December 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
This past Saturday, the Instant Film Society was at it again storming the streets with our Polaroids in hand. I’ve started to organize monthly meet ups around the D/FW area to help promote and encourage the use of instant film. While doing so, I’ve met an incredible amount of talented and passionate people that enjoy instant photography. Besides the ones that were already into it, I’ve helped a lot of my friends get their feet wet and most if not all, LOVE it. The tangible instant gratification is something that I think appeals to everyone that tries it out.
The weather on the day of was perfect. You really couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was slightly overcast and 70 degrees … in December. You’ve got to love Texas. Anyhow, I cruised out to Ft. Worth with my friend Jama and we ended up making it out there a little early. Made our way over to the The Flying Saucer (the meet up spot) and I saw Troy B. making his way towards us. I’ve interacted with Troy online quite a few times, but this was the first time he was able to attend one of these events with us. Long story short, he’s a super nice guy and his presence was definitely a bonus. We instantly started gabbing all things photography and clicked off the bat. By this time, Annie, another person I’d met online, showed up and you could tell that she was happy to be there amongst like-minded peeps. Come to think of it, most of the people that came to this particular walk were new to the group and had not been to a previous one. For me, that’s really encouraging. It means that this positive vibe I’m throwing out there, into the world about instant photography, is working. I truly believe the world reciprocates positivity when you give it the same. That seems to be happening with the Instant Film Society. I couldn’t be happier.
We waited around for the rest of the group to show up while talking shop with each other. Richard, who was at our first event, joined up with us and I’m so glad he came back. His energy is palpable and he’s so much fun to be around. My good friend Justin V. (JV) and his son Callum showed up .. which was awesome. Amanda P., this super nice girl I’d met online who’s working on a long term photo project (Impossibly Expired) came to the walk too and ended up loaning Callum a SX-70 and a pack of film to shoot with! Anyhow, JV later said that seeing Callum’s eyes at that moment was the highlight of his night. 🙂 RJ, a fellow film lover that I had met online was there. Amy, my good friend that has dove head first into Polaroid cruised out too. Laidric, one of the now regulars in our group came out again. He’s always fun to hang around with. Jessica H., a girl that knows one of my best friends, showed up with one of her friends (I forgot your name .. sorry!) Annie, whom I mentioned earlier, got me in touch with two photographers, Steve & Erin, who are into vintage cameras a few weeks ago and they of course showed up too! Last but certainly not least, Christian, Elaine and a group of their family/friends met up with us as well. Christian is a big promoter of instant film around his neck of the woods and has been to every event we’ve had. I just can’t say enough just how cool all of these people are and how much I enjoy their company. Alright, enough with the role call …
This walk, was mainly geared towards shooting instant film at night and shooting long exposures. We had about an hour of light before the sun set when we began. As things got darker, most used tripods to help steady their exposures during this PolaWalk. One of the things I love about photography and also hosting these events, is that I get to see and share unique perspectives from a variety of instant photographers. From beginners to professionals, each have their own approach in how they see and capture the subject which is reflected in these images.
Enjoy a healthy mix of Impossible Project, expired Polaroid, and Fuji peel-apart images …
At the end of the night, a group of us met back up at The Flying Saucer and grabbed a few beers while talking about all things photography. Steve set up his Polaroid 600SE and snapped a couple of long exposures on his Polaroid using Fuji’s FP-100C. The following exposures were set up from the area we were hanging out at, exposed for 30 minutes due to the reciprocity failure of the film and were, as Steve said, “fueled by a Left Hand Milk Stout” 🙂
Are you interested in joining us for our next PolaWalk? We’ll be shooting around Deep Ellum in Dallas, TX on January 26th. If you’d like more info, you can find it here.
Twitter user? Follow us: @UseInstantFilm
As always, thanks for reading.
