I was nominated by Joyce Peng to do a 7-day self-portrait challenge: 7 days, 7 self-portraits, and 7 nominations to keep this going with other artists/photographers. I invite Frederic Chiu to take the time to extend the fun.
I put a small twist to this challenge as well. I will be composing self-portraits through the viewfinders of different cameras.
Today, I am viewing through my 1968 Polaroid Land 250 camera. The model 250 has a Zeiss-ikon viewfinder made from West Germany. As seen in the photo, the rangefinder is bright and quite easy to focus. The camera that I am holding is a 1972 Polaroid Land 450 camera. It’s basically identical to that of the model 250 except for a timer at the back and the flash adapter.
Since the disappearance of Fuji FP3000b, I was almost too sad to open another pack. This weekend in Napa, I took the Polaroid Land 250 out again and took a bunch of photos. It’s like riding a bicycle and the photos turned out to be amazing as usual.
Here is a shot of Rebecca and Melissa on their visit to Napa this past weekend.
Shot Matthew and Jessica’s wedding old school in FP3000b. I was equipped with two Polaroid Land 250 cameras a couple of packs of the discontinued FP3000b. The images turned out nice and again reminded me of images seen from my parents wedding.
Just had dinner one summer night with Tung Tang, Peter Yen, Joseph Wei and myself near Soho. After dinner, Tung and Peter were already armed with their Leicas + 50mm f1.0 lenses! We strolled around Soho and we settled on a spot to shoot some photos.
I didn’t picked the proper equipment for the night shoot and I only had my Polaroid Land 250 with me. It was loaded with a pack of FP100c. I also brought a flash, an old Sunpak 411 flash which I think works perfect with the Polaroid cameras. After a quick look in the area, we quickly settled a spot in front of an old door. Joseph is the model. Tung is the photographer. Peter was taking some action shots and was holding two iphone LED lights on the right of the subject. I was the flash light remote and stand.
Tung checking the lighting here.
Here is the setup.
Not shown on the above shot was Peter, who was holding two iphones with LEDs opposite of the flash. Here is the flow of the shot. Tung will start the trigger. I will hear a click, then I press the test fire button on the Sunpak flash. Tung sees the flash and will let go of the trigger and completed the shot. The whole process is very raw and manual.
To our surprise, the shot turned out quite nice.
It was a lot of fun and I look forward to more shoots!
A little while back, I attended Dennis’ and Rachel’s wedding. As usual, I planned to shoot some lotophotos with my vintage equipment.
In my bag was a Canon QL17 + Canolite D flash + Ilford XP2 film, Canon Powershot S90, Mamiya Universal + 127mm F4.7 lens + Polaroid back with FP3000b and a overhauled Polaroid Land 250 (I just fixed this and wanted to test it out) + Portrait Lens kit.
My Mamiya Universal had not seen light for a while and I figured will be the perfect camera to shoot during the ceremony. Manual exposure, F4.7 lens, nice shutter release and hand grip, everything ready. Just before the bridal party started the march in, I took the Universal for a test shot at the groom’s family. Weight lifting the 15 pound machine, I clicked the shutter. I hear no “click” sound, crap. I knew somehow the shutter didn’t go off and somehow it was stuck. I dashed back to my seat, pulled the film out and just as I suspected, it was completely black.
Frantically, as the bridal party started to march in, I took the film pack out of the Mamiya Universal and inserted it in the Polaroid Land 250. I did not have my dark bag with me nor did I had time to waste. By taking the pack of film out like this, I openly exposed one shot. I pulled the dead shot from the Polaroid Land 250 and it was ready to go. Life is good again.
The church was well-lit and the FP3000b film was good enough for hand held shots. Here are the lotophotos taken with the Polaroid Land 250 that day.
Even with ISO 3000 film, action shots were proven difficult with the wide opened f8.8 aperture. Both of the following shots were slightly blurred but exhibited strong sense of movement.
This shot I particularly liked the flower bell bokeh.
Semi-still shots were acceptable, given the couple weren’t moving too much.
With still shots, this is when the Polaroid Land 250 performed the best. These cameras were made for still shots and the resulting photos were all super sharp. The following shot was taken with a tripod and a modified Polaroid self timer #192. I will post another blog featuring this timer and why it has to be modified in the near future.
Family photos are among my favorites and below is a lotophoto that I took of Dennis’ family. Always loved to see some people with their eyes closed. With film, this was the way it was. You won’t be able to see the result until you develop it, long after the event. With that mentality, I didn’t even bother taking another shot with my Polaroid.
I attached the portrait lens kit with the following two lovely shots. Here is Joseph, the best man and the groom.
The last and certainly my favorite shot of the day. I was delighted to capture the genuinely happy couple in this photo.
The shoot was proven successful. It’s amazing what you can achieve with simply a pack of film and an old camera. The overhauled Polaroid Land 250’s exposure was dead on. Particularly the last shot, totally reminded me of the 2R sized photos of my parents of their wedding day that are still in their wallets. With the Polaroid Land 250, a camera that was made in the mid 1960s, even after almost half a century later, continues to capture the special moments for the reason of its first existence. Looking at the eight shots I made, reminded me of my parents’ lotophotos of their wedding day and the dusty albums that I loved going through when I was a child. I hope one day, the children of the happily wedded couple will enjoy them the same way as I did with the ones of my parents.
