Thursday, December 13, 2018

Where is that picture?

I have shot a lot of film in the last twenty years.  When I first got back to film I was not developing my own color, so I accumulated quite a pile of one-hour negative envelopes and slide boxes.  Some times I would add a label to the envelopes and boxes with information about the contents, but not always.  That quickly became unsatisfactory when I wanted to find specific negatives or slides.
    These days I develop both black and white and negative color, and the product of each roll of 35mm film gets cut into five-frame strips and, after scanning, they are stored in PrintFile Archival Preserver sheets which go into 3-ring binders.  I also purchase the same brand for my medium format negatives.  I get the PrintFile sheets in packs of 25 at the UNM bookstore for about a quarter of what they cost at normal retail outlets.

On the top of each PrintFile sheet I record the exposure date for the roll, the main subject, the camera, the film, and the developer used for the film roll.

On my computer I create a folder for each year.  Within the year folders are sub-folders for each month of the year, and within those a folder for each of the dates of the scanned rolls.  The specific roll folder titles, in addition to the date, has the same subject information as the PrintFile sheet and the camera name.

The information recorded in the file titles allow computer searches which usually lets me find the scanned images I am looking for and is also helpful in locating the actual stored negatives.  All of this, of course, takes up quite a lot of space on book shelves and on hard drives. I save the initial scan as a tiff file, do an photoshop image in the same format, and then produce a final jpg image for on line display.
     These days, you can find high-capacity drives which will likely hold a life-time of scanned images, but when I started out drive capacity was smaller and rather expensive, so I have three accessory hard drives full of images, and I just moved all my 2017 images to one of my laptop drives to make room on my main desktop machine.
    In actuality, most of my image searches start out using the search feature on my blog.  This is facilitated by the fact that each blog post is tagged with the same information that is recorded on the PrintFile sheets including dates, subjects and cameras.  I have had the blog on line for twelve years, so that covers a good portion of my work.  Some of my earlier photos are on line at several web sites such as PhotoNet, photobucket (ugh!) and Flickr, so those places get searched as well.  All of this does not make for a perfect archiving system, but most of the times it works well enough as a supplement to my increasingly leaky wetware.


Jim Grey said...

I should write a similar post about my system. Which isn't as refined as yours.

I never imagined ten years ago that I'd be shooting this much film still today. I've tended to run hot, and then permanently cold, on hobbies. But photography appears to be here to stay.

But that led me not to be very organized in my early days, and I've never addressed the problem. My negatives are in the envelopes the processor gave me, in chronological order in boxes in the closet. Thankfully I marked each with camera, lens, film, and date.

On my computer I keep a folder for every year's photos, with subfolders for each roll of film and each digital session. The year folder's name is just the year, while the subfolders are marked YYYY-MM-DD Camera Lens Film for film photos or YYYY-MM-DD event_name for digital.

I sorely, sorely wish I had started tagging photos in their metadata or in a tool like Lightroom from the very beginning. When I want to find a photo I have far, far better luck searching for it on my Flickr stream than I do on my computer. I just can't imagine now going back through my tens of thousands of photographs and tagging them all.

Mike said...

I've still got a couple boxes of negatives and slides from the early days that are not cataloged. When I look through them I am not very motivated to go to the trouble of adding them to the archive as few meet my current standards in regard to scanning and photoshopping. As I think I've mentioned before, I have only posted what I consider to be my best images in folders on Flickr, so my searches tend to focus largely on that reduced collection.