Saturday, March 5, 2016

eulogy for FP-100c ? or a wish for a sick friend-1000 cranes for fp-100c legacy

My life has always had a peel-apart camera in it. FP-100c is the best film of the lots. It has allowed me to grow as a photographer and make experiments I would never attempt on another film stock. If it dies a big part of me will die with it.
    The world of instant photographers has felt a giant ebb in the force. The future of how humans retain and share memories will be forever changed.
       Fuji Film has announced that they will no longer produce the last peel apart film made for millions of polaroid land cameras. While the FILM in fuji film is now a very small percentage of the overall companys 'mainly digital hardware trade, the peel apart division is an even smaller part. People have wondered if the entire budget of the division is as big as FUJIFILMs budget for television advertising of the latest digital model. The sad thing is that long after the last of the model cameras are gone and forgotten there will still be millions of peelapart prints on display around the world, A legacy of a product that has so many facets of unique ness that make it great in many different groups of people.
        For some people an fp-100c is the only print they have ever had of themselves. You can hold it, you don't need batteries to look at it ,you are not likely to take a photo of a stranger with your cell phone and give them the phone afterwords, in other words it builds bridges between people.
     As a tool for teaching , its been used from everything from the obvious ,photography, to therapy.
As a tool for photographers it has been indespensible for proofing on the commercial side and endless varieties of creative endevors from portraiture to techniques unique to the formula such as image transfers and emulision lifts. Others reclaim the negatives from this film and scan them or even make extra large black and white darkroom prints. There is no other film stock made that can do these things. There are also many cameras that can only take this film format. It seems like this customer base is a legacy that is at the mercy of the company , if the goal is just money ,why not raise the price-look at what consumers will pay for the Impossible Project products which retail for up to three times a frame more than FP-100c. Other instant film products including FUJIFILMS own instax line  fail to deliver performance anywhere near the level of FP-100c. For the last few years I wondered why fujifilm was making such a bad business move by so obiviously underpriceing a product that was the best and ONLY product on the market.

I have come to think its not about the bottom line but about real estate. Instax is a runaway best seller for the division, the demand cannot be met, thus production must be increased ,floor space is needed -there you have it.  FORGET about the fact that Instax is a gateway to instant photography ,and many of the users move on to fp-100c which has a quality level and flexibily far above instax. Forget about how there is a large base of users already owning cameras that will only work with this film. Forget about soul, art, expression which can be done in ways that will never be achived with an integral film. Forget about a hold in your hand tactile Legacy that every FP-100C print has the power to be. The force has taken a turn to the dark side. But being an optimist I have to have hope, to have a wish, a dream...
         There is a folktale that many people in the world are familiar with about folding of one thousand paper cranes. The wish is made true when the 1000th crane is folded. Wedding gifts may also sometimes be 1000 cranes for luck. So what I am saying is that folding paper cranes is a positive thing, like holding a fresh fp-100c print in your hand. What about combining the two? It could be even better, and if it didn't make our wish true it at least would make us take positive actions that could bring more joy into the world. So I am taking an instant photo of a paper crane and sending it to the FUJI FILM headquarters in tokyo. I will take a photo of that print and the envelope first and ask people to repost it in their own social networks and to also send a photo to japan. Thanks and lets hope!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The instant of discovery: simultaneous FP-100C development and negative reclaimation (recovery) !!! Bleach a piece of FP-100c and two minutes..ZO NO PEEL ..pull process peel

 This post is about FP-100c Negative is assumed that you have tried this before.. there are plenty of posts and shorts about how to do this I think I first saw it here :
another good tutorial is here..
and here is another ;
one other
I am assuming you have tried this or have some idea of what can go wrong. Look at some other longer descriptions before you try it with a print/negative you care about...

print from portion of my first negative recovered while developing (it is a multiple exposure)

I started saving my negatives for about a year before I tried I have a few to catch up on.