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 😉
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 16, 2012 § 11 Comments
We decided the night before, that we’d wake up early on Sunday and take the jeep to check out The Crystal Mill. From Aspen, it takes about an hour to get to Marble and the mill is 5 miles outside of town, only accessible by way of the Crystal River Jeep Trail. I’ve seen it books in the past and have always wanted to see it in person. After it was built in 1893, it used a water turbine to power an air compressor, for use in silver ore processing at two nearby mines. The drive in was gorgeous, but was no comparison to what was in store. Once we reached it, we were stunned!
I ran around like a nut snapping pictures with the SX-70, Leica and the Polaroid 100 (for an emulsion-transfer collage). We stayed there for the better part of an hour and when we were about to leave, two jacked-up jeeps came roaring around a bend in the road and parked by us. One of the drivers hopped out and started walking towards us and Kat asked him if there were other roads to take besides the one we drove in on. He smiled. “It depends on where you want to go. You can go all the way to Crested Butte if you like. But if you’re trying to get back to Marble, if you take this road just past the town of Crystal, the Lead King Basin trail will loop around and take you back into town. If you’ve never done it before, it is totally worth it. A little sketchy at times, with some challenging switchbacks and steps (he motioned his hands to represent about a foot’s height), but if you take it slow you’ll be fine.”
As soon as Kat confirmed some of the more important turns on the route, we hopped back in the jeep and drove up the road into the quasi-ghost town of Crystal, CO. The town (10 or so homes & structures) is only occupied in the summer, as it’s completely uninhabitable in the winter. When we drove into Crystal, it was a sight that I had always imagined but had never seen. Nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains, was this little slice of heaven .. an outdoor-lover’s paradise. We pulled up a bit but then we all decided, for the sake of time, we’d backtrack our way in. We busted a U and I snagged a quick frame of one of the homes on some PX-70 NIGO film.
When we drove back towards the Crystal Mill, the gent we had talked to earlier was standing near the middle of the road. He raised his arms in the air, put his hands on his hips and had a look of total disbelief. Kat chuckled and said “Oh lord, the Sheriff of Crystal …” He started shaking his head .. “I’m telling you guys, it’ll only tack on 30 minutes to your route. We’ll be right behind you if you come into a problem. We’re headed up the Schofield Pass, but we’ll be taking Lead King Basin on our way out.”
You just have to go with the flow sometimes. We busted another U and went back up the road into Crystal. As we were driving through the town, we passed a couple of kids who were playing with their dog, aptly named Crystal. The last home was deep inside a giant grove of Aspens before a fork in the road. As soon as we passed through the town, we all knew the man was correct; this was the way to go.
To the right was the trail to Crested Butte and to the left was our trail. In between the fork, was a giant sign that read “Extremely Rough Road Ahead – Vehicle Traffic Discouraged – 4×4 with Experienced Drivers and Narrow Wheel Base Only”. Kristina asked Kat “Uhh .. Kat? Are you an experienced driver?” “Yes, Kristina.”
It took us about 2 hours to drive 8 miles in some of the prettiest parts of Colorado I have ever seen …
When we went through Marble earlier on our way to the Crystal Mill, we passed a barbecue joint; Slow Groovin’ BBQ. We all were starving by this point, so we stopped in for some grub & beer.
When the first round of brews arrived, we saluted Kat’s driving abilities and then sat back and enjoyed the Colorado summer day. After some pretty tasty BBQ topped off with a root-beer float, we started to make our way to the Yule Marble Quarry. It only took about 10 minutes to get there, but when we arrived, it was yet another spectacular view.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. We headed back to the house, to enjoy one last evening of hanging out before we had to leave in the AM. Due to a little bit of car trouble we had during the week (no road trip is complete without right?), we left a little later than we wanted to. As we were driving through the mountains on the way back, we both had that “why don’t we live here?” feeling. It’s just so nice in Colorado …
The drive out of the mountains was beautiful. Even though it was a little chilly, I rolled down the windows so I could breathe in the crisp mountain air one more time. I stopped a few times to take some snapshots …
When we passed through Westcliffe, about 30 miles outside, everyone was being stopped. Construction workers were telling everyone to turn around because the road had been washed out by a storm. The lady directing traffic told us that we’d have to go back into Westcliffe, and then make our way back up to Colorado City (about 60 miles away) to get towards I-25. She said from there, it would take about 20-30 minutes to get to the highway. Boo.
