Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
PX100 FF, PX600 FF, PX100, PX600, PX70 FF, PZ600, PX600 UV+, PX70 PUSH!, PZ600 UV+
After months and months the acclaimed Polaroid 600 successor PX680 “arrived” today. Being released in a limited edition beta run of umpteen packs that in the 5 hours since I got a count in my head have sold almost 400 packs. I haven’t received my share of those 400 yet; those should come sometime next week. But inside of that package won’t just be film, it will be filled with a strange sadness about what this film means for so many people.
I didn’t buy the first packs of PX100FF. In fact that is the only film produced by I have never (and probably will never) shot. I was unemployed and $21 per pack seemed like a large amount of money to be squandering when I was hoping to eat that week. It took me until PX70 First Flush (and I had a steady job under my feet) for me to finally take the plunge and order some film. And order it I did, in mass quantities. I felt like The kid who played 10 year old Willy Wonky in Tim Burton’s 2005 movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” who had just tasted chocolate for the first time. I needed to try everything, PX600 FF – ordered, PX100 – ordered PX600 – ordered. The list and my fun-o-meter went skyrocketing.
Then PX70 PUSH! Arrived at my door, and the steps from the last batch were at the time ridiculous. I still remember seeing the first test shots of this film stock and thinking to myself “good god they’ve done it”. So I played and played with the film. Discovering different ways of getting more color, less magenta, a removed opacifier etc. Even getting a chance to throw some of the monochrome film in between there. Along the way I made it into the Pioneer Program, and as of writing this am just a few shorts steps away from hitting the Land level. Although now I really need to boogie because as soon as PX680 is widely available I can no longer advance levels!
But I digress. With such huge leaps in only three generations (even bigger ones that PX600 FF to PX600 UV+) I can’t help but wonder where this will lead The Impossible Project to go. The exclusivity that I felt every time I used my SX70 because I was brave enough to spend my money on what was an experiment could be vanishing shortly. The Polaroid 600 replacement was the invisible “benchmark” that had been set by The Impossible Project and it’s customers as to when they had made it in the instant film world.
I really hate to sound like the kind of guy who has sayings like “stick it to the man” and “sell out” regularly queued in his vocabulary but what happens if and when The Impossible Project becomes a mainstream item? I will no longer be surprised at what comes out after I take the image. The work of achieving a useable image is getting closer to being removed and if the work is removed, is it really photography?
In December of 2010 I was tracking the web traffic for my 365 project. I hadn’t started it yet but I did post a few small blogs talking about The Impossible Project and their current releases of film. Just so that there was someone the site incase a person stumbled upon it. One of these was titled “How to get more color out of PX70 PUSH!” with me discussing my own first hand methods along with others of achieving near (albeit expired) TZ artistic levels of color and tonality. But now that this isn’t there anymore what do I discuss? How to push the button on your Polaroid 600 camera?
It felt like we all wanted for the longest time for The Impossible Project to reproduce Polaroid film, but as I sit here looking at the images of PX680 I have to ask myself if it is what I really want…
Sunday, March 20, 2011
So when I saw the 50s model online in September I fell in love. However I fell in hate with the price tag. Seeing models go for as much as $190! Way to much for what would be a toy to bring to parties and events. And maybe slip some photography in there every once and a while. But as luck would have it, my local photo store started to carry them. And for about $100 less that what they had been commanding just months before. I knew I had to pick one up. Which by the way a full review of that camera will come at some point here.
But as I fired through my first, my second, my third pack of film there w
as something wrong. I wasn't feeling the joy that I did every time I took a Polaroid. There was no magic to the image. It looked (dare I say) too good. The tones were decent, the colors were correct, the soul of instant film had been sucked away with Instax.
But determined not to let my money or time go to waste. I knew that something could be done with this yet! After reading about how the Polaroid film worked vs the Instax film some things were made clear. Polaroid exposes from the front with a mirror, Instax from the back. Polaroid developed the red layer first, Instax the Blue. And the first color to start creating the image will have the most prominent display on the final product. Which is what would give Polaroids the funky red/green tones while Fuji's daylight dyes would strike through. What better way to get rid of those with some color shifts! Now where is where it gets fun!
