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..