January 28, 2013 § 4 Comments
This past weekend, The Instant Film Society hosted, what was more than likely, the largest gathering of instant film enthusiasts in the state of Texas. More than fifty photographers and lovers of instant film gathered at Makeshift Photography‘s studio in Deep Ellum to participate in a PolaWalk and also have their portraits taken on Impossible’s 8×10 film.
A couple of days before the event, I spent a little time with Steve Reeves, Troy Bradford & Tyler Tyndell at Steve’s studio to get some things organized for this. We met up to talk 8×10 photography, get things set in place for Saturday’s PolaWalk and tested out a few things before we parted ways for the night. While we were there, we decided it would probably be best if we went ahead and knocked out a couple of the portraits before we had the rush of people that we were expecting on Saturday. Tyler took some great BTS photos of our meet up that evening.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was excited beyond belief. I couldn’t wait to get into the studio to set up for this particular PolaWalk. We’ve hosted quite a few since the Instant Film Society was founded, but nothing up to this point, had been as highly anticipated as this particular event. The lure of 8×10 cameras and large format instant film was creating quite a buzz within the photography community. About two weeks ago, I shot 8×10 instant film for the first time and immediately fell in love with the medium. It’s simply incredible. There’s nothing else like it out there in the market place and it’s quite honestly a rarity in a sense. At this point in time, only one company makes it and because of the high cost of materials & tools needed, most photographers don’t ever get a chance to see it or use it. Giving that opportunity to the D/FW instant community was something I was really looking forward to helping provide.
When Synthia and I got to MakeShift Photography’s studio on the day of the PolaWalk, Steve & Erin were prepping for the event and all of us were eager to get things started. Friends of ours started to trickle into the studio and within an hour or so, we were all gearing up for a busy day. I had split the 8×10 photo shoots up into two groups so it wouldn’t be too incredibly busy while we worked and by the time 3 o’clock rolled around, the studio was packed. Steve had his Toyo View 8×10 set up on one side of the studio utilizing a “blackground” and I was set up on the other side with my Burke & James Grover shooting towards a blank wall. Erin was loading up the 8×10 Polaroid holders and running the processor all afternoon and Synthia was scanning the 8×10’s, peeling the images and hanging them up to dry. It was definitely a group effort to get this whole shabang running quickly & smoothly.
When most of the participants had arrived, Daniel Rodrigue took the first group out to walk around Deep Ellum while the rest of us stuck around to start with 8×10 portraits. It was such a cool thing to be able to give this opportunity to these fellow photographers. I assume most hadn’t seen an 8×10 camera before. Everyone it seemed was just in awe of the process and I could tell were all stoked to have the chance to learn about this special way of creating images.
All in all, I think we ended up taking about 25+ 8×10 images and the ones who were photographed were thrilled to have an instant 8×10 portrait of their own. Attached are some of my personal favorites from our time at the studio …
A couple of friends of mine, Daniel Poe & Matthew Hogan were there at this event and I did let them take over and rearrange the setup for their images. These guys are brilliant with off-camera flash and there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to watch them work. They quickly rearranged the octabox & stripboxes for their portraits and when I took the test images on the “digi-roid”, I knew they had crafted something nice …
Because I was in the studio all day, I never had the chance to go out and shoot with the rest of the group that was wandering around Deep Ellum. It was really cool to see all of the great images that flooded into my inbox on Sunday. Here’s a handful of images from the PolaWalk portion of this event …
I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet, but I was interviewed last week by the local ABC news affiliate, WFAA – Channel 8, for a story they are doing on people who choose older forms of technology even when newer more advanced technologies are available. One of the reporters was with the group on Saturday to tape our PolaWalk and ended up interviewing a lot of the participants. After he recorded all of this great footage, Ryan came up to me and told me that they were probably going to do a separate story on our event in addition to the one I was going to be featured in. That’s exciting. It’s promotion for The Instant Film Society and more promotion for instant film in general.
