1. BADGER.BRAD

    BADGER.BRAD

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    I was reading today about Polaroid photos and the fact that if you scan them you can't really go any bigger than the original photo size why is this the case when you can scan a 35mm/135 negative and have a relatively large photo from it ? I can't quite get my head round this ! Is it just the case that a Polaroid is really low quality ?
     
  2. viewfromthenorth

    viewfromthenorth

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    You’re comparing scanning a print with scanning a negative. You wouldn’t want to scan a 35mm print and try to enlarge that as you’d quickly get disappointing results.
     
  3. john.margetts

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    I suspect you would have much the same trouble with any photographic print. They are not designed for enlargement. To make it worse, Polaroids rely on the diffusion of the image from the film to the print. This must have a softening effect. Some Polaroid films produced a negative as well as the print and I suspect you would have more joy with those.
     
  4. BADGER.BRAD

    BADGER.BRAD

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    Polaroids are a little too expensive for my tastes but are really interesting from a historical/technical point of view so I am unlikely to use them,although I'm glad that they are made again (if that makes any sense) but from what you are saying a photo automatically loses quality when it is printed because of the printing process so trying to enlarge it would only enlarge these imperfections ? Have you any idea which films produce a negative ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  5. john.margetts

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    There are actually quite a lot of issues here. Negatives work by light transmission - both when used for printing and when scanned. Prints can only work by light reflection (nearly always, that is).

    When developing a film, we usually take steps to keep grain as fine as possible. When we develop a print, the paper's grain is microscopic and cannot be seen so we make no efforts at all to minimise it. Rather, we use a developer that is faster and optimises tonal quality (and increases paper grain. If you want a grainy film, develop it in paper developer).

    The film's two surfaces are engineered to be as flat as possible and to ensure that the film has constant thickness. Paper is made to look good when viewed with reflected light.
     
  6. Mr Badger

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    I think they were probably referring to image quality issues. The old Polaroid 1000 camera I used for a short time as a kid produced quite unsharp and undetailed images, which are difficult to scan and don't have much detail when enlarged. A high resolution scan of a good quality 35mm print in good condition should, however, capture quite a lot of detail and can often be enlarged, as long as the original print was a high quality one and had the detail there to start with. Basically, you can't scan what isn't there. Usually more detail will be captured by scanning the negative, but if the neg is damaged or missing (or difficult to scan with a home type scanner) then scanning a print may be the only option left.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  7. woof woof

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    I'd say try it and see what the results are like. Despite any possible quality issues I've been going through old family photo albums by photograph a print with my GX80 and 12-35mm and the results have been very acceptable even when heavily cropping.
     
  8. chris malcolm

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    People are much less fussy about technical photographic perfection than photographers are. I'm often given ancient faded family photo prints with coffee stains, dust spots in the printing, only postcard size or even smaller such as 5cm square contact prints, and visibly soft to improve and enlarge. It's easy to improve contrast and colour balance which has drifted as well as faded, easy enough to "paint" out hairs and dust spots, and the easily visible softness can be improved a bit with careful sharpening along with noise reduction to avoid sharpening the film grain. People are very pleased to get an A4 print, and think it's much better than the original size, even though you can see it's a soft and blurry image from across the room.
     
  9. Teflon-Mike

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    Poleroids historically came in rather low quality 'consumer' grade, all in one cameras, or they came in very much higher quality 'professional' grade camera-backs for things like Bronica or Hassablads's etc. So there's a huge disparity between the two dumbbell ends before you begin.

    As has been mentioned; Lands' instant picture process, was rather compromised from the off, and produced relatively small size prints of lesser image quality than could be made conventionally from a negative.

    Then you have the matter of scanning; and the possible variation there is enormous, and starts with how good the print is before you start, which depends on the camera, the film, and more, whether it was well focused, composed and exposed and what the contrast range of the scene was.

    Debate over scanning from neg and scanning from print, has raged since digital imaging started to become viable; And as also already said, its VERY much down to your own ideas of acceptable image quality.

