I am not the sort who keeps a diary nor do I shoot color film however when it comes to film photography I do find it very valuable to keep a journal. I call mine my "Film Photo Book" to step away from the sentimental connotations of a "journal".
I use it to jot down ideas of things to try, plan the photography portion of trips and my lessons learned. If I look at my recent entry on a quick trip to Paris I see a list of items I want to take, five key photos I want to capture, three different film related tests I wanted to accomplish and a host of lessons learned. Below is a quick extract:
1. Bir Hakeim Bridge with Eiffel Tower
2. Eiffel Tower from a bridge
3. Notre Dame from Seine Bank
4. Louvre Pyramid with a wide angle lens
5. Musee D'Orsay balcony shot
6. Sacre-Coeur Basilica
Things to Try:
1. Long exposure with Variable ND filter
2. Long exposure in a church
3. Push Ilford FP4
MUST check that the film rewind spool turns with every film advance. I shot a wasted roll as it was not engaged properly. Novice mistake!
Nice and simple that was it. You will see that I keep my target shots to a short list. The first five are my real targets but I add one or two more as a bonus shot. On this trip I managed to get all five of my target shots plus the sixth bonus one.
I was able to try the first two tests but did not have a chance to push FP4 as the days were very bright. I was shooting at 125th of a second with 125 ISO film!
Without a book of notes to go back to I would have forgotten many of these things. I have seen photographers running around with a Moleskin notebook and a Montblanc pen (both of which I love) but this is not needed. A simple spiral notebook and a Bic will work out just fine.
I have seen people track every photo they take, noting the f-stop, ISO and lens type used. Frankly I find this too exhausting. I prefer to use my notebook to ensure I get the shots that I want, jot down the lessons I learned and some ideas for the next trip or photoshoot. A three day photography trip may only see two or three small pages of notes mixed in with a few drops of wine or coffee.