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.
June 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
My brother and I were talking the other day and he mentioned that he needed promotional photos for his new website. Josh is an uber-talented producer, singer/songwriter, musician, composer & arranger (the boy’s a musical genius .. it’s true). I had taken a photo of him a while back on Impossible’s PX-70 Old Gen film. He liked the look of instant film and definitely wanted that type of vibe for the images on his website.
The vintage-y look was definitely the right fit. I told him what might be cool is a series of photos that showcased the wide array of musical abilities he has and some of the equipment he uses. He liked the idea and we figured out a time to get together …
On the morning of the shoot, I was finishing up a blog post on using Impossible images in a RB67 and knew I needed something to post for the example. I had used the method before BUT the image I took was of a friend and felt it didn’t quite showcase the RB’s optical abilities. I cruised over to his place, mentioned the blog post and started off the shoot using the RB …
For the rest of the shoot, I used a Polaroid Sonar SX-70, mounted on a tripod if I was indoors. Most of the indoor images (unless taken by a window) were longer exposures. I mixed some strobes into one of the pictures (first photo below) but mainly used available light. You can tell which images were taken in rooms heavily lit with incandescents and which photos were taken by natural light. When shooting longer exposures indoors, incandescents will cast a yellow-orange hue into the image. Combined with Impossible’s films, it helps to add a vintage look that’s pleasing to the eye.
I’m pleased with the images that were captured. I think these are a great start for his website and will help set the right vibe for who he is and what he does.
PLUG: Josh Goode and his engineering partner, Bradley Prakope, are INCREDIBLE producers. If you are a musician in the north Texas area and are actively looking for QUALITY people to work with that produce viable music for the masses, these are the guys. If you are curious about their services please contact Josh at – email@example.com
May 26, 2012 § 13 Comments
A couple months ago, a friend of ours booked my wife and I to photograph her wedding in Terrell, Texas. She mentioned that it was going to be a small ceremony on May 26th, at a friend of a friend’s house, who happened to also own a few classic cars. I’ve known Amy for a while and I was happy to hear that she wanted to use us for the wedding. When I met up with her to talk things over, she mentioned that she loved our photography and was looking to have a classic, vintage look for her wedding photos. She also told me that she had been holding onto her great-grandmother’s camera and was trying to find the right home for it. It seemed fate was potentially going to have a hand in the outcome of these images …
Within a week or so, she contacted me and I swung up the road to pick up the camera. I had no idea what to expect, but was intrigued when she handed me a Pho-Tak Traveler 120 box camera. When I got back into the car, I examined the camera and knew that the “120” was probably an indication of what film it used. I opened it up and found a metal Kodak spool which was indeed for that size film. 120 is still made … how cool would it be to shoot some of her wedding photographs on her great-grandmothers’s camera? VERY COOL. I called her up and she was thrilled with the idea.
I took it over to my friend’s camera shop to clean it up and to determine what the shutter speed & aperture might be. This is a point-and-shoot camera in the most literal sense. It has one shutter speed & aperture, using a singlet lens, that produces a 6x9cm negative. We thought that it was probably sitting at about a 20th-30th of a second and possibly f/5.6. I tried a roll of Ilford 3200 indoors and it was extremely underexposed (3-4 stops). It’s not f/5.6. I talked it over with another friend and he mentioned, that since this camera was made in the 1950’s, it was probably meant to use ASA 100 speed film or slower. I had a ‘duh moment’. Having a shutter speed of only about 1/30th, using the sunny-16 rule, I figured it was probably sitting at about f/32. I tested out a roll of Fuji Acros 100 developed in Rodinal and had decent results. From the test roll I noticed a couple of things; it focuses about 5-10 feet away & you really have to make sure the camera is stable when exposing. The best way to trip this shutter is to slowly put consistent pressure on the shutter release until it clicks. The rollers in the camera did scratch the crap out of the negative but what are you gonna do? It’s an old box camera. The aged look it produced was perfect!
I packed a variety of film cameras to use on the day of the wedding; a Leica M2 (15mm + 50mm), a Polaroid SX-70, a Polaroid 100 Land Camera & the Pho-Tak Traveler 120. I figured with Amy’s request for vintage, classic images & the automobiles, bringing cameras relevant to the era would be a good idea. For film, I packed some Tri-X, Ektar 100, Impossible Project PX-70 COOL & some Fuji FP-100C. My wife was armed with our trusty Nikon D700, F100 and a Nikon FE. Our bases were covered …
I like having a plethora of cameras to choose from at our photo shoots. The beauty of having a variety of film cameras at your disposal, is that each camera is different and produces unique results. Forget trying to edit a digital image to match the results you get with film. 1) It can’t be replicated 2 ) it’s boooooooring and SO overdone. If you’re trying to emulate film it’s just a whole lot easier to shoot film. It takes less time in the long run to get really cool, unique, vintage images.
Anyhow, off the bat, the place looked to be really cool. The owner had pulled out a few of his classic cars and they were parked on the lot by the garage. We scouted out some locations around the area that would be good to shoot at during the wedding. I met up with the groom, Adam, and I pulled him aside to snap a pic of him on some of the Impossible Project PX-70 COOL I brought with me.
After a little bit I went over to where Amy was getting ready. I brought Hannah, the flower girl, outside for a snapshot on the front porch with the SX-70 and then one with the Pho-Tak box camera.