I’m still a little stunned that we had around fifty photographers and instant film enthusiasts join us this past weekend. It’s a testament to the work we’ve been doing for months around the metroplex promoting instant film. On Sunday, when I created the new event page for our upcoming PolaWalk at Klyde Warren Park in February, within 24 hours, we had 30+ people who had signed up to join us. This special community of instant photographers is growing exponentially and I’m really excited to see how it will progress over the next year.
October 5, 2012 § 16 Comments
About a week ago, I got in contact with Daniel Rodrigue, the journalism & photography instructor at Brookhaven College. He had seen a post about the PolaWalk that I was hosting at the State Fair and after a brief telephone conversation, we decided to meet up. When we did, he and I instantly clicked. We’re both like-minded individuals and the passion that we share for instant photography is one in the same. During our meeting, he asked me if I would mind talking to his students at his Photography 1 class about instant film & The Impossible Project. After some thought, I quickly agreed and it was decided that I’d meet with them the following Tuesday.
I messaged The Impossible Project and they were ecstatic that I had the opportunity to help spread the word about instant film and would send some promotional material for the students. I was really excited for the students and also very grateful for the opportunity from Daniel.
I’m not a public speaker. However, I’ve been inspired to talk a lot about this medium. It’s moved me in a way that no other facet of photography has. It’s incredibly unique and the company that provides it, is just as much.
Following my meeting with Daniel and my conversations with TIP, I wrote a three page introduction about the company and its films; history, how to use it, special techniques and finally, closed it with a little bit of motivation to help spread the word.
Tuesday came along and I was fully prepared with everything that was needed. I had a handful of cameras to show & use, Impossible Project film, an emulsion/lift transfer kit with examples, cork boards filled with many of my favorites Impossible images and finally, the confidence needed to pull this off. This was my FIRST public speaking event. I would by lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I woke up very early that day and was hyping myself up all morning. I knew I had the knowledge to give them, but more importantly, I hoped that some of the inspiration I’ve gotten from using instant film would rub off on them.
When I got to Brookhaven, Daniel was all smiles and very excited for his students. I brought in my box of goodies, gave Daniel a poster from The Impossible Project and started organizing all of the material. Students eventually started to make their way into class, and I could tell many of them were enthralled with some of the images I brought. It made me happy and also was a little calming to see the excitement that was brewing.
Ten-thirty rolled around and I began the class. I started off talking about why I like instant film, how it’s completely different than using digital and the ways it can help improve your skill set. One of the main reasons I love instant film, is that it forces you to slow down. When every shot really counts and burning images, like one does with digital isn’t an option, you think about EVERYTHING (light, exposure, composition, the development temperature, etc.) You inherently become a better shooter because of this. Doing this day in and day out, with every image you take, increases your awareness of what is needed for a successful image and improves on your ability to take great images. Slowing down helps you to produce quality images a lot more frequently.
I had an hour for this portion of the class and I was going to meet back up with the photography club at 3 o’clock to show them how to perform emulsion transfers & lifts. At this point, I had talked and answered questions for about 20 minutes, shown them various cameras that I use, but I really wanted to get some cameras & film into the hands of these people. Sometimes seeing & feeling what it’s like to shoot instant film, is what it really takes to push people past the tipping point. I went over how to shield their images, how to shoot the camera and off they went! The energy was palpable!
Armed with a handful of Polaroid One Steps, some PX-680 CP and PX600 film, the students ran outside and started snapping away! Daniel and I raced around, trying to find the groups of budding photographers that were snapping off instant film as if it were going out of style. Integral film was blazing out of these cameras. It was a sight to see! Many of the other students around campus were looking and I’m sure wondering “Why did I not take a photography class? Polaroids?!? ” Strangers were walking up to Daniel asking him what was going on. It was greatness!
