_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lilserenity/4530745558/)

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4530755914_12723f7ef1_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lilserenity/4530755914/)

Of course :)

Wow! Maps too, I'm impressed.

When I first got to taking photographs seriously, Using my father's 9x12 with its 127 adapter, I kept good notes. I did a lot of museum shooting under poor light conditions. I had too know what camera settings I had used that got good results. If I remember, I will look for my notebook tonight.

In the Army I often took notes in case a defense attourney decided to try and discredit me by asking for them (never happened), so I eventually quit doing so. After all, the only thing needed to authenticate a photo was that it depicted the scene as I had seen it.

Now I don't unless as others, I am experimenting for some reason. And I probably don't keep them long either although I know I should.

03-24-2011, 12:07

Doug, you have a Leica S2?

03-24-2011, 12:20
I do and I always did. Every film gets a number and is entered in my self-designed notebook.
This way every single frame is defined.

This sounds pedantic but in reality it simplifies life - when you find something in a photo and ask yourself "did I use a fliter?" or "why is this not really sharp?" or "this is slightly underexposed. What ec did I set?" and of course when you are experimenting for a specific effect: when you found it you probably want to know how to repeat it. Or someone asks for a print ... search the negative...

When in a hurry I do not fill in everything but at least date, camera and lens are recorded. When enough time is left all details can be recorded. Taking pictures always has priority.
When on a trip I simply take a single sheet of this as sketch and transfer it to the proper notebook when at home.

When traveling this notebook is also handy in case I want to write down additional information, e.g. what I had for lunch, the name of the nice young lady or the name of the village I just came through.

This is a sketch sheet from a three weeks vacation:


Steve M.
03-24-2011, 13:38
Just the usual lens test stuff. Now that the scanners are sold and I'm going to a darkroom only, there are going to be a LOT of notes.


03-24-2011, 22:27
Doug, you have a Leica S2?
Well, I didn't at the time I made that image of my records; that was from my brief opportunity to use one at the Leica Roadshow event. But I did get one a few weeks ago.

03-25-2011, 14:27
Well, I didn't at the time I made that image of my records; that was from my brief opportunity to use one at the Leica Roadshow event. But I did get one a few weeks ago.

How about some pictures then? :)

03-25-2011, 15:57
Most of the information is obvious from the subject and the image data is well stored in EXIF tags with digital. But even in digital I do mostly some speech comment in a actual mobile phone for scene and lens changes. For film I replicate that into an Excel sheet for each roll or shooting, adding a few more information.

03-25-2011, 21:39
How about some pictures then? :)Hi Will -- the three most recent in this gallery are from the S2: http://www.dslrexchange.com/photopostdslrx/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=622 One's a pretty crappy pic, but then I'm still working my way through the manual. :o

back alley
03-25-2011, 21:47
i barely took notes in school...