December 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
This past Saturday, the Instant Film Society was at it again storming the streets with our Polaroids in hand. I’ve started to organize monthly meet ups around the D/FW area to help promote and encourage the use of instant film. While doing so, I’ve met an incredible amount of talented and passionate people that enjoy instant photography. Besides the ones that were already into it, I’ve helped a lot of my friends get their feet wet and most if not all, LOVE it. The tangible instant gratification is something that I think appeals to everyone that tries it out.
The weather on the day of was perfect. You really couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was slightly overcast and 70 degrees … in December. You’ve got to love Texas. Anyhow, I cruised out to Ft. Worth with my friend Jama and we ended up making it out there a little early. Made our way over to the The Flying Saucer (the meet up spot) and I saw Troy B. making his way towards us. I’ve interacted with Troy online quite a few times, but this was the first time he was able to attend one of these events with us. Long story short, he’s a super nice guy and his presence was definitely a bonus. We instantly started gabbing all things photography and clicked off the bat. By this time, Annie, another person I’d met online, showed up and you could tell that she was happy to be there amongst like-minded peeps. Come to think of it, most of the people that came to this particular walk were new to the group and had not been to a previous one. For me, that’s really encouraging. It means that this positive vibe I’m throwing out there, into the world about instant photography, is working. I truly believe the world reciprocates positivity when you give it the same. That seems to be happening with the Instant Film Society. I couldn’t be happier.
We waited around for the rest of the group to show up while talking shop with each other. Richard, who was at our first event, joined up with us and I’m so glad he came back. His energy is palpable and he’s so much fun to be around. My good friend Justin V. (JV) and his son Callum showed up .. which was awesome. Amanda P., this super nice girl I’d met online who’s working on a long term photo project (Impossibly Expired) came to the walk too and ended up loaning Callum a SX-70 and a pack of film to shoot with! Anyhow, JV later said that seeing Callum’s eyes at that moment was the highlight of his night. 🙂 RJ, a fellow film lover that I had met online was there. Amy, my good friend that has dove head first into Polaroid cruised out too. Laidric, one of the now regulars in our group came out again. He’s always fun to hang around with. Jessica H., a girl that knows one of my best friends, showed up with one of her friends (I forgot your name .. sorry!) Annie, whom I mentioned earlier, got me in touch with two photographers, Steve & Erin, who are into vintage cameras a few weeks ago and they of course showed up too! Last but certainly not least, Christian, Elaine and a group of their family/friends met up with us as well. Christian is a big promoter of instant film around his neck of the woods and has been to every event we’ve had. I just can’t say enough just how cool all of these people are and how much I enjoy their company. Alright, enough with the role call …
This walk, was mainly geared towards shooting instant film at night and shooting long exposures. We had about an hour of light before the sun set when we began. As things got darker, most used tripods to help steady their exposures during this PolaWalk. One of the things I love about photography and also hosting these events, is that I get to see and share unique perspectives from a variety of instant photographers. From beginners to professionals, each have their own approach in how they see and capture the subject which is reflected in these images.
Enjoy a healthy mix of Impossible Project, expired Polaroid, and Fuji peel-apart images …
At the end of the night, a group of us met back up at The Flying Saucer and grabbed a few beers while talking about all things photography. Steve set up his Polaroid 600SE and snapped a couple of long exposures on his Polaroid using Fuji’s FP-100C. The following exposures were set up from the area we were hanging out at, exposed for 30 minutes due to the reciprocity failure of the film and were, as Steve said, “fueled by a Left Hand Milk Stout” 🙂
Are you interested in joining us for our next PolaWalk? We’ll be shooting around Deep Ellum in Dallas, TX on January 26th. If you’d like more info, you can find it here.
Twitter user? Follow us: @UseInstantFilm
As always, thanks for reading.
December 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
So you’re interested in learning more about this whole instant photography thing? I know the feeling. I can go on and on about why I love it, but I’d rather take this time to tell about some of the options that are available.
Fuji makes a couple of types of instant: integral film for their Instax camera line (the Instax mini & Instax wide) and peel-apart film for Polaroid pack film cameras. The Instax system is a great entry-level start into the world of instant. If you’re looking to capture candid images at a club, a party, hanging out with friends, this is a ideal choice. It fires a flash every time and takes good images. Food for thought: If you really get into instant, you might find that that this camera system is restricted when compared against others in the field. However, it’s all in how you use it. I’ve seen some incredible work produced from professionals who shoot with Instax cameras.
