Wednesday, February 29, 2012

665 Film and the Polaroid 195 Land Camera

This last weekend Sydney and I took a photo road trip through the San Joaquin valley along highway 99 to Fresno. We selected Fresno for our destination partially because I have a second cousin I had not seen for sometime who lives in Sanger, a suburb of Fresno. There are a lot of very cool things to photograph in that part of California, and I could well spend a lifetime making photographs of all the agriculture related stuff in the San Joaquin Valley. This was also an alternative photography excursion in that I mostly shot with my Holga, Diana, and my Polaroid 195 Land Camera. I love my Polaroid Land Camera. The results are inexact, so I never know what I am going to get from it. The focus is off and the lens is not very sharp, but sometimes, by chance, I get some really cool stuff. These jpegs are scans from both 665's positives and negatives. After the exposure I peel off the positive and coated it with a nasty goop that prevents the image from fading. Then I throw both the positive and negative on my dashboard and move on the next shot. When the day is done, back at the hotel I soak the negatives in a solution of Sodium Sulfite that fixes the negative and removes the excess developer goo. Then after washing the negs for about 10 minutes I soak them in a solution of distilled water and photo flo. Years ago I photographed a series of Century Plants with this very process. Since it's not a perfect process, sometimes hit or miss, often with scratches on the film I never know if I'll have a workable negative until I have made a contact sheet of the negatives. However, that's part of the art-- the randomness of it: often it fails, but sometimes the results can be magical.

Sadly only the 10 packages I purchased on e-bay 4 years ago only 4 remain in my frig, and I'm not certain these are any good. On the trip to Fresno, only half of images I made with the land camera worked. On the others the developer had dried, and the film was useless.

I write this post to lament once again on the disappearance of film products. I understand that there is not a big enough market to sustain these products and they are going going gone along with the horse and buggy. And there is digital technology abound to simulate alternate methods, yet there was something very special about waiting a minute after exposing the film, pulling the strip of 665 film through the camera's rollers, waiting 60 seconds for the sheet to be developed, then finally striping the positive from the negative to see the results. It was like the old days when as a kid I felt a similar excitement opening a box of Cracker Jacks to see what prize was to found buried in the sticky sweet popcorn--back in the day when the prizes were cool and so were polaroid cameras.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Foggy Morning

Every once in a while we get a really foggy morning in Southern California. There is nothing like black and white and mist. If you don't believe me ask Michael Kenna, who has made quite a nice living making photographs in dew. Although, because of the saturated moisture in the air, everything is messy and moist including the gear, it's quite peaceful photographing in fog. And, the fog hides a lot of unwanted background stuff, or at least it softens it. It's been an abnormal dry and warm winter in Southern California, and sadly there has been few misty morning like the Saturday I made these photographs.