June 27, 2012 § 5 Comments
The wonderful Sandy Hibbard, of Lyric Marketing & Design, hired me again this past week to take photos for a client of hers, Stephanie McAndrew. Stephanie is a writer/activist who promotes the empowerment of women & children in the states & abroad. When Sandy first approached me, she mentioned that along with the some of the more traditional headshot images, she also wanted something out of the box for Stephanie’s portrait. I racked my brain for a ideas and came up with a couple decent ones but never had “it” figured out.
About a week later, I went to The Film Depot in Richardson to pick up some film sleeves for the 120 & FP-100C I’d been shooting. Now, I’ve been to this place a kajillion times and I always browse through almost everything when I’m there. For some reason or another, I had never seen the brand-new-in-box Polaroid Emulsion/Image Transfer Kit that was sitting waaaay up high on the shelf. I asked the owner if I could pull it down to look at it .. she nodded her head. I grabbed the box and white flakes came floating down all over me. I took a deep breath, blew the top of the box and a cloud of dust flew through the store. The owner laughed, smiled and told me that she’d be willing to make a deal with me. The box said $25 but she’d take $15. I opened it up, saw that the deal was good and paid the kind lady. Score!
The week of the Stephanie’s shoot came up and I had been toying around with emulsion lifts/transfers. It didn’t quite dawn on me until a day or so before the shoot, but I knew that a collage of emulsion transfers would be a really cool fit for Stephanie’s portrait (out of the box? √ ). We discussed possible locations the day before and decided on using The Heard Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney.
The shoot was a blast! Stephanie & Sandy were in great spirits the whole time as I took them on a wild goose chase of a photoshoot. I had been to the Heard before with Synthia and remembered where some of the nicer ‘available light’ locations were. The only issue was we had to walk about 2-3 miles total to get to all of them (sorry again ladies ..). About 1/2 way through the shoot, we came to the spot I had planned on using for the collage of emulsion transfers. I had Stephanie sit on a bench and started snapping away with a Polaroid 100 Land Camera. I took 6 images in the style of David Hockney and tucked them away in my homemade box to dry.
A day later, once the prints had fully dried, I pulled the materials out of the Polaroid Emulsion/Image Transfer Kit and gathered anything else I needed ..
2 trays (8×10 or larger) to hold water
Rubber Brayer (a roller)
Wax Paper & Scissors (not included in kit)
Along with the kit I purchased, I received a step-by-step guide to emulsion transfers. If you’d like to view a PDF of it CLICK HERE.
The process was pretty simple ..
Once all of the images were trimmed and set up with contact paper, I started heating up some water on the stove. When the water was 160 degrees I poured it into the one of the trays and filled the other tray of water with tap water.
At this point, I cut an 8×10 piece of watercolor paper that I had lying around and submerged it in water for a few seconds. I pulled it out and layed it on an 8×10 piece of glass. I used the rubber roller to “mount it” to the glass. Almost time for the transfer …
When the piece dried, the watercolor paper wrinkled a bit and little portions of the transferred emulsions were rising up from the paper. I placed the piece in an 8×10 frame to flatten it but was bothered by the negative space that was surrounding the transferred images. I’m a stickler. I went back to the Heard a few days later and took 9 more photos at approximately the same time of day as the first shoot. The images dried and I transferred them to finish out the piece.
NOTE: If you’re experienced in transfers and have any suggestions/comments to share, I would love to hear from you!
Also, if you like this technique and would like to have a unique image created for you , email or call me! I’d be happy to create something original for you!
For those interested, I’ve attached a few of my favorite images from this session as well …
Thank you for your time!
June 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
My brother and I were talking the other day and he mentioned that he needed promotional photos for his new website. Josh is an uber-talented producer, singer/songwriter, musician, composer & arranger (the boy’s a musical genius .. it’s true). I had taken a photo of him a while back on Impossible’s PX-70 Old Gen film. He liked the look of instant film and definitely wanted that type of vibe for the images on his website.
The vintage-y look was definitely the right fit. I told him what might be cool is a series of photos that showcased the wide array of musical abilities he has and some of the equipment he uses. He liked the idea and we figured out a time to get together …
On the morning of the shoot, I was finishing up a blog post on using Impossible images in a RB67 and knew I needed something to post for the example. I had used the method before BUT the image I took was of a friend and felt it didn’t quite showcase the RB’s optical abilities. I cruised over to his place, mentioned the blog post and started off the shoot using the RB …
For the rest of the shoot, I used a Polaroid Sonar SX-70, mounted on a tripod if I was indoors. Most of the indoor images (unless taken by a window) were longer exposures. I mixed some strobes into one of the pictures (first photo below) but mainly used available light. You can tell which images were taken in rooms heavily lit with incandescents and which photos were taken by natural light. When shooting longer exposures indoors, incandescents will cast a yellow-orange hue into the image. Combined with Impossible’s films, it helps to add a vintage look that’s pleasing to the eye.
