Spring Radish Harvest

Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 100, Fuji FP-100c

Our three-year-old planted some radish seeds in paper cups at his day care nearly two months ago.  A couple weeks later he brought the seedlings home and we planted them in our nearly empty garden box.

He has excitedly watered them every day since, in the morning or in the afternoon.  Now here we are with the fruits… er, make that vegetables of his labor harvested!

The weather has been warming up here and the sun is seeming brighter.  This makes me think that it is pack film season again, as for some reason I am more inclined to use my Polaroid Automatic Land Cameras when it is nice and hot out.

The instant pack film really likes direct sunlight, and develops better (or at least faster) when it isn't cold.  It is probably just a psychological barrier, but I tend not to use it in the winter months.

I took this shot using the close-up adapter which lets you get right up to your subject.  I could have actually gotten closer, but wanted to frame the radishes along with their greens.

The depth of field gets very shallow the closer you get, so while the front of the leaves are in focus the rest is blurred to one extent or another.  I like the effect in this case as it focuses attention on the details in the greens.

My Dad gave me the camera, its official Polaroid case, and a handful of accessories some time back.  I have gradually collected the rest of its vintage accessories and now my collection is complete!

I am overdue for a vintage equipment post so will have to show it all off some time soon.

Mother’s Day Donuts

Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 100, Fuji FP100-c

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mothers out there!

We started our celebration today with some Stan's Donuts.  Later we will have a picnic and visit a few shops my Dear Sweet Wife has been hoping to check out.

I gave my DSW a copy of Instant Love, a brand new book about Polaroid and instant photography.  I pre-ordered it months ago when Amanda Gilligan (one of the authors) posted about it in her blog Mocking Bird, and by luck it came just in time for Mother's Day.

My DSW has always been a fan of her SX-70 and lately her Fuji Instax Mini.  We just glanced through the new book and it seems to cover a lot of ground, we can't wait to start reading it in earnest.

Fuji's color pack film rendered the above donuts so nicely!  Its color is tough to beat in nice sunlight, and really knocks out the expired Spectra film I used last time around.

I think I should have compensated a bit for the parallax error since I was shooting so close.  I tried centering the plate in the composition, but since the viewfinder is on top of the camera the parallax error shifted the image downwards.

Oh well, the only solution is to practice more shooting with rangefinder/viewfinder cameras… Does that mean more donuts?

Spectra Donuts

Polaroid Spectra, Polaroid Image Softtone film (expired Oct 2009)

I purchased a Polaroid Spectra camera off eBay recently, they run pretty cheap these days.  This is a big case of tail-wag-dog as I ordered some of the last batch of genuine Polaroid Spectra film from The Impossible Project first.

It was a blast shooting the Spectra, especially since it has the most manual controls (notably flash and AF disable switches) of any Polaroid.

I love the wide image format (compared to the square SX-70 and 600).  And what’s not to like about a camera favored by Shaun The Sheep?

However the expired film didn’t perform well, showing a heavy shift towards red/brown and poor contrast on every image. The battery didn’t even last all ten shots with the shutter failing on shots 8 & 9 and the camera failing even to eject the 10th print.

Nonetheless shooting with the Spectra was a fun experience and I am tempted to get some of Impossible’s Silver Shade B&W film for it next.

And by the way, don’t pass up Stan’s Donut Shop in Santa Clara, CA.  They have the best classic glazed and maple bar donuts we have found yet!

Polaroid One Step Flash

Polaroid One Step Flash, The Impossible Project PX 600 UV+ Silver Shade Gold Edition

We made an impromptu visit to our family in Southern California this past weekend.  We realized that a planned vacation next week wasn’t happening, so we decided last minute to pull off a quick weekend road trip.

My mother-in-law had recently given me a Polaroid One Step Flash camera so I figured it was a good opportunity to try it out. I bought two packs of The Impossible Project’s latest films, the PX600 UV+ Silver Shade (black & white) and PX680 Color Shade.

