4 May 2010

Firstly, I am sorry I disappeared for so long. At the risk of making this a boring and trite “dear diary” moment, I’ll just say I was slightly preoccupied about where to take the Tiny Flying Goats project and dissatisfied with my perceived failings. But, damnit Annie, you know you need to just forge ahead. So here we are, and here we go.

Secondly, today is a one-day holiday (International Respect for Chickens Day) amidst an entire week-long holiday (Polaroid Week). I think this Chicken Respect business is pretty much up there with Groundhogs’ Day in terms of brilliant holidays. I have, coincidentally, been spending quite a bit of time respecting chickens of late (chiefly hanging out with them in various locales, working on a new photography series). I’ll be writing about the chicken photos later, but for now, please do celebrate today by respecting chickens. You can also read some more about our fine feathered friends at United Poultry Concerns. (I am concerned that the chickens are all going to be hung over tomorrow, after all this partying.)


As for that other thing, Polaroid week… I’ve been celebrating that too. Mostly, this is because I sprung for some of that yummy new PX100 Silver Shade film that the Impossible Project put out recently. It’s pretty pricey (understandably, with the R&D that’s been going on the past year), but it’s completely delectable, and I wish I had more of it. But it’s sold out, so I guess I’ll have to wait for the “second flush”.

Nerdy Camera Stuff

Though I try, I’m kind of bad at being a geeky photographer. I get a bit befuddled about the parts of photography that involve numbers. Sure, I know that stuff, and sure, I’m always trying crazy ambitious things like taking lens-building workshops for medium format cameras which totally involve math, and getting together with my photographer friend Jared for hours of coffee and camera-geek-talk… but at the heart of the matter, I’m much more of an impressionist than a stickler for exactitude and technique.

That said, let me tell you a little about my experience with the new PX100 Silver Shade integral Polaroid film… I was slightly wary of using it, at first, as it is, as I was saying, rather pricey ($21/8 shots), and the website made it sound very temperamental. But it turned out to be quite charming and not that difficult to deal with.

I was using a circa 1977 Pronto! B rigid-body SX70 camera.

Outdoor Shots

First, I went outside and shot with available light. It was a bit cold out… maybe 55 or 60˚F. (This film is prefers 63-75˚F), so I put each shot in my pocket to develop (the film is also light-sensitive while developing). Turns out the heat and darkness of my pockets did the trick quite nicely — though my results varied based on how long I kept the pictures away from light and what setting I had the light/dark adjustment set to on the camera (starting with it in the center for outdoor shots and adjusting in small increments worked well).

Indoor Shots

Later that evening, being addicted now to the Silver Shade film, I decided to do some still life photos inside. I set up two very bright color-balanced photo floods on either side of a table. I pulled out a Polaroid “macro” lens (i.e., a +3 filter). Of course, this lens wasn’t actually for this camera (it’s for pack film Land Cameras, I think), and actually had a different dimension and attachment mechanism than the Pronto lens, so, you guessed it, Scotch Tape to the rescue! Actually I’m quite well-chuffed with the weird vignetting that the smaller-than-the-lens-and-inexactly-attached filter caused.

The temperature inside was in the upper 60s, so that wasn’t an issue, but I still developed the shots in my pocket, to protect them from the light. I think they may have, thusly gotten a little too hot, causing some solarization-like effects (in a kind of oxblood-red color, in the shadows). Shooting indoors, with all that light, I had to turn the light/dark dial way up… or is that down? (I didn’t meter this situation, but it was pretty obvious what needed doin’.)

Summation (whoa, that’s an awfully formal subhead)

Interesting that the outdoor/colder weather shots came out far more yellowy-sepia and the indoor/hotter shots came out far more red. Both are lovely palettes. Especially fooling around with ill-matched filters and stuff, these pictures are delightfully and weirdly reminiscent of van dyke brown prints or even callitypes… but then they’re encased in plastic and pop out of one’s 70s camera instantly! If “thumbs up” weren’t trademarked vis-a-vis the rating of films, I would certainly give one or two to this film.

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