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
October 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’ve recently started using Impossible’s LIFT IT! brush set for emulsion transfers. Included in the set are four brushes, varying in size, which aide in the removal, positioning & manipulation of the gelatinous emulsion during transfers. In the past, I was using regular watercolor brushes to remove the emulsion from the mylar surface of instant images. That had been working OK, but since I’ve gotten these, I’m never turning back …
I’ve heard, “Aren’t these the same as brushes that I can pick up at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby?” At first, I assumed they might be. Not quite the case. When I would use other brushes, the bristles would flare out and I’d end up using the base of the bristles to push off & remove the emulsion. Sometimes I would end up tearing the emulsion while I was removing it, because invariably I was using the metal/wood portion at the base of the bristles. The LIFT IT brushes are designed well. The brushes that need to stay ridged and/or soft deliver. The #1 brush for instance, stays ridged while you use the soft bristles of the brush to remove the emulsion. This helps the user remove it without the heightened risk of tearing it. When you’re dealing with a gelatinous material, being as careful as you can is key.
Since I’ve started using the LIFT IT kit, I’ve made a handful of transfers for family & friends. I made a couple more this evening for this blog post to walk you through the steps. The steps might vary from person to person. This is one of the methods I use. I used three images to make two emulsion transfers. One will be dried & stowed away in the “another random transfer” file & the other will end up being a card for my grandmother.
Brush #3 was made to shape, distort and to remove contortions after the transfer, however, I found that it also served well as a tool to wipe away the developer residue from the backside of the emulsion. The brush is super soft and the fine bristles worked really well at this task.
At this point, I used brush #4 to brush away some of the creases. After a little bit of brushing the creases grew on me; I decided to leave it alone and let it dry.
Positioning these onto paper can be a little difficult. It’s best to use small delicate motions with the brushes to move it around. Once the emulsion is spread out, I’ve found you can position the paper underneath, and use gentle side-to-side motions to carefully make water movement push the image around. It takes a little bit of practice. Once I get the image where I want it, I slide a brush underneath the paper and gently push up from the middle to bring it out of the water.
About halfway through this process, brush #4 was a little gunked up with the gelatinous goo. Nothing a quick dip in cold water couldn’t fix; it was as good as new.
When I was finished transferring the emulsions, I used the soap provided in the LIFT IT kit and thoroughly cleaned the bristles. They were clean within a matter of seconds and I set them aside to dry.
– The Transfers –
Should you buy it? Of course. Why? For a couple of reasons .. the main one is they really do work well and if cared for properly, these brushes should last you many, many, many transfers (years!). #2 – Do I really have to say it? You’ll be supporting one of the only instant photography companies by purchasing it. Buying their products empowers them to keep providing us with great analog materials to create art. It’s a no brainer!
Help keep instant alive!
If you have ANY questions whatsoever, please send a message my way. I’m always happy to help in any way that I can.
Thanks for your time!
September 11, 2012 § 4 Comments
This past weekend, Synthia and I photographed Erica Perry at one of our favorite places; Buzzard’s Paradise. Erica is a super-talented country singer that has been performing around the metroplex for a few years. We’ve worked with her in the past on various projects which included some promo material for her EP, some images of her band and also some engagement photography.
This time around we shot her bridals and some new promotional photos for her. We figured that our friend’s ranch, Buzzard’s Paradise, was the perfect setting for these images. Of course, I can’t share the bridal photos now, but I can share some of the other photos we shot. A good friend of mine just recently let me borrow his Hasselblad 503CW with an 80mm & 50mm lens, so naturally, I used the hell out of that bad boy on this day. I also used some Impossible Project PX-70 COOL with a Polaroid SX-70.
A few images from this shoot …
Erica just recently made it to the top 24 of The CW’s The Next television show and this Thursday (9/13), the Dallas episode airs at 8PM. From what I understand, once the producers of The Next whittled down the competition to 24, they toured around to 6 cities to listen to the remaining contestants. Each of the cities had the audience vote and the winner of that particular city is announced when the show airs.
Of course, myself and everybody else I know hopes she wins and makes it to the next round, BUT if she doesn’t, there’s still a chance for her to make it to the finals. You can vote her into the wild card spot on September 20th.
Help support a local rising artist and watch The Next this Thursday night at 8pm! We’re keeping our fingers crossed!!