The camera worked perfectly fine. Or perhaps I should say it worked as designed since the One Step Flash is a rather run-of-the-mill Polaroid. The always-fires flash was somewhat annoying and resulted in at least one completely blown-out exposure outside.

The Impossible film is coming along but nowhere near the quality of the original Polaroid emulsions in their heyday.

I liked the Silver Shade black & white film a lot as it was fairly contrasty and the 8-pack only resulted in one image with a tiny undeveloped patch. Their Color Shade on the other hand seemed quite washed out, and about half of the pictures had fairly large undeveloped patches.

For instant color photography I think I will stick with my trusty Polaroid Automatic 100 Land Camera and Fujifilm’s excellent FP-100C film.

Perhaps the best thing to come from the Impossible film was a golden dark slide that came on top of one of the packs. This is a Willy Wonka-esque gift certificate to The Impossible Project’s store.

Based on a whim I used it to order some original Polaroid Spectra film which Impossible recently put up for sale.

Do I have a Spectra camera?… Not yet, but I’m working on that!

Ponies, Pumpkins & Parents

Polaroid Automatic 100, Fuji FP-100C film

Two of our dearest family friends are regular volunteers at DreamPower Horsemanship in Gilroy, CA.  They invited us to the “Ponies, Pumpkins & Parents” event that occurred yesterday.

DreamPower is a non-profit organization which provides therapeutic horsemanship lessons, clinics, and camps for children, teens and adults.  Their staff includes seasoned horse handlers and licensed counseling professionals who help people facing challenges (medical, behavioral, etc.) by practicing animal care or simply how to ride on horseback.

We had a great time as a family, with my Dear Sweet Wife and I learning about parenting tips while our two boys played with horses, ponies, goats, chickens and ducks.

Their favorite activity had them playing out horse and rider, taking turns holding or wearing (!) the bridle.  While they thought it was a game, it was actually an exercise to practice responding to when others don’t behave the way you expect them to.

And as we hoped the visit made for some good photo opportunities.  Above is a shot I took on my Polaroid 100 of the horse “Pete” who is under the excellent care of our friend.

I also took some shots with my F6 and Rollei B 35 (which need to be developed), and my wife with her Fuji Instax Mini and D300.  Yes, we can be a little “over formatted” at times…

Galivanting Gullwing

Polaroid Automatic 100, Fuji FP-100C film

I attended another car show last Friday which was a perfect opportunity to test my new cameras.  I took a few shots on my new F6, but I am not yet ready to develop that roll.

My shots from my “new” Polaroid Automatic 100 instant camera came out great and are of course ready for viewing.

I knew the above Mercedes 300SL Gullwing was a valuable car, but I just checked online and in excellent shape it is worth over $500,000 US!

In other news, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops has updated their web site and it seems easier to find workshops by topic or instructor.  I recommend anything taught by Eddie Soloway, especially if you want to work on your natural vision.

Also, Nikon School is coming to San Jose in early November, though they are of course 100% digital now.  I took their class once several years back when it was still film oriented and it was excellent for technical tips and references.

I am going to attend the San Jose Photo Fair this Saturday.  This is my first time so I am hoping they have some finds and/or deals.

Willow Glen Classic Car Show

Polaroid 320, Fuji Film FP-100c

My Dear Sweet Wife already wrote about the wonderful time we had celebrating the birthdays of our two boys.  They turned 6 and 3 recently and we all really enjoyed the celebration.

We had cupcakes, cookies, family, ice skating, more cupcakes, more fun, rainbow cake, gifts, more fun, chocolate cake, more gifts… or something along those lines!

We took a short break from the festivities on Sunday to visit the Cruise for A Cause classic car show in Willow Glen.  This was a great opportunity to shoot some more Fuji pack film in my Polaroid 320.

I love the saturation of the Fuji color film, as well as the soft look of the 320 with its plastic lens and somewhat shallow depth of field.  However, a number of my prints were spotty from pulling them out too fast, coverd with paper fibers from storing them in the cardboard film box, and had blemishes from sticking to each other.

