"spectra, meet the future"
Having received my 3 packs of film last week, I experienced mostly positive results, with a few strange things as well. First off, the packaging. Top notch, clean design. A perforated edge reveals an inner box that has the vacuum sealed cartridge, just like Polaroid. Every dark slide has one of 61 different impossible quotes/suggestions, my first, "smell like teen spirit". Makes for a fun use of otherwise forgotten space. This is going to be an ongoing theme with all their films. Some have balked at this as a waste of money on packaging, however I disagree. Nice packaging always helps and its fun.
One of the unexpected nuances of this first version of the film is that its very sensitive to light and temperature (and manipulation). According to the Impossible site:
- Sit down in your favorite chair in your favorite room at ROOM TEMPERATURE (17-24°C / 63-75°F)
- Put the PX 100 Film into your camera
- Put the lighten/darken wheel to MIDDLE SETTING
- Hold camera STABLE, especially at low light levels
- Make the first MAGIC SHOT
- (cover with your hand)
- Develop the picture UPSIDE DOWN FOR 60 - 90 SECONDS
- Take another deep breath, turn over, and inhale your FIRST PX 100 SHOT
At first glance, its one of those, yah, yah, I'll be careful. In reality, you really do. To cold goes white, to warm goes reddish brownish. Direct sun on the film as it ejects, can fog it. If you've got decent light and a comfortable temperature, no problemo. As many of those who got their hands on it first, especially in colder areas found out, the cold and light pretty much will wash out your image. Definitely puts some restrictions and challenges on the photographer when going outside, which kinda sucks since its one more thing to have to be aware (keep in mind, this is the first run and they are refining it to make it more stable). Of course this all gives way to new forms of manipulation and creating even more unique images. Thankfully, by the time I received mine, I had done enough reading online to have an idea of what to expect without having to waste shots. Tips like using a cold clip, immediately cover the image with your hand on eject, taping a dark slide to the camera to shield the film on ejection or a small dark bag completely covering the ejection area. There were reported issues like uneven development or specs of white showing up or small dark spots, also there were reports of some images having more texture to it and sometimes a lack of obvious sharpness. My experiences are detailed/noted with each image.
Living in Los Angeles, the temps are much nicer and usually plenty of sunshine for good indoor lighting.
I figured, start indoors and see what this film does. My first shot of myself (hi there).
1st shot. Indoors, somewhere around 70 degrees. Early afternoon indirect window light. Upon ejecting, covered with my hand then placed inside a warmed up cold clip. I think the clip may have been a bit to warm or I kept it in for to long resulting in a much warmer toned image then anticipated. Had fair amount of white specks, but only on the left side, the slightly light area on my forehead is from some uneven development due to some chemistry weirdness.
2nd shot. Open shade, early afternoon. Probably around 65 degrees or so. Upon ejecting, covered with my hand then placed inside a lightly warmed up cold clip. Notice the tonal difference. This image also had some white specks, but not nearly as much or as obvious as the first one.
Experienced some weird chemistry stains on the back of the first 3 shots. This also
caused some uneven development as well.
3rd shot. Indoors, late afternoon direct sunlight thru trees, about 70 degrees. Upon ejecting, covered with my hand then placed inside a warmed up cold clip. This image had several things going on. Some dark spots, some white specks, uneven development and the chemistry stains mentioned above caused the vertical orange mark in the middle. Plus, the back of this shot had a piece of the white foil tape running across the corner area, causing some strange development. Despite all that, I did like how it turned out. Got some decent tonal range and almost a split tone look.
4th shot and to my surprise on eject, the chemistry pack was missing and the film frame was quite mangled as well. Looks like this one was the troublemaker that caused the chemistry marks on the previous shots. I posted about it in the The Impossible Projects flickr group and it's been deemed a naked mooning Polaroid : ) - Anne from Impossible contacted me and said they would of course replace it, but wanted to make sure my other two packs were good. They have such great customer service, Anne is the best. To be able to communicate so easily between a company and its customers like that is great and something that people truly appreciate.
5th shot. Indoors, mid-late afternoon direct sunlight thru trees, about 72 degrees. Didn't really cover it upon ejection. Left it face down for a moment then flipped it over a few times to watch some of the development. A little bit washed out, but pretty good tonal range. A few white specks and a bit of texture in it as well.
6th shot. Indoors, mid-late afternoon direct sunlight thru trees, about 72 degrees. Intentionally overexposed, maybe 2 small notches on the dial. Didn't cover it upon ejection, actually flashed it in the sun for a moment. Left it face up for most of the development, but away from direct light. That blue sure is pretty. They are working on getting the protective opacity layer to work like its supposed to. Glad they are, because as we all know, watching it develop is part of the fun. With that hypnotic blue layer, I really want to look at it. This shot didn't turn out that much different in tonal range when compared to the last shot, but this one had a few dark spots in it, but the same texture and small amount of specks were present.
7th shot. Mid-afternoon, 3ish. Clear day, 75 degrees direct sun, with some flare that you can't see. Upon ejection, quickly threw it in the car face down (definitely got a dose of sunlight on eject), then into a cold clip that wasn't warmed up, more so just to protect from light. Not sure if the big spot is from me or a result of the exposure. I was expecting it to go light, but I guess the temp was warm enough to push it. I was thinking of a washed out, light image. This is some tricky film. Also got a fair amount of white specks on the left again and uneven development. Wonder if the warmer temperature brings out the white specks.
8th shot. Taken a few minutes after the palm tree shot. Mid-afternoon, 3ish. Clear day, open shade, some light coming thru the trees, upon ejecting quickly grabbed and put into a cold clip. This turned out pretty evenly. Only a couple of white marks, some texture as well. Fairly sharp.
The look of this film definitely has that vintage, early days of photography look about it and yet it seems very modern. All depends on the use. My image of the trees could have been shot a 100 years ago, yet my third shot feels very modern. At times, this film does seem to have a mind of its own which really makes getting a handle on it that much more difficult. I do see it as a creative challenge though, similar to using Holgas or plastic cameras where you have a lot of things working against the quality of the image and using those flaws or weaknesses as an advantage to create something great. Although, right now, its almost one variable to many to deal with. Since my intent with this film is for creative purposes vs commercial, I'm ok with it. However, once they stabilize the opacity layer and get some of the other kinks worked out, I can see this having a much greater usage. Having an idea of what to expect is important so as to be able adjust to different conditions or to manipulate those flaws. It has only been a couple of weeks since launch and many people have come down on both sides since the films release. Some love it some hate it. Many have said how much they like it and some of the shots I've seen have been really really great. Others also complained about prices, shots per pack, the shipping costs, the over all quality, the "it doesn't look like a polaroid" and so on. There were those who did try it, didn't work for their vision or style, to unpredictable/unstable for their liking and have moved on or stated their intent to wait to try again later when they come out with another edition. Does it need some improving, absolutely and the TIP team is refining it. Is it supposed to be just like Polaroid, I don't think so and I suspect they aren't trying to make an exact copy either. Not making excuses or apologies for any of it, but it is what it is right now. As of now, there is a future because of TIP and I do plan to support them on this journey by continuing to purchase from them. I do like where it's going and what I've seen and experienced so far and look forward to this new era of instant photography.
Follow them on twitter here. Check out their online store here. Currently, in the US, you can only get it online, but I believe there will be other online outlets and maybe some brick and mortar outlets.