Editing and discarding negatives
Old 12-30-2019   #1
Rayt
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Editing and discarding negatives

Over the years I have amassed about 800 pages of b/w negatives in 135 and 120 not counting large format which is a bigger headache. I now need to show no mercy and edit them down to manageable quantities maybe just enough for two binders.

The easiest option would be to only keep the one strip with the keeper and discard the rest of the roll like the way mounted slides are edited. But I understand photographers tend to keep the entire sheet even if there is only one good shot in the roll. I see no reason to do that aside from maintaining some record of the entire shoot.

How do you you edit your negs? Keep the entire page or not?
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Old 12-30-2019   #2
newsgrunt
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I keep EVERYTHING. It's not uncommon for me to go over previous work and see something I may have missed during the initial edit.
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Old 12-30-2019   #3
Larry Cloetta
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I just keep the whole page most of the time as there is usually some helpful data and information written at the top, in the margins, and sometimes everywhere else.
But, if there is only one decent shot on the whole page, I will either just toss them all, if the one decent shot is not much more than just decent, or, cut that one out, with one frame each side to make handling easier, and stick it into a sheet labeled “orphans”, with similar odds and ends from other rolls which only had one or two good frames.
Not much of a plan, but saves a little bit of space, I guess, or at least makes me feel that I’ve tried.
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Old 12-30-2019   #4
sepiareverb
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I have 80 binders of black and white negatives alone. I’m not the one to ask.
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Old 12-30-2019   #5
giganova
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Never throw away negatives! Put them into nice binders and proudly archive and display them.
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Donít do it!
Old 12-30-2019   #6
KenR
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Donít do it!

I have every b&w negative that I have ever made dating back to my first Himatic 7s which I purchased with money that I made as a summer camp counselor. Every so often I get the urge to look through old contact sheets and find some long lost gems. I did a calendar of these old photos for friends and family which (I think) everybody enjoyed. Keep everything. You never know what youíll find.
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Old 12-30-2019   #7
nikon_sam
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I have heavily edited my B&W negs over the years and regret doing so...I started back in 1976 so there are many images now gone...
I say keep them all...you never know what you might look for in the future concerning your past work...
And may I add...Vivian Maiers...imagine her editing her work...
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Old 12-30-2019   #8
charjohncarter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newsgrunt View Post
I keep EVERYTHING. It's not uncommon for me to go over previous work and see something I may have missed during the initial edit.
Henry Wessel would proof print his negatives and then go through them 5 years later. I keep everything too. Some I didn't use 50 years ago now look maybe not good but at least better.
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Old 12-30-2019   #9
ozmoose
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I edit and discard all the time. Selectively.

For 50+ years landscapes have been the bane (if not the curse) of my photographic life - whenever I've been traveling or out looking for architectural wonders to immortalise on film or digital, something goes click! in my brain and I go on landscape auto-pilot.

Every few years I put in some quality time going thru my hoards of accumulated negatives (I stopped shooting E6 about 15 years ago) and ruthlessly cull and cut. All the 'happy snaps' (aka crappy snaps) accumulated during bush walks or beach weekends get sorted in piles, snipped into halves (35mm) or quarters (120), and off the pieces go to the waste bin.

Best therapy I've ever indulged in. None have ever been missed.

In my half century of shooting I've done very few proof sheets. Even then they were mostly for clients. I preferred to look at negatives with a loupe and visually assess the images. Tens of thousands of trees thank me for this.

Now if I could psych myself to do something about the thousands of cat shots...

Serious advice to those opting to keep all - be sure to clearly stipulate in your will who is to do the final cull and disposal in the recycling bin. Leave a generous endowment for good alcohol. They will need it!!
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Old 12-30-2019   #10
p.giannakis
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I never throw away negatives. Sometimes I go back to old negatives and find pictures that I like (although I didn't like them back then).
Example: took some pictures in a local train station in 2008 - nothing exciting about it. Two years ago went back there again and noticed that the train station has been knocked down and rebuild. The old pictures have some historical value as a result (depicting something that doesn't exist anymore).
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Old 12-30-2019   #11
bullterrier
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discard or keep,just trust your instinct or you go back and forth all the time
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Old 12-31-2019   #12
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Once upon a time, I filed, annotated, and saved everything. Did that for years.

Then digital happened. My old film workflow went out the window as I rethought everything for digital.

I used digital capture primarily for a few years. I'd scan my negs and incorporate them into the workflow, file them carefully, etc. After several years of this, I realized I never looked at the negatives again after scanning. There was no point, the 'masters' were now the scans. My scanning techniques had improved over the years to the point where there really was nothing further to be had from scanning the negatives again.

So now I shoot film, process it, scan all the negatives, and then discard the negatives. The masters are all incorporated into my digital image processing workflow where I apply the same rules and archiving techniques to them same as I do with my digital captures. I rarely throw anything away at that point.

The film is just the recording medium, just like whatever digital camera I used to record the digital capture was just the recording medium. There's nothing sacred about a recording medium. It's the content that's important.

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