    My very first digitized images were made on a sheet-feed scanner, around about 1995.... I had to buy two bulk boxes of 1.44" floppy diskettes to scan a pack of photo's from boots! I got about 1-photo per disc (1.2ish MB! And 40Mb needed by a pack of photo's from boots would have FILLED a 'big' 40Mb hard drive of a computer of the time!) & ISTR that the scanner boasted I think a 300dpi resolution, which ISTR I had to down-rate to probably about 150dpi to save file size and time to make the job even viable.... but would have given me about a 10Mpix file out-put... that I have to say was pretty impressive in 1995! Was still impressive when I got a dedicated 35mm film scanner in Y2K, and remained reasonably impressive compared to direct to digital SLR's until a way past 2010.... Taking around 4-hours per photo to scan, with a pretty high end for the time IBM 486 computer, with 'enormous' 4Mb of memory, though, wasn't! Lol! Not that that particular issue has improved all that much, even with duel and quad core processors! But still.

    Point is that you CAN get some pretty impressive resolution scans from prints; even with a pretty low resolution and wobbly sheet feed one of old, and the limitations of the original image, and the print quality or its age degradation will likely become the biggest limitation long before the scanner starts to add any; then it's a question of how 'good' you need or want the digital reproduction, first on-screen, and then if you make a computer generated print.

    Many have 'enlarged' black&white 6x6cm contact prints to A4 / 10x8inch on a common office photo-copier, and got something good enough to hang on the wall or put in a frame on the mantle-piece, most folk believe is still a 'wet' photo-print, not a photo-copy, if behind glass....... that's around 4x enlargement from original, and gives a rough guide to how much enlargement you can apply.

    With old prints, B&W tends to suffer less degradation than colour, and is more easily salvaged or restored, and you have some greater tolerance to enlarge; but it is so much dependent on the original print.and ultimately how good you want it in final repro.

    Net 'lore' about scanning Polaroids is then very very mutable, vagaries and variations, and reasons for that are just endless and defy any meaningful generalization; other than, Polaroids are, compromised from the very start compared to 35mm or Medium format negative, so how good do you want or need, and if you want high quality and potentially larger images, Polaroid ISN'T the ideal place to start... but in a world of compromise? Which ones are you happiest with?

    Scanning 'archive' Polaroid media, its your only option really, and dropping one on a modern flat-bed, with a high dpi count, you can get an enormous pixie count, and pixel peeping you can quickly find the flaws in the original media.. but shrink to more moderate pixel / file size, and view at more reasonable enlargement, a lot of that will likely disappear.. play in photo-shop to your hearts content, but how good and how big do you really want/need? It's do-able, and you can recover and revitalize a lot of old photo's if you try hard enough, but you'll never make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

    From wobbly memory, none of the consumer 'cartridge' Polaroids for dedicated Polaroid cameras made negs as well as prints. And I think most of the polaroid backs for Med-Format cameras usually used the same cartridges; The only set-up I recall 'may' have produced negatives was the 35mm black-and-white polaroid system, that was a bit of an odd ball.

    From memory, again; the 35mm B&W Polaroid system, didn't make 'instant' photo's, straight out of camera; you bought a 35mm cassette, ran it through 35mm camera as you would any other 35mm film; then instead of taking it to boots or into the dark room and cracking the can; you had to pop it into the Polaroid Processor machine, to get tiny 1x1.5" Polaroid 'contact' prints out of it, and you might have got the original negs on the backing paper. Some 'pro' cartridges may have worked similarly, I don't really know.
     
  10. PhilH04

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    Err ppi please, not dpi !!!

    As for negatives from the polaroid process it is indeed possible to reclaim a negative, you need to use a household bleach solution but it will give a printable/scannable negative.

    Of course one must remember Type 55 for 5 x 4 use, the negative was in fact of a very high quality and fine grained.
     
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  11. john.margetts

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    Polaroid Type 55 produced both a print and a negative.
     
  12. BADGER.BRAD

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    Does anyone have any examples of negative scans, scans from reclaimed negative (using bleach) ?
     
  13. BADGER.BRAD

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  14. ChrisR

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    Pleased to find this thread, as I was in the Scottish Portrait Gallery yesterday, and in the modern portrait exhibition, came across a pair of images by Maud Sulter, described as "polaroid, made in 2002" with no more technical detail. I'd guess they were about 60*60 cm each, so definitely not direct from camera! They were very sharp, rich colour and excellent quality. I was wondering how they were made. Guessing from the above that they come from polaroid negatives. Brilliant, anyway.
     
  15. ancient_mariner

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    I have a vague memory that there was a large format polaroid camera, but I could be wrong about that.

