Saturday, January 29, 2011

on making paper negatives (pt. 2)

Part of the fun (and, indeed, challenge) associated with making paper negatives is finding cameras with which one can actually create decently-sized paper negatives. Pinholes are certainly one way to go--if you make the camera yourself, you can go extremely ginormous, in fact. All right, so Cameratruck isn't technically a lens-less camera, but this is what I mean by big. . .

Given the turtle-like speed of most photo papers, it's helpful, if not entirely necessary, to work with a regular (and by "regular" I mean non-pinhole) camera that has a bulb or time setting. I think it's also important is to work with a camera whose film plane is large enough to result in a good-sized paper negative. Put otherwise, one could conceivably use a 110, 126, or 35mm camera for paper negatives, but the negative would be extremely tiny. Since I don't yet have a "regular" 4x5 camera to work with (boo), Chris and I decided to experiment with two of the old Polaroid roll film cameras I have sitting around. If memory serves, I picked up the first Polaroid 80 at a yard sale for 5-10 bucks. My plan at that time was to purchase a dremel (I actually got around to that) and then modify the camera to take 120 film (still on the to-do list).

The second Polaroid 80 was for all intents and purposes a freebie. Chris and I had been antiquing over the Christmas break and the owner of one shop had an old Polaroid filter I'd been looking for. When I asked how much he wanted for the filter, the owner offered to sell us the filter, a bunch of miscellaneous items and four or five old camera cases for 10 bucks. The Polaroid (along with another 127 camera) was part of that package.

Anyhoot. Both of the Polaroid 80s are in wonderful condition. Perhaps more importantly, and unlike the majority of the other Polaroids I own, they feature bulb settings making them perfect for making paper negatives. --As an aside, I'd mention here that what these cameras lack, however, is the capacity to take a cable release. Though they do feature tripod mounts--and this helps tremendously to guard against motion blur--pressing and releasing the shutter level can introduce movement--something at least to be mindful of.

But back to the good stuff: The film planes on these cameras--while not as big as those on my other Land Cameras--are still generously enough sized to create decent negatives. As a matter of fact, Chris has found that if he cuts in half the Kodabromide post-card photo paper we recently acquired, it fits more or less perfectly inside the Polaroid 80. Yeah! No wasted paper!

For ease of loading, and perhaps more importantly, to ensure that the photo paper stays in place, Chris modify the film plates of the Polaroids using photo corners and some of my snazzy leopard duct tape. Cool! Both functional and fashionable.

Loading and unloading the Polaroids is a bit tricky (especially if we are out and about taking pictures) and certainly more cumbersome than it is with the Zero Image. With the pinhole, I can load up all five film holders and just swap them in and out. I can, in other words, get ten images before I need to worry about unloading and reloading. Unloading and reloading the Polaroids, by contrast, requires us to bring with us a black bag and something light tight that we can store the exposed negatives in. While I was trying to get a sense of the best (or simply doable) exposure times for creating paper negatives made with the Zero Image 45, Chris tried to get a sense of what exposure times and aperture settings work best for the Polaroids.

A sampling of some of Chris' images appears below--most were approximately 3 second exposures with an EV of anywhere between 6-14.


Gerda Lelieveld said...

Hi, today I have taken some time to read a bit in your blog.
Its so informative! I'm happy to see it.
Such a good job you do with this explaning. I have to do some paper work soon myself :-))
Grtz. Gerda

remediate this said...

Thanks, Gerda.

I'd love to read more about your amazing processes/processing! ;-)