August 1, 2012 § 8 Comments
Impossible Project announced to their pioneers last week, that their chief chemist Martin Steinmeijer, had invented a brand new opacification molecule. They said it’s designed to completely absorb light as the photograph exits the camera and remains colorless and transparent once the image has fully developed. TIP also stated “this new molecule is as powerful as the molecule used in the original Polaroid materials and for the first time will allow you to take your Impossible photographs without the need of immediate shielding.” THIS is what everyone has been waiting for.
I received the pioneer newsletter in my email one morning, and when I saw how fast the packs were going, I snagged two of them (limit of 4). I was going to wait, but I’m so glad I didn’t … they sold all 400 packs available in the states, in under 30 minutes. When the film came in the mail a few days later, I was pretty excited. This was the first time I’d been able to test a new batch of film … I ripped open the package.
I didn’t have a Polaroid 680/690 to shoot this film with, nor did I have a ND4 filter to slap on the SX-70 .. but I did have a Polaroid One Step Flash that had been sitting on my shelf. I figured I’d shoot a variety of subjects with the OneStepFlash, the RB67 and possibly the SX-70+ND2 lit by the mid-day sun, indoor on-camera flash, studio strobes, ambient light, long-exposures etc.
I loaded up the first pack of film and headed out with Synthia. We ended up going to the Design District Gallery Day to check out some new photographs that were at PDNB. I was going to snag some photos but it was 106 outdoors and nothing really looked worthy enough. We ended up cruising up the road to one of my favorite overlooks of downtown. Over the past couple of months, I had come here to snag two other impossible photos on an overcast day and in the evening. I jumped out of the car, cranked the exposure down & fired off a shot with the OneStepFlash. WITHOUT SHIELDING THE PHOTO, it ejected into the blazin’ sun when it was still 100+ degrees. During the ride home, the photo developed out in the open & in my lap for about 30 minutes (at 80ish degrees I would imagine).
Regarding the color you’ll see in these images, TIP stated “these packs are not yet fully optimized for color performance .. it is still being worked on at this time .. the focus was on the opacification layer.”
My friend JV had met up with us to check out the gallery, so after we got back home, I set up a few lights and took a picture of him. Don’t look too serious now buddy … 😉
I shot this particular impossible photo on the RB67. After I shot it, I went to a dark closet to extract the photo, put it in an empty PX-70 pack and slid it fully inside the SX-70. Then I brought the SX-70 out into a lit room, closed the front .. *camera ejects film* .. and BAM – opacification molecules doing their ‘thang’ in the light. It sat on a table for 25 minutes developing in the office.
Later on in the weekend, I figured a test of the highlights, and how the film handled harsh on-camera-flash would be good to have. I snapped a pic of Maybelle indoors (by enticing her with treats) and walked the exposed picture over to an area I had set up by the window. I shot a stop-motion video sequence with the D700 so I could show how the picture developed. I snapped a photo every 5-10 seconds over a 25 minute period, but admittedly it was probably every 3-5 once the development started to kick in. The image is about as good as I would expect from a OneStep indoors, with a bright blaring flash .. *poor Maybelle .. she got lots of love after being temporarily blinded*
The next day, I ended up experimenting a little bit and extracted a test photo *in the darkroom*, slid it inside an empty Spectra pack and loaded up my Spectra AF. Why not?
I went up the road and snagged a quick photo of a donut shop. The sun was probably a little behind me to my left and it was 4 o’clock. I shot it with an even exposure. When I got back home, I went back into the closet to do the impossible shuffle and again, brought the camera out to eject the photo into the light to test the new opacification molecule.
One thing I have noticed, is that the level of goopyness in the shadows isn’t as pronounced as it has been in the past. In previous versions of their films, there were blobs and a splotchiness to the images (which honestly I liked) which is not prevalent in these test packs.
I liked the outcome of the first Spectra image, so I loaded up another shot and went out later to test a long exposure. I ended up cruising to The Dog Stop; a place I ate at years ago with my wife one day. I set the Spectra up on a tripod and bumped the exposure up 1/3rd of the way; it was about a second or two as I recall. I drove back home and did the impossible shuffle yet again, so the image could develop in the light.
The following day, I stuck with the theme of ‘random-buildings-i-have-always-wanted-to-shoot-but-never-have’ around the area and snapped another photo with the Spectra.
OK – Enough with the building photos ..
I loaded up the PX680-V4B in my SX-70 and swung by the lake. The sun had just set and there was this incredible light on the lake (isn’t that always the case ;-)). I cranked the exposure dial all the way down and hoped for the best …
Again, less goopy-ness in the shadows. It does look like the overall quality of the highlights & shadows are improving. It seems, like in this image, it’s getting a little less gunked up and is rendering smoother tonal gradations. Now with that said, I love the gunk/funk of the old images. That’s part of what makes those old-gen, 12/11, NIGO and other variations so cool. I just like it gunky.
