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.
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 😉
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
June 5, 2012 § 10 Comments
This past weekend, Impossible Project announced the winners for their ‘Spring Comes Alive’ contest. I was lucky enough to have been chosen along with 4 other photographers; I am super grateful & happy. There were over 450 photos entered into the contest over about a month’s timeframe. Looking back through the photos, I am very humbled as there were some incredible submissions.
I’ve been shooting Impossible Project’s photos for almost 2 months now. I must say, I’m really impressed with how they treat their customers. They are incredibly pro-active about promoting their users on the internet and have a great online presence. If you need to know anything about their films, they have all the information you need accessible on their website; blog posts & various how-to videos detailing many important characteristics of their products. If it’s not available on their website, they are a phone call away.
I’ve been on a blogging kick lately and the instigator was my initial experience with these films. After I popped my IP film cherry, it was the first time I really wanted to blog about something film-related. I typically post my photos to Tumblr or Flickr, add a few tags and that’s that. About a month ago, it changed and I’ve been writing ~ 3 posts a week. Whenever I found out this past weekend that I was chosen, I knew I needed to write a “Top 10 Reasons to shoot TIP film ” to hopefully persuade some people to try it out. It’s the very least I can do to thank TIP.
Here, in no particular order, are the reasons:
1) You’re supporting a new film company – New film company? Yes. The Impossible Project has been around since 2008 and they are the only company that makes new film for Polaroid SX-70’s, Spectras and 600 series cameras (update: Impossible is now making film for 8×10 view cameras). As some of you may know, Polaroid ceased operation a few years back. Other than FujiFilm’s limited options (FP-100C peel-apart film & Instax film), The Impossible Project is the only other prominent provider of instant film. By using their product, you are investing in the life of instant film & the development of new instant films.
2) Helping to keep instant film around for the ‘next generation’ – If you were born during the last century, chances are pretty good that you’ve got a few old Polaroid images lying around somewhere of you as a child. My grandparents have massive amounts of Polaroids in family albums that date back to the 1950’s. Sure, we’ve all got our digital cameras and we upload our digital images to a hard drive and post them to Facebook, but then what? Do you ever make prints of your digital images? Few actually do I’ve found. One of the great things about using instant film is the fact that you are ensuring that your family will have ‘polaroids’ to share with each other in this century.
3) You’re shooting a classic Polaroid – In my opinion, in the world of instant photography, there aren’t a lot of things that are cooler than Polaroid SX-70’s and pack film cameras. Henry Dreyfuss’ ingenious, classic, art-deco design of the SX-70 makes every head turn when you whip one out for a photo. Polaroid pack film cameras get the same type of attention. Cameras just aren’t made like this any longer. If you’re wondering where you can find an older Polaroid, there are many places online. You can buy refurbished Polaroids direct from the Impossible Project or you can try your hand at finding a used camera on Craigslist or Ebay.
4) The images are analog – Forget 1’s and 0’s. Chemistry is where it’s at. The images produced with Polaroid cameras are tangible. They are real. Keep in mind however that this film isn’t like the Polaroids that your parents shot. Impossible’s films are sensitive to a variety of variables during the development process; including but not limited to ambient light, temperature & pressure just to name a few. The beauty of that delicate balance is that you have a hand in how your image eventually turns out and it heightens your awareness of what is needed to create a successful image.
5) Real instant gratification – Once the image has fully developed, you have a print in your hand. Slap it on the fridge, give it to a friend, make a postcard .. do whatever you want with it. It’s not stuck in your digital camera or iPhone. It’s in your possession right then and there. Overall that seems a little better to me than going home, downloading, editing and uploading the images to the web so you can bask in their glory through the monitor. Sure, I’ve done it. But this is so much better.
6) Image Transfers & Manipulations – Am I talking photoshop? No. Check out this page for a growing list of ideas of what you can do with your Impossible images once you have some in your hands.
7) Impossible films are predictably unique every time – One of the greatest things about these films, is that you can count on it being an artistic representation of your subject. Due to a variety of variables, there are random artifacts and nuances that come along with each release of film. The guaranteed unpredictable subtleties are what keeps me coming back.
8) The images can be scanned – Are you worried about it not being digital? That can be remedied easily. Even with a really sub-par cheap scanner, you can get a HUGE digitized file from these images that can later be printed & reproduced. Because it is a positive print and not a negative, you don’t necessarily need a pro-grade scanner to get a worthwhile digital image.
9) The Impossible Project promotes their supporters & users – Day after day, I see the Impossible Project marketing team promoting their clientele on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. They do a bang-up job at it. The cool thing I’ve found about that, is when you post an image that catches their eye, they will repost, re-tweet or blog about it on their websites. THAT is nice and definitely noteworthy in my book. It’s a mutually beneficial thing, but for most if not all film companies I’ve found, that rarely happens. Since the Impossible Project is still a small company they can give their fans a level of personal attention that is lacking in many other companies.
10) You inherently become a better shooter – It’s true. When each image you are shooting is costing you $, you become picky REAL quick. Forget the digital days of bang bang bang bang bang! Unless you’re a sheik, you probably won’t be burning through a lot of exposures when you shoot this stuff. Like most things film-related, shooting these films force you to slow down and really think about all the variables that will affect the shot. In doing so, you start to build on your ability to get the shot right the first time without having to go back and redo it.
Are those good enough reasons??? I think so. If I’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to buy some let me know (email@example.com). I’ll send you an invite through TIP so I can gain some brownie points 😉
May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
This morning I decided to check out the Texas Food Truck Fest at Valley View Mall. My wife and I were both craving something different so this was definitely in order. I read online that a portion of the proceeds was going to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so as a bonus for going, we were collecting some karma points ;-). I saw online that some friends of ours, Sarah (check out her food blog) & Sandy, went last night and Sandy was raving over the japanese Yume Burgers. I looked through the list of food trucks that were supposed to be there and figured .. what the hell.