Synthia and I rode quietly in the car together for about an hour until we crested over a one of the mountains in the San Isabel National Forest. To my right, was something I hadn’t seen in years; The Bishop Castle. About 25 years ago, my family used to occasionally come to Colorado in the summer, to stay near Wescliffe. We had taken this route at one point, and I vaguely remembered visiting this castle as a kid. One man, Jim Bishop, has built this castle by himself over the past 40+ years …
As a scale reference, there is a man on top of the right tower in the image above …
Once the initial excitement of seeing this structure wore off, we hopped back in the car and made our way towards I-25 ..
We merged onto the highway and cruised down to Raton, NM. When we started heading east towards Dumas, we drove right into a rainstorm ..
After a while the storms gave way, and we drove the 400-ish miles we had left on our journey through the clear of the night …
It was a trip that I will remember for a lifetime. Synthia and I can’t thank Kristina and Kat enough for showing us such an incredible time, yet again, in Colorado. We love you guys so much!
BTW, Impossible Project – A big thank you to the chemistry of your product; from the way the film “sees” a scene, to the soft colors, to the painterly quality of the images, to the rich analog life it has .. all make me crave its photographic substance a little more. Diving deeper into instant photography is something I do not regret. Thank you for making such a quality product and for the inspiration.
July 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
The following day, we decided to drive up Aspen Mountain to play some frisbee golf. When we got to the top, the signs read “highest disc golf course in the world!”. At 11,200 feet, it was an awesome place to play some disc. The course had 18 holes which zig-zagged their way down & up the side of the mountain.
We ended up playing about 1/2 of the course and then decided to walk over to The Sundeck to take a break.
When we were finished, we took the jeep down the backside of the mountain towards Hunter Creek Rd. to get back into town.
We eventually parted ways and Synthia and I decided to go up Independence Pass to check out the Lost Man Lake trail. The trail goes up to two lakes, Independence and Lost Man, which are near the top of the continental divide. We started at the Roaring Fork Trailhead and once we walked in about 1000 feet, it was like we had stepped into another part of the world. Dense, lush, spongy landscape rich with wildflowers and moss covered rocks. Just beautiful …
This was one of many moments on this trip, in which I was really glad we brought our boxer with us. Seeing her run up and down the trail, prancing around was a sight to see. She was so happy!
While we were en route, we could see a few people alongside a ridge about another mile up the trail. That was our goal. I knew that over that distant ridge was either Lost Man Lake or at the very least, an amazing view. Once we got to Independence Lake, we knew that Lost Man was just over the ridge. We passed a hiker on the way up, and mentioned something about it being our first time on the trail. A broad smile appeared, and he assured us that the view the first time, was something we’d never forget … he was SO right. When we reached the top, I was completely wowed. All I could do was stumble around in awe, as I gawked at the wondrous display of nature that was before me. We stayed up there for a good 30-45 minutes, just soaking it in …
It was nearing 7 o’clock and some storms started rolling in. We put on some parkas and made our way back down the trail. We were supposed to have dinner at Steakhouse 316 with Kristina and Kat at 9, so it was a good thing the impending storm nudged us along.
