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How to take exposure notes
Old 01-25-2018   #1
karateisland
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How to take exposure notes

Thanks to this forum, I've procured a mint-as-all-get-out Minolta CLE with a first-gen m-rokkor 40mm, and I've run a few rolls of Superia 400 through it. Sent them off today, waiting now to see scans of my first 35mm frames in 14 years. Love the camera, and I'm very excited.

But, one question remains: What's the best way to take notes on my exposures? I've looked around for this on the internet, but it seems to be something that everybody knows so well that no one bothers to write about it.

First--What do you include in your notes? Date/aperture/shutter/film/lens. Anything more? What do you find to be the most helpful thing to write down about each frame you take?

Second--How do you take notes without interrupting the flow of your photography? When I feel like I'm in the zone, I don't want to stop shooting to take notes. Is this something I'll just have to learn to deal with?
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Old 01-25-2018   #2
retinax
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Good questions. I have no answer to the second one, also struggle with that. To the first, the few times I manage yo take notes, mostly for test rolls, I try to include what's in the picture because if you forget to take a note about one frame, you're lost otherwise without a way to know what frame your notes refer to.
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Old 01-25-2018   #3
presspass
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To avoid interruption, either use your smart phone or a micro recorder. You should include ISO, f stop, shutter speed, and something about the lighting conditions.
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Old 01-25-2018   #4
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Mini recorder is good. Don't forget to identify the photo; otherwise the f/stop and shutter won't mean much. Perhaps how arrived at exposure.
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Old 01-25-2018   #5
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I usually make a note of the lighting conditions and time of day: cloudy, sun, haze or smog, once when it was 104 degrees F I noted that because it did affect the image.


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Old 01-25-2018   #6
David Hughes
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Hi,

How about frame number (in pencil as each camera will have its own version depending on the film), subject, aperture and shutter speed?

You can write the film and camera at the top of the page and a wide column for notes might help as deciding to ignore the meter reading comes into it at times and you can note when the lens was changed.

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Old 01-25-2018   #7
aizan
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i usually just write down the start date and location for each roll, nothing about exposure. but i started a list of things i could take notes/make metadata of if you take your time for each shot. it really depends on how you shoot and what you need the info for.

for each roll:
- roll #
- film type
- camera
- date started
- date ended
- exposure index
- development

for each frame:
- aperture
- shutter speed
- date
- location
- lens
- subject (i.e., names of people)
- type of lightning
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Old 01-25-2018   #8
presspass
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Adding the Frame number is a good idea. Sorry I didn't think of that. But if you are going to learn a lot from this exercise, stick to one ISO and one brand of film for at least six months. Each film reacts differently to the lighting, shadow and highlight detail, and latitude. It also helps if you use the same lab or, if you do your own processing, standardize on a developer for the same period. Otherwise, your exposure variables won't give you all the information you need.
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Old 01-25-2018   #9
f16sunshine
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I use a piece of acid free masking tape on the back of the camera.
Then when the roll comes out, the tape goes on the roll.
I started doing this with Sheet film holders and carried it over to the 6x6 cameras.
I usually only make a development note for the most desired image.
So for example, if I loaded 400 and exposed something "important" to 800... I'll note that. Often putting an agitation note if highlights are in jeopardy. (expose for shadows and develop for highlights as the saying goes!)

It's easier with fewer frames.
With 135 given 36 frames, it's not as easy to track but, the tape gives plenty of space to write even on the tiny CLE.
Usually a group of images will have same/similar notes for development so your not usually writing 36 notes.

Once development is done, You can put the piece of tape in a notepad or on the negative sleeve and add details you feel are important.

Most important ... it's the image that counts!
The technicalities don't matter much once your holding a print of a treasured image .

This one has been posted a few times recently.
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Old 01-25-2018   #10
rbiemer
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I will takes notes frame by frame with a new to me camera or lens until I'm assured that the camera/lens is functioning correctly, after that I will note really basic info by roll.

This basic info, for me, is date, ISO, location or "event". Rarely, "who".

My exception to this is for large format; I started shooting 4x5 last summer and have been much more serious about my notes for that.
I have a small pocket sized notebook that I've labeled "4x5 HP5" (so far I am sticking with that film, when I add another film, it will have its own notebook). For each frame, I note the date, time of day, weather, which film holder and which side, which lens*, aperture, and shutter speed, . So far, I'm sticking to one development routine so I don't have to note changes I might make to that--this may change as I gain more experience. *For now I have one lens and a pinhole set up but as I slowly add more options, this may become more important.