    My general feeling about polaroid was that they were a gimmick, and back in the day I never could understand why anyone that did not absolutely need an instant image would use them. My feelings toward them has not grown any warmer since.
     
  16. droj

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    Yet in skilful hands they can produce a satisfying image and one with a certain 'look'. They might have begun as a novelty, but through use along with the 'look' became embedded in the culture, so have a valid and even a desirable identity.

    Of course the genuine Polaroid film is long-gone. There were Fuji instant films that fitted some models until recently. And there's Impossible, but it's not the same ...
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  17. ancient_mariner

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    They have a cult following, but I can't see any redeeming features in them other than as an early for of chimping with interchangeable film backs on medium format.
     
  18. droj

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    I suspect that you're a literalist in your image-making and image appreciation ... but there are many different ways in which images can be incisive (though remembering the context of this thread, clichés might not be among them ...).

    .
     
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  19. Phil V

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    There wasn’t just the Polaroid’s made for the point and shoot brigade, remember that pros had Polaroid backs for medium format, and I believe Polaroid themselves built a larger format camera.

    So that print probably didn’t come from what we’d think of as a ‘polaroid’ print.
     
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  20. chris malcolm

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    Way back in the last century before digital cameras or digital graphic printers existed the research lab I worked in used a large format Polaroid to photograph computer graphic screens way back before digital printers existed, or indeed digital cameras. The photos were 10"x8". It had a screen sized hood which you jammed against the screen, pressed the button, and a few minutes later you had a print of the screen.

    The film packs were expensive and the lab was stingy about giving permission to use the big Polaroid so I photographed my own computer graphics screens with my own 35mm SLR. I knew how to avoid the problems of screen refresh scanning and the distortions introduced by photographing a curved cathode ray screen with an ordinary (50mm) lens. The lab had no windows so I turned off all the lights for the exposure.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
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  21. StewartR

    StewartR Efrem Zimbalist Jr Advertiser

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    That brings back memories!

    Back in about 1988 the company I worked for bought a couple of high-end (for the time) PCs with big (for the time) high-res (for the time) displays for use with graphical simulation software. In the run-up to Christmas I wrote a program to generate fractal snowflakes, and then I photographed them and used the prints to make Christmas cards. Same sort of considerations of course - avoid distortion, avoid refresh issues, avoid reflections. Great fun.


    This sort of thing - trivial now but pretty far out for 1988:
    upload_2018-8-17_10-40-36.png
     
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  22. Terrywoodenpic

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    Polaroid made a giant 24x20 inch camera.
     
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  23. gazmorton2000

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    I LOVE shooting Polaroid. Either with the Fuji peel apart stuff (now discontinued but a few packs still in my fridge) or with the 635CL box camera or the SX-70 using the Polaroid Impossible film.

    The film isn't as good as the original Polaroid, that's for sure but to say they have no redeeming features is, IMO a little harsh. It's a type of photography, no different to the many other types of photography that still exist and take place. Getting that print straight away, something to hold and pass around and embrace for it's flaws rather than chasing pixel perfect imagery all the time. It's more photography IMO than using the latest, greatest mirrorless (seems to be the big thing) with a bag full of all the lenses.
     
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  24. droj

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    :plus1:
    I think that those who are technically obsessed might often be the ones with little artistic aptitude. There is no reason why a photograph can't be about 'feel' - be visually and emotionally communicative. You adapt to a medium and bend it to your purpose.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  25. ancient_mariner

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    Now if I want to pass an image around I would use a phone screen. Maybe saying that there's nothing redeeming about them is a little harsh, but once the 'magic' of the image developing in your hand has worn off (in my case, by the time the second image has developed) then there's little left in the system for me to admire. I suppose it saves one time when processing images if the desired output is something that looks like a polaroid in the first place.

    As for work applications, we would regularly use polaroid cameras to document electrophoresis gels (both protein and DNA) in the labs I worked in, though getting an image that was better than a muddy, dull mess was something of an art.

    I hope from the work I post here you don't consider me completely artless, but if I had the choice between taking a picture with a consumer polaroid camera or just watching the scene then I'd rather keep my hands in my pockets. It's very much like the question that was asked a while back about whether anyone would take a phone out intentionally to take pictures - Andreas Gursky has done, and exhibited the results - but for most of us the idea has little appeal. The flaws in both systems are so great that they exceed any inherent charm *for me* (bet in 20 years time people reminisce about early instagram phone pics, just like polaroids).
     
