While the world is all amazed with 50MP full frame sensors and a bajillion autofocus points, you may be pleasantly surprised by some technologies that years ago were absolutely incredible and in some ways should be brought back to the world. We’re not talking about putting 1080p HD video into a DSLR, but instead we’re going back much further into time. Plus, we’re exploring how the focusing systems would work in today’s world.
All images by Julie Anne Cassidy. Used with permission.
Photographer Julie Anne Cassidy is one that travels a lot, and when she does, she shows off her affinity for Polaroids. She describes herself as a travel/food photographer and stylist with a healthy obsession with her Polaroid camera. Julie studied photography in Vancouver, B.C at Emily Carr Institute of Fine Arts, Focal Point Visual Arts Centre and Vancouver Photo Workshops–and she currently resides in Montreal. She finds lots inspiration in her travels and can often be found planning and daydreaming about her next trip.
But shooting Polaroids and creating tangible images is something that Julie Anne loves the most. Be sure to also visit her Etsy shop and pick up a print.
Image by Chris Urbanski. Used with permission.
Chris Urbanski doesn’t call himself a photographer, but he surely defines himself as an artist. So when he showed off his specially made Polaroid Paper Transfer on Reddit, we were amused with the process. Paper transfer techniques have been around for years, but they’re unique and interesting.
Growing up in the 80s, Chris’s dad always shot lots of photos. “At a young age I was also interested in manipulating Polaroids by drawing on them with a dull point while they were developing. And probably driving my dad crazy by “ruining” the photos.” says Chris. “They weren’t cheap then either.”
This eventually developed (pun totally intended) into Chris wanting to move even further with his Polaroid work. Later on, he would do paper transfers. To do these, Chris recommend working in a dim room and working quickly.
He tells us:
“You’ll want to be sure to have a sheet of damp paper prepared before hand. Don’t let your negative develop for longer than 10-15 seconds after a shot. Peel your negative, align quickly on the paper or medium you’re applying the negative to and use a roller for about 1 minute on the back. Be careful not to move the negative once it’s placed. Peel back… then voilà! You’re an arteest!”
Chris believes that doing paper presses has a way of making even bad shots look romantic or earthy with textures that you wouldn’t normally see with film.
“Some take on a life of their own resembling a small watercolor painting. It tends to make framing easier too when transferred to standard paper size and centered correctly.”
Chris is doing a series of transfers for a limited edition music release next winter.
A video of how to do a Polaroid paper transfer is after the jump.
Instant Film Formats are in some ways more plentiful than negative film. Though they’re much more specialized, Instant film is used by both professional and enthusiast alike when they want a specific look. For years now there have been many different formats for many different needs. In fact, Instant Film was made in large format for a while before being discontinued. What’s leftover is mostly tailored for the person looking for a specific look to their images.
Here’s a rundown of all the modern Instant Film formats.
We see your Contrast and Phase Detection focusing and now show you what Polaroid had for many years: Sonar focusing. It worked similarly to echolocation does for bats and dolphins. The camera, like this Polaroid SX-70 Sonar One Step, waiting until the user triggered the autofocus system. Then the camera sent out a sonar beam and focused on the first thing that it hit. This was a massive improvement over the manual focusing system that the previous cameras had. Sonar focusing was also ignorant of low light situations, backlighting, etc. As long as nothing was obstructing the distance between you and your subject, then it would focus on said subject.
While it sounds incredible, the Sonar focusing system had its drawbacks. For example, if you wanted to photograph your subject who was behind glass, you couldn’t because the camera would focus on the glass. Instead, you’d need your subject to pancake their face against the glass–which we’re sure makes for the most attractive Polaroid pictures.
After the jump, you’ll find a vintage Polaroid commercial that we found showing off how Sonar autofocus works. Check it out.
All images by Julian Jacobi. Used with permission.
Photographer Julian Jacobi has quite the collection of Polaroid cameras. He’s been collecting them for years upon discovering his sister’s camera and after hearing about the Impossible Project many years ago. Like many Polaroid shooters, he’s smitten for the SX-70 but he also really loves a lot of Land Cameras. In the time that he’s spent researching and hunting for these cameras, he’s become a bit of an expert on Polaroids.
We talked to Julian about his Polaroid collection, how to find new (used) cameras, and where to start in the world of Instant film.