I’m pleased with the images that were captured. I think these are a great start for his website and will help set the right vibe for who he is and what he does.
PLUG: Josh Goode and his engineering partner, Bradley Prakope, are INCREDIBLE producers. If you are a musician in the north Texas area and are actively looking for QUALITY people to work with that produce viable music for the masses, these are the guys. If you are curious about their services please contact Josh at – email@example.com
June 23, 2012 § 2 Comments
Would you like to help promote the use of instant film? Get with it and slap one of these babies up on your ride!
I received some of these today from the Impossible Project (the first batch I got went quickly!). If you are in the D/FW area and would like one, send a message my way and I’ll be happy to find a way to get one of these to you.
June 21, 2012 § 5 Comments
In my previous blog post, I touched briefly on Impossible’s viewfinder article on Patrick Clarke regarding his use of a Mamiya RB67 with Impossible Project film. The article did a great job of explaining how it works and for photography-minded individuals nothing further is needed. However, for people just getting into instant film or photography in general, a pictorial on the subject would clear up any potential guesswork that has be done.
This method (not what’s pictured above ;-)) works with Impossible’s SX-70 & 600 series film. When I first read about this, I was stoked because I knew I had the gear to try this out. It’s a pretty backwards way of taking a photo, BUT the fact that you’re able to do it, is really cool. Clarke touched on the RB67’s qualities in the article “… amazed at how technically perfect the camera and its lenses were. I could control the depth of field, the shutter speed and aperture exactly like I wanted. My exposures were dead on, and the images were sharp as I could want” .. I couldn’t agree more. The fact that you can utilize these qualities with Impossible film is awesome.
Now the how to’s ..
First, from this point forward, **anything inside asterisks MUST BE DONE in complete darkness (in a dark room, light-tight bag, dark closet etc.)** Dealing with undeveloped film, because it’s so sensitive to light, has to be kept in the dark until it’s developed. This particular method, extracting film from a cartridge for use in another camera, needs a certain level of care in order to keep the image undeveloped until you’re ready.
If you don’t have access to a darkroom or a really dark closet, you will need to insert a dark slide into the cartridge to protect the film from light before removing it.
There’s a great video on Impossible’s website that teaches you how to swap film packs between cameras that talks about these first steps if you’re interested.
At this point, you need to put the Polaroid back & the freshly removed film cartridge in a changing bag (a light tight bag used to extract film) or your darkroom ;-). In total darkness you will need to …
Go take a picture of something!
Once you have shot your image, remove the Polaroid back and put it back in the changing bag with the Impossible film cartridge & a SX-70/600 series camera (or go to a darkroom if you’re so lucky ;-)). Remove the exposed image from the Polaroid back and …
At this point, I normally slide an empty PX70 box inside the changing bag to store & remove the exposed image.
EXAMPLE: Note the reversed image when shooting this way …
That’s about it! Now this method will work with any NPC back that uses FP-100C film. The only question will be how much ‘real estate’ is being exposed on the negative.
Thanks for reading and thanks to this blog post for the inspiration!
June 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
About a month ago, a couple friends of ours (Amy & Ellie) were visiting from Colorado. When my wife and I caught up with them at a bar, Ellie and I started gabbin’ about all things photography (she’s a photog as well). Since I’m usually carrying, I decided to bring the Mamiya RB67 loaded with one frame of old gen PX70 (I had recently read a blog post about this particular technique on TIP’s website). When I started fiddling with it, our conversation segued to the Impossible Project and I got her up to speed with the jist of their products & company. I took a photo that night but had screwed up the loading process (I left a practice photo in the polaroid back and laid the unexposed photo on top – I’m still perplexed as to how I didn’t feel that in the light bag). Needless to say I didn’t get an image BUT it got her interest piqued. She was probably thinking “Why would this guy lug around all this stuff for ONE photo?”
