The 2011 Show!

It’s review of the year time…

The year started with an unexpected gift: a Rolleiflex! My dear departed friend Matt’s mother decided to clear out some of her old film cameras, and wondered if I wanted it, along with an old Polaroid Super Shooter. I did. I love it.

Also, early in the year I got to be one of the beta testers for The Impossible Project’s new PX680 colour film. Very exciting indeed!

I went to France three times this year, spring, summer and autumn.

I took a pleasing photo of my father:

He took a pleasing photo of me:

In August, one of my Polaroids inspired Quilt of the Month at The Purl Bee website!

After six and a half years of commuting from Cambridge, I moved to London!

Loved the Black Frame “Poor Pod” film from The Impossible Project (see above and below)

Also loved the new PX100 film – these were taken with test packs:

And to round off the year, The Impossible Project Blog allowed me to talk about myself…

So Happy New Year, and I hope 2012 is a good one for everybody!

‘Roid Week 2011

And so another ‘Roid Week comes and goes. As always, it’s an inspiration, with so many fantastic pictures posted. Clearly instant film is dead: the group has 1378 members and 3891 pictures were posted! It would be interesting to know what proportion is Impossible, what expired Polaroid.

Anyway, here are my shots, in order, with minimal commentary. Click the pictures for the original Flickr page.


Two Chocolate film shots in my Super Shooter. The hatch for pulling the film out is a bit tight, so sometimes odd things happen…


I have to have corners. Even if they’re round.


Poor Pod City of London.


Some spring shots with a badly deployed pack of Impossible Project PX680 (photographer’s error).


Red things near work.

What fun! So many thanks to the originators of ‘Roid Week, gardengal and * cate * for making it happen. See you in 2012!

The Last 600

I came quite late to the game with Polaroid, taking my first shot (as an adult) in spring 2009. I bought one pack of ATZ to see if my dad’s old SX-70 still worked. It did. I was hooked. 

Back home I did my research, got a neutral density filter for the lens and searched out some 600 film. Boots The Chemists in Cambridge had stock and I was on my way. I went back a month later and bought the last packs if Polaroid in the shop. 

I loved 600 very much Рvery easy to use, good clear colours. Along with the 779 promotions Pola Premium then Impossible Project ran, I shot a ton. Many of my favourite pictures are on it. After trying a couple of packs of Time Zero, I yearned for the magic of that film (I mostly found 600 to be slightly more prosaic than the dreams TZ produced, but none the worse for that). It served me well in the forest, on the city corners, in Paris and in Provençe.

Until eventually I was down to one single pack.

At the end of April I finally took the plunge and put that last pack of Polaroid 600 film in my SLR680. It’s possible that I may shoot another pack if one turns up, but I’m not so keen on how the 600 ages: where Time Zero gets crazy flames and colour-shifts, 600 just seems to lose contrast and turn yellow. Not my favourite. 

The last 600 produced expired in the autumn of 2009, and this pack was one of the Giambarba edition bought from Impossible Project last year. Those Impossible guys have been excellent at sourcing the last stocks of films (especially the 600 and its twin, 779, as well as the Edge Cut packs), but all stock is gone, never to be replaced. 

This last pack had taken on a totemic value, sitting in my fridge, proclaiming “I am the LAST”, waiting for the perfect opportunity to be used. And I worried about the right occasion to use it, fearing that I would waste it on poor subjects in poor weather. 

But that pressure has been relieved by The Impossible Project’s PX680 film – there is now and going to be full colour film food for our cameras again! That pack of 600 lost it’s fearsome aura, and demanded to just be used and celebrated. I’m mostly very happy with what came out:

1. Lion and Dragon

2. Long Roof

3. Green Man

4. Cross Keys

5. Corner

6. Hotel Russell

7. Abbey Ruins

8. Road sign

9. Doctor Land

10. Forest

So farewell then, 600. You’ve been an excellent companion, and thank you for the journey. And if any of you have film left, shoot it! The pictures come out much better if you use the film…

The Voice of Edwin Land

I’ve just finished reading Land’s Polaroid by Peter C. Wensberg (you can find it on amazon very cheap), a fascinating history of the company from its foundations in the 30’s with polarising screens, through the huge contributions to the war effort, the post-war invention of instant photography, up to the early 80’s when Edwin Land retired. Wensberg ran the marketing at Polaroid from the 60’s until he left in 1982. Youtube is full of the adverts he spearheaded, and he describes in detail the shooting of the original Swinger campaign, and the fear that nobody would look at the camera because Ali McGraw was so stunning in a bikini. (Also note the groovy song – sung by Barry Manilow!)

You get a good idea of the intensity of Edwin Land’s presence through tales and photos, but inevitably missing is what he sounded like. Youtube doesn’t seem to have much on offer, but I did find this clip from an episode of the British TV science programme Horizon from 1986. I’m pretty sure I watched it when it was on.

At last here’s the voice of Land, in his mid 70’s.

He is the serious scientist, not one to favour being in front of the camera. I want to see more of this programme! I know that the subtractive light system featured in the ill-fated Polavision movie camera, but I would love to know more from the scientist Land about his work. And I love how even in the mid 80’s science on television was allowed to be about the science: slow, deliberate, serious. No need for flashy camera moves and CGI. I think there’s room for both, but definitely want to see more like this.

champalicious: adventures in elsewhere

Do please check out Champalicious, the new website by Heather Champ. In it she wants to “celebrate the work of others”. As the former Director of Community at Flickr and a co-founder of JPG Magazine, she has a very good pedigree for sharing people’s work. And she’s a rather fine photographer herself, in love with the analogue and the digital. And she’s Canadian, which current political strife aside, seems to have produced a disproportionate number of splendid people.

She currently has a series called One Two Three where she asks photographers to pick one camera, two pictures and three words. And she was kind enough to ask me to join in! Here’s my contribution.

Bookmark the site, add it to your RSS feeds, as she has an eye for alluring and interesting things.

PX680 is here for all!!

(Deer Crossing)

The day has come! The Impossible Project is now selling the fabulous, exciting and new PX680 First Flush in its store.

Having now torn though a few packs of PX680 (including the ones in this post, taken in early April in the South of France), I feel I can deliver an opinion: it’s the Holy Grail. Ever since Impossible was established to reengineer from scratch the miracle of photography which is integral film, there has been the hope and wish for a new Time Zero replacement. I think this is it.


The colours leap out at you in sunlight, there are more subtleties with interior shots. The reds and blues are vivid, the details are sharp. Shield it for great contrast, allow it to flash for some magic with light.


This is the real deal, folks! I showed my dad (who’s original SX-70 I still use) a shot of my niece taken with the first beta batch. “Yes! They did it!” was his response. Yes, they did.

And from today you can buy it from The Impossible Project shop.

(Beaumes de Venise vines)


(Sauf Riverains)


Like Father, Like Son


My father and I are very serious men. Many a solemn hour is spent discussing important things. Frivolity is frowned upon. In fact most things are frowned upon. Except frowning. 

Or not. 

I bought my dad a Polaroid EE100 as a Christmas present and when I was out in France in early April he was trying it out, taking a couple of portraits of me to get the feel of it. I don’t often