At this point, Amy was almost ready and we grabbed a few photos before the ceremony …
The ceremony was short & sweet! I did have enough time to knock out some pics on the M2, the FE, the Pho-Tak, the SX-70 and a few on the Polaroid 100.
All in all, I’m pleased with the images from the Pho-Tak Traveler box camera. Granted it uses a singlet lens and it’s not uber-sharp but who cares? It has that insta-vintage look without all the editing fuss. Also, it goes without saying, BUT the Impossible PX-70 COOL yielded some really neat analog results as well. I’ll definitely keep this stuff stocked for my future gigs and personal shoots. Their film deserves to be shot .. a lot.
Interested in booking us for your wedding? Contact us at 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 5, 2012 § 8 Comments
For those of you unaware, FujiFilm’s FP-100C is peel apart film used in Polaroid cameras and other cameras equipped with a Polaroid back. I’ve been shooting the stuff for a few years on a Mamiya RB-67 and Polaroid pack film cameras (seen above). Other than Impossible Project films, Fuji’s peel-apart films are the only other dominate option for instant analogue photography.
I just recently found out how to salvage the negatives from FP-100C. For years I’ve just peeled off the exposed prints and disposed of the “other part”. I have been missing out! Not any more however 😉
My wife and I took a trip to our friend’s ranch a few weeks ago and she shot a lot of FP-100C while we were there. We saved all of her negatives and stored them in a box once they had all dried. Side note: I’ve found if you stash the negative away in a dark dry place, you can still salvage it. If it’s left out in the open sun to dry, exposure will run its course and the negative will be overexposed/washed out. Anyhow, she took an image of me plinking away with a bb gun on their back porch. It’s a little dark on the print but I’ll be able to pull out some shadow detail once the negative has been scanned (that’s one of the cool things about this).
To salvage the negative it’s quite simple actually. You’ll need:
– 8×10-ish piece of glass
– small paint brush
– container to hold bleach
– rubber gloves
– clips to dry the negative
All you have to do is …
Here are a few other examples:
Thanks for taking the time!
Got an old pack film camera sitting around? You can buy FP-100C here. Aaaaand just because I love these peeps I gotta mention them again … Impossible Project is selling some of the last sepia toned polaroid peel apart film available. Buy it here.
May 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
I’ve decided to start blogging about my experience with different types of films and cameras to throw a little pro film love “out there” … a small part of me hopes it drums up more interest in the art of film photography. 😉
My good friend, Billy Baque, has nudged me a few times about making a blog and I’ve never really had the inclination to. That all has changed over the past month.
I regularly browse CraigsList ads in the hopes that I’ll find a good deal on any number of cameras on the ever-growing want list. About a month ago, a Polaroid Sonar SX-70 popped up for $20. I was lucky enough to get a hold of the guy before anybody else did and within about an hour I had it in my hands. Because of my inner-geek, I raced home, set up some studio lights, shot a photo on FP-100C of the SX-70 on a Mamiya RB67, bleached the negative, let it dry, scanned it and then admired the pic with all its bleachy-scanned-goodness. Why not right?
Anyhow .. back to the task at hand …
I have known about and seen Impossible Project film for quite some time. Billy shoots a lot of it in the San Francisco bay area and has been raving over the stuff for months. Up until last month, the only camera I had that could have used it was an older Polaroid OneStep Flash. I really didn’t want to test fate and use that for my first experience with Impossible film. I ordered a few boxes of film from the Impossible peeps and was pleased when it arrived within a couple days at my door (their shipping times are quite fast I’ve found).
The first box I shot was PX-100 Silver Shade and I , for whatever reason, did not read the directions before hand. The first couple exposures were pretty blown out and then I realized that I needed to crank the light/darken wheel all the way down to get a decent exposure. I didn’t capture anything that was really good from that first box, but the challenge was something that tugged an inner chord in me. The best from the batch was from a car show that I went to with a friend of mine. At this point, my interest was growing, but I hadn’t really seen what all the fuss was about.
I had also picked up two boxes of PX-70 Color Shade (one regular and one NIGO). I saved those and used them when I visited my friend’s ranch in Texas. I had learned by this time that Impossible Project films were a little unpredictable and needed to be babied in order to get the results I wanted.
The first image I took with PX-70 Color Shade at the ranch was of a pair of purple coneflowers. I shot this in the shade about 8:30 in the morning when it was probably 60-65 degrees outside. I tucked it away in a box and snuck a peek at it after about 2 hours.
I experimented with a couple shots in direct sunlight and made the quick realization that the emulsion couldn’t handle it. Later on I read on their website … “Truth be told, the speed (light sensitivity) of this film is not totally where we expected it to be for the average SX 70 camera, and especially in bright summer light, the tendency for overexposed images is high.”
Throughout the rest of the week, I babied what little film I had to shoot and shot the rest of the two packs I had brought with me. I did notice different variations between the regular pack and the NIGO pack. The NIGO pack must have had a different developer mixture as it rendered colors differently and there were no undeveloped patches. Check out some of the results ..
All in all, I am VERY pleased and impressed with this film. It has a unique,artistic quality that is unparalleled in the world of photography. There are no other films out there that can create an organic, analog, classic image like the Impossible Project Films do. They provide a rare, original medium in which to create art.