I am still learning how to work with its film and have a couple more takeaways:

  • Do not rush shooting, pulling out, or storing the packfilm!
  • When pulling it out of the camera, say “Pol-a-roid” slowly and keep it moving at a moderate and even pace.
  • After developing is finished and the print has been peeled free, hold it exposed to the air for a bit to allow it to dry.
  • Store the print in a clean case made out of plastic face-to-back (not face-to-face) so that the prints don’t stick to each other

Anchors Aweigh

Polaroid 320, Fujifilm FP-3000B

We made a trip up to the East Bay today, first dropping my Dear Sweet Wife off to teach a class at Verb and then the boys and I spent a few hours playing at Fairyland.

I wanted to take my Petri 7S along for some simple fun shooting, but unfortunately its shutter was stuck again.  Even worse than that, when I opened it up I discovered that it had a loose aperture diaphragm blade that appeared to be jamming the shutter.

I might poke around in its innards some more, but given that these cameras go for around $20 in decent shape it probably isn’t worth my time to try fixing it again.

Instead I brought my Polaroid 320 along and finished of a pack of Fujifilm FP-3000B black & white film that had been loaded for a while.

The impressions I shared about this camera last time hold true, but the high-speed film produced very contrasty results in direct sunlight like you see above.  In lower light levels such as in shade or indoors it was more even.

I also popped off a few flash bulbs just for fun using its original flash accessory.  The smell of the burnt bulbs brought about a nostalgic reaction in me, although my boys both said they smelled horrible!

First Few Pack Films

Polaroid 320, Fuji FP-100C

I finally got the last of my Fuji FP-100C pack of prints from Southern California scanned in.  These include a few more shots from the water park as well as from Legoland (my young sons’ favorite amusement park.) It was only my second pack of film that I ran through my Polaroid 320 camera and so far it is my favorite.

To back up a bit, I tried my first pack ever back in April.  It was some expired Polaroid 100 Sepia pack film (ISO 1500) purchased from Impossible which was a little tough to work with in terms of exposure latitude.  It had a classic B&W look to it but preferred strong light with low contrast.  One or two low-light shots were almost completely washed out and one or two shots with varied lighting levels resulted in clearly over- or under-exposed elements.

This Fuji FP-100C (ISO 100) color pack film definately required strong lighting, but seemed to be much more flexible in terms of contrast levels.  All my shots were in either in direct sunlight or at worst light shade, but every single one came out looking good.  Its color is beautiful and seems both vivid and even tempered.  Its look is very distinct and even when scanned is clearly not from 35mm film or digital capture.

I did start a third pack of Fuji FP-3000B (ISO 3200), however all three shots I tried were complete failures.  I thought this high speed B&W film would allow for shooting indoors but I was wrong. I had major problems with backlighting and even moderate side-lighting from windows.  I didn’t bother scanning these in at all, and will try the rest of the pack outdoors later…

So far my 320/pack film lessons learned are:

  • Use strong, direct and even daylight whenever possible.
  • Adjust for parallax even when subjects are 5 feet away.  (See my ninth shot which appeared fully centered in the rangefinder.  The right mariachi musician is only half in the print.)
  • Do NOT keep the developed prints face-to-face, their emulsions will start to stick to each other and feathering or ripping will occur! (See my tenth shot for some clear feathering on the wall and upper-left transport, in other shots I touched it up a bit in Photoshop.)

Buckets Of Fun

Big Splash

Polaroid 320, Fuji FP-100C

We wrapped up a long stay in Southern California this past weekend.  Visiting my in-laws is always a blast, but this time we spent nearly a week there and had the opportunity to visit a water park (twice!), Legoland, as well as meet our brand new niece.

I fired off a few rolls of film and won’t see them back from Photoworks SF for a week or so.  But I was able to start scanning my Polaroid 320 shots.  I made it through 5 instant prints from my pack of Fujifilm FP-100c ISO 100 color pack film.

This was my first Fuji pack, and so far I have to say I was impressed.  All my shots were taken in bright sunlight, and working with full light the exposures were spot on (way to go 320!) and the colors vividly saturdated (nice work Fuji!).

Hopefully I can scan the rest tomorrow night…