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The sad truth is that peel-apart film has been gone for many years. In its final years, it didn’t get enough love. For decades, it was used as a way to preview what you were shooting on medium format cameras, but it evolved into other things after that. Recently, Supersense tried recreating it. But if you have some of the original Fujifilm stuff, then you’ve got something special. Lots of folks don’t know what to do with peel-apart film. So we’re going to walk you through it.
Oh, and by the way, my favorite camera to shoot peel-apart film with is the Polaroid 180.
Put it In the Fridge. Now.
If you happen to get some, trust me on this – put it in the fridge. Peel-apart film is an actual film, and film has organic matter in it. Like all organic materials, refrigeration helps preserve them. Whatever you do, don’t put it in the freezer. This film has a chemical in it that gets sorted through the photo once you shoot and pull it. Then it develops. Putting peel-apart film in the freezer lets that film bubble possibly burst. Then the film is useless. So put it in the fridge.
Let it Defrost When You Want to Shoot it
When you’re ready to shoot your peel-apart film, let it sit outside for a while. Let it adjust to room temperature for maybe an hour or so. This will get it prepped to shoot. And that brings us to our next step.
Don’t Shoot it In the Cold
Years ago, you could easily shoot peel-apart film in the cold, put it in a cold plate, and then warm it up with your body heat. At this point, all peel-apart film is pretty expired. So you’re best off just shooting it in warm weather. Aim for at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the room or the outdoor space you’re shooting.
Years ago, I took a date out to shoot in the winter with this film. I pulled it through the roller when it was too cold out, and the photos never developed. When you pull the image, make sure you’re in the warmest place possible. That will make the chemical saturation its richest.
Overexpose it By at Least a Stop of Light
Typically, you’re supposed to overexpose expired film. When you use peel-apart film, you have to overexpose it. Use a light meter and get the best reading possible, then add a stop or so extra of light. Sometimes you’ll need to add two stops. This is the only way that you can get an image that will look great.
The Secret: You Can’t Overdevelop It
Remember, this isn’t digital, and it’s not really the darkroom. You can’t overdevelop peel-apart film. You can sit, let it develop, and it will just stop after some time. Peel-apart film usually tells you how long you need to wait until it’s done developing. You can underdevelop the shots, though. But, don’t do that. It’s a waste.
Keep the Other Side, It’s a Negative You Can Develop at Home with Bleach
Lastly, when you’re done shooting, don’t throw away the other side of the instant film. That side contains a negative that’s easy to develop at home. Just use bleach or some toilet bowl cleaner with bleach. Then you’ll be able to get a beautiful negative that you can scan.