Creative Ideas for Polaroid Photography

The nostalgia of Polaroid photography is complemented by the opportunity to explore new possibilities. This article will introduce you to instant photography and Polaroid.

The History of Polaroid Photography

After his daughter asked Edwin Land why she couldn’t see a photo he had taken of her, Edwin Land invented Polaroid photography. He developed the first Polaroid camera. Polaroid was a pioneer in film and camera innovation for many decades. Despite this, the 1980’s were hard times for the company. Polaroid announced that they would cease producing film after declining sales and a lack of interest. Impossible Project, which produced Polaroid-compatible film with their own formula and Polaroid machinery, helped to revive analogue photography. Impossible Project purchased Polaroid in the end and began to develop new formats and cameras under their Polaroid brand.

Leading Instant Camera Brands

Polaroid is the pioneer in instant photography and has produced many cameras over the years. Many cameras can be found at flea markets and garage sales. There are several other manufacturers of modern instant cameras. Fujifilm is the main manufacturer of instant cameras and film, outside of Polaroid. They have a whole line of Instax cameras. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is one example of a popular modern camera.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Film Camera, Blush Pink

MiNT, a new company in instant photography, also produces accessories and attachments for instant cameras. MiNT also makes instant cameras that allow photographers to take greater control over their shots, such as the Instantkon RF70.

MiNT Instantkon Large Format Rangefinder Instant Cam with Real Image Viewer, Manual & Automatic Mode Control, Black

These Best Accessories for your Polaroid Photography are great options if you want to upgrade your instant cam.

Understanding Instant Cameras

The camera exposes the film’s light sensitive area to the object in front of it, and then the camera releases the film. The film is then ejected through rollers that are tight enough to allow the development reagent underneath to be released. Your image will be ready in about 90 seconds.

There are certain tradeoffs, as this is a fast process. A light meter measures the light coming from the camera to control the exposure. This can be as accurate as measuring the light hitting the subject. Your camera may think that the scene is darker than it actually is, even though you could be standing in the shade or with your subject in bright sunlight. This can be overcome by changing the setting or decreasing the exposure dial to let less light hit the film. This can vary depending on the camera you use. If you find that your subject is darker than you expect, then you will do the opposite and adjust the exposure.

What to Expect

Your pictures won’t have as much detail as analog roll film or digital cameras. This picture system is very low-quality, which is what is great about it. You will not find sharp photos that are correctly exposed in every shot. This may not be for you if you’re willing to accept the imperfections of instant film and the magic that occurs when it comes out right.

Here are some examples of Instax film that I shot in Iceland. You need to ensure that the film develops properly when shooting in extremely cold or very hot environments. The camera was kept as far from the cold as possible in the photos below. To ensure that the film developed at a consistent temperature, I quickly buried it in my clothes after it was ejected. Although the Instax cameras from FujiFilm can handle both cold and hot temperatures well, it is still important to be cautious.

What Effects Does Exposure Have?

ISO

Three factors influence how your image will turn out. The exposure triangle is a term that refers to three factors. The film’s ISO cannot be changed on insta cameras. It is rated at a particular ISO when it is made. The ISO of Polaroid film for SX-70 film is 100 and 640 respectively. FujiFilm Instax film has an ISO of 800. The ISO of FujiFilm Instax film is fixed, just like standard analog roll film. But unlike rolls of film, the ISO is fixed.

8 Exposures of Polaroid Originals Color SX70 Instant Film

Fujifilm Instax Mini-White Instant Film, 60 Exposures

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the next part of the exposure triangle. Instax cameras have a fixed shutter speed of 1/60 th second. To make exposure adjustments, the camera must only change the aperture. While other cameras may have the ability to adjust the length of the light hitting the film, it is not a precise system. There are three options: indoors which allows more light to the film, cloudy which closes the shutter quicker than indoors and bright which has the fastest shutter speed. A few new cameras allow you to have more control over shutter speed.

Aperture

Aperture is the last point in the exposure triangle. Most instant cameras have an aperture setting of f/8. This means that the camera has a lot of focus. The camera needs a lot more light to properly expose. With such a small aperture, it is difficult to achieve a shallow depth of field. The aperture can be controlled only by adjusting the light sensor.

You must always clean any camera that has exposed rollers. The film’s ability to develop can be affected by any dirt, chemicals, or particles that are on the rollers.

How to Take Better Polaroid Pictures

There are a few things you can do to improve your photos. I’ve already talked about using the exposure compensate wheel, reading your framing and adjusting it, and keeping your rollers clean.

Accept the Unexpected

It is important to practice with a purpose. Analyze what you have done, and take pictures. Keep in mind that you will not always be able to control the outcome. Instant film is not as precise as digital. You will get unexpected results, both positive and negatively.

Understanding the Flash

The biggest mistake people make when using flashes on their cameras is to place subjects too close. This will almost certainly result in someone who looks as if they are standing right next to the sun. A common flash error is to not place multiple people in the same flash plane. A flash will be much darker if there is someone in front of the camera and someone in the background. Flashes work best when they are within a few feet from the camera. After that, their power dramatically drops.

Mix Chemistry

This is the chemical process that develops a photo. I tried out some ideas as photos were being developed. Here are the lessons I learned

Older Polaroid films were easier to manipulate. The film’s protective layer was made from older materials, which allowed for easier pushing and marking. However, you can still do cool things to the film once it starts to develop. Two things I tried were heat and drawing on the film. Below are the results.

Be careful when modifying the film. The chemicals in the film could be dangerous. If you are at risk of getting chemicals on your hands, wear gloves and be careful when handling the film.

Heat it Up

The images below were taken on SX70 film. I wanted to experiment with heat and see how it would affect the image. Before applying heat, I waited for the images to eject before I applied heat. The first picture was held over my stove using a pair kitchen tongs. It was slow at first and then I worked a little harder towards the end. It is obvious that the heat caused damage to the frame and the image. Although you can’t see it, this led to a cool 3D-type lifted effect.

The second image was taken using a lighter. I applied the lighter mostly to the sky from both underneath and directly to it. This version turned out better. In reality, the sky was very grey. I believe the heat caused the reagent to turn blue in the first and turquoise in second images.

This image was created using the Polaroid 600 film. I decided to use a chopstick as a tool to draw and write on the image while it was developing. As you can see, I was able write “hard core” and also made some lines with the headphones. I then used dots to outline my hand. Although the outline of my hand wasn’t very clear, it was easy to draw. To give the film time to work, I waited for about one minute before I started to attack it.

Polaroids can be made to do many interesting things, both during and after their development. Have fun and play around with it. You can get a great image with Polaroid photography, but you have to let go of so much control.

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