        My first attempts at getting a negative were one by one,taping a negative  emulision side down on a piece of glass or metal. I then progressed to taping down 20  at once on a baking tray and using gel bleach .This took some time but there was little damage to the emulsion side from bleach. The back could be scratched if you rubbed to hard with the toothbrush.. Then I learned another method which was shown to me by Brian Brooks after one of the last sunday instant camera walks at Glass Key Photo in San Francisco's lower Haight neighborhood. The method he showed me was much quicker.. first you removed as much of the paper frame as possible and then you moistened the emulsion side of one of two negatives , lined them up and placed them together emulsion to emulsion  so they stuck.  This "sandwhich" is then dipped them is a tray of straight bleach..WOW the backing came off in sheets after less than a minute.. I adapted this method sometimes with the precaution of running thin masking tape around the edges for negatives of which I knew the subject of and did not want to risk damaging with bleach intrusion.. this is still the method I am using for already peeled negatives.

 A couple of weeks ago on sunday morning I was riding home from The Alemaney FLEA MARKET)and thinking about clearing FP-100c Negatives..and bleach ruining parts of them , which is sometimes neat but none the less something I would like to be able to control (I am not shooting with a Holga after all) and I struck upon the idea of pulling the print through the rollers and clearing the negative with bleach BEFORE separating the print from the negative.
I now call it the Zo No peel method- pull,clear,peel.....simple as can be.
heres a short I made to show you how...

ZO NO Peel FP-100C negative reclaiming
 PLEASE NOTE **a little more caution is needed with this method
THE FUJI FILM IS ACTIVE AND DEVELOPING  for at least 3 minutes (longer in cold_) after you pull it through the rollers, breaking the developer packets and spreading the goop between the print and the negative as you pull it through.
      The bleach is removing an opaque layer from the non-emulsion side of the film, this layer serves the purpose of preventing the next negative in the film pack from being exposed when the lens is open. After the negative and the paper have been joined by the rollers and are out of the camera this coating also prevents light from entering the space between the two while the developing is still active and  and the emulsion still light sensitive.
 This fact makes me think of  two facts . Firstly if you want to be safe with this method wait at least 3 minutes after the film is pulled before you start OR do it in the dark, if you DO NOT follow this precaution
you risk letting light into your "film sandwhich darkroom" while it is still photo sensitive..which  will "ruin" your photo...
The other way to look at this is you can do this with intent and solarize part or all of your print.. I have only tried this twice so far and heres what I got..

I made this happen by squirting bleach on the back directly after starting processing and then covering after about a minute,,
I tried to repeat this indoors with a processed but unexposed fp-100c as a test; bleaching the back while flashing it with a strobe flash under a 60 light bulb.. could barely see I would say indoors its safe to start the process before the exposure has terminated.. I will experiment with another unexposed sheet and bleach it while photo active in the bright sun..I wonder what it will look like?..
Here is a couple of solarized shots from the photo walk last month when I showed the zo no peel process to the photowalk participants.

Well there you have it solarization.Kinda greenish I like the brush markings. These  two were some of the first times of my zo  no peel attempts in the sun and I was putting the whole thing into the bleach... this method depleats the bleach quickly because it also removes the coating thats on the prints back side. Now I do most of the processing only on the back. The coating on the back of the print  is a two layer coating.. heres the back of these two prints..

You can make the back totaly white too feels just like RC paper and it makes it hard to write on. By brushing or spraying it only on the negative side, this Print side of the sandwich sees little bleach and never looks this bad..

       So you made a negative,,, what now?
 well I don't have a negative scanner working yet and here in SF we are fortunate to have a couple of public darkrooms. I take my polanegs to Harvey Milk Photo Center at 50 scott street  and make black and white darkroom prints. I have tried with graded paper and sometimes in larger sizes print on it if thats what I find BUT the best results seem to be on Variable contrast RC paper with a filter of 4 or greater.. contact prints are nice too..
    One thing to keep in mind is that areas that are underexposed in the polaroid print will have details in the negative.. keep this in mind if you are exposing for the negative the print can be dark and have almost no information and the negative can be saved.. Of course if you are using the ZoNo peel , pull-process-peel method you will not see your print until you have made your negative, you can make a test print you peel (and process the negative later) or just start by underexposing it one half stop. heres an example of the polaroid and a print from the negative and a crop from it..
this is with the 50mm sekor , taken as I passed him and said cheese...heres another
a contact print and the polaroid again

notice the border on the contact doesnt go to the edge of the film , this is the type of border that results from taping two negatives together emulsion to emulsion .
 On the photo below the grain and texture is good; this couple was overjoyed to have the print. I cleared the negative later with the method below however without tape just water tension holding the two negs together you can see the effects of the bleach intrusion on his shoulder this is the border without tape..

