Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Ultimate Mood Inducer: Color Shade PX-70 by Impossible Project

First off, mad props to The Impossible Project for developing new instant film for classic Polaroid cameras. It’s gotta be difficult and expensive but those of us who love instant analogue photography are thrilled beyond words. I loved their Artistic-TZ release of old SX-70 film but I decided to take the plunge and purchase the Color Slide film when they offered it in a three pack at the beginning of the month.

TIP’s Color Shade film/First Flush is a great way to create dreamy, fuzzy and pastel-shaded shots. Everything about it is subtle, from the simple, white cardboard packaging to the finished image, which continues to change and evolve for a few days after the shot is projected from your camera. I decided to test out the limits of this film while on vacation in New England. The brilliant flower gardens, dark green ocean and blue, cloudless skies gave me plenty of worthy subjects.

Day 1: It was overcast and damp with occasional showers the first day of my experiment. With my first pack loaded and my light/dark dial turned down slightly to ‘the dark side’ I took some shots.

I wasn’t terribly impressed. The color was pretty bland and the whole thing seemed a bit washed out. I went back to the website to gain some insight into using this new product and learned that “the more light you are shooting in, the more colorful your pictures will get”. Cool, so I waited for a brilliant, sunny afternoon to continue experimenting and adjusted my light/dark meter.

Day 2: A lovely, sunny but humid day. I was ready to get some colorful images. My rainbow-striped Polaroid and I hit the beach with the kids. TIP explains that Color Slide film is sensitive to light and that “for up to two minutes” it is crucial to shield the film from light, but it is most important to protect it in the first ten seconds. Their suggested technique is to either shoot your pictures into an empty box or shield the photo with your hand as it comes out of the camera and leave it sitting upside down to develop. Clearly, I didn’t do such a hot job of protecting these shots from the light:

I wasn’t even shading these shots with my hand when they popped out of the camera because I wanted to get a clear idea of how much the sun would affect the film. That tell-tale pink light-leak tinge was all the proof I needed that the film shouldn’t see even the smallest amount of light while developing.

Okay TIP, I’ll follow the instructions now. Using the prescribed method I shot the next few pictures into an empty box and got some nice results:

They scanned really nicely but if you are looking at the actual picture the color is more washed out. Even after a few days of developing I didn’t get the vibrant color I was hoping for but the results are nice nonetheless.

Here are a couple more. These shots of the car got messed up when the film got stuck coming out of the camera because it got hung up on the empty box:

I kind of like that purplish/bluish clot of ink in the middle of the first shot. Since most of my pictures had a bluish cast to them, it made sense that the inks would contain lots of colors in that range. I ripped the white border off the second shot since I prefer to see the rough edges and lines beneath the paper. TIP’s website also features the work of an artist who has done some manipulations with Color Flush. I haven’t figured out how to do that well yet. This was my lousy attempt:

It wasn’t love at first blush for me with this film because I had some preconceptions of what kind of colors the film could produce based, of course, on the old films and inks. But the more I use it the more I like it. It’s moody and dreamy in a much more dramatic way than a toy camera or expired original Polaroid film. It’s the ultimate mood-inducer. You can attain dreamy and moody with a Diana or Holga but PX-70 Color Shade is the way to go for a true Alice-In-Wonderland or I’ve-only-gotten-2-hours-of-sleep kind of feeling. It’s great to have a new tool with which to create art. I look forward to later incarnations of Color Shade and can’t wait to see how far TIP will take this film.

Lull in the Action? Not Really…

I’ll be the first to admit it. I suck. I have not been a good blogger of late. Life has been pretty insane/rotten/strange lately and has sucked out the last bits of remaining energy that I usually have for creative pursuits. I’ve done a little writing this summer and even less film photography but an opportunity last week got the creative wheels turning again.

I mentioned the folks at Eye’em in my last blog. They’ve taken an even bigger step in making mobile photography a viable art form by revamping their site so that you can sign up for an account and post your mobile photos for all to see and admire, much like LSI’s lomo homes. The amount of fantastic works that people are producing with these crappy little digital cameras is crazy! It is well worth your time to browse these images not only to get an idea of what you can do with these cameras, but also to get an idea of the wide array of apps and programs available.

I got an email from Sara at Eye’em a couple of weeks ago: My shot, entitled “Flooded”, will appear in a book, to be published in the next month or so and they wanted me to say a few words about it. I’m actually very grateful for that opportunity because it really allowed me to solidify what it is about iPhone photography that is so appealing to an analogue gal such as myself.

I see toy/vintage photography and mobile photography as very similar animals. They’re both fun, relatively simple and can be crazily unpredictable. As with toy cams, my iPhone cam can give beautiful results or total garbage. In general it’s much more reliable, but not consistently so, than my toys. It’s pretty awful in low-light, just like my toys and the shutter lag can be ridiculously long. There’s a real art to pushing the shutter at the correct time, something I’ll never master, but the so-called mistakes that I’ve captured because of that shutter lag (like the one in this post) have been really freakin’ cool, so I can live with it.

Because of great apps like Hipstamatic and Camera Bag, I can get toy and vintage-like results. Is it cheating? Sure. Do I care? No, and why is that? Because I’m still not spending hours and hours in front of a computer adding layers of saturation and ‘years’ to a perfectly ordinary shot for the sake of making it ‘look like it was shot on film’. With an app like Hipstamatic I pick the camera, film and flash I want to use and push the button. That’s it. I have a couple of filter programs but most of the time find no reason to use them, unless I’m trying to really kill some time while waiting for soccer practice to conclude. Not that they’re super labor intensive, it’s just that I don’t have the time or patience to mess with the extras.

The biggest similarity between the two is that they’re both seriously under-appreciated and under-respected (if that is a word) forms of art. I love the look on people’s faces when I show them a picture and tell them I captured it with a two-dollar camera as much as I love to tell people that I was recognized in an international competition for a shot I took with my iPhone. I don’t think either of these art forms will ever garner the respect that ‘serious’ photos taken with DSLRs are given, but that’s one more reason to strive to make beautiful images with my both.


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