Impossibly out of date

One of the things I noted whilst researching instant film photography and in particular Polaroid cameras was the market for out of date film. Packs of long-expired film were changing hands on eBay for more than a fresh pack would cost on amazon for example. The potential for weird and wacky colours and effects, together with the unpredictability of the expired film seemed to be the draw.

I was delighted therefore when a pack of expired Polaroid 600 colour film arrived in the box with a newly purchased Polaroid Sun 600 camera. A chance to try expired film without any additional cost! I was excited by the possibilities. The film was however “use before 2002” which given the stated life of 12 months, the passage of 17 years and the knowledge that colour film generally deteriorates faster than black and white left me feeling very doubtful as to its veracity. I was not disappointed.

The 1st image on the middle roll has a hint of the subject in the very middle

Those are not Newton Rings on the border incidentally, I photographed these 9 (of 10) prints using my phone. The tenth was exactly the same and is only excluded so I could make a nice square.

So, my first foray into the world of out of date film was interesting even if it was not particularly productive. How would a pack of Impossible Colour film, expiry date 12/16, fare in the same Polaroid Sun 600 camera? At a mere three years past its expiration date surely some magic was on the cards?

Remember this is COLOUR film!

I shot the image above on a crisp but bright and sunny day in good light with a fabulously blue sky. On a glossy colour film.

As you can see I do have an image this time, in fact all eight prints produced a recognisable image. But where was the colour! The batteries were clearly failing too as I struggled to get the last two shots exposed and ejected but they hung on grimly to the end. Just.

This scene is normally a “banker” for vibrant colour …

I have not desaturated these images at all, in fact I’ve photographed them with a Fuji X100t, in good, even daylight and I’ve carefully matched the images on the screen to the prints on my desk. I don’t dislike these however although I’m not rushing on to eBay for another pack of expired Impossible film!

A sealed pack of Polaroid 600 Extreme, expiry date 12/2001, was the next film to come into my possession. Tucked in the bottom of the box where no doubt it had sat since the camera was bought. The box advertised “Plus 2 Free Films!” and no doubt only the first got used. I put this through a Polaroid Supercolor 635 camera, a reliable old camera that’s produced some nice images. As with the Impossible film the batteries were clearly failing and in fact after just six of the ten prints were exposed they gave up the ghost entirely. But was that a problem? See for yourself below!

At least the box retained it’s saturated colours!

So, that is my experience with three expired instant films. Be warned I do have a couple of packs of Polaroid 300 Instant film, expiry date June 2012, which I shall soon put through the Fuji Instax Mini 90.

Lomography: in an Instant

Scanned with an Epson Perfection V550

Lomography – love it or hate it, a true lomography image has a very distinct look. Despite being an old-f@rt I love the look of these lo-fi images and have indeed owned a couple of film Holgas for quite some time now. Imagine my delight therefore whilst exploring the world of instant photography for the Instant August project to discover a Lomography instant camera. Even better it was half-price in a flash sale on their website. Just as well because the full retail price is ridiculously expensive for what is in fact a cheap plastic box with an extremely basic, need I say cheap, plastic lens. It’s the one thing that spoils Lomography as a company for me – they price their cameras way too high and whilst the prime target market may well be affluent enough to afford them I for one could not justify that sort of expense. Even at half-price it was pushing things (even so, I told my wife it was half again of what I actually paid!).

Lomography film on the other hand is well priced but this may be because there is a lot more competition in the film emulsion market than there currently is in the production and sale of plastic cameras. I like to be even handed in my criticisms.

Three for the price of one – Halifax Piece Hall

One of the things I enjoy about instant photography is the (almost) immediate gratification. Now, it could reasonably be argued that digital photography actually does give truly INSTANT gratification as you can see the image on the LCD screen immediately after pressing the button. However, in my world the final product is a physical print, regardless as to whether it starts life on a piece of plastic or as a series of 0s and 1s is irrelevant to me; the ultimate aim of every image I make is to print it. Now, don’t misunderstand me I do not print every digital image I make, think of the time required if nothing else, but I am always aiming for an image worthy of printing and ultimately hanging on my wall. Instant photography therefore, whilst a side-line in my photographic interests, appeals to me because the objective EVERY time is a print.

