Impossible Project SX-70

19 01 2014

I’ve always had a huge soft spot for instant film. From back when you could buy Polaroid in twin packs from Asda for under £20, to the discovery in more recent years of Fuji’s peel apart version for Polaroid 100 series folders. There’s a little bit of a magical feel to it all, and that childlike wonder has never really gone away for me.

It was my birthday recently, and J bought me a camera I’ve lusted after for some time, but never actually used: an SX-70 folding SLR.

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I’m a sucker for an innovative design, and the neat way in which Polaroid designed the SX-70 is nothing short of brilliant.

Here she is closed flat for storage.

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And open for use, with a flash bar attached.

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Bear in mind that this is an SLR camera; there’s a full mirror in that folding package, alongside a focussing mechanism, and good quality lens.

Onto the film. Of course, Polaroid closed shop a few years ago now, so any original film is both pricy, and at least 5 years out of date, so no guarantees even if you do get hold of some.

Happily, The Impossible Project took on the task of reproducing instant film for the SX-70, 600 and Spectra series of cameras a few years back, and are coming along in leaps and bounds.

After a shaky beginning, with unstable emulsion issues, the latest batches (the colour protect versions) seem to be very close to the quality and behaviour of the original films. The issue being, of course, that when Polaroid folded, (pun unintentional), a great deal of the equipment and information was destroyed. This has meant Impossible recreating the emulsions from near scratch, with trial and error. No mean feat, but they’ve done pretty impressively in my opinion.

The first thing I noticed about the SX-70 shots, compared with the 600 I’ve used, is that the image quality appears to be vastly better. I’m assuming that it’s largely due to a combination of much lower ISO sensitivity, flash type, and a better quality lens/camera (my 600 is one of the 90s style rounded box shapes, with the half clamshell front, and even in the early 00s when I bought it new, only cost in the region of £30, with a box of film included). But even the colour cast seems punchier and clearer than the 600, which with flash can lack tonal clarity.

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Both those were shot with an original flash bar, the disposable magnesium sort, and you can see that the skin tones are very close to natural, with a lovely soft glow.

I’ve yet to shoot in daylight, flashless, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve got a new favourite camera.

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Film Shirt

15 09 2013

I know, two posts in two days. But this is just a quicky to share the vest I made yesterday.

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It’s a little untidy around the bottom, since it was the first time I’d used that transfer paper, and I was using an iron rather than the recommended heat press. But it sorta works with the design, I think.

I scanned a box of Ilford film at a high resolution, resized it in PS Elements to 300px and A4 size, and just printed it out on my inkjet onto a decent quality transfer paper (in this case, Yolo JetPro SofStretch) and ironed it onto a white vest. Super simple.





The Long, ‘It’s Been Forever and Here’s Why’ Post

14 09 2013

I considered titling this ‘Art Therapy’, but, rejected that on the grounds that it was too vague. This is certainly the longest, and most personal, post I’m ever going to make on this blog, but rather than leap right back into posting about cameras and techniques without a word about, well, the last 8 or 9 months, I thought I’d write a combination update/things that help when your life’s imploding kind of post.

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Direct Positive Solargraphy

14 10 2012

I’ve been using Ilford Direct Positive paper for pinhole work recently, more to try it out than anything.
J and I wondered how it’d perform when used in place of standard photo paper in a solargraph.

The whole thing was mounted high up on the side wall of my house, on August 20th, and removed today, so it’s been up there pretty much three full months.

This is the unprocessed image. The undeveloped paper goes pink within seconds of being exposed to light, so that’s just a paper issue, rather than being related to the solargraph.

Here’s the image scanned, desaturated and with a levels adjustment applied.

You can clearly see the outlines of the trees and houses behind my house, and the passage of the sun as it becomes lower in the sky from the end of summer into the autumn months, so definitely some success.

I think the next step is to load up two further cameras. One containing direct positive paper, one containing standard photo paper, and expose them both in the same place, over a six month period. This will allow comparision between the two types of paper, and also show a greater demonstration of the journey of the sun through the sky. I plan to put these up around December 20th, in the hope of capturing the sun rising in the sky as the season moves from winter into spring.





One Thing Leads to Another

1 10 2012

In this case, it’s photography leading to DIY. Honestly, I’m now nearly as excited about new power tools as I am about new cameras.

For a while now, my interest in pinhole photography has led me to pretty much seeing any light tight, hollow object as a potential camera (and to demonstrate what I mean, let me tell you that I’ve been eyeing up a top hat for just this purpose for a while now).

I’ve also been ogling various premade pinhole cameras, such as the Zero Image lovelies, and the gorgeous Noon Pinholes available on Ebay. But I can’t quite bring myself to spend £100 on a pinhole camera, no matter how beautiful, since pinhole to me is very much all about doing things yourself, from scratch – learning photography from the absolute ground up, as it were.

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Biscuit Tin Pinhole Camera

19 09 2012

Wandering around charity shops last weekend, I picked up a wooden biscuit box, thinking it’d make a great base for a pinhole camera. Unfortunately, it had a plastic lining on the interior, which would have been a pain in the ass to work with.

Later the same day, in a different shop, I found what looked like the exact same box, but upon closer examination, the plastic inside this one was a removable insert. Clearly, this was meant to be.

The box, before modification:

Biscuit Cam

Biscuit Cam

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Mixed Media

16 05 2012

Just a quick post. I’ve been doing a lot of experiments combining various different media with photography recently, and I think this so far is my favourite in terms of presentation and clarity.

Acrylic paint and photography on watercolour paper, sealed with matte spray varnish.

This particular one is a test example, and will be going into my sketchbook for future reference, but I have plenty of ideas centred around this particular technique. I just need some time to shoot. Roll on the weekend!








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