We talked a few days later and she mentioned that she wanted to commission me for a small project. Ellie and her husband Eric are expecting a baby boy in August and he wants to help her decorate. Apparently, Eric is a HUGE Dallas Cowboys fan. So much so, that he was thinking about putting astro-turf in the nursery. When that was vetoed he found a HUGE rug that looked like an aerial view of the field. Now, not that there’s anything wrong with those two suggestions but I think Ellie was looking for another solution to the compromise. 😉 After hearing about the Impossible Project and seeing some of the images, she said she’d rather have prints of some IP film shot at Cowboys Stadium. Sweet! We did a quick search online and found that there were self-guided tours that are offered throughout the year.
The day of the shoot arrived and I packed a bag full o’ cameras & film. I knew that for the exterior images I would probably shoot it with the SX-70 & PX-70 COOL + the occasional ND filter (kudos to Tyler Tyndell for the ND tip) and for the interiors I would alternate between the SX-70 and a Spectra AF w/ PZ680 Color Shade. My lady, Synthia, came with me as well and she brought a Spectra SE with some PZ old gen black frame. Synthia’s finally come around to the ol’ Impossible Project. At first she would jokingly make comments like … “You’re shooting more of that impossibly hard to shoot film .. gah … “. But over the last two months, her interest has increased and she decided to pick up a PZ old generation bag. She was saving the film for an upcoming trip to Colorado but I think we’ll probably be buying a little more before that epic road trip. Oops! On a tangent .. back to the task at hand …
We got to the stadium about 1 o’clock and picked up two of their self-guided tour tickets. I had never been there before and was a little surprised at just how ginormous the stadium was. I’d seen it from The Ballpark in Arlington but I’d never really been near it.
We made our way inside and almost every person that we talked to mentioned something about the cameras we were shooting. “I love y’alls Polaroids!” .. “You can still get film for those?!” … “Wow! Haven’t seen one of those in years” .. “I have one of those in my closet!” .. The love for Polaroid cameras & instant photography never ceases to amaze me.
A few of my favorites …
A couple of Synthia’s favorites … I love the black frame impossible photos.
For info on purchasing prints email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
My good friend Billy Baque, a photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been talking about wanting to build an Afghan Box Camera for a while now. He first saw this camera in a magazine article in the 1990’s and a couple of years ago, he wrote a blog article about the Cuban Polaroid. After it was published he was contact by Lukas Birk, who was putting together a website for The Afghan Box Camera Project. The website now has a plethora of information regarding the use of these cameras in Afghanistan and how to build/use one. Billy’s been blogging about these cameras for quite some time; definitely worth the read.
Now Billy, is a photographer who appreciates quality and a fine level of craftsmanship in the cameras he uses. Seeing the basic layout design on the afghan box camera website, he knew that he eventually needed to find someone to help him with this project. He started his search and actively contacted master woodsmiths in the Bay Area trying to find the right person. After about a month of searching, he extended his search into Oregon and found someone to help, Kurt Mottweiler, a custom camera maker in Portland. Kurt is now working on designing & building a contemporary version of this camera for Billy that will use current photo paper.
This is speculation, but I would imagine that there would be a working prototype within the year. There is also talk about possibly selling the cameras and/or the plans to build one if there is enough buzz.
All in all, it’s a really neat project and I’m excited for all parties involved. The only place you really see these types of cameras nowadays are in 3rd world countries. The fact that they are helping to bring this relic back to the modern age is really something special. I smile at the fact, that soon enough, my good friend Billy will be shooting this classic camera on the streets of San Francisco; a place which probably hasn’t seen the likes of one in probably almost a century.
If you have any questions regarding this project please email Billy at email@example.com.
June 5, 2012 § 10 Comments
This past weekend, Impossible Project announced the winners for their ‘Spring Comes Alive’ contest. I was lucky enough to have been chosen along with 4 other photographers; I am super grateful & happy. There were over 450 photos entered into the contest over about a month’s timeframe. Looking back through the photos, I am very humbled as there were some incredible submissions.
I’ve been shooting Impossible Project’s photos for almost 2 months now. I must say, I’m really impressed with how they treat their customers. They are incredibly pro-active about promoting their users on the internet and have a great online presence. If you need to know anything about their films, they have all the information you need accessible on their website; blog posts & various how-to videos detailing many important characteristics of their products. If it’s not available on their website, they are a phone call away.
I’ve been on a blogging kick lately and the instigator was my initial experience with these films. After I popped my IP film cherry, it was the first time I really wanted to blog about something film-related. I typically post my photos to Tumblr or Flickr, add a few tags and that’s that. About a month ago, it changed and I’ve been writing ~ 3 posts a week. Whenever I found out this past weekend that I was chosen, I knew I needed to write a “Top 10 Reasons to shoot TIP film ” to hopefully persuade some people to try it out. It’s the very least I can do to thank TIP.
