Instax Manipulation: How To Make Transparency


How things come to life is sometimes just a matter of luck. Instant photography was firstly invented in 1947 after a question was posed to a father by his daughter. Why do images not develop right away? The curiosity of a child brought us a fantastic way of sharing photographic moments that still unite people today.

The fun is endless with the Instant Camera. They are the perfect party camera and they make us selfless with our pictures as we can quickly snap away and give the freshly printed images to our friends to preserve a memory together.

Double exposures, splitzers, and light painting are popular in the instant world. However, little is known about the possible manipulations that can be done after the print is made.

Photos by Elisa Parrino

Today we will create some Instax transparency by manipulating our prints. Time is of the essence for this technique so we recommend that you shoot your picture near your studio/ home, where you have access to hot water as fast as possible. You must start the process before developing is settled. You have about one minute for the chemical to start reacting.

All we need is a kettle to heat the water. The water should be as warm as possible without burning your skin. Needless to say you must use gloves as they will protect you not only from the heat but also from the exposed chemicals that will be released by the hot water.

Step1 take the picture, step 2 cut the corners of your Instax frame, step 3 wash the first layer of chemicals, step 4 change to the second tray and wash away the other layers, step 4 dry the transparency.

Prepare two trays of hot water. One will be for the first black layer to lift, the second for all the others. Once you have taken your photo, immediately get to your working station and cut the borders of your film. Submerge it in the water and peel the first plastic layer off, releasing the black chemical. Then move to the second tray of water and start to gently rub away all the subsequent layers.

It is extremely important that you do this as gently as possible. If you are looking for clean transparency, we recommend using a big cotton swab to prevent scratches. If you do want some texture in your final result, a sponge or fiber works well.

In the history of instantaneous pictures, the magic that makes the development possible in such a short time is unique. Usually, it takes about 1 – 3 minutes, depending on the temperature of your environment

Photos by Elisa Parrino

The process that makes the reaction possible is a re-agent, a mix of opacifiers, alkali, white pigment, and other elements. The formula is lined at the margin of the borders, that, once the picture is taken and pushed out, gets pressed between two rolls that flood the negatives, allowing the reaction to start.

The principal then is always the same, changing the exposed particle into images. The instant film follows the developing process of a slide film. In slide film, dye layers that are unexposed combine to form the color captured allowing it to combine into a positive image.

Photos by Elisa Parrino

It is in this short amount of time that we have to operate before the chemical reaction starts to settle the layers. This is also why it is such a delicate procedure and there is a great risk to damage your image.

Naturally, pictures that have greater contrast work best. You can also add color gels behind the frame to create different color backgrounds or make a double exposure.

The final results are truly fascinating. The pressure that you apply while rubbing will erase parts of the images, creating strange scenes with ghostly figures. They are there but they are also not. Comically they best represent the ephemeral concept that is the existence of a photo - where we can exist on thin layers thanks to a chemical chain of reaction.

Share your Lomo’Instant manipulation experimental picture with us by uploading it with our community .

written by eparrino on 2022-06-04 #tutorials #videos #experimental #instant-camera #instax-transparency

Mentioned Product



Extend the Borders of Instant Photography with the World’s Most Creative Instant Camera System and say "hello" to the Lomo'Instant Camera! The Lomo'Instant is the perfectly sized Instant Camera to take wherever you go! It’s the most creative way to shoot fantastic photos which you can share anywhere and with everyone in an instant.


  1. nicktaurojr
    nicktaurojr ·

    I must try this!

  2. tracyvmoore
    tracyvmoore ·

    Great article. Thanks for sharing!

More Interesting Articles