  26. droj

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    Ah, Toni - you talk of recording scenes - but maybe one purpose of photography is more than to just record, but to make something new - produce a statement, suggest or clarify a meaning. You are sounding like a literalist. It's allowable for a photo to be allusive or even enigmatic ...

    I have a delightful little photo book here, it's contents are all iphone photos, taken / processed by someone who is primarily a large format photographer. You would hate it!
     
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  27. gazmorton2000

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    But by looking at a phone screen, you are not passing a printed image around. The feel and the smell of the ink, having something to hold in your hand, real, tactile. To be honest, I haven't viewed many of your images as I don't tend to head into the photo sharing sections much these days unfortunately, possibly because a lot of the critique is of a technical, tick box nature, which is a shame.

    Serious question...do you still read books as opposed to using a Kindle or an iPad/tablet? For me, it's the same thing. I tried reading on the iPad (Kindle App) but would much rather buy a book, read it, then put it on a shelf to pick up at again one day.

    For me, digital imagery is great and yes, it IS the end result that matters, but that end result can be anything you desire as the artist. It doesn't have to be technical perfection, which is one of the things that left me disillusioned with photography years ago. I would make images that were composed "well" or "correctly" (god knows what that even means now), and they would be pin sharp and in focus using the latest, greatest bodies and lenses. They would tick all the boxes for camera club style critique but they left me cold. Perhaps some of that was my shortcomings as a photographer because there are images that tick all the boxes I am sure that I admire and don't leave me cold.

    I wouldn't take a phone out to record a scene, no....but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Some people make better images with their phones than I have ever done with thousands of £££'s worth of the latest tech. I admire people doing that. Also though, I would not take out anything that records it's data in 1's and 0's to take a photo. I want something where light hits emulsion made from silver halide. :)

    By the way, I like these discussions when they are done like this and people voice their opinions in a reasonable manner without resorting to whoever shouts the loudest or whatever. It's refreshing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  28. BADGER.BRAD

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  29. ChrisR

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    I couldn't find any images of these photos on the web, but I did find this, from an earlier exhibition:

    "About Face is an exhibition of 10 large format Polaroid portraits by Maud Sulter, originally commissioned by the Scottish Poetry Library in 2002. It is a fabulous capsule collection of significant Scottish poets at the beginning of the new century.

    This exhibition sees this work of historical significance resurface for the first time since being shown in venues in 2003/2004. Writing of the work at that time, Robyn Marsack wrote:

    ‘Polaroid portraits are often a bit blurred because they’ve been taken in a hurry for an instant record. Their magic lies in seeing the image taking shape on the shiny paper, patch by patch. Maud Sulter’s polaroids measure 20” by 24” and were taken on a unique machine brought over from Prague in the summer of 2002. Working in Edinburgh, Maud had just the one shot at composing her portraits, like any other Polaroid photographer, and the resulting sharp image swam to the large surface in the same surprising way.’ "

    So, I seems these were made directly as polaroids and not by post-processing the negatives. The two I saw were extremely rich in their colours, crisp and detailed (not at all like my general impression of polaroids). There is one image at the site linked above.
     
  30. PhilH04

    PhilH04

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    Yes the 20 x 24 inch Polaroid referred to above was quite a special camera, I believe they were only available to hire... I used to use Type 55 (5 x 4 inch) on a very regular basis often using the negative which was very high quality in preference to carting loads of Double Dark Slides around with me.
    A bit off topic but a few years ago I had a paper published in the British Journal of Photography on the photography of electrophoresis gels :)
     
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  31. TheBigYin

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    they WERE however, really handy as a method of getting the "art director" of the company who'd comissioned you to do a shoot off your back if they turned up at the studio while you were working... while they were chuntering about this and that, and if things would look "right" in the picture, you could just slap the polaroid back on, take a frame or two and hand them over and say "here, go look at these, there's a magnifying glass in my gizmo bag over at the back of the room...." That's usually buy you enough time to actually complete the shoot, and the "felt tip fairy" would go away with something to wave at his minions back at work.

    personally I only really used them when i'd been commisioned for 5x4 trannys for advertising hordings or magazines - everything else I was pretty sure I'd get within the constraints of a roll of 120 without any "reassurance" :shrug:
     