When we got there it was larger than I had expected. There were probably 25 trucks with other booths set up for sampling other various items (beer, salsa etc.) Overall it seemed to be pretty well put together. We walked around for a little bit and finally did decide on the Yume Bugers.
They were offering two types of burgers and two types of hotdogs. We had the Poku Burger (hamburger w/ seared pork belly strip, creamy wasabi slaw & Japanese pickles) and the Japajam Burger (hamburger w/Japanese tomato jam, jalapeno jack cheese, fried egg, Japanese BBQ sauce & crispy onion strings).
They were both really good. The Poku was a little on the cold side but it’s understandable since they weren’t operating under normal conditions.
We hung around a little while longer and had an ice cream sandwich at the Cool Haus truck. It was uber-delicious. Vanilla ice cream wedged in between two tasty chocolate chip cookies. Worth it. If you have nothing going on today (May 12, 2012) you should go check it out! It’s going on until 10pm.
May 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
Sandy Hibbard, of Lyric Marketing & Design, booked me for a headshot gig a couple weeks ago. She’s in the process of building a website and she needed to have an updated photo taken of her client; a civil engineer. She mentioned they wanted a head shot and then something creative as well.
If anybody has read any of the other posts, you might have gotten the hint that I’m really into this Impossible Project film right now. I knew that for the more artistic shot I’d be relying on it for a cool image. A while back, I had seen a portrait of someone framed through the squigglies of mathematical equations on a piece of glass in front of them. It’s a great idea that has been done before, but you know, great ideas die slowly.
I called my buddy Robert at Archinal and asked him where I could find a 3ftx3ft piece of plexi-glass. If it’s photography-related and it has been or is used for photography, he knows where to get it.
Bam. Allied Plastics in Dallas off of Shady Trail. I cruised down there and they had a piece cut for me within 20 minutes. $50. Sweet. Picked up some dry-erase markers, a few a-clamps, some background stands and I was set.
We shot this morning in downtown Dallas and met up around 9am. It was perfect! 70’s, overcast and slightly breezy. Stephen Gude, of Advantage Partners, was the lucky subject today and he did great. Heather Kitsoulis was the stylist on hand. Synthia and I have worked with her before and she is awesome! She pays attention to every single little detail. We started out with some standard head shots so he could get a little relaxed and then we moved onto the plexiglass shot. Stephen scribbled some charts and data on it and we clamped it to the background stands. Snap.
Impossible Project .. you make my life a little easier. Just scan and enjoy. I can’t get over how cool this film is!!!!
Now, I hate to do this because I told myself I would try and not post a lot of digital … but I’ve got to share one! 😉
Overall, I think the shoot went really well and I’m looking forward to the next time I can work with Sandy & Heather. Thanks for reading!
May 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
One of the challenges I know I’m going to face this summer is keeping Impossible Project film at a decent temperature during the development cycle. I picked up a PX-70 Old Generation bag a couple of weeks ago and have burned through a few packs of film. One of the things I’ve read, and Billy has told me, is that Impossible Project film’s colors are sensitive to temperature as it develops. That poses a little bit of a problem for me when the ideal temperature to develop is in the 65-75 degree range. I live in Texas. It is going to be 100+ degrees for at LEAST a couple of months this summer. From my brief experience with this film, the warmer it is while it’s developing, the warmer the colors seem to be.
I snapped a quick picture of my niece, on my Sonar SX-70, just after she ate the other day. We were inside our carport, a few feet from direct sunlight and it was probably in the low 80’s. When this was developing it was probably near 80 in the house as well.
I shot this image at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. We were in direct sunlight and it was also around 80 degrees outside. It developed in a box, in my camera case, for the duration of the wedding.
Billy had mentioned to me that a mutual friend of ours had suggested using an icepack in the camera bag to keep the temperature stable. It got my wheels turning … Would it work well and would the temperature be in the range I needed it to be?
I grabbed an icepack out of the freezer, placed it in a gallon-sized freezer bag, wrapped it with a couple of paper towels, and THEN wrapped it in an old baby
diaper burp rag (it insulates quite well actually). I put two empty boxes of PX-70 just inside the first layer of the bundle.
I stuck a thermometer inside the bottom box, tucked it down in my bag and waited about 5 minutes. When I rechecked the temp it was sitting around 65 degrees.
When I checked it after another 5 minutes, it was close to 50 degrees; Waay too cold. The instructions state; Impossible films are sensitive to temperature: developing below 15 degrees celsius / 59 degrees fahrenheit tend to make pictures too light and low in contrast. What about the box above it? Sitting happy at 65-68 degrees. I can live with that. Now I am experimenting with this in April/May and have little insight if the temperatures will be able to hold during the summer. UPDATE: I did another test the other day and the temperature of the top box held a consistent temperature of 66-70 degrees for 8 hours in the camera bag.
I went to the HEARD Nature Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary last weekend with my wife. We went walking around and really enjoyed the wildlife out there. I did try this method of development when I was there. When this picture was taken it was probably 80 degrees outside but it developed at about 60-65 degrees in my bag.
I think as the summer months increase in temperature, I will be using this method more and more to keep my film COOL and in a stable temperature range during the development stage.
Interested in Impossible Project film? If you have a Polaroid camera, I highly recommend picking up some of this stuff to experiment with. It’s quite a challenge but the results are unlike anything you’ve experienced before .. guaranteed.