Keeping our world clean is sometimes a challenge, especially when it comes to photography (film containers, photo chemicals etc.), but Lomography member chocochipcookie shows you how you can double your picture count and keep that negative out of a landfill!
I know what you’re thinking. This is too good to be true, or too hard for the average photographer to do, well you’re wrong. Not only is it easy, it’s fun!
This tutorial is based on the currently available Fuji pack film for Polaroid cameras and 100 series Polaroid backs. However, this also works on the old Polaroid film if you have any of that laying around that you want to use, or if you have kept your negative backs from the years (the piece they say to throw away because “it has no use”. Ha! Yeah right.)
Warning: Boring Stuff Ahead. Skip to beginning of the “Needed Items” list to reclaim that negative
But first things first, what equipment did I use to shoot the photo in the first place? Well, since I’m not blessed with deep enough pockets to pick up a Mamiya with a polaroid back, I used the next best thing, Polaroid 100-series Land Cameras. The most I’ve ever paid for one has been a whopping $5. However, before you start searching your local craigslist, you do need to know something first. You really can’t get the batteries for it at your local store, they’re an obsolete design and you can only find them sold through a certain amount of companies online. So you have to not only wait for it, but pay shipping too. So now what?
Well, with the help of a gentleman by the moniker of Option8, he has already figured out how to work around this little conundrum. Modification. Setting these cameras up to run off of either AA or AAA batteries will give you a lot more freedom (plus they make rechargeable batteries of both versions as well). First link is a list of the type of pack film cameras that you will be able to modify and their corresponding voltage output/battery needs.
The second is his written tutorial. If you have any questions, you can contact him. He’s very helpful and is pretty quick about it too.
Another tip: Say you find yourself a camera and just get done with modifying it. You want to know if it works but you don’t have film. What do you do? Here’s a trick I learned.
Put your finger over the small window next to the lens (this is the light sensor) and keep it there. Cock the shutter lever all the way down. Now, press the shutter, but don’t lift up just yet. You should first hear a click of the shutter, then, if your electronics are functioning like they should, when you lift off the shutter button there should be a second audible click. If there is, that’s a good indication your camera is working 100%. If not, first check your batteries (are they fresh?), then check your wire connections – to- and + to +. If those two check out fine, well, then all I can say is “It’s dead Jim.” But don’t despair, I’m working on a pinhole option.
Now to the actual tutorial!
- Polaroid Negative (trim the pull tab).
- Standard laundry bleach (I use a bleach gel pen for better control).
- Small plastic cup or container if using liquid bleach and chemical resistant gloves.
- Brush (a cheap watercolor brush is what I use).
- A glass surface (I use a piece of glass from an old picture frame.)
- A sink or water source.
- Trim the pull tab off the negative. But you can leave it one too, it really makes no difference either way.
- Place your glass surface in the sink (or if you don’t have a sink, skip to the next step).
- Wet your surface with water, this helps hold the negative. Now place the negative with the black side facing up.
- Apply bleach with either a brush or gel pen. Use the brush to help remove the black surface. You may have to repeat this step more than once, so don’t worry if you can’t quite get everything off the first time. If you have to, wash the negative in water and repeat with the bleach and light brushing. Be careful not to get any bleach on the other side, as this will effect your final image (unless that’s what you want, then by all means, go crazy).
- Wash the final black residue off the negative and peel off the surface. Flip the negative over. Now, you may notice the other side has a kind of gel goop all over it. To clear this off, run (or pour) warm to hot water over the goopy side of the negative. Use your brush to help remove this, but make sure it’s washed off first so as not to contaminate the photo with bleach.
- Allow your negative to dry.
- Scan and enjoy!
On using Fuji 3000B Negatives
When you wash the black backing off the photo, you’ll notice that the surface is white, and you cannot see a negative image on that side. By removing the black gunk, you are allowing light to come through to scan the photo. You will also have to remove the goop on the image side like with the Fuji 100C by using the same method (using hot water and a brush).
If you use a bleach gel pen like mine, it has a fine tip point that allows you to draw images and shapes. Make sure your surface is level after getting the negative settled, then apply the bleach gel. Instead of using the brush, just allow the bleach to do its thing for about five minutes and them wash carefully. You can also use this method to make borders as well.