I Never Thought I'd Be Shooting Polaroid / by Sohail Mamdani

... and yet, here I am.

I heard about The Impossible Project back when they first started. My initial impression was, "Huh. Interesting." I didn't have any desire to shoot Polaroid then; my film interests were geared more towards medium format black-and-white photography.

Fast-forward to now. I came across a Polaroid SX-70 camera in a local photo store and liked it so much, I snatched it up.

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. © Creative Commons.

I bought some Impossible black-and-white and color film from the store as well and gave things a whirl. My first pack was disastrous.

Andrew Kim on B&W SX-70 Film

The pack must have dried up a bit or something, because the developing was utterly uneven. I was somewhat sad to see that; it looked like my Polaroid dreams were coming to a crashing halt.

Fortunately, that pack itself was almost certainly defective, as subsequent packs turned out to be much more consistent. I do find that the B&W packs have a higher failure rate, so I've switched to using mostly color, which seems to be a lot better.

A sequence of events led me to conceive a project that I'm working on now. The temporary working title is "Skyways" and I am working on finding a good way to frame these images behind glass that's UV-protected, as these aren't exactly archival prints. I plan to hang these in the Code and Canvas space where I'm one of the resident artist. The entire project is going to be in color, as I've really come to like the gorgeous colors that the SX-70 film can produce.

It's a long, painstaking, and expensive process, as the film isn't cheap (about $23 for a pack of 8 shots) and the camera is set to auto-expose for ISO 80 film, while the Impossible stuff is closer to ISO 160. Also, not being able to use the Zone System for exposure makes these even harder to get right, as does the 30-40 minute development time for color images.

But then you get something like this, and it makes all the difficulties and annoyances worthwhile...

Image © 2014 Sohail Mamdani. All rights reserved

More to come...