Dinner was scrumdiddlyumptious! If you’re ever in the Aspen area, you have got to go check this place out. Kat is the ridiculously talented executive chef at Steakhouse 316, and everything, I mean EVERYTHING she makes is fantastic. Hands down .. the things she has cooked has been some of the best food I’ve had in my life. The four of us enjoyed a delicious spread at the restaurant which included jumbo lump crab cakes and savory steaks, along with many highly delectable sides. By the time we finished our food, they were closing down so we walked back home to relax the rest of the evening …
Synthia: Relaxed? We actually went home to enjoy our 4th bottle of wine …
To be continued …
July 12, 2012 § 4 Comments
The next morning, Kristina & Synthia went to breakfast while Kat went to do some prep-work at the restaurant. I took the jeep out and cruised up to The Grottos to check out the ice cave. When we visited last year in June, the entrance was blocked with ice and there wasn’t a path. I was anxious to see if there was a clear route through the ice this time around. Luckily, there was and I made my way down and crawled inside …
Later on that day, I found some info on this cave in Hiking Colorado’s Geology ebook online. “The Grottos formed when the Roaring Fork River was swollen with meltwater from receding Ice Age glaciers about 15,000 years ago. The meltwater coursed over the granitic bedrock carrying rocks and other debris that sculpted the cavern’s walls through abrasive action. Today, the river has abandoned the channel through the Grottos, leaving behind a slot canyon with windows open to the sky. Unlike most caverns, which are created where limestone is dissolved by water, the Grottos are carved in solid Precambrian granitic rock (1.4 billion-year-old quartz monzonite).”
Once I was done chillin’ in the ice cave, I walked around for a bit and eventually sat down at this bench to watch the cascades …
I made my way back down the mountain and met up with Kristina & Synthia at Victoria’s coffee shop. By the time I downed the best Cafe Mocha I’ve had in my life .. literally, Kat had cruised up on her bike. Maybe it was the coffee, but I was antsy to get back out there and ‘do something’ but Kristina & Synthia were content just hanging out sippin’ on their wine (I can’t particularly blame them now can I?). Something about hiking the Ute Trail was mentioned, and both Kat and I decided that was a good idea.
We brought the dogs with us, Diego & Maybelle, and made our way to the trailhead. Kristina & Kat had both warned me that this hike was BRUTAL … I had no idea. It was literally like being on a stair-master for almost an hour .. intense. The hike is about a mile up and you gain 1,300 feet of elevation during the hike.
The whole way up, we were both huffin’ and puffin’, but as we passed people who were hiking down, they all said the view was completely worth it. Kat mentioned, that there are people that have lived their whole life in Aspen and have never made it to the top. A shame, considering the stunning view that awaits its victors …
Unfortunately, it started to rain and Kat had to make it back into work. We hauled booty back down the ever-increasing slippery trail, but by the time we got back to the jeep, the rain was letting up.
Once we got back to the casa, Synthia had made a picnic dinner for the two of us and wanted to go lay out somewhere to enjoy the scenery .. uhh Ya! 🙂
I wanted to show her the ice cave, so we drove back to The Grottos and made our way up to this great little nook at the top of the cascades. It was away from the traffic of most of the visitors and to be honest, we saw maybe 10 people in the 3 hours that we were there.
When we got back, I ‘pulled the old man card’ and relaxed the rest of the evening. I had to get a jump start on writing about our trip 🙂 Synthia eventually met up with K&K when they got off work, and the ladies came giggling back after the bars closed.
To be continued …
July 11, 2012 § 6 Comments
A road trip to Aspen. Two of my favorite people, Kristina & Kat, are fortunate enough to live there and my wife and I have visited them a couple of times since they moved. We have vowed to make the trip every year at least once. If you drive to Aspen it’s about ~ 16 hours from Dallas, but totally worth it. Granted, it takes 10 hours to get out of Texas, but who cares .. the last 6 are filled with an inspiring landscape worthy of any road trip. Colorado just makes you feel so good. Being there replenishes my soul ..
The plan was to leave on Tuesday night, July 3rd. We’d drive through the evening, take a nap for a few hours in Raton, NM and then hit the road again. Luckily, the adrenaline of being on a road trip usually just keeps me going. We decided to take Maybelle, one of our dogs, with us. She’s a 2 1/2 year old boxer and we knew that she would have the time of her life up there.
