I cleaned over the weekend and put away a few notebooks and pads of paper that were taking up space on my desk. Last night, I spent over an hour looking for the one that contained data I needed to develop film. I finally found it on a bookshelf, of all places (why didn't I look there first?). But, I couldn't get started without it.
Maybe it's my ingrained thanks to my science background, but I tend to take notes and keep a pretty meticulous notebook on all the types of film and developer combinations I've processed. It helps me understand which types of films can be combined in one tank with the same developer, which ones should never, ever be put together, and if a particular developer is not a good match for a specific film. Sometimes there are temperature issues and those are logged, too, as well small details I may notice and think will be helpful in the future (some if it is also online).
I have a second notebook for printing that catalogs the negative number, type of paper, which filters I tried (and, which one worked best), time, aperture, and any dodging and burning that was performed. Though printing is not an automatic process and may vary based on paper and chemical lots and other things I can't necessarily control, it provides a starting point that saves time and materials (and, frustration). I like consistency and standardizing my methods helps me make sure that the results will be as close as possible to those I have obtained in the past, even with all of the inherent variables throughout the processes.
There are notebooks or pads of paper in each of my camera bags that are useful for logging the film number (there is also a Sharpie in every bag) so when I am looking at an overwhelming pile of film canisters that need processing and want to develop a specific one, I can easily find it. I have found this process very useful when travelling to note the date, city, places visited, if pushed or pulled the ISO. These details not only help me locate a roll of undeveloped film, but also to remind me of the places I went. After all, how many piazzas and fountains are there in Rome? It's impossible to know.
It may seem like information overload or tedious details that most people are able to remember, but I feel it's better to be prepared and save time later by taking a few minutes to write it down, now. What kinds of methods do you use to document photographic information? Please let us know in the comments!!