Enjoy some of the images they took …
– Students, if you would like credit for the images you took, please email me and describe which one/s are yours and I will add credit (first & last name) to your image –
Some of the images I took of the action …
Unfortunately, it was nearing the end of the hour and the students had to get to their next class. We found most of them and regrouped for a quick photo.
I asked the students if they would mind if I held onto to some of the photos to scan for a blog post. All of them wanted to keep them (of course) but I assured them that I would bring them back within a couple of days. We spread out an assortment of photos that were taken and took a quick snapshot ..
Later on in the afternoon, I taught their photography club how to do emulsion transfers & lifts. I had made a few examples at my house a few days earlier.
Once everyone had arrived, we arranged some trays in a sink and I started showing them how to perform a transfer. For most, if not all of them, this was the first time they had seen anything like this. I really enjoy seeing people’s expressions, when they see the emulsion become detached from the plastic cover of integral film. Most jaws are usually dropped once the emulsion starts to separate. It looks like an octopus underwater! I wave my arms around, with octopus-like motions, or what I think an octopus-like motion looks like ;-), when I describe the process.
After I had finished teaching the photography club, one of the students, Scott Mitchell, asked me if he could take my portrait for an article he was writing. He was going to pitch it to the school’s newspaper later on in the week. He wanted an image of me, with an assortment of Polaroids taken in their studio. I dragged the box of cameras in, arranged them on a prop table and he snapped this pic …
I had the most amazing time teaching these students. I wouldn’t have done this, if it hadn’t have been for my enormous love for instant photography. I want to infect people, like a virus, with the passion that I have for instant film.
A giant TEXAS-SIZED shout out to Impossible for providing such an incredible product. I can’t express enough, how incredibly happy each of them were during this whole process. Your film just makes people smile and brings joy into this world. Instant photography is so special. I haven’t met ONE person that doesn’t appreciate its value. THANK YOU for enabling me to give the gift of your product to these students. I have no doubt that I have impacted and inspired them. I am forever grateful …
September 30, 2012 § 6 Comments
Phew! I’m sitting at my desk right now, 3 hours after my arrival back home, and I can’t help but to keep grinning at all of the things that happened today. What an amazing experience. I can’t begin to stress how great it was, to see such happy pepole on a day like today. On any other day, we probably would have been miserable! The non-stop rain .. the endless, torrential downpour that pummeled the group today … But you know what? EVERYBODY was smiling. Not one person was unhappy about making the trek out to the fair to meet fellow instant photographers. I say it all the time, but it’s incredible the type of people that this medium attracts.
My day began, with knowing that it would be wet … REALLY wet today. The forecast was 80%-90% rain throughout the duration of the day with thunderstorms likely ALL day. What do you do, when you’ve organized an event and promoted it for a month. Do you abandon ship? No. You go through with it as planned and hope for the best. I can’t stress enough, that “the best” did occur.
Synthia and I left the house at noon, so we could make our way down to the Texas State Fair and grab a Fletcher’s corny dog before we hooked up with everybody else. Parking was fairly easy (plenty of spaces) and of course, there weren’t the usual crowds that normally accompany the fair’s 2nd day. We made our way in and I snapped off a couple of photos as we made our way towards Big Tex.
Daniel R. and Catherine met up with us first and they were both smiling. They rain hadn’t affected their moods in the slightest (i wouldn’t have thought so, they are really kind & cool people). After some chuckles and small talk, a fellow photographer I met online, Richard, made his way towards our group and introduced himself. He jumped in with both feet; pulled out his cameras, started gabbing photography, it was greatness! It seemed like he was really happy to be around other instant photographers. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he had to split early and didn’t end up hanging out with us. Hopefully he can make it out to the next event that gets organized. Before, he left I snapped a quick picture of him with his 680 SLR …
At this point, Christian & Elaine showed and were grinning from ear to ear as well. Christian helped promote this event and it was definitely appreciated. He mentioned that he had been so excited about this event that he could hardly sleep. Truth be told, I had been tossing and turning most of the week. A few minutes later, Jeremy & Amber showed up. I introduced them to everyone, passed off one of the Spectras I brought for them, and got them up to speed on the ins and outs of the camera. One of Daniel R’s students arrived, Adriana, and all of us introduced ourselves to her. She walked up holding this super cool pink, black and yellow neon Polaroid Cool Cam. It looked awesome! We waited around a little while longer for two more guys that I had met online; Daniel P. & Matthew. They drove in from Tyler and once they arrived, they were already soaked, but again nothing but smiles. I handed Daniel a Polaroid Automatic 100 with a few packs of FP-100C that I had promised him and we quickly organized a group photo.
