Saturday, August 14, 2010

Everything Old . . .

 . . . is fodder for some hipster to decide its ironic and cool.  Case in point, "lo-fi" photography - film cameras, toy cameras, Polaroids, vintage cameras and all manner of unreliable, unpredictable and lower-quality image making devices.  Oh, and did I mention that now that digital is the ubiquitous choice of the masses, that these non-digital options are also more expensive than their shiny new brethren?  But hey, just because the hipsters like it doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't actually cool.  And some of this stuff is definitely cool.

Even in the age of instantly viewing your shot on your camera's digital screen (don't deny it, everybody chimps), there is just something inherently fascinating about watching the picture slowly come up, or the anticipation of that moment before you peel back the developing layer to see what the camera made out of the image you framed in the viewfinder 60 second before.  Call it the triumph of chemicals over pixels.

I caught the Polaroid bug very late.  I picked up an old Land 250 just in time for Polaroid to announce it would be discontinuing the manufacture of all compatible films (and then only a bit later picked up an SX-70 with similar results).  But I instantly fell in love with the camera.  It was a sort of "where have you been all my life" moment.  I still love, and predominantly shoot, digital, but also love to bust out one of my Polaroids now and then to change things up.  An expedition with a Polaroid is a much different affair than with digital, or even regular 35mm film.  Where I might take 100 shots (or much more) on a day outing with my 40D, a prolific day out with the Polaroid will involve pressing the shutter 10 to 20 times, at most. Setting aside the cost of the film, the process itself is just much more involved, and you are forced to slow down, pre-visualize your shots and be more selective about when and what to shoot.  Add in the fact of expired film that isn't working quite as well or in the same manner as fresh film would, and it the day becomes an act of experimentation.

I have a box of unused Polaroid films that I have been sitting on.  This includes some color and black and white film for my Land 250 (authentic 669 and 667), some Spectra/600 packs, and a couple of very rare packs of the last Polaroid SX-70 blend film.  I also have some packs of the newer Polaroid films produced by the Impossible Project (, which is the only place that I know of that you can get new film for that SX-70 you might have hanging around in a drawer somewhere.

The film isn't getting any fresher sitting in the box, so I have been making a point of shooting more Polaroids lately.  The 669 color film seems to have faired the worst, but you do get some interesting effects.  I'll be posting more (and better) results from my renewed experiments with these films soon.

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