Tracking LF Negatives Developed By Labs : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Now that I finally trained myself to keep notes and label 120 roll film, I am trying LF... I do not have a darkroom, so, whether I use ReadyLoad/Quickload or film holders, I have to send my film off for processing.

If I label the Readyload/Quickload envelope, or the film holder, there is no way (that I can see) to track one negative and keep its notes with it after it is sent off for processing. If I want to track the settings for a particular photograph, and take several different shots, when they come back they are all just negatives and contact prints. Unlike roll film, there are no frame numbers or anything else to differentiate that I can tell.

So, how is one meant to keep track of the unique aspects of a photo in LF? Am I missing something really obvious here?

Thanks in advance, Richard

-- Richard Rankin (, June 30, 1999


Hi A suggestion I came across somewhere else on this forum might help. Take a small file and code your holders with that by cutting a small shape in the loading flap of each holder. For e.g., one square for 1, two for 2, a Vshaped notch for 5 and so on. Then this notch shape is imprinted on the film and will help you correlate pictures with your notes, assuming the tests you are conducting are subtle enough that there is no way to tell from the exposures themselves. If notching seems like a bad idea, you could try giving the sheets for processing one by one..... Thanks DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, June 30, 1999.

From One Richard to Another - Inside your film holder flaps, you'll see small indentations. These are meant to take glued-in, clear film tabs. The tabs can be numbered to correspond with numbers on the white memo area of the holders. Voila, you have information!

-- Dick Fish (, June 30, 1999.

There are also the Riteway 4x5 holders with the little numbering wheels that let you mark the frame of each sheet with a number from 0- 99. These cost more than regular 4x5 holders (for instance, at Calumet they're $27 each in quantity vs. $18 each for standard holders). If you don't own film holders yet you might consider these. But those of us who use Readyload (and, I presume, Quickload) don't have this option; too bad they can't stamp a serial number on the envelope and on the film....

-- Simon (, June 30, 1999.

This won't make you popular with your lab, but you can put each sheet on a different invoice number. The pro labs I deal with will keep track for me when I ask, and I know it isn't easy for them at times either, but Creative Color or Borge Anderson, both in Salt Lake City, do this as a professional service. It helps a lot in keeping track of small exposure variations, tests and the like. The idea of filing notches in your film holders does work well, just like having the two small triangular notches in a Hasselblad film back. One other system I have seen in use by a friend is to number the film holders and then use a small half hole punch on the side of each sheet, corresponding to which holder he loads the film in. He has a small template where he lines up the film & holders before loading and he snips a very small 'bite' out of the edge of the sheet of film to match which one of his holders it will be loaded in. I couldn't keep track of it, but he is overorganized & it works for him.

-- Dan Smith (, July 01, 1999.

One way to identify images in small lots of film sent to a lab is to notch the corners of the film. I use a small fingernail clipper made for a baby so as not to cut too deeply into the film. This is very consistent. I start by notching the corner nearest the manufacturers notchcode and mark the holder #1. I then work my way around the corners of each subsiquent sheet of film. Obviously this works well for batches smaller than four. You can get into double notching, but this is a pain. I generaly color code my holders in groups four (two holders) and then have the lab process each color on a separate ticket. This system has worked well for me for quite a while, and is not as invasive as trying to alter a holder.

-- Britt Leckman (, July 01, 1999.

All the above suggestions will work for film in holders but there is still the problem of film in readyloads. For tests and sometimes for still-life (or things I can get to easily) I sometimes include a little note card at the very edge of the frame. This, of course, must be cropped out during printing so if you are a full-frame-print-the- black-borders junkie this won't work for you. By the way, it is common still to include a grey scale and standard color patches at the edge of transparencies of critical work (for example, reproducing art works) so that the printer can calibrate his equipment. For your purposes, a little card with "f16/1/30 sec" or the like won't take up that much room and can help immensely with tests. Another suggestion for field work when you need to tell which neg sas made with which filter, etc., is to insert the readyload holder from the other side of the camera back (this only works for horizontals for most cameras unfortunately). Then you have the code notches of the film on opposite ends to help determine which is which. The separate invoice idea should take care of the rest. Hope this helps. ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, July 01, 1999.

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