Daniel R. spotted an interesting looking character walking towards a streamliner that was parked near Big Tex and asked him if he could take his photo. The moment I saw the guy, I knew it was “the voice of Big Tex”. I ran over there with my camera and once Daniel was done shooting this image on his Instax …
I snapped off a quick triptych on the SX-70 .. .
– CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER SIZE –
We all snapped off a few more photos, while we waited around a little while longer for any stragglers …
Then we started making our way towards The Midway area and commenced burning some film!
The rain was relentless! It just wouldn’t stop. I’m still in awe, that all of these people came out in such high spirits, despite the rain. Nothing was going to stop this group!! Rain?!? Pshaw!! Whatevs! After a while, we decided to make our way into the Food Court to dry off a little bit, relax and get to know each other a little more.
For Synthia and I, this was the first time we had met most of these people. I’m usually not the type to go out and seek the company of strangers for events, and for that matter, I really don’t like talking to strangers. It’s funny. My passion for using instant film is helping me turn a new leaf in my life. Many of you have never met me, and don’t know that I stutter. Sometimes it can get the best of me, but most of the time, it’s not that big of a deal. Sure, it doesn’t define me, but it has shaped me into the person that I am. For a guy like me, meeting strangers and talking to new people is a thing that I try and avoid most of the time. When I started thinking about hosting this PolaWalk, I knew that I would killing a few birds with one stone: 1) I’d get an opportunity to “break the mold” so to speak, and get out there and meet strangers and force myself over this hump. 2) I’d get the chance to spread the love of Impossible to other shooters. And 3) I’d be able to make new friends in the area that share the love that I feel for photography. All in all, it was a winning idea all around.
Anyhow, at this point Jeremy, Amber, Synthia and Adriana all had to bolt. So we packed up our things and made our way back outside. We started walking along and WHOOMFFF!! A huge gust of wind ripped apart my umbrella, haha! It was hilarious! Daniel R. snapped a quick pick while everybody was laughing. Later on, Amber wrote something about it being an UNbrella. Very fitting Amber …
We headed indoors to the petting zoo. Walked around a little while and eventually made our way back outside.
Most of us were pretty tired and fairly soaked (COMPLETELY) so we decided to call it a day. We all parted ways and made our way out of the park. I snapped a couple of images on the way out, but by this time it really started pouring some heavy rain. I had no umbrel … UNbrella at this point, so I got even more soaked! Luckily, I had some plastic bags in my backpack and saved my gear & film from getting completely drenched.
Overall, an incredible experience! I can’t wait to schedule more of these around the metroplex and help spread the word about the greatness that is Impossible Project film. If you are interested in learning more about this medium, please get in touch with me. I’m an open door and would love to help you get into this medium. There’s nothing better for personal photography. Even more so, it’s a fantastic medium for the professional photographer. Offering this sort of “out of the box” photography is giving your clients something you can’t get anywhere else. There’s only ONE company making integral film. Get off your butts and support them! Doing so, gives the gift of “the polaroid” back to this generation and hopefully the next.