Not only can Polaroid land cameras produce an instant print, with the wonderful modern technology of scanning, the once throw-away negative can now be processed into a digital photo. For Fuji FP-3000b, the negative is actually a paper negative. There is no need to do anything with it, simply let it dry and you can scan it on a normal positive scanner. However, I had a lot of issues with these negatives, as it is virtually impossible to keep them dust free. They had to be laid flat or the chemicals (also called goop) will slide around and distort the image. The only reliable way to keep this as a useable negative is to blow dry it immediately after peeling, which proven to be difficult in the field.
See the above photo, the goop moved around and you can see clearly the straight lines are bent. The clock arms also disintegrated. The FP3000b negatives are quite unpredictable.
FP-100b film however is a different technology. The negative is actually plastic. They hold up a lot better than its FP-3000b counterpart. The goop however sometimes will continue to develop and all sort of wonderful things (depends how you look at it) like color distortion or image fuzziness will occur. Like FP-3000b, one side is the goop but the other is an opaque black dark side. Both of these sides had to be processed before you can scan this on a negative scanner. If you look online, there are many ways to do this. Below is my version of it, shown in the photo below.
1. Wash the goop off the negative with clean running water, then you will need two things, a piece of tile and a roll of electrical tape.
2. With dark side up, tape up the four sides nicely (make sure no leaks).
3/4. With care, pour household bleach on the dark side.
5. Spread the bleach completely over the dark side.
6. Wait for a couple of minutes and the black nasty stuff will come off.
7. Wash the nasty black stuff off with running water.
8. With the black stuff washed out, you should be able to see a clear image in the negative.
9. Take the negative off the tile, wash thoroughly with water.
10. Hang the negative to dry.
Since the negative is huge (3.25″x4.25″), most negative scanners won’t be able to process this. Before I got my Epson V700, here are two ways how I digitized my negatives. The first one is to put the negative on your window during the day and use your digital camera to take a photo of it. The other is to place the negative on a positive scanner with a piece of white paper on top, shine a big lamp on it and scan. Both of these methods will then require some post processing work in some kind of photo utility for color inversion.
Here is an example result from my work flow. The happy campers are Ayuchi and Billy at the Sake Bar Ginn in LKF.
These cameras were produced from 1957 to 1962. Since the disappearance of roll film in the 90s, this camera had been abandoned as trash since.
I picked up a couple of these units when I was back in Toronto a few months ago. Both were in perfect condition and all the accessories intact. This camera features an EV lighting system with fixed aperture and shutter speed.
The pairing is as follows:
EV 10 f/8.8 1/12
EV 11 f/8.8 1/25
EV 12 f/8.8 1/50
EV 13 f/8.8 1/100
EV 14 f/12.5 1/100
EV 15 f/17.5 1/100
EV 16 f/25 1/100
EV 17 f/35 1/100
Initially getting these two cameras, I wanted to modify it so that I can use it as a medium format panoramic camera. I wanted to put in a roll of 120 and see if I can get 6×10 or 6×12 shots out of this.
Walking in the camera market in Shanghai prior to my trip back to Toronto, I saw some really cheap Shanghai 100 ISO 4×5 film. Doing medium format for years, I am always itching to move onto large format. So I picked up a box of el cheapo Shanghai 4×5 film and off I went.
Honestly, it’s a pain to insert the 4×5 film into these Polaroid 800 cameras in a dark bag. Basically, I have to do this once for every shot. This work flow is extremely not portable, but hey, reminding myself, it’s large format, it’s not supposed to be that portable.
On this camera, there are two viewfinders, one for focusing and one for framing. I was impressed with the rangefinder. It was crisp and accurate and with a maximum aperture of only F8.8, I experienced no focusing issues.
My first two shots with this camera, however, was a disaster. The photos came out totally underexposed. This can be traced back to two mistakes I made. First, I used the Polaroid light meter that came with the cameras. Bad call. Second, reading in the many forums, a lot of people are over exposing this film and shooting it like a ISO 50 film.
The second and third trials got better and basically I needed to overexpose the original settings by about 1.5 EVs.
The details were amazing. The Polaroid land 800 has a mask with rounded corners. The exposed area of of the photo is not 4×5 but a bit smaller than that.
My film development process. All chemical temperature @20C. Water bath one minute. Guan Long (冠龍) D76 1+1 14 minutes. Water Stop Rince 3x + 2 mins. Guan Long F-5 Fix 8 mins. Water Rince 3x + 2 mins and Kodak Photoflo. Scanned with Epson Perfection 4870.
The first experience with the Polaroid Land 800 was quite successful and I finished the whole box of 25 shots in within the first two weeks.
Why Polaroid Land 800? Simple. It’s cheap, readily available, full manual and has no electronic components.