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  32. Retune

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    I remember taking photos of gels on what must have been type 55 film (peelable positives and negatives). The camera had a large hood that both covered the gel and pre-set the distance, so usually all you had to do was put it down on the transilluminator and click the shutter. Come to think of it, this is my only experience in large format! We were also using 35mm slides for Powerpoint-style presentations around this time (they'd invented the software, but digital projectors were rare and expensive, so you either had to print your slides as OHP transparencies, or use a service that generated 35mm slides from your presentation file). I vaguely recall there was a developing gadget for 35mm Polaroid slides in the department - various kinds of 35mm Polaroid films were apparently available, including a colour emulsion, normal black and white, and a special monchrome film designed for printing white text on a blue background. That's a popular colour scheme in Powerpoint presentations even today - is this the origin of it?
     
  33. ancient_mariner

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    I'm not sure if being a literalist is a bad thing or not. Elusive, enigmatic, great. Polaroids are, to me, a bit like trying to create fine art using red, green and blue sharpies - you might work within the restrictions to create something usable, but the medium still inherently sucks. ;)

    There's quite a lot here to answer, but I wonder if your particular affection with polaroids and super 8 is because they give the kinds of image that they do, rather than because they actually bring something creative, a bit like applying the Orton effect to every image or shooting every shot with a fisheye lens. I'm not trying to be insulting BTW, but the look these materials give is *to me* an effect like spot colour or super-HDR, to be used when the image benfits from it. Plainly not everyone feels the way I do about some effects - there's a picture in the forums taken in a swimming pool using the tilt-shift effect that actually used a real tilt-shift lens to reproduce the miniaturisation digital effect.

    Books - I love books, have a house full (presently have Edward Rutherfurd's London on the go in hardback). I read on kobo, smartphone, computer as a way of accessing books which I might otherwise struggle to obtain & store, but paper is always my preference because it's a better material, although the tactility and smell does no harm at all. Maybe this is a part of it - having spent hours in the darkroom creating prints by hand, that can also be passed around the following day, that have a feel from the paper and a scent from the chemicals, I really struggled to find any value at all in a muddy little square. Perhaps if I'd used a polaroid back on my Bronica and seen glorious images appear that could be shared with key people as in Cobra's case, then I'd feel more warmth toward the process.
     
  34. droj

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    Just to rub it in, Toni, here's another book from my shelf that you might not like at all: "Polaroids" by Manuel Alvarez Bravo ....
     
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  35. ChrisR

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    Well Toni, if you watch the video linked above all the way through to the unveiling, or saw these portraits in the flesh, I don't think you could realistically say "the medium still inherently sucks". I'd agree to a certain extent about the most common instantiations, but the Polaroid medium IS clearly inherently capable of real fine art images. I'm not sure what quality other forms of polaroid are capable of, but these prints were magic and took my breath away.

    Separately, there is of course a low-fi aesthetic that could also really make use of some of the other forms of Polaroid or instant films... and nothing wrong with that, either!
     
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  36. simon ess

    simon ess

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  37. ancient_mariner

    ancient_mariner

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    Just to make it plain BTW, I'm talking about the little square instant images from the consumer cameras - not the high quality images from the large format camera.

    I rest my case. ;)
     
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  38. gazmorton2000

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    Surely, the look they bring IS bringing something creative, though? And I shoot them for both of those reasons. I LOVE the look they give, I love using the cameras and I love the end results. I try and choose images I think would suit being shot on Polaroid and at almost £2 a frame, I have to be fairly shoddy, although this is not always successful. This also isn't a new thing. People have been doing it for years even on the small format (we say small, it's massive compared to 35mm or 'full frame'). Wim Wenders, Andy Warhol and many others. There's a book called Fire Island Pines about a photographer who shot exclusively Polaroids at the named location through the 70's and 80's and they are amazing!

    Have a watch of the documentary 'Time Zero' if you haven't already about the birth, death and reinvention of Polaroid in the traditional square format, and how Edwin Land's Daughter asked why she couldn't;t see the image straight away when he was taking photos. :D

    I definitely disagree they are on par with spot colouring or super-HDR, but again, that's a personal thing. My affection isn't just with Polaroids and Super 8 though, but all things analogue. I just don't connect with digital photography for my own stuff. Anyways, what'sa thread on a photography forum without some photographs? :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  39. BADGER.BRAD

    BADGER.BRAD

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    Maybe we should have a post your Polaroids thread
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018

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