September 18, 2012 § 6 Comments
Last weekend, Synthia and I went to the ranch to photograph Erica Perry’s bridal & promo photos. When we were finished, we headed up to Synthia’s parents house to celebrate her niece’s b-day. While we were visiting, her mom told us that she had an old 35mm camera at the dentist office that she wanted to give us. The three of us cruised up the road and rummaged around the attic and found the camera; a Yashica inter-oral macro camera. The lens has an inner ring flash and is fixed to the body (pretty cool, needs an odd battery). While we were up there, Synthia’s mom mentioned that they might have an old Polaroid too. She went searching through some boxes and dug up a Polaroid Macro 5 SLR. I quickly figured out that this could use Impossible’s Spectra film.
The excitement was buzzing through me! Macros with a Polaroid??? I’d probably seen one of these in the past, but I’d never realized what it could do. With a SX-70, the closest you can focus is 10 inches. Being able to focus closer, provides a whole new realm of creativity to dive into.
When I got back home, I searched online and found the Polaroid Macro 5’s manual. There are 5 different distances in which you can focus the camera; 52, 26, 10, 5 and 3 inches. You press the shutter down 1/2 way and it emits two dots of light from the camera. As you bring the image into focus, the dots intersect and overlap each other; a dual-light rangefinder. There are two flashes on either side of the lens (which you can toggle on & off separately) and there’s also an external PC port on the camera, so you can slave flashes off-camera.
For those that are going to try any off-camera flash photography, you’ll find the following chart useful. You should note, that the Polaroid Macro 5 has a fixed shutter speed of 1/50th. For proper exposures using off-camera flash, you’ll need to use a handheld flash meter to figure out the right output for your strobes/flashes.
The first image I shot, cliche yes, was of Synthia’s eye. I wanted to get a feel for just how close this thing could focus. I set the Macro 5 to focus at its closest distance (3 inches), kept the exposure at neutral with the flashes on, and snapped the photo.
Later on, I went to Archinal Camera to show my friend Robert the newest acquisition. He’s got a TON of old cameras on a shelf above his desk. I grabbed an old Kodak camera and snapped another macro for the blog.
Afterwards, I went to my brother’s house and snapped a photo of Edie (my niece). She was hanging out under the kitchen table. I set the focus to 26 inches and started rocking back & forth until she was in focus. She wasn’t too fond of the focusing lights. When the image developed, I noticed a time stamp on top of the photo. I pressed the Mode button on the back until “– — —-” showed up, hoping it would turn off that feature. It did.
What about its off camera flash capabilities?? I set up a Nikon SB-600, set at 1/16th power, about 3 inches away from a dead fly I found. I figured, why not? I set the camera to its closest focusing distance (3 inches) and hooked up some Pocket Wizards. I turned the Macro 5’s internal flashes off and fired a photo.
As stated in the Macro 5’s manual, “Test exposures may be required to determine the correct location and settings for the auxiliary flash unit for correct exposure”. That’s definitely the case. My Sekonic L-358 can only meter up to f/90. I was guesstimating the right output on the SB-600 and the exposure is overexposed. Regardless of the outcome of this photo, it’s pretty nice that you CAN use slaved flashes if you want to venture down that path.
One more test shot with slaved flashes. This time I used a SB-600 & SB-800 and cross lit my Leica M2. I set the focusing distance to 10 inches and tested the flash output with the L-358. It was sitting around f/51-57.
Phew! Talk about a tough camera to shoot with off-camera flash! With a fixed shutter speed of 1/50th and also dealing with an aperture range of f/20 – f/100, it certainly makes it challenging. Now, I haven’t given up on its capabilities yet, however, I think I’ll save this thing for the next time I’m at the Dallas Arboretum. I would imagine this thing would be great for flower & insect macros.
Thanks for reading!
PS – Impossible Project has just announced their newest batch of film. To learn more about the latest advancements CLICK HERE.
September 4, 2012 § 6 Comments
Round three! Impossible improved on its previous version of PX-680 opacification test film and offered another batch to their pioneers to test. This time around, I picked up as many as I could (4 packs).
