Playing with expired Polaroid film

Terri

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My darkroom refrigerator finally gave out over the summer. I felt lucky that we noticed it right away and were able to clean it out quickly. It stored mostly film, with some expired film too. The enlarger is also in our basement, that has no running water, and the "basement" can only be accessed from the outside. So, it's become more a convenient place to just store everything, rather than a working darkroom these days.

The big surprise for me at the time was realizing how much Polaroid film I still have. Some years back, I got depressed and detached from photography when, within a couple years' time, both Polaroid and Kodak HIE (best IR film ever, IMO) were discontinued - along with a few of my favorite enlargement papers. I used those papers for bromoil prints, lith prints, and other alternative photographic processes. So those losses really felt like a gut punch. Straight photography bores me for the most part - I like using my negatives as a starting point for other processes. That's my jam.

Anyway, my silly attitude just allowed my remaining stash to get even MORE out of date. It hopefully won't matter as much with the 4x5 Type 79 sheet film I found in there, but matters a lot with the 4x5 pack film. The pack film is designed to hold its own battery, and they will definitely give out and refuse to eject each piece of film over time.

Quickest way to find out if the pack film (re-named Artistic Z) was headed for the trash was to just open a box, and load it into one of my SX-70 Land cameras. This is an old photo of them - I used the one on the left.

SX70 cameras.jpg



Once you load the film into these cameras and close it, when the battery is working, the dark slide automatically ejects - which it did. Eureka! I was happy it still works! This film is called Artistic Z. It's one of the last batches made by Polaroid. It replaced the fabled Time Zero film, which I used to use a lot to manipulate the soft emulsion. This replacement film contains different dyes due to environmental concerns, so it was never as bright and clear as Time Zero. But color is never an issue for me, so that's a secondary concern.

A couple of the pieces of film did stick, but most came through fine. These prints show the film's age. The dyes have definitely faded, and run together in some areas.

But - the emulsion is still manipulable, even though I pounced on it too soon. I should have waited a couple of hours, but I didn't and it shows.

Once that dark slide popped out, I went outside and took shots around the house and yard.

Miss Finn sat for a portrait:

SX-70 Finn - resized.jpg





Front yard:

SX-70 House Front - resized.jpg




Snake plant:

SX-70 Snakie - resized.jpg




Flowers on the deck:

SX-70_Flowers - resized.jpg



As far as my manipulating technique, using my old burnishing and sculpting tools, I did a fairly terrible job. :LOL: Too impatient, and the areas where I pressed too hard can be seen as blobs. But - so what? The film batteries are holding!! The expiration date is 9/09. I'm gonna say the refrigeration helped.

My main tools for SX-70 film manipulation:

Manipulation tools.jpg



I'm pleased enough with these results, for all their faults, to order some slide film, so I can pull out my Daylab slide printer, which is designed to accept this pack film. I love my SX-70 cameras, but prefer to use my Pentax MZ 35mm for better photographic control. I can scan, hand color, etc., once I get a better manipulated piece of film. I consider this exercise a successful test run.

For an alt-process geek like me, it was happy dance time. 💃

Thanks for looking! I'm always happy to talk about this stuff, so please let me know if my happy babble makes no sense to you. :ROFLMAO:
 
I think you came out with some great results. I speak digital so I do not understand your process but that's ok. Enjoyed hearing about your adventure.
 
Thank you, Deborah! Yes, two very different languages but it's always the result that matters, right? :)
 
The cat looks stoned, I like the house pic. Terri, I'm amazed to see that there are real photographers like you practicing your art. You are an inspiration. I've been shooting 35mm since I was a kid, once had my own darkroom, I was terrible at it, I really wanted to be a shooter. I like your work, would like to see more (new to this website, maybe you've posted somewhere I haven't discovered).
I think I still have one of those Polaroid cameras.
 
Miss Finn is never stoned - she might miss watching the birds if she indulged! But she is definitely napping, cat-atonic if you will. ;)

Thank you for the kind words! If I'm not getting my hands dirty, it ain't art to me, and that includes photography. I love all the photographic processes that can be played with, both in and out of the darkroom. Some of my stuff is scanned and some is not - I'll poke around and see what I can post. Some of it I already have.

You might have a try at a local college, community college, etc., that teaches Photography. Quite a few still have darkrooms. It might be fun to see if you could take a class, especially if you're already familiar with 35mm. It's like anything else - practice!
 
Wow! Thank you for posting about all this: the process, the amazing resulting images, and the tools of your trade.

You think those spots are "blobs," but I think they look sooooo cool! I love the swirly-whirly effects into the emulsion. It's really what makes the images for me. These are so special, and the effect is like nothing I've seen before. It gives me a ton inspiration to do more with our Polaroid cameras. I have a lot of Impossible film. I just never know what to take pictures of! Here you just snapped around your house and made exquisite pieces. How you do dat????