EDIT: One more from the RB …
Same thing. Did the impossible shuffle to extract the photo and get it into the SX-70, however, after I ejected the photo in the light, I stowed it away, a few seconds afterwards, in a box for the duration of the development @ 75 degrees.
Overall, it looks to be a massive improvement in the way their films can handle direct ambient indoor light & outdoor light once the image has started its development. The Impossible chemists have been trying to solve the opacification issue for a while. Soon in the near future, as I did with these, you WILL NOT HAVE TO SHIELD THE PHOTO as it ejects from the camera. This is a HUGE step forward. There will be no need to teach shielding techniques to new shooters, nor will there be a need to convince them that all the hassle is worth it. For the average person, who might want something special beyond a digital snapshot, this is a massive leap in their direction. Convincing them to use Impossible Project film will be a hell of a lot easier, when shielding the film isn’t a necessity. Bravo Impossible .. Bravo.
July 28, 2012 § 24 Comments
Nowadays, when people start their journey into photography, most begin on the digital path using their phones, a point & shoot or an entry level DLSR. If you’re someone that really ‘gets the bug’, you’ll gain an increased awareness of the larger tools available to use with film. If photography is something you really enjoy, picking up a medium format film camera can open up a world of visual yumminess (yes, yumminess) that just isn’t possible with an entry-level digital setup. There are many options out there for medium format film photography. Holga, Kiev, Mamiya, Fuji, and Hasselblad are just a few of the cameras available, and you can find a wide variety of film at BHPhotoVideo or Adorama.
My current camera of choice for medium format is a Mamiya C330S. C330’s are TLR cameras that were made from the 70’s through the early 90’s and they are pretty fun to shoot. Because it’s fully mechanical and void of any electronics (like I like it), it slows you down and makes you think about everything regarding the image you want to take.
The HUGE advantage of shooting with medium and large format cameras, is that the surface area being exposed on the negative, is SO MUCH larger than what’s exposed on 35mm or P&S cameras. As a result, both quality and detail, are drastically improved.
I found a chart on Wikipedia by MarcusGR and for comparison, I added a couple of medium format film sizes (6×6 and 645). The chart shows up to 6×6, but you can also shoot 6×7, 6×9 and wider on medium format film.
Once it’s developed, film can be digitized with a dedicated film scanner. When medium format negatives are scanned, depending on the resolution chosen, you can have image sizes upward and well beyond of a hundred megapixels. Another bonus, is that once you have the digital negative, you can crop it to whatever aspect ratio you’d like (4×6, 5×7, 8×10 etc. if preferred). Granted, you can crop anything. However, when you have a massive amount of ‘information’ at your disposal with larger format negatives, cropping doesn’t drastically decrease the overall quality, like it can when cropping some digital images.
Another perk to MF & LF photography, is how depth of field (DOF) changes. If you’ve been shooting for a while in the 35mm format, you’re probably used to how f/2.8, f/4 & f/16 for example, changes DOF. As you move up in film size, the DOF decreases. When I started shooting MF, I quickly learned that f/8 on the Mamiya was not the same as f/8 on my 35mm cameras. You have to be a lot more careful when focusing with these larger formats, because even when ‘stopped down’, you might only be focusing a sliver of sharpness back and forth in the frame.
EDIT: My Dad pointed out a couple of things in the comments below .. “Two other benefits that 35mm film shooters may not be aware of are these 1) grain is less apparent when shooting higher speed films in medium format. The appearance of grain is inversely related to the size of the negative. The bigger the negative, the less apparent the grain. 2) the tonal range of any given film is more apparent. Again, it relates to the size of the negative. Here, the apparent tonal range is directly proportionate to the size of the negative: the large the negative, the more subtle the tones.”
There’s an undeniable, aesthetic appeal to the images created with MF & LF cameras. They create looks that just aren’t possible with P&S and 35mm cameras. In this day and age, because of the world’s focus on pixel-cramming digital technology, the price point to get the look of medium format film, is relatively low. Take advantage if you can.
A handful of medium format images …
Some medium format cameras can also use Polaroid backs as well. I’ve taken a bunch of Fuji peel-apart film, as well as an ever-increasing number of Impossible Project photos on the Mamiya RB67. You get great results with both types of instant film. Below are a couple of images shot with the RB67 and Fuji B&W peel-apart film. Note how much of the image is exposed through this method.
And finally as a bonus, some medium format cameras make for great props! 🙂
Thanks for reading! You are appreciated!
PS – MOST of these photos are available as prints. If you’d like more information on purchasing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON A SIDE NOTE: Last year, I was shooting a lot of portraits on B&W through the C330 and I made a stop-motion video promoting our business. The video consists of hundreds of images detailing part of the process of shooting, developing, scanning & retouching film portraits. The music is by Curt Bisquera; a ridiculously talented drummer/musician that I met a few years ago through my brother. The song “Pimp D” has a cool, west-coast vibe. If you haven’t seen the video before, it’s worth checking out on the larger size through YouTube.