Luckily, a couple weeks ago, I had picked up a ND4 filter. I don’t have a 680 and/or 690 so this filter was going to come in VERY handy. For any non-photogs reading this, a ND4 filter reduces the amount of light that hits the film by a measurement of “2 stops”. When using a SX-70, a camera optimized for 100 speed film, a ND4 is necessary in order to get proper exposures with 600 speed film. You still have to underexpose, BUT it makes using PX-680 in a SX-70 do-able.
After the four packs of test film arrived, I loaded up the SX-70 and waited on an opportune time to head outside to snap some test images. After dinner, Synthia and I decided to walk around part of White Rock Lake. Killing two birds with one stone; a little bit of exercise & an opportunity to grab a frame …
I used the ND4 filter and cranked the exposure down 2/3’rds of the way. Trusting the ‘black paste’, I ejected it without shielding it, and tucked it away in my bag.
NOTE: When using a ND4 filter with PX-680 film in a SX-70, be aware that the camera is metering for 100 speed film. Exposures might be a little on the long side depending on where and what you are shooting. You’ll see examples of softer images in this blog post. DO NOT think for one second, that PX-680 isn’t sharp. It’s ridiculously crisp.
The following afternoon, I burned a few images on my buddy Mike Hawkins; a brilliant guy & solid friend. He’s been living in Alaska for the past year and just recently got accepted into the Peace Corps. He’s in town for a month before he makes his way out to Vanuatu (between Papa New Guinea & Fiji) to go teach English. Ya .. he’s one of those people 😉
I figured a triptych would suit him well. Hawkins-style; headband, RayBans, some old plaid shirt and his Nalgene. Word.
– Click the image for a larger size –
Later on that evening, Synthia and I went to my grandparents for dinner. When we arrived, it was nearing sunset, so I grabbed the two of them and snapped a couple of photos before it was too dark. You should have seen their faces. They lit up when the image came out of the SX-70. “A Polaroid!!!” Yes, Mema & Papa. That’s how I roll.
That weekend, my wife and I shot a wedding in Carrollton, TX. For almost all of the Impossible images I shot, I used PX-70 COOL, but for one image, I used this test film. There was an elderly couple, that had just finished dancing and I grabbed a quick pic of them as they were walking off the dance floor. I used the MINT flash bar and had it set, as suggested, at 1/2 power. I showed their son the image later on and he was ecstatic that I was going to give the bride & groom a stack of ‘polaroids’ that included this one …
A few days later, I went out to play some disc golf with Hawkins. I snapped one image while we were there. It was nearing twilight, so the light was fading quickly. The exposure was nearly a 1/3 – 1/2 of a second.
Later on during the week, I stopped by our local neighborhood convenient store to grab a drink. I’ve been going here for a good 15+ years and the owners are super friendly. Ryan, the one I seem to talk to the most was working this particular afternoon. As I was paying for my drink, I asked him if he would mind if I took a photo of him with this new test film I had. He smiled and said “Of course!” We stepped outside and I had him sit on the curb in front of the store. Because were we pretty deep in the shade, the exposure was a little long (maybe 1/10th).
After I snapped his photo, I took a quick snapshot of their sign (ND4 & -2/3rd’s). I ejected the film, without shielding it, in direct sunlight. I cruised back up there later on and gave Ryan the images I took. I figured he & his family would appreciate them.
Overall .. WOW! A huuuuuuuuge improvement in the color, compared to the PX-680 V4B that I tested out a month ago. ALL OF THESE images were shot without being shielded, upon ejection. The anti-opacification molecule is working wonders. Granted, if you don’t want a vintage look like the image above has, you might want to shield in direct sunlight. However, having that look as an option just gives you more creative flexibility on the spot. How cool is that?
The only thing I’m wondering is, upon the release of these new films, how long will it be before Impossible reveals the camera they have been working on?
August 24, 2012 § 6 Comments
A new batch of test film via The Impossible Project! This particular batch is PX-70, optimized for use in SX-70 cameras. PX-70 is rated at 125 ASA, where as the PX-680 V4B I tested was rated about 640 ASA. For these tests, I’ll be shooting in various lighting scenarios; in the shade, overcast day, sunny day, indoors, using flash etc.