LOVE all these. ♥️ ♥️ ♥️
 
Thank you, Arty! :) I'm not certain that the Impossible film emulsion is manipulable in this way. I could be wrong. Even just shooting that film gives beautiful results, though. We bought quite a bit of it.
 
I never did Polaroid or any other instant photo system. I always looked for good detail and color fidelity. However many photographers used them as an art medium, keeping snapshots of unexpected character. The often fuzzy images with flat flash lighting don't focus on the technical quality, leaving the interest on the subject itself. No manipulation, no further treatment, just some moments of truth.
 
That's a very good assessment, Classic, of certain types of instant photography. Although there are absolutely stunning images on certain Polaroid films, particularly the large formats.

Edwin Land was a genius. ❤
 
Great little video! That's me, running around shooting. Ah, all that fresh, bright film makes me wanna cry, I miss it so much!

This video shows the original Time Zero film. The emulsion stayed soft for a number of hours, which is what led to the manipulation technique. :)

The faded film above is expired Artistic Z, which was manufactured without the titanium white. Even fresh, it had a mellow, antiqued look about it due to the lack of that dye. Once they used up the remaining chemistry, Polaroid quit making anything similar.

Thanks for posting this, Hermes! ❤
 
These are wonderful, Terri, and I absolutely love your terrible and impatient work with the manipulation - particularly the blobs! That hand-worked quality is just beautiful. I was (unfortunately) a really early adopter of digital cameras, so I know very little about film, but I'm enjoying your posts so much.
 
...
Thanks for posting this, Hermes! ❤
You are welcome. I will use any excuse to post anything by Charles and Ray Eames, who are two inhabitants of my private Mount Olympus, and who cannot do anything wrong in my eyes.
 
Miss Finn is never stoned - she might miss watching the birds if she indulged! But she is definitely napping, cat-atonic if you will. ;)

Thank you for the kind words! If I'm not getting my hands dirty, it ain't art to me, and that includes photography. I love all the photographic processes that can be played with, both in and out of the darkroom. Some of my stuff is scanned and some is not - I'll poke around and see what I can post. Some of it I already have.

You might have a try at a local college, community college, etc., that teaches Photography. Quite a few still have darkrooms. It might be fun to see if you could take a class, especially if you're already familiar with 35mm. It's like anything else - practice!
Thanks Terri. My printing technique way back then was correct, but my results looked muddy and I wasted a lot of paper. Whenever I shoot film today, I send it to a photolab, get back negatives and a CD and download them into the computer, and then play with them in photoshop.
 
These are wonderful, Terri, and I absolutely love your terrible and impatient work with the manipulation - particularly the blobs! That hand-worked quality is just beautiful. I was (unfortunately) a really early adopter of digital cameras, so I know very little about film, but I'm enjoying your posts so much.
Triss, thank you! Hee Hee, I promise to take it more slowly next time. It was funny, like I thought it would disappear in front of me or something! 😂
 
Thanks Terri. My printing technique way back then was correct, but my results looked muddy and I wasted a lot of paper. Whenever I shoot film today, I send it to a photolab, get back negatives and a CD and download them into the computer, and then play with them in photoshop.
That's a hybrid workflow, and plenty of film shooters do this! Heck, I only develop B&W film - not slide film, not any color for that matter. I do what you do. :)

Yes, in the darkroom you have to use the Learning Bin, aka the trash can, a lot sometimes. We're still besties. 😆

Muddy, dark - you're doing in PS what you'd do in the darkroom. Lighten (dodge), add contrast (use variable contrast paper), etc. So you have an understanding of what makes a good print. It's all good.
 
I love🥰😍🤩 these (and I don't give out emojis lightly) First thing I noticed from the compositions was that these were shot by a photographer.

One of my missions in life is to make oil and acrylic paintings that have the look and presence of manipulated polaroids, old technicolor film, bad TV.s , view master -- crossing mediums -- on the order of what Lichtenstein did with comic books back in the 60's.

I had a darkroom too. Durst enlarger with nikkor len. And at one point I got this "device" I can't even remember the name of it - but you expose the paper under an enlarger as usual, but then instead of putting the paper into trays of developer, stop bath, hypo etc. you feed it thru this "device" about the size of a small printer, - and outcomes a black and white print! This was revolutionary for me - I no longer had to deal with trays, sped things up, plus it standardized my paper processing etc. It was a smaller version of one that at the time were used by newsrooms, etc to quickly get prints. Funny I don't remember the name, but I remember how much I paid for it --$130. - a major outlay for me at the time.

Land of polaroid camera also discovered a two-color phenomenon that produces a full-color image http://www.greatreality.com/Color2Color.htm
 
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