Whenever I travel I bring a film camera along and our latest trip to Philadelphia, PA was no exception, but there was one little twist. Usually I bring a 35mm or medium format camera with me but yesterday I brought along my Polaroid Spirit and three packs of The Impossible Project’s instant film. It was a little bit of a risky move for me because it’s tough taking instant shots on the run: My family gets tired of stopping for me and often leave me in the dust so I have to be fast with my composition, focus and button pressing. Also, I’ve not yet mastered TIP’s films and usually get crappy results.
Of course, I also had my iPhone with me and I set a mission for myself. Take some macro shots of anything but flowers. They’re so easy as macro subjects, beautiful too, but I wanted to try to branch out (no pun intended). First thing I needed to do was find out what kind of film was left in my Polaroid–color or black and white. These two shots were the last of that pack.
Lesson # 1: I got much better results on the second shots because I turned the light/dark slider to the middle, where it should be been in the first place for a bright sunny day, instead of all the way to the light side, as is often recommended for TIP films. So from now on, I’m going to set that slider where I think it should be, not where they recommend it be set.
We got a late start leaving and didn’t arrive in Philly until well after 1:30 pm so the first stop was lunch at Reading Market. I had a VERY yummy Italian Pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone cheese from this shop
Lesson #2: You can actually take a decent Polaroid picture inside a busy market! I was shocked that this one came out as well as it did but I applied the knowledge gleaned from lesson #1 and voila!
Next we visited the Franklin Institute where I tried to take some macro shots but there just wasn’t enough time. We had to move quickly through the museum because we only had an hour and ten minutes before it closed. These are my macro attempts This diamond patterned metal never looks as cool close up as it does far away. I’ve tried a couple of times to do macros of it and haven’t found an interesting way to photograph it close up. I did, however, get some other really cool photos
The entrance to the museum
We had a long walk back to Independence Hall and had to plot our course, so we stopped at the giant fountain in Logan Circle where I got one of the best shots of my three kids to date.
First they were goofing around. My son waded up to his knees in the water and then I got….
The Money Shot!
I saw them sitting staggered on the side of the fountain and took two shots, in which my son was giving his best cheese-ball grin, before I got this one. Look for it in this years’ Christmas card.
Lesson #3: The best family portraits are ALWAYS spontaneous!!
Our hike included Chinatown where I got some of these pictures
Loved the red in the lady’s hat and bags that echoed the red ribbons on the Foo Dogs necks
On to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where I KNOW I got the coolest shot of the day
I was FLOORED that this came out so well!!!!! It’s far and away the coolest Liberty Bell shot of the day. Here’s the picture I took with my iPhone. It’s a bit of a different angle, but you get the idea
No where NEAR the same detail. Which brings me to
Lesson #4: Just because a film has performed poorly in the past doesn’t mean it will perform poorly in the future.
I did NOT expect to get the crazy, detailed results of the Bell in those poor lighting conditions but, once again, I switched the light/dark switch all the way to dark because it wasn’t very well-lit, and I got a fantastic picture.
Other cool stuff from that area…
Granite wall with the names of George Washington’s slaves
Looking for something for dinner we strolled through what must’ve been the young and hip section of the city. All the beautiful people were sitting in tables on the sidewalk eating fancy food at restaurants with one name. That’s not really our style, especially with the kids in tow, so we found an alley with some excellent Irish-style pubs. Dinner was eaten here
Then, it was back on the subway for the trip back to the car. There are TONS of things to photograph in the subway. Here’s my Philly subway collection.
It was a really fun day and I learned some important lessons. The last of which is…
Lesson #5: Go with the flow. You may start out your day expecting to do one thing (taking macro shots of stuff other than flowers) but that thing might not be in the cards for you that day. Something better may be planned for you instead (getting excellent family photos and Polaroids).
Thank you, City of Brotherly Love, for inspiring my photographic journey. My little family and I will be visiting again very soon.