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 § 1 Comment
– September 29th, 2012 @ 2PM –
Come to the fair with us wielding your Polaroid!!! If you’ve got an instant camera and would like to join in on the festivities, get in contact with me!
The fun starts at 2PM sharp! We’re meeting up at Big Tex. We’ll introduce ourselves to each other and then once we’ve assimilated a massive crowd of instant photography shooters, we’ll storm the fair! Not since the heyday of Polaroid has the Texas State Fair seen a group like this! Integral film will be firing out of our cameras faster than … well as fast as our pocket books will let us 😉
GET OFF YOUR RUMPS AND COME SHOOT SOME POLAROIDS! If you’ve never shot with a Polaroid before (heaven forbid), and would like to, please please PLEASE send a message my way. I am more than happy to help anybody & everybody that has an interest in using this medium. If you’re interested in shooting Impossible Project film with your SX-70, Spectra or 600 series camera, I can help you jump in with both feet! I will teach you all of the ins and outs of shooting Impossible’s films, or any other instant film for that matter, and will gladly assist you in any way I can, on the day of!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’re probably aware of The Impossible Project. They are the only providers of integral instant film for old-school Polaroid cameras. Since their inception a few years ago, they have been working hard at perfecting their product for their customers. Just today, they announced their newest batch of film, the Color Protection line. Because of a newly developed anti-opacification molecule, it gives instant photographers the freedom to shoot wherever they like, without having to fret about shielding the image upon ejection.
Now is the PERFECT time to step into the world of instant photography. With Impossible’s new line of films, the results are more predictable than ever and you can almost shoot this stuff as carefree, as one did with the older line of Polaroid films.
YES. It does cost money to shoot. It won’t be like shooting with your grandmother’s Canon 5D mark whatever which bangs out a kajillion digital images. You have to embrace the unexpected realities and possibilities when you use instant film. The results ARE WORTH IT. Instead of a digital file made up of 1’s and 0’s on a SD or CF card, you get a tangible analog print in your hand; a permanent memory of the day. Is that worth the cost? Absolutely. You’ve got the best of both the analog & digital world; an analog print to slap up on your fridge and an image that can be easily scanned for reproductions and to share online.
It’s so worth it!
If you have ANY QUESTIONS whatsoever regarding this event, please send a message to email@example.com
I’m hoping we can make this event HUGE! Please pass the word along to fellow photographers that have an interest in film & instant photography. We are the lifeline of this medium and must help keep it alive for future generations.
Now, back to the film photographer’s grind (scanning images). I have to pay for all of this instant film somehow 😉
To learn more about Impossible’s NEW line of instant film CLICK HERE
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 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 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
At the end of last year, I was lucky enough to break away for a bit to visit my good friend Billy in San Francisco. He was the first person that I knew that was shooting Impossible Project’s film and he had been raving over it for months. I spent a handful of days there and ventured throughout the city with my Leica M2 and Mamiya C330. While I was there, we visited the coastal town of Pacifica and Billy had been shooting some IP film through his Polaroid Spectra AF. I was stunned by the results. The aesthetic qualities of the b+w’s are something that have imprinted themselves on my mind. Ghostly images bathed in degradation that I thought, up until then, only happened with time. He was shooting Impossible’s PZ600UV Silver Shade.
I started shooting IP’s films about a month ago and I’ve been actively looking for some other Polaroids to shoot their film with. I picked up a nice black Spectra AF from Ebay for about $20 a couple weeks ago. The day I got it in, my buddy at Archinal Camera, handed me another Spectra! And just the other day, one of my wife’s co-workers gave us another Spectra. I think somebody’s trying to tell me something …
The Spectra is a cool looking analogue camera. I’ve seen them before but never really paid any attention. They have a unique optical system utilizing a 135mm f/10 quintic lens. The focal length equivalency is about about 40mm in the 35mm format. Like most Polaroids, you don’t have a ton of control over the exposure. The most important options at your disposal are: an exposure lighten/darken switch, a switch to toggle the flash on/off, an AF override switch to set focus to infinity, a self timer and a tripod mount.
The autofocusing feature on Spectras, and many other Polaroids, is done by sonar. When you press the shutter halfway, it emits an inaudible sound wave to measure the distance between the camera and what you’re shooting. It sends the sound waves to the center of what’s in the viewfinder, the sound waves bounce back, and the distance is displayed at the bottom of the viewfinder (there is a little switch to toggle between showing ft/m on the camera). There is an autofocus lock feature, in the sense that after you press the shutter halfway, you can hold the shutter and move your viewpoint to keep that particular distance focused.
That’s basically the gist of the camera.
I picked up some film and waited for the right time to shoot it. A baseball game with some of my family came up so it was a great opportunity to test out some shots at The Ballpark. I loaded up my camera bag with the Spectra, a pack of PZ680 and an icepack to keep the film cool while developing. Why not right?
Before I left, I called the Impossible Project space in New York to ask them a quick exposure question. I doubled checked to make sure that the PZ680 I was about to shoot was indeed 600-ish speed film. The reason for the “ish” is that Impossible’s film speeds sometimes are a little faster than what’s intended. Up until this point, with the PX-70 film in a SX-70 camera, I have been cranking exposure wheel all the way down. She told me that with the Spectra and the regular PZ680, it was spot on and no adjustments needed to be made. She did mention that the PZ680 COOL that just came out was running a little faster than 680 ASA, so an underexposure adjustment might be needed.
With the SX-70, I use a dark slide to protect the film from any direct light the moment it ejects out of the camera. I had planned on using a home-made dark slide but I ended up ejecting the film directly into the box after the photo was taken. The Spectra’s have a cool feature with their self timers. If you shoot a photo and hold down the shutter button, you can switch the timer on and it will keep the photo inside the camera until you toggle the switch back off. Since Impossible’s photos are so sensitive to light, this is a great feature to utilize. I used this method for all of these shots.
I cranked the exposure all the way down for this image. Otherwise the sky would have probably been completely blown out. The rest were shot in the neutral position on the exposure slider.
Overall I’m pleased with the film. However, I do think that it’s still probably sitting about a 1/2 a stop faster than what it’s advertised to be. But otherwise, it gives you a unique, vintage palette of colors. I really do like how Impossible films render scenes. Yes. It’s not perfect .. but that’s the point.
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.