I brought a variety of cameras with me; a Leica M2, a Polaroid Sonar SX-70, a Polaroid 100 Land Camera and a Mamiya C330. For film, I brought some PX-70 COOL & NIGO, Kodak Ektar 100, Fuji Acros 100 & Adox CMS 20. 🙂 Synthia brought her Spectra SE and her grab bag of Spectra film. She’s been shooting a lot with it and is loving the black frame PZ600. It has this really cool vintage look and it ended being a perfect fit for the images she shot on this trip.
We packed all of the other essentials and ended up leaving at 7 o’clock. After we drove 6 hours and made it into Amarillo, we chose to just make the push to Aspen without stopping, and took turns driving and sleeping through the night. I can’t believe we had it in us to drive straight to Aspen from Dallas.
Once we got over Independence Pass and were making our way into town, we stopped at a grove of trees and Synthia snapped this killer B&W shot with some black frame PZ600 …
Our little Scion arrived in Aspen at 11am, just enough time to take a quick shower and find a spot to relax before the July 4th parade started. The four of us sat down at Hunters Bar and enjoyed some good ol’ fashioned ‘merican food (beer, burgers & dogs) while watching the parade from a distance. We both snuck up for a couple of frames of the festivities …
After the parade was over, Kristina and Kat had to head into work so Synthia and I went back to their place and passed out. When we woke up from our much needed nap, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat.
We ended up going to New York Pizza. Last year, I had met a local photographer by the name of Michael Brands there when I was in town. He had mentioned that his friend had just opened up a photography gallery in Aspen called The Nugget that was worth checking out. I made a point to stop in again this year to show Synthia and to introduce myself to the owner, Ross. When we walked inside, there were some fantastic photo-realistic paintings that a friend of his was showing. We started talking photography and about 1/2 way through our conversation, I asked him if he still shot instant film and if he had heard of The Impossible Project. He had not 🙂 I filled him in on the details and his interest seemed to pique when I mentioned that Impossible was now making 8×0 film as well. Later in the evening, when Synthia and I were walking around, she chuckled and said that TIP needs to hire me as a spokesman for their product. I’m practically an evangelist for them! But you know what? They deserve all of the positive press they can get.
The next morning, we all woke up and hiked part of Lost Man Loop. We probably hiked about an hour or so before turning around. It was a great warm up for us and I’m glad we ended up taking it a little easy. I think Synthia and I were still a little beat from the drive and adjusting to the altitude.
After we got back, we were starving so we all ordered some grub from The Big Wrap. Kat recommended I have the Babs-E-Que and I’m so glad I did .. it was CRAZY good! Apparently this joint is packed all the time and rightfully so.
When the ladies went off to work, Synthia and I took their jeep out and drove up Hunter Creek Rd. to the ghost town of Ashcroft.
We had snowshoed right by this place in Feburary of 2011. To see it again in the summer was really cool. The town sprung up in in the early 1880’s when there was a silver boom in the area. At its peak, there were about 2,000 people living and working there. The mines initially produced 14,000 ounces of silver to the ton, but unfortunately for Ashcroft, it turned out to just be shallow deposits. As quickly as it boomed, Ashcroft went a bust.
After a little while, a family met up with us and asked Synthia to snap a photo with their camera. When she was handing it back, she asked them if they wanted an instant photo. At first they said no because they didn’t want us to waste our film, but after showing them a photo that Synthia took of me on the hotel steps, their attitudes changed.
“Did you use some sort of filter for that?” “No. It’s just the way this particular film looks …” Synthia replied. After she shot their family photo and tucked it away in a brochure, we explained to them that they had to wait a little while before taking a peek. They were grateful and went on their way.
We moseyed our way back through the ghost town and then stopped at a nearby picnic table so we could just soak in the surroundings …
To be continued …
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.