Fuji’s peel-apart film, FP-100C (color) & FP-3000B (B&W), is used in 100 series Polaroids, cameras which use a NPC Polaroid back or ones that have been converted to use pack film (Polaroid 110A & Polaroid 110B’s come to mind). Pack-film Polaroid cameras are a lot of fun to use. You can find them for $10-50 (on average) for the cameras with automatic exposure and for the models with manual exposure settings you’ll spend $300+ (Polaroid 180, 185, 190, 195, 600SE, Fuji FP-1). When looking for one, inspect to make sure there are no light leaks in the bellows. Use a flashlight to shine around in the camera when the back is open and look on the outside of the bellows for leaks. Check to make sure the rollers move freely and are fairly clean (wipe them down with a damp paper towel to remove any gunk you might find). Also, the required battery needed to run the meter is a little hard to find. Most people I’ve found covert the camera to use either AA or AAA batteries. It’s really simple. This a great tutorial on how to do it. Just be mindful of whether you need to convert to 3V or 4.5V which is easily determined by looking at the underside of the battery compartment door. But don’t let this technical mumbo-jumbo fool you. Once you get your camera in operating condition, the fun you’ll have with it is endless.
Fuji’s peel-apart film has a very clean look to it. The colors are pleasantly saturated, and the detail & clarity is very good.
Each exposure, when peeled, has a positive print and a negative. Further adding to the enjoyment of it, when shooting color film, the FP-100C negative can be salvaged to scan by bleaching the negative.
As I mentioned earlier, you can use any camera that has a NPC Polaroid back with peel-apart as well. I use a RB67 + a NPC Polaroid back and get great results. Note the black unexposed portion of the frame when shooting with a RB67.
You might be thinking .. What about all of those other Polaroids cameras? Do they still make film for those?? Luckily, since The Impossible Project stepped into the game, they do! They’ve re-invented integral film for literally hundreds of thousands of Polaroids that are still out there. Any of the Polaroid 600 series, Spectra/Image or SX-70 cameras can still be used. Beyond that, they’ve brought 8×10 instant film back into the marketplace.
A good Polaroid to start off with that shoots integral film would be any of the Polaroid One Steps/600 series cameras. You know the ones; boxy, most flipped open and have a flash. Nearly every office in the 80’s & 90’s had one for employee photos. They are fairly easy to use and shoot color (PX-680) or B&W (PX-600) film. There are a large variety of 600 series cameras available. If you’re purchasing on Ebay or Craiglist, you’ll find One Steps from $10-$100+ on average depending on the model and if it’s a collectible. The camera has two focusing distances (2-4ft and 4ft – infinity) and takes good images.
Polaroid Spectra cameras are another great option and are pretty durable cameras too. If you’re going to be roughing it while out and about, this particular camera is perfect for the job. I’ve been using these for a while and they produce really nice results. Most of the Spectra cameras I’ve picked up have been $10-20. They use color (PZ680) or B&W (PZ600) Impossible Project film, use inaudible sound waves to aid in auto-focusing and are pretty user friendly. I took one to a Texas Rangers game at the Ballpark in Arlington this past summer. If you’re interested in reading a little more about the camera & how it works, you can find that here.
This brings me to Polaroid SX-70’s. These are some of my favorite Polaroid cameras to use. They are really fun to operate. Unlike all of the other cameras as fore mentioned, because this particular camera is a SLR, what you see in the viewfinder is what you get. The Sonar SX-70, like the Spectra, also uses inaudible sound waves to measure the subject’s distance from the camera. If you get lucky, you can find these for around $20. But most of the various SX-70 models go anywhere from $40-100 depending on its condition and whether it’s been serviced/refurbished etc. Using SX-70’s with Impossible film can be a little challenging, however once you get over the learning curve and get a handle on how to best utilize their films with this camera, it produces some awesome results.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Polaroid SLR680/SLR690. These are top of the line Polaroids that shoot 600 speed film (PX-680 or PX-600). I’ve seen these online anywhere from $75-$200+, again, depending on the typical used-camera variables. They are modeled after the SX-70. Their rollers spread the film a little more even, it has more focusing zones than the Sonar SX-70 and they come equipped with a flash that can be toggled on/off.
When looking for a used camera, of course look for signs of damage, but even more so, check the lens to make sure it’s clean. Inspect the rollers; they should move somewhat freely. If you bring an empty film pack with you, you can check to make sure the camera’s ejection mechanism is working (this is not needed on Polaroids which use peel-apart film). Simply slide a darkslide into the empty pack, put it into the camera and if everything functioning properly, when you close the film door, the darkslide should eject out. Some cameras might sound slow or sluggish if they haven’t been used in a while. Actuate the shutter a handful of times. It will help move the gears and get the juices flowing. If you’re in the D/FW area, I have a few empty packs laying around. I’ll mail you one if you’re in need.
A big thanks to Daniel Rodrigue, Mark Goode, Patrick Clarke, Annie Donovan, Laidric Stevenson, John Morrison & Synthia Goode for letting me use their images to fill out this blog post. It is appreciated!
If you’d like to know more, send a message my way. I’d be happy to help you in any way that I can. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org