No, it's not another failed attempt (like some 3 decades ago) to launch the Polavision film. Rather, it is an exquisite result of a stop-motion video created from hundreds of instant films from the Impossible. Here, Walter Lukens (and the team) created the last videospot in NYC.
This week we feature another German photographer from Bonn, Marc von Martial. Marc is a freelance graphic designer by profession. He, as many others, started with digital equipment (not counting the snapshots from the film era), but got »infected« soon with analog, starting with lomography, when he fell in love with the images made with a Holga. Now, he primarily shoots on film, and he also develops all the films by himself. He likes to experiment with film very much, including expired film. His main focus is on people/portrait photography, some landscape, and also some street photography. He is working on a few photographic series, developing them over time. He describes himself mainly as a medium-format-and-polaroid kind of guy, since he mostly uses his beloved Pentacon Six TL, with the CZJ 80/2.8 and 180/2.8 lenses (the same lenses he uses also on his DSLR, by his own words better lenses than Canon L series lenses!) and the Polaroid Land 350 and SX-70 Alpha cameras. He also makes great use of various Holgas, yet he also has other cameras in his arsenal, among them a Hasselblad 500CM, various 35mm cameras, and some other plasti/toy cameras. Please, take also a look at his bio just below his photos. I think Marc makes a very good argumented description why film rules for him, even though he is tech junkie otherwise. Marc's work can be found on Flickr, Marc's blog and his webpage. Enjoy his work!
All photos copyright: Marc von Martial
Monday Column: About Not Reinventing the Wheel, Giving the Due Credit, Digital helping the Analog Etc.
Our Monday columnist Matjaž has been quite busy lately, so please forgive me if I took the role of the "surrogate columnist" this week. A while ago, our contributor Alessandro kindly reminded me that it would be very nice if we would discuss the reclamation of Fuji FP instant film negatives on the blog. So true, and I am very grateful to him. Fact is also that I only lately began to play with the instant material. Though a bit more expensive and having a more limited color palette, I find instant film very pleasing with its own aesthethics. Instant film also fits perfectly into our rushy lifestyles-you can shot and get quickly a few photos having all their analog beauty and then set your camera into standby mode till next time. Yet you can still get a negative from your shots. The specific aesthetics of these negatives comes also from the fact that the negative is actually a superposition of a color and a BW negative, therefore the colors get quite muted. Fortunately, there are many many useful tutorials how to obtain a usable negative from Fuji FP film by just using common household bleach, that seemed to me pointless and unfair to make yet another tutorial about this very topic. It would be really just reinventing the wheel. But it's nice to remind about this hidden potential of instant film once in a while. Below, I included a video tutorial made by Sebek (YouTube user baldipl) which seems to me simple and concise to comprehend. And I thank him for his contribution to our community.
Sharing the information, photos or videos among the web is another issue and it just happens too often people just forget to give the proper credits when posting something on their own sites. It's not only unethical-we all know that-it doesn't pay you back such a misbehavoir. You can only lose on your own credibility, that's it. And makes someone else (the proper author) angry. Be nice and fair to others and others will be nice and fair to you.
Coming back to reclaimed negatives-I thought it would be a good point anyway to show how important is to NOT allow the bleach to come in contact with the emulsion side-it will bleach your image too, and you'll get a "nice" magenta cast in the negative (green in the positive image). Below is my very first bleached negative and the inverted image (without corrections).
|Reclaimed negative shot on the light table. Bleach leaked underneath on the emulsion edge and also spilled near the truck's front end. The result are green stains (magenta in the negative).|
Last but not least, I must confess-the negative on the light table has been shot using my small and handy Philips HD camera. Yes, I have some "digital sins", I confess :) I bought it because is water and shockproof, portable like a cell phone and makes videos of acceptable quality, for example instructional videos. The photo quality leaves much to be desired, but for descriptional purposes only is good enough. I think it will be a good tool helping me with the blog. And paid it only about 110 €. I just try to be conservative with the digital gear. If I'd be a bit more conservative with the analog gear, probably it wouldn't hurt, too. But that's another story.
I must admit, I have never been particularly interested in instant film, especially not in integral instant film, due to its drawbacks. Only lately, I quite fell in love with the peel-apart ("pack") film made by Fuji and used on an old Polaroid Land camera. But that's another story for another day. In the meantime, we can just wish the Impossible Team will make their product prices more affordable.