Lomo’ Instant – Piece Hall, Halifax 12/9/2019

What the Lomo’ Instant does is offer me the best of two of my niche interests – lomography and instant photography. I shoot images every day, without exception, but I don’t shoot film, instant film or create images in a lomographically-inspired vein every day. The vast majority of my 365 images for example are straight-forward digital images. Year to date 71% of my 365 images have been made with a Fuji camera for example with only 9% coming from the iPhone and a mere 2% from my instant camera collection, none of which were made with the recently acquired Lomo’ Instant.

Piece Hall – a Grade I listed building

I couldn’t tell you exactly why it is for me that lo-fi photographs appeal so much. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the homogeneity of so many technically excellent yet sterile and soulless images that bombard us constantly these days. Or is it the fact that they are deliberately different thus appealing to the inner rebel? The “Perfectly Imperfect” tag sums it up for me quite nicely. These are not perfect images but flawed and therefore somewhat more human as a result – is that what gives them “soul”? Or are they actually just junk and I’m deluding myself?

The only image here not scanned on my Epson, this was copied with my phone

Before you start shouting hypocrite at me I do know that it is the wonders of digital technology that enable me to share my photographs, instant or otherwise, with a wider audience than the people in my company at any time. The fact is that even if I were not sharing my images online I’d still be making instant prints, I’d still be printing from both film and digital cameras and I’d still be framing prints and hanging them on the walls of my house. The digital sharing is a bonus and a welcome one at that – I’m neither a hypocrite nor a Luddite!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first outing with the Lomo’ Instant and you can bet it will be going out with me again very soon.

Instant August: Day 26

I really struggled narrowing my Instant August choice down to just one for the 26th; the Mini 90 was very productive that day and I was spoilt for choice. When I collate the final Instant August project (a scrapbook) all three of that days shortlist will make it onto the pages of the book! Until then – here they are!

Who could resist!
The front runner for several days – Instax Mini 90, Neo Classic. (flash OFF)
Double exposure: the “one” that made it to Flickr!

All: Instax Mini 90, Neo Classic.

Meeting of Technologies

© Dave Whenham
Brighouse

Original image taken with a Fuji Instax SQ6 instant camera. This was scanned, with white borders intact using an Epson flatbed scanner into my Mac computer. I applied a texture to the white borders within Photoshop and voila! A meeting of technologies.

The image itself now I look at the print on my desk shows that composing to avoid the sky on bright days like today would be sensible to avoid that white stripe. Unless I try holding a graduated ND filter ….

Perfectly Imperfect #23

August #23
Instax Wide 210 with close-up lens

This sunflower has been a useful subject whilst testing my instant cameras during Instant August. I found the close-up lens for the Instax Wide 210 this morning (it had become buried under the detritus on my desk) so despite the sunflower being way, way past it’s best it was the obvious subject. Especially with a blue sky against which to frame it.

By way of comparison, this was taken at the same time but with a Polaroid 635 camera.

Original prints copied using iPhone

Perfectly Imperfect #20

August #20

The image surface of the Instax Mini film is 46x62mm – which means that most of us using a desktop machine will be viewing the scan above at considerably more than the prints physical size.

The whole point of Instax Mini though is not photographic-perfection but that is that it is fun. It’s not a serious photographic tool, but meant to be something that captures the moment. Pixel peepers need not apply! This was the very first shot from a secondhand Instax Mini 70 camera and despite its flaws captures a spontaneous moment in a way that couldn’t or indeed wouldn’t be captured by the nearest camera at the time – my Fuji XT3 which has a 100-400 lens permanently fitted.

Horses for courses.

365-2019-232
iPhone XR capture

As this was the very first image we captured I was not aware of the light leak, something I associate with Lomography or Polaroid but until now not with Fuji Instax. I found that I could cure the problem by using the case which came with the camera (which is for a Mini 8 but that’s another story). I think I’ve isolated the point at which light is leaking in so it’s either some black gaffer tape or the neat brown, semi-fitted case.

Photography is fun, we all lose our mojo at times, what better way to regain it!