Here, in no particular order, are the reasons:
1) You’re supporting a new film company – New film company? Yes. The Impossible Project has been around since 2008 and they are the only company that makes new film for Polaroid SX-70’s, Spectras and 600 series cameras (update: Impossible is now making film for 8×10 view cameras). As some of you may know, Polaroid ceased operation a few years back. Other than FujiFilm’s limited options (FP-100C peel-apart film & Instax film), The Impossible Project is the only other prominent provider of instant film. By using their product, you are investing in the life of instant film & the development of new instant films.
2) Helping to keep instant film around for the ‘next generation’ – If you were born during the last century, chances are pretty good that you’ve got a few old Polaroid images lying around somewhere of you as a child. My grandparents have massive amounts of Polaroids in family albums that date back to the 1950’s. Sure, we’ve all got our digital cameras and we upload our digital images to a hard drive and post them to Facebook, but then what? Do you ever make prints of your digital images? Few actually do I’ve found. One of the great things about using instant film is the fact that you are ensuring that your family will have ‘polaroids’ to share with each other in this century.
3) You’re shooting a classic Polaroid – In my opinion, in the world of instant photography, there aren’t a lot of things that are cooler than Polaroid SX-70’s and pack film cameras. Henry Dreyfuss’ ingenious, classic, art-deco design of the SX-70 makes every head turn when you whip one out for a photo. Polaroid pack film cameras get the same type of attention. Cameras just aren’t made like this any longer. If you’re wondering where you can find an older Polaroid, there are many places online. You can buy refurbished Polaroids direct from the Impossible Project or you can try your hand at finding a used camera on Craigslist or Ebay.
4) The images are analog – Forget 1’s and 0’s. Chemistry is where it’s at. The images produced with Polaroid cameras are tangible. They are real. Keep in mind however that this film isn’t like the Polaroids that your parents shot. Impossible’s films are sensitive to a variety of variables during the development process; including but not limited to ambient light, temperature & pressure just to name a few. The beauty of that delicate balance is that you have a hand in how your image eventually turns out and it heightens your awareness of what is needed to create a successful image.
5) Real instant gratification – Once the image has fully developed, you have a print in your hand. Slap it on the fridge, give it to a friend, make a postcard .. do whatever you want with it. It’s not stuck in your digital camera or iPhone. It’s in your possession right then and there. Overall that seems a little better to me than going home, downloading, editing and uploading the images to the web so you can bask in their glory through the monitor. Sure, I’ve done it. But this is so much better.
6) Image Transfers & Manipulations – Am I talking photoshop? No. Check out this page for a growing list of ideas of what you can do with your Impossible images once you have some in your hands.
7) Impossible films are predictably unique every time – One of the greatest things about these films, is that you can count on it being an artistic representation of your subject. Due to a variety of variables, there are random artifacts and nuances that come along with each release of film. The guaranteed unpredictable subtleties are what keeps me coming back.
8) The images can be scanned – Are you worried about it not being digital? That can be remedied easily. Even with a really sub-par cheap scanner, you can get a HUGE digitized file from these images that can later be printed & reproduced. Because it is a positive print and not a negative, you don’t necessarily need a pro-grade scanner to get a worthwhile digital image.
9) The Impossible Project promotes their supporters & users – Day after day, I see the Impossible Project marketing team promoting their clientele on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. They do a bang-up job at it. The cool thing I’ve found about that, is when you post an image that catches their eye, they will repost, re-tweet or blog about it on their websites. THAT is nice and definitely noteworthy in my book. It’s a mutually beneficial thing, but for most if not all film companies I’ve found, that rarely happens. Since the Impossible Project is still a small company they can give their fans a level of personal attention that is lacking in many other companies.
10) You inherently become a better shooter – It’s true. When each image you are shooting is costing you $, you become picky REAL quick. Forget the digital days of bang bang bang bang bang! Unless you’re a sheik, you probably won’t be burning through a lot of exposures when you shoot this stuff. Like most things film-related, shooting these films force you to slow down and really think about all the variables that will affect the shot. In doing so, you start to build on your ability to get the shot right the first time without having to go back and redo it.
Are those good enough reasons??? I think so. If I’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to buy some let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll send you an invite through TIP so I can gain some brownie points 😉