speed graphic pacemaker buhl optical 9" f 3.2 focal plane shutter

 This is how I clear my already separated negatives when I don't want to risk this happening , it takes a little longer but sometimes the effort is worth it.

alright thats all for now..check back again
and leave me some comments please.
till next time
have a nice ride..Misster Pissta
 oh yeah if you try this mix it up and contact print ..heres what i got :
ZO TO gram

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hello-welcome to instant manual

f45 @ 1 minute 669 film 
Checki,i-zone,Instax wide, spectra, ehh? 669,665.fp-400b,fp100b..sound like a foreign language or is it one you speak? well those were all instant film formats , some of which were never offered (as far as I know)  for use in anything but fully automatic cameras.

I have gone through many boxes of polaroid pack film (peel-apart) in my time playing with cameras. The first polaroid  I remember owning for myself was in 1984, my family had one before that(model 100?).
After many years and lost shoots
I got tired of not being able to get the shot right due to the lack of control on the camera --which only allowed automatic exposure and a choice of lighter or darker.. I learned some tricks like holding my finger over the light sensor to force a longer exposure in available light ..but the balance of frustration to bliss wasn't enough to make the camera a habitual user unless there was cheaper film, so it got taken out when a friend at Kinkos had to "throw out"expired passport film , or when I found film at yard sale or thrift stores.

          I did take one on a trip to japan with me (this was before fuji was making instant film) and brought a bunch of film with me ..only to have the camera fall over during a self timer group shot on the first night there!!! arghh

It was just random chance that the next day we ran into a twice a year swap meet in shinjuku and I found a replacement camera for 500 yen , the guy that sold it to me was a camera guy and he said you cannot make it work... I went inside the nearby building swiched my converted battery over to his camera ,put them both in my messenger bag to switch out the film and was back outside handing him a slightly fogged print of himself from that camera within 10 minutes... If there were digital cameras at that time I wasnt aware of it wasnt a consideration...anyhow at a certain point in time I became aware of the fact that there were options to use with instant peel apart film that offered more cameras, medium format backs, and manual model polaroids, it wasnt until 1991 or 92 that I actually saw one,  I should have took it from my friend at that point as I am sure it hasn't had film through it in all the  time since then and now said freind cannot even find the camera!. IN the early 2000s I had my first chance to buy one for 250 dollars , I wish that I had found the money in hindsight considering that I may have "LOST" that many shots due to camera control in the time thats past since then.
 I never had a kodak,  or any of the polaroids newer than the SX-70's except for an Izone-which was really a rebranded fuji camera. I used the first buisness card sized instax but the cost of exposure is about the same as 80mmX108MM peelapart film for half the image size so that camera has long since left They were all more or less automatic exposure cameras.
 As time passed I learned the manual options that were available , the Polaroids that were manual that looked like the cameras I had are called the model 180 and 195, there is also a somewhat mythical model 185 these are basically metal body pac film cameras with different fronts or "lens boards"if you will , instead of having the lighter/darker knob ,and a two aparatures for each film speed (INDOOORS?BRIGHT SUN) they have a brighter lens that has the apratures and shutter speeds on the barrel of the lens. There are similar cameras made by fuji and konica all very pricey and not things I ever saw at the flea market. Theres the mamiya unniversal AKA the polaroid 600SE(almost the same but not interchangeable) theres backs for various press and view cameras and the odd polaroid close up sets, passport cameras all around but not usual yard sale stuff. Then there is making your own which I have found very pleasurable.
 This blog will describe my ride down the path of discovering instant manual photography, describing the experince of various image capture systems I have used and adapted for peel apart film. I will also share some of the techniques I have developed for making wet prints from my polaroids. Please leave comments and feedback..