— The first image I shot was of our boxer, Maybelle. She’s been catching/chewing up sticks & tennis balls in the backyard lately. I shot this with a dark-slide protecting the image from direct light nearing sundown, however when I went back inside and removed the photo, I placed it right side up to develop. I’m guessing, but it looks as if the anti-opacification juice has been ‘upped’ a little bit. As stated on their website, this version of PX-70 does take 35-45 minutes to fully develop.
Off the bat, A HUGE IMPROVEMENT over the PX680 I tested a few weeks ago. The colors that were in the scene are represented very well in this image.
— My wife and I had a portrait shoot in downtown Dallas. While I was in the Arts District, I grabbed a quick photo of the new Museum Tower. When the newsletter came out for this particular test film, Impossible stated that you should “shield from direct sunlight, with little stress if the sun hits it shortly”. It was an overcast morning, and admittedly I was overcautious. I did shield this particular image and tucked it away in a box to develop. I cranked the exposure all the way down and fired away. I checked on it every minute or so for the first 15 minutes and then brought it out into the open light to watch it develop.
— Fair Park: For the following, the image was taken with the exposure dial cranked all the way down and the image was ejected into the open in the shade. The image was exposed to ambient light for about 5-10 seconds, while I flipped it over and tucked it away in a box. There looks to be little difference in the sky, between the image shielded at the Museum Tower and the image of the Texas Star Ferris Wheel.
— I had picked up some flowers for Synthia, so I decided to use them to test the color indoors. I set them near the window and cranked the exposure dial down 2/3’rds of the way on the SX-70. I’m weary of over-exposure; can you tell? For this image, it was shot near a window indoors, without being shielded, and was developed out in the open. To be honest, I would probably focus this a little differently if I had the chance to do it over. In my hurried state of excitement, I just let the autofocus go where it wanted to.
— I went out later to a DART rail station by my house. The sun had just set, so I went ahead and shot the image, cranked 2/3’rds of the way down & unshielded. Once it ejected, I tucked it away in my bag. When I got back to my car (after maybe 2 minutes), I pulled the image out and drove back home.
— Another image grabbed was at a Rangers game. The last time I went to one, I had shot some with a Spectra & some PZ680. This time around, I was happy to have the SX-70 loaded up with this test film 🙂 We had tickets alllllllll the way up top and I snapped an image of the viewpoint. This was shot unshielded @ 2/3’rds dark and was tucked away into a box to develop seconds afterwards.
Unfortunately, since it was an evening game, I didn’t get to shoot as much as I would have liked. The ambient light faded quickly and I decided to NOT test fate on iffy exposures.
— I went up to Zak’s Donuts to snag a quick pic of a donut with sprinkles. It would be a good test of the film’s sharpness. I did the, now, normal routine of shooting it unshielded & tucked it away in the box. I shot this @ 2/3’rds dark, near a window. NOTE: As as I’ve also seen some state online, this particular batch of PX-70 film needs a little more exposure than what you’re used to giving it. I probably could have shot this at 1/2 – 1/3 dark and been OK.
— A quick shot of Synthia at the park. I used the Impossible flash bar by MINT @ 1/2 power and had the exposure dial set in the center. Shot unshielded and tucked away. It’s a little underexposed. I’ll try full power and maybe 1/3’rd dark next time around at this distance.
— We ate at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Rockwall, TX. I snagged this photo just outside the restaurant/bar that’s located in the marina. Synthia suggested to shoot it upside-down. It was a little tricky but not too bad. This image was shot 2/3’rds dark and unshielded.
