This is a weighty matter, I know. And I do admit I have a bias. But, in the interest of fairness, I’ll talk about both options for use recording the particulars of an image when you take it: f-stop, shutter speed, film stock, time of day, and so forth.
I recently won some of the Field Notes Cherry Graph notebooks. Usually, I don’t like graph paper in my notebooks, but I’m liking how it looks. It also is harder to smear than most, and I’m somehow feeling it allows me more freedom to write however I want on the page. The cover looks so much like wood I was not originally convinced it wasn’t. I like using them when I take my bigger cameras out, most especially on large format. I want to compare my results and learn from those big negatives.
I loaded Pocket Light Meter on my iPhone for comparison. Using it is pretty simple. You simply fire it up, select your film ISO, frame up the shot on the phone, then tap the log button and it records the scene. Once the image is saved, it gives you the option to add a note to be saved with the image. I have mine linked with Dropbox, so when I get back to the house, it’s already on my computer.
So which do I like? Well, they both have their merits. Using an app like Pocket Light Meter is simple and easy. But I find myself just tapping through the note box and not entering any data, which is counterproductive. It’s not the app’s fault, it’s the fact I find the keyboard on an iPhone is not conducive to entering a lot of data. I sometimes mark a spot on a photo where I think it might need a dodge or burn in a notebook by doing a quick line drawing and pointing it out. It’s probably not something everyone does, but there’s no provision for it in the app.
So yes, I’m still a notebook carrying member of the Notebook Army. If you’re just recording the raw data of an image, then an app like Pocket Light Meter is the way to go. Do me a favor, though. It’s a free app, but it has the option of buying the developers a pint. Be a decent sort and buy a thirsty programmer a pint. I like the aesthetics and functionality of the Field Notes, which makes me more likely to use it. My own creative process works better with pen and paper as well. For now, those are my weapon of choice in this war.
The notebook army marches on!