What you record ought to be what info you want for later reference and that may well change as you pursue your photographic goals.

There are a few "photographer's notebooks" available they might work for you?
Rob
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Old 01-25-2018   #11
Bill Clark
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Just thought I would say, I don’t take any notes. Never have.

Too many variables. My way of thinking, camera exposure is only one part of the exposure equation.

I’ll mention a few.

Film can vary from batch to batch. When I had my business, I would order a fairly large quantity of film to keep some consistency. Camera settings, shutter and battery can vary depending, if outside, the temperature.

The process stage brings a bunch of variables.

My tastes, I like a little denser negative and transperancy. I find it works for me when in the darkroom rather than a little thin negative or transperancy.

If I really wanted the information you desire, I would use digital capture along with the film as each file would have all the information that I could look at in Photoshop.
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Old 01-25-2018   #12
Robert Lai
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I'm testing camera / lens / lighting combinations a lot.
In order to keep things straight, I carry a notepad with me. Right now I use a small Moleskin, but I don't recommend it. The paper doesn't feather with fountain pen ink, but it prints through to the other side.

On the start of a new roll, I will write the camera / model, and the film: e.g. Mamiya C220 with 105mm DS lens, Fuji Provia 100 as the heading of a new page.

Now I write down frame numbers as I go.

#1 is usually the ID shot. This is a photograph of the camera + lens, taken in a mirror. This will identify the camera taking this roll of film.

For the remaining frames, I'll write a word or so about the subject e.g "bridge across pond, backlighted, with M3B flash bulb + Heiland Synchro Special at 10 ft fill flash". Shutter speed and f/stop are also recorded.

If I'm not sure about exposure and I'm bracketing, then I will note that on each frame:
Frame 3: 1/30 f/19.6 (these are actual entries on my current roll)
Frame 4: 1/30 f/22

When I get the film back, I can follow my notes frame by frame. When something turns out, I can note that the guide number for the flash is correct. When it doesn't turn out, I usually have some clear explanation.

That way I can fine tune parameters for each camera, in my usual subject environment.
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Old 01-25-2018   #13
Richard G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
Just thought I would say, I donít take any notes. Never have.

Too many variables. My way of thinking, camera exposure is only one part of the exposure equation.
I agree with Bill. Too many things to consider.

Maybe if the latest iOS allows me to say "Hey Siri: note to the photography file - the kid in the ice creamery sitting on the watermelon f3.5 1/10s Ektar. Elmar 50." I might do this only a couple of times a week.

The key question here for an individual is what would the notes be for precisely? As a general record of every shot on the roll of 35mm I don't think such a process could work well. I reckon I could pick that photographer's work in the Gallery. ("Ah, a note-taker...") ((Maybe mine look like that without the notes....))

And the key question for those who answer is what do you actually do and why. f16 Sunshine provides a very specific reason for his note on the back of the Rolleiflex. Those who do their own developing have much more reason for notes, but they are completely different to the notes that a beginner might think he needs to learn to take good exposures.

Time spent learning the properties of colour reversal and colour negative and black and white film and how to use a light meter is going to provide much better photographs than time spent taking notes. The more you know the more you will remember of how you made the exposure. I have shots of my young daughter from over ten years ago where I remember which lens, how I metered, what decision I made on the exposure and what film.

There has to be a specific question in these processes. Not saying it can't be useful, but I reckon for most of us it is completely unnecessary and impractical.
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Old 01-25-2018   #14
David Hughes
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Hi,

OTOH, you could just buy a Minolta 7000i and a Data card for it...

Regards, David

PS If you've two cameras with film in it pays to photograph the other camera for the first shot.
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Old 01-25-2018   #15
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No personal experience, but Analogbook makes a paper notebook for that exact purpose.
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Old 01-26-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dourbalistar View Post
No personal experience, but Analogbook makes a paper notebook for that exact purpose.
Hi,

And nice to see a Pentax ME Super used in an advertisement...

BTW, I've often meant to make myself a note book specifically for camera notes and will use a spreadsheet to lay it out as the grid makes life easy.

