Photography on ‘Roids
Polaroids, that is. I’m bringing them back, or at least taking advantage of the efforts the good people at FujiFilm are making to bring them back. Last year saw the end of the Polaroid company’s timeless instant film, but then was born from the ashes the FujiFilm Instax system.
I bought one recently, the Instax 200, for $40 and started churning out instant floppy prints like back in the day. It’s pretty fun to snap a shot, watch the film come motoring out, and then, as if by magic, to see the ghosty images rise from the blank white.
It’s liberating too. One never knows where the exposure, focus, or balance of flash and ambient light will fall. In fact, aside from aiming the dorky-looking box in one direction or another, the photographer is freed from almost any thinking at all. It’s a vast comparison to the 33 multi-functioned buttons and switches on my D3 (57 with an SB900 and 80-200 attached.) 33 buttons that don’t even hint at the complex menu structure within or the Wide World of post processing on the computer.
No no, it’s point, motor, and shake, and it’s awesome.
As I was collecting the stacks of cute little prints, and analyzing the various blocked-up shadows, blown highlights, out of focus subjects, weird colors, and general 30-year-old look of things, I had a refreshing revelation. I was beginning to line up the various tasks needed to elevate the little floppy films to real 2009 art (scan as high-res TIFFs, color balance, sharpen, clone, adjust contrast, multi process through HDR to bring up the shadows, and sharpen again….) when it hit me. Hey, these are just polaroids, and they’re done! I’m done!
So it’s 2009, I’m a digital artist, I’ll admit, but every once in a while, I’m going to pull out my big plastic camera (top question: “is that an underwater camera?”) and be an authentic old school photographer!