My first trial was with an 85a warming filter that slipped onto the front of my camera, shown here:
Boy howdy did that do it! Check out these sample pictures!
More recently however I have been experimenting with other colored filters. Using a flash gel pack I bought a Pro Photo Supply in Portland, OR. Here is with a light green filter.
I hope that this helps you guys in any way when getting different qualities from your Instax Mini shots. I certainly enjoy them a lot more!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
If you know me in person you know that there is one main argument that I have above all others when it comes to using film cameras over digital. And for many people who will say things such as “oh yeah you’ve got the same mega pixels as a 1DS MKIII by scanning 120 film”. Or go on about the sharpness of Large format cameras. The tonal range of black and white film or the dynamic range on color film. Which are all valid arguments, I won’t disagree with any of them because when put on the paper they are all true. But that brings me to my point, putting stats on the paper doesn’t quite “get it”. It is much like reading any one of the sports car magazines. You hear people go on and on about how the new Lamborghinis has 650hp and can do a lap on the ‘ring in under 8 minutes. But no matter how many spec sheets you read there is a very good chance that you are going to go the rest of your life without experiencing that first hand. And while that could lead me into pushing you to put the dSLR down and shoot a roll of HP5. I’m going to bypass a few steps of the development process and hit the final chapter. Polaroid.
I have been an avid fan for the past year or so. Unfortunately missing out on the beauty that was 600 film, and SX70 manipulations I have seem to come in at a great time. One that has never quite happened before with the photographic community, which is being a part of watching The Impossible Project evolve. I’m ecstatic for one to be involved as I am. For those who don’t know my 365 Project this year is using only new film produced by The Impossible Project for Polaroid integral cameras. Which is just a long way of saying “the new shit”. That can be found at www.the-365-project.com.
Side note: I realized that in the past 15 minutes or so it has taken me to write this. I realized that I have gone in a completely different direction, may as well run with it.
So what does all this have to do with the Lamborghini mentioned earlier? Well the name of the game my friends is tangibility. I’m not one to balk at the newest Apple product. I love my iPhone, want an iPad more than anything. And think that some of the innovations coming from the high tech industry are the coolest things since sliced bread. Which leads me to did anyone not slice bread? I couldn’t image eating a PB&J with a loaf of Wonder on either side. But I digress. Everything now is turning to just being a digital copy. A local favorite bookstore Powell’s Books is cutting employees because books are being sold in huge numbers to Kindle type devices. Everything is meant to be thrown away, and that includes the data itself. Don’t believe me? How many times have you gone on a walk through the city snapping your digital camera nonstop. Only to come home, load them onto your computer and forget about those images. I’ve done it on more than one occasion. For many people film is the same way. Sure it provides a certain quality that in this photographers opinion cannot be recreated no matter how many effects you apply in Photoshop. But most film is now just turned into a digital product. To be enlarged, shared, and possible sold if that is your gig.
We have lost touch with touching! The feel and warmth of so many things is going away quickly. Cars are so often now being called one 4 letter word in particular… “numb”. Being able to use your body as a part of the machine seems like such an ancient way of doing things. Even buttons are going away thanks to the touch screen. Even in the photographic world that is clear. So few of my images turn into something tangible. As a last ditch effort to resist this not 3 weeks ago I ordered almost 400 4x6 prints of the 900+ that I had taken with my phone since I got it just so that I would have something to hold.
And yet even then Polaroid is different. Each image is a one of a kind print that you are able to hold in your hand. You can touch it, look at it, smell it (if someone can tell me what PX100 film smells like I will be forever in debt to you as I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is). Give it to your friends right there. No uploading, tagging, friend requesting required! Yes some of those are a little bit of a stretch but we can ignore that for now. Perhaps I am an old soul at heart. Fitting in much better in the 50s and 60s than today. I long for the uniqueness of things that were truly crafted instead of just being pumped out time and time again. And maybe that is really what this rant has been all about. The worry that one day something will come where it will be your 4 senses instead of 5. Because after all who needs touch when you have touch-screen?