Regards, David
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Old 01-26-2018   #17
Michiel Fokkema
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I don't take notes. It interferes with the flow of my photography.
No, just kidding. I should take notes but I'm just too lazy. I then also have to number my films because I only develop when I have at least 10 films shot. And I develop 5 at a time. Just too complicated for me.
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Old 01-26-2018   #18
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I've always been impressed w the discipline of photographers who could provide shutter speed and aperture for particular photos in 35mm -- especially before we had exif. What I found most useful when I was starting out, particularly on slide film, was learning the coverage of my BTL meter and where to place it for a quick shot. That I did by shooting two or three frames of the same subject metering different places. With 2-3 frames of one subject, it was usually relatively easy to remember meter target when I got the rolls back.
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Old 01-26-2018   #19
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I take occasional notes. Not every frame gets recorded because that approach would not work well with the type of fast-flowing subject matter I shoot.

What I do note is peculiar situations where I was not sure about exposure and I might try two or three approaches. My notes in that case will sometime refer to the frame number, but more often to the specific subject, e.g. "Singer at pub, tried first ****s 1/30 at 1.4, then 1/50 at 4 w/ flash. Last frame shot at 5.6 but with flash still set at f4." That way I can study the contact sheet and see which approach gave best results.

I normally do not note the film type and ISO speed because on the films I use, it's printed on the film base.
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Old 01-26-2018   #20
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When starting out with a new camera, film, lens, filter, etc. a small note book where I pre-number from 1-38 and note when something changes. Maybe a note about the subject from time to time to sync the written frame count with the actual film sequence (e.g. if you forget to write done info for one frame and get out of sync).

1, 2, ... 5, 10 - 50 years later it's not the exposure details that are important (to me), it's the filing system... how to quickly find the image. I don't bother recording the exposure and the ISO / film type is indicated on the film. To be honest I don't even care about the development ... roll film is all-in and (with my approach / style) I can remember from when I shot until the film is developed. I do like to know the lens, but since I normally don't change lenses during a roll it's not a problem to add when filing... I don't use zooms.
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Old 01-26-2018   #21
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I can usually find an unused check register to make notes in... inexpensive and it fits in pockets. This would be mainly for travel, as I make notes in a computer database when getting back home from local shooting and the recollection is fresh. The main thing for me (after date/camera/lens) is the location/subject identification. When returning from travel, I'll transcribe the check register notes into that computer database and add commentary as needed. I assign a "roll number" to each batch of shots. So at this point I can search the database later to get close to a specific shot if I want.
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Old 01-29-2018   #22
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I always take notes with a camera that's just been fixed, or first time I've used it. I note frame, subject, f/stop, shutter speed, and sometimes range, also if flash is used. if I'm trying something out then I'll try to note what the metering is. I just use a notepad but it's not very convenient to be honest - I sometimes take a phone pic of the shutter dials and sort it out later. Analogbook looks nice, I was expecting an app when I googled it. Maybe there is one. Pocket Light Meter app can take a pic and log the metering on it, but that hinges on you using the metering it displays.
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Old 01-29-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karateisland View Post
Thanks to this forum, I've procured a mint-as-all-get-out Minolta CLE with a first-gen m-rokkor 40mm, and I've run a few rolls of Superia 400 through it. Sent them off today, waiting now to see scans of my first 35mm frames in 14 years. Love the camera, and I'm very excited.

But, one question remains: What's the best way to take notes on my exposures? I've looked around for this on the internet, but it seems to be something that everybody knows so well that no one bothers to write about it.

First--What do you include in your notes? Date/aperture/shutter/film/lens. Anything more? What do you find to be the most helpful thing to write down about each frame you take?

Second--How do you take notes without interrupting the flow of your photography? When I feel like I'm in the zone, I don't want to stop shooting to take notes. Is this something I'll just have to learn to deal with?
I use Field Notes notebooks and capture details such as date, camera, lens, shutter speed, aperture, film type, general location image was took and any other pertinent details

https://www.amazon.com/Field-Notes-3.../dp/B00GC5QTR0

There are apps for phones and tablets as well, I haven't used those yet.
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Old 01-29-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyrod View Post
I sometimes take a phone pic of the shutter dials and sort it out later.
This has been my strategy. As it turns out, it is all I use my phone camera for anymore!
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Old 01-29-2018   #25
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Rite In The Rain brand pads and notebooks come in all sorts of handy sizes.

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Old 01-29-2018   #26
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I wonder if I dare mention that my notebooks came in a bundle of 9 or 10 for a pound...


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Old 01-29-2018   #27
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I keep a notebook with details about every roll. I write them down when I get back home. Comes in very handy when your lab sends you someones negatives, not your own, and then wants to know what was on yours. I only shoot about 50 rolls a year but it happens about once a year and from several different labs. Joe
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