How Are You Cataloguing Your Negatives

Discussion in 'Talk About Anything Photography Related' started by Ian-Barber, Jan 28, 2018.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    For those that have been using film for many years must have a fair collection of negatives. I was just wondering how you catalog them including the information about each negative such as exposure, lens, developer etc etc.

    I use Adobe Lightroom to catalog all my scans and relavent information.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I used a n Access database PhotoCat originally sharewarefor a few years, but Microsoft's Office upgrades made it non compatible. I'm rebuilding it in Libre Office, I had all the analog info as well as all digital versions. I want and need something more powerful than Lightroom, a real database.

    Ian
     
  3. mpirie

    mpirie Member Registered User

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    Lightroom for me.
     
  4. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    What do you feel Lightroom does not have to offer.
     
  5. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member Registered User

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    I rely on contact sheets filed in date order with the negatives in the same binders; my oldest photos are in three Paterson binders from the 1960s which are arranged roughly by subject - very roughly!

    I've never seen the need for holding exposure information, so have never recorded it. I can only identify the developer used in a few cases (except for the last few years which covers all 120 and LF where I've only used Rodinal).

    My LF negatives are scanned and have "4x4 contact prints" created digitally and stored on my computer, with the reference number that takes me to the (unnumbered) page in the binder i.e. I have to count pages to find a negative.

    All very low tech and amateurish - but then I'm an amateur :D.
     
  6. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Are you just laying the negatives on the platen and scanning them that way
     
  7. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member Registered User

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    I'm using the film holders supplied with the scanner(s) (Epson V700/v850). The actual negative binders do hold some genuine contact prints made using Printfile (I think) print-through sleeves which hold the negatives and allow you to contact print without removing the negatives from the sleeve.

    I attempt to just scan the negatives once, so the same scan is used as the basis of the "contact" and any final prints.

    I've just put my first (in filing sequence) LF contact sheet here if you'd like to see it - three of the four are Yorkshire locations.
     
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  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I don't think Photoshop existed for Windows when I first wrote my database in Paradox (DOS), later using Db5 then Approach (pre Lotus) and finally imported it into PhotoCat a shareware Microsoft Access database that I customised further sharing it with the Author. Access (version 1) databases converted reasonably easily to version 2 but then Microsoft changed their version of Visual Basic and anything that used Basic coding needed a complete rewrite, I was running a precious metal analysis lab and someone had written a database that stored all the result data as well as the customer information, it also did the monthly invoicing etc. We couldn't upgrade Microsoft Office (in the lab) because we had to keep using Access 2 as it would have been a very time consuming upgrade, the person who had written it had left the company.

    I have equivalents of Lightroom, as well as earlier Image database software but they all require a digital image, I'm cataloguing thousands of negatives that I've never printed but data Mainly subject etc) needs to be archived, I need to be able to add many extra fields and searches. As a darkroom printer an SQL database suites my needs.

    Ian
     
  9. mpirie

    mpirie Member Registered User

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    I wrote a similar dBase stand-alone system for the medical school i was working at which catalogued all photographs and printed labels for those kept in the library. It didn't store images because it was back in the DOS days, but it was very quick and did what we needed. I often think about revitalising the system, but the effort involved in getting it to run on modern PC's just doesn't justify it......hence my move to Lightroom.

    I should add that i recently started using Bento (great programme, sh!t name) to catalogue my contact sheets so that in the darkroom i can use it to quickly find out the processing and printing details of a particular film record.
     
  10. Graham Patterson

    Graham Patterson Member Registered User

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    All my 35mm and roll-film has a strip number, and a convention for the frame within it. 'One day' I will build a catalogue, but now I rely on memory to hunt for anything I have not used much. I rarely scan anything, so keeping a working set of negatives separate from the bulk makes more sense. That means leaving a place marker in the main files. Grossly inefficient, but it's good enough. Most of my work barely deserves a decent burial...

    My wife is an artist who does a lot of computer based work. I wrote a little routine to scan her computers (note the plural!), identify the images, sizes, format, and duplicates (by check-summing the image binary, not relying on file names). The whole data set is in a MySQL database with a web interface. A lot of the meta data is missing (the images do not originate in a camera with EXIF), but it can be added as images are used/sold. The database allows for dimensional searches, partial filename text searches, and even keyword searches in the metadata. There are around 400,000 unique image files last time I looked. Duplication rate is around 1.8:1.

    If nothing else, the duplication tracking is worth a lot. Funny how I'll do this for others, but not myself!
     
  11. YorkshireBloke

    YorkshireBloke Member Registered User

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    Hi,

    Can I be controversially "left field" here?

    When we know that database software and operating system software has led to loss of functionality within 15 years (20?) why create actual images that exist only in software?

    With scans of analogue whatever crazy format changes (8" floppy disc anyone?) happen at least we have the Truth to refer back to.

    But you know that already; of course.

    Robert
     
  12. Graham Patterson

    Graham Patterson Member Registered User

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    True. A stack of negative storage sheets and some oversize binders or card index boxes, and you are set for film storage. The digital originals (in our house the vast majority of those are hand drawn, not photographs) demand a sizable disk array hooked up to the house network. (You can tell what i do for a living...) Disks fail more often than ring binders. *But*, if a binder of negatives is damaged, it is possibly fatal. Digital originals can be copied many times. Both mediums require precautions.

    My approach is to catalogue work I want to find again, accepting that most of it is not worth another glance 8-(. Having a huge catalogue is great for an archivist or a commercial photographer, but I only print to meet my own criteria. I don't want to spend too much time doing digital searches.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    That's where a database as opposed to a digital image cataloguing system works better for film users. However a Spread-sheet will function just as well.

    I wrote some quite complex databases for work in the 1990's but a friend was the Management Accountant for the Allied Carpets Group and was using cross-linked Excel spreadsheets to do much the same. I find the database option is easier but then each table is essentially a spread-sheet. If you can (or rather are prepared to) search a spreadsheet it's simple. I was writing databases where the actual users had no access to tables, queries etc , everything was done through easy menus and forms.

    So maybe we can get over complex, a Spread-sheet or Database table may be all that's needed. I'm more interested in what I've used negatives/prints for, which exhibitions, which portfolios etc. As not all negatives get used full details aren't really needed for each negative,

    That's my take as I slowly rewrite my Database, I can explain the value though. A few years ago I was asked to put on an Exhibition at a large 3 day Canal boat Festival, a lot of visitors and they gave me a marquee to exhibit in. I needed to cull from two previously Exhibited bodies of work, plus a few newer unseen images, to put together something that was tailored for the audience and area.

    Having the database at hand I was quickly able to find the negative numbers for the existing exhibitions prints I would use. However a secondary problem arose as I'd had to switch from Agfa MCC as the company ceased manufacture so it was a complete reprint on Forte Polywarmtone, and the change to Polywarmtone had changed how I printed quite significantly.

    At first in the mid 1990's I thought printing data was important, until I realised it's better to be fresh each time, mostly I print identically anyway (except for paper changes) it's instinctive I remember. Now I raelise it's irrelevant except basics as materials change or disappear too fast. A fresh canvas is the best canvas :D

    Ian
     

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