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 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
May 26, 2012 § 13 Comments
A couple months ago, a friend of ours booked my wife and I to photograph her wedding in Terrell, Texas. She mentioned that it was going to be a small ceremony on May 26th, at a friend of a friend’s house, who happened to also own a few classic cars. I’ve known Amy for a while and I was happy to hear that she wanted to use us for the wedding. When I met up with her to talk things over, she mentioned that she loved our photography and was looking to have a classic, vintage look for her wedding photos. She also told me that she had been holding onto her great-grandmother’s camera and was trying to find the right home for it. It seemed fate was potentially going to have a hand in the outcome of these images …
Within a week or so, she contacted me and I swung up the road to pick up the camera. I had no idea what to expect, but was intrigued when she handed me a Pho-Tak Traveler 120 box camera. When I got back into the car, I examined the camera and knew that the “120” was probably an indication of what film it used. I opened it up and found a metal Kodak spool which was indeed for that size film. 120 is still made … how cool would it be to shoot some of her wedding photographs on her great-grandmothers’s camera? VERY COOL. I called her up and she was thrilled with the idea.
I took it over to my friend’s camera shop to clean it up and to determine what the shutter speed & aperture might be. This is a point-and-shoot camera in the most literal sense. It has one shutter speed & aperture, using a singlet lens, that produces a 6x9cm negative. We thought that it was probably sitting at about a 20th-30th of a second and possibly f/5.6. I tried a roll of Ilford 3200 indoors and it was extremely underexposed (3-4 stops). It’s not f/5.6. I talked it over with another friend and he mentioned, that since this camera was made in the 1950’s, it was probably meant to use ASA 100 speed film or slower. I had a ‘duh moment’. Having a shutter speed of only about 1/30th, using the sunny-16 rule, I figured it was probably sitting at about f/32. I tested out a roll of Fuji Acros 100 developed in Rodinal and had decent results. From the test roll I noticed a couple of things; it focuses about 5-10 feet away & you really have to make sure the camera is stable when exposing. The best way to trip this shutter is to slowly put consistent pressure on the shutter release until it clicks. The rollers in the camera did scratch the crap out of the negative but what are you gonna do? It’s an old box camera. The aged look it produced was perfect!
I packed a variety of film cameras to use on the day of the wedding; a Leica M2 (15mm + 50mm), a Polaroid SX-70, a Polaroid 100 Land Camera & the Pho-Tak Traveler 120. I figured with Amy’s request for vintage, classic images & the automobiles, bringing cameras relevant to the era would be a good idea. For film, I packed some Tri-X, Ektar 100, Impossible Project PX-70 COOL & some Fuji FP-100C. My wife was armed with our trusty Nikon D700, F100 and a Nikon FE. Our bases were covered …
I like having a plethora of cameras to choose from at our photo shoots. The beauty of having a variety of film cameras at your disposal, is that each camera is different and produces unique results. Forget trying to edit a digital image to match the results you get with film. 1) It can’t be replicated 2 ) it’s boooooooring and SO overdone. If you’re trying to emulate film it’s just a whole lot easier to shoot film. It takes less time in the long run to get really cool, unique, vintage images.
Anyhow, off the bat, the place looked to be really cool. The owner had pulled out a few of his classic cars and they were parked on the lot by the garage. We scouted out some locations around the area that would be good to shoot at during the wedding. I met up with the groom, Adam, and I pulled him aside to snap a pic of him on some of the Impossible Project PX-70 COOL I brought with me.
After a little bit I went over to where Amy was getting ready. I brought Hannah, the flower girl, outside for a snapshot on the front porch with the SX-70 and then one with the Pho-Tak box camera.
At this point, Amy was almost ready and we grabbed a few photos before the ceremony …
The ceremony was short & sweet! I did have enough time to knock out some pics on the M2, the FE, the Pho-Tak, the SX-70 and a few on the Polaroid 100.
All in all, I’m pleased with the images from the Pho-Tak Traveler box camera. Granted it uses a singlet lens and it’s not uber-sharp but who cares? It has that insta-vintage look without all the editing fuss. Also, it goes without saying, BUT the Impossible PX-70 COOL yielded some really neat analog results as well. I’ll definitely keep this stuff stocked for my future gigs and personal shoots. Their film deserves to be shot .. a lot.
Interested in booking us for your wedding? Contact us at email@example.com