I am sure all of you have (at least) heard about the efforts made by the team of the Impossible Project. Some of you are also using their products already. These people made a terrific effort in bringing back the instant integral film, once Polaroid products went away for good. Although on a small budget and on a very short deadline, they made it happen. And they made it happen once again! Today they started selling the 8x10 film-not the old Polaroid stock, but from their own production! Yes, they have been already working on the ultra-large format 20x24 film, jointly with the 20x24 studio, but that's a niche product par excellence, given also its prohibitive price... Instead, the 8x10 film is meant to be affordable to a larger number of photographers, albeit it won't be cheap (but still cheaper than old Polaroid stock). Here is their brief description about the film.
|An "official" test shot made on the new film. Photo by Jennifer Trausch, retrieved from http://www.the-impossible-project.com|
Probably you recall when I was ranting about the »new age« instant photography? Well, this time I thought it would be nice to offer an alternative to this new age stuff. I know, this is nothing new, many people did it many times, but nevertheless, there are still many of you out there not (yet) having an instant camera, like me, until quite recently. Given the available instant film choices today, getting a Polaroid Land camera is probably the best option, since pack film is regularly available, and at a moderate price-Fuji FP instant film. A nice feature of this film is also the possibility to reclaim the remaining negative, but this will be the topic for another post. The Land cameras are great eye catchers with their bellows, and some of them produce photos of respectable quality (but they cost more). Most of them not, like mine, having a simple plastic lens, but they still have (or maybe for this very reason) their own charm, and you can get them for very little.
|Polaroid Land cameras-they are so sexy, aren't they. Jean Pierre, thanks for the photo.|
The main issue is where to get the battery for this 4-decades-old camera? The majority of Pola Land cameras use the 3V 532 alkaline battery, which is quite difficult to find nowadays and is also quite expensive-like as much as you spent on the camera itself! In case you don't own a rare or collectible camera, don't feel too sorry to make a bit of surgery on your Pola Land wiring. Just cut off the old battery contacts and solder a plastic insert for two 1.5V AAA batteries instead. Just make sure to have these batteries connected in series (with 3V output) and having them soldered to the right polarity! That's it! It's a 10 minute job, more or less.
|A new battery holder with two AAA batteries. Note the cut original contacts.|
|The new battery holder fits just perfectly inside the battery compartment.|
You will also need to get rid of the remaing plastic tabs-retainers (for the original battery). It is an easy job: just move them in rear-forward motion for some time, and the tabs will just fall off. Now, the new plastic battery insert will fit nicely in the battery compartment of your old Polaroid! It is worth to take a look at the Land List where types of batteries are listed for single cameras. If you own a camera which uses a 531 battery type (4.5V), then you'll have quite a bit of trouble. Probably is just easier to get a 3V camera instead.
If you're unaware of the camera conditions, it is a good measure to check (from time to time) the voltage of the batteries. These old cameras can draw some current even if the are not in use. And when you just want to use them, the batteries are too low. So, don't waste the instant film because of empty batteries, just have a pair of fresh batteries for backup-they are cheap!
Polaroid has undergone a certain rebirth with their digital line of products, probably also with the advertising help of LadyGaga. In this article, the Polaroid Z2300 is introduced, a digital camera integrating a ZINK printer. Its price will be 160 $, while the cost of paper will be 0.50 $ per sheet (the prints are 2x3 inch in size, not really impressive). The people who tested it, say "We're absolutely loving the chromatic stripe that's emblazoned across the front. It gives the camera that much more of a old school aesthetic." That's some good appreciation of vintage style cameras, I would say, especially for the "chromatic stripe". Moreover, they state "Prints take about 40 seconds to print, but when it's all said and done, the photos do seem to have that slightly blurry look reminiscent of old instant film cameras. Polaroid reps also told us that filters can be applied in-camera Instagram-style before printing, which should add some more value to the Z2300." OK, someone can call it "value", the extra upgrade options which inflate the price tag.....Hmmm...I am puzzled....really.....I just don't get it. Where's the whole point? Customer satisfaction? Sure...
One can buy a Polaroid Land Camera for something like 10-20 $ or so (the better or collectible models cost more, of course), and in a good shape-there are still so many around. One can buy 1 pack of Fuji NP instant film (10 sheets) for about 10 $, that's 1 $ per shot. Even the cheapest Pola cameras give the "instagram-like" look by default (the lenses are just right for this-only 2 plastic elements), without any "upgrades". Yes, they are bulkier than the newest Pola Z2300, but surely greater eye-catchers, too. They have bellows, after all. If you want to break even with both cameras, you need to make about 300 shots with each. Not really likely to happen very soon. Probably, most people would make maybe a hundred shots and then forget about the camera or dispose it somewhere for a long time. My point: these "glorious days of instant photo" can be rekindled anytime by anyone, without buying the newest gadget. And the Pola Land was just one example!