This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being part of a Polaroid workshop/Polawalk hosted by Impossible HQ in beautiful Central Park at the heart of New York City to kick off the start of Polaroid Week 2016.
If we’re being honest, I haven’t really shot much Impossible film over the last several years since they first made their appearance on the market. I was never really part of the experimental group that was willing to dish out $25 for a pack with eight exposures when I had rolls of bulk film in the freezer and packs of Polaroid 690, 669 and Fuji FP-100C in my fridge. I am also more of a “realistic” type shooter and it takes me out of my comfort zone to rely on the sometimes unreliable emulsions that make Impossible so unique. Hence why I’ve stuck with my FP-100C and Polaroid 690 peel apart films for their accurate color renditions of scenes and affordability (up until Fuji’s recent discontinuation of FP-100C **insert very sad face** )
So when I read about this workshop happening in the Big Apple, I was excited for numerous reasons. 1) I would be shooting film in New York City in Central Park which I LOVE to do 2) I would be shooting with other creative minds and it’s definitely a lot of fun when you get to get out there with people who have the same passion as you- it’s like going to the championship game with your favorite football team and you’re the quarterback- and 3) I was super excited to experiment more with Impossible Film (not to mention the cost was very much in my budget at only $20 for a pack of film and camera rental).
We all convened at the Southwest entrance to Central Park near Columbus Circle. After a quick discussion of the film, the coordinators Patrick and George divvied out the film to everyone and cameras to those who needed them. We had several different kinds of Polaroids that everyone was using from the well-known vintage SX-70 to the newer I-1 that Impossible designed and created. A couple of main differences between Polaroid film that you might be used to from the 80s and early 90s is that for one, you DON’T shake the Impossible film polaroid when it pops out, and also there are only 8 photos in a pack and not 10 that were in the older Polaroid packs. This is a good thing to keep in mind when shooting since it means that counters on the popular Polaroid 600 series, like the one I was using, are off by two shots. A neat innovation that Impossible has for the Polaroid cameras is what’s known as a Film Shield that can be attached to either an SX-70, Spectra or 600 series Polaroid. This shield really helps when the film is ejected to protect it from the sun and help create even exposure and development for the film.
As we started our trek, Patrick and George gave us a few little assignments to try out and help get our creative juices flowing. We had to take four different types of photos: 1) a photo of a stranger 2) a street scene 3) a photo of an animal and 4) a selfie. It was so much fun walking around Central Park on a beautiful day getting to know everyone and taking pictures. I must say it was the most refreshing thing I’ve done in a long, long time. We walked through Sheep Meadow and made our way to Belvedere castle. Along the way, I was able to take a snapshot with the new I-1 and I was really impressed with it. It’s a gorgeous little rangefinder and the lights that light up on the front ring are very intuitive. They tell you how many exposures you have left in your pack as well as how charged your battery is.
I learned a lot about how far Impossible film has come over the last several years and I was very impressed with the results from the shots. The Black and white film is a particular favorite of mine and it also develops very fast. I did notice that the tonal range between shadows and highlights on the black and white were a little less forgiving than that of the color film, but that could also be because I was using the 600 series. I can’t wait to experiment more with this film in other Polaroid cameras.
I think Polaroid week is a great way to remember to pull out those sometimes forgotten Polaroid cameras and go have some fun. I also am very happy to support a company like Impossible who has continued to strive to improve their film, no matter the obstacles they’ve had to overcome.
Unfortunately, I had to part ways with the group in order to make it back in time to catch the train out to Long Island, but they continued on and even got to try out the Insta Lab which is a cool way to print photos directly from your phone onto Impossible Film.
I’m so happy I got to participate in the amazing polawalk and workshop that took place and I can’t wait for more to come.