The last example image shot was the one at the beginning of the article. I used the Impossible Flash Bar at 1/2 power to fire 3 other flashes in a small studio setup. I used two strip boxes and a SB-800 flash to help illuminate the scene. Please excuse the flash stand haha …
If you’ve never shot Impossible Film before, NOW IS THE TIME to get on the wagon. Word on the street is that these versions of their films will be available THIS FALL. Think about it. Pick yourself up any type of Polaroid 600, Spectra, or SX-70 and you’ll be set! Because the newer batches of film aren’t as sensitive to light, all you have to do is tuck the image away within a few seconds to develop, OR if you’re indoors, you can watch it develop! Up until this point, the images have needed a high level of protection in order to keep them safe from ambient light when the initial stages of development had begun. Shielding the film has been a necessity. Very quickly, that level of protection is becoming less & less needed.
August 17, 2012 § 7 Comments
A couple months ago, I shot a pictorial showing how to use Impossible Project film in a Mamiya RB67. Ever since then, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of using instant film in various cameras. The fact that you can use film in a camera it’s not intended for is so cool to me! You can breathe life into old cameras. This morning, I was looking at the size of PZ680 Spectra film, and I noticed a dusty old Polaroid 95A sitting on my shelf. When I got this thing, it was basically useless. Film for this camera hasn’t been made in a loooong time.
Would the back be big enough to fit a frame of Spectra film in?
Like a glove. I did some quick research online about the camera; f/8.8 with shutter speeds from 1/12th – 1/100th & a bulb setting. Using this technique, I extracted the photo from my Spectra and put it inside the 95A while in the darkroom,*my closet*. NOTE: When closed, the 95A’s back holds the film in place perfectly. Nothing extra is needed to keep the film flat & in place. If you’re removing film from your camera in the darkroom/closet, you will need a darkslide to put over the top of the cartridge BEFORE inserting it back in the camera.
The camera has notches for focusing from 3.5 – 50ft. To check its close focus, I snapped a quick photo inside my bathroom, with the lens roughly 21 inches away from the mirror. I metered the scene; 1/4th, f/8 @ 640. I tripped the shutter at the #1 setting @ 1/12th.
EDIT: Once I shot the image, I took the camera into the darkroom/closet to extract the photo, slid it back into an empty cartridge, stuck the cartridge in the Spectra and it ejected the image to start development.
SWEET. I went up the road to Archinal Camera and had Robert test the shutter speeds. On the 95A I have, the average shutter speeds are …
When testing, the speeds were a little erratic. They would jump around slightly, but for the most part, when I pressed the shutter release slowly, the results were fairly consistent.
NOTE: If this is something you are going to try, take in account that with the 95A you might have, there will be some variances to the shutter speeds because of aged mechanical parts. Also, when using this method, because of the 95A’s limited range of functionality & Impossible’s film sensitivity, you will be restricted as to where and when you can shoot.
I loaded up another image later on in the evening and shot a 1 second exposure of a reflection near my house focusing at 50 ft. I used the bulb setting on the 95A and estimated the one second exposure.
It’s a little overexposed (and not too great of an image) BUT at least I know for the things I’ll use this for, the focusing works.
Also, for close-ups at 3.5 ft, FRAMING IS DIFFICULT. I took a quick picture of my neighbor Tom and as you can see, I wasn’t quite centered completely. The viewfinder really doesn’t work for this distance, so you will have to try and position the lens where you think it should be for the composition. Tom was really excited to have his picture taken. His father used to take pics of him with a Polaroid 95A in the 50’s …
Later on in the evening, I grabbed a picture of the South Side building near downtown Dallas. NOTE: All images are reversed when shot through the 95A …
If you’ve got a Polaroid 95A just sitting on the shelf, like so many people do, it can still be used! When/if you try this, I WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK! As long as there are no light leaks and you gently handle the film when moving it from place to place, everything should be OK. Granted, it’s not the easiest way to make an image, and there are a handful of extra variables, but who cares. If you enjoy a roundabout creative process, pick yourself up some Spectra film and try it out!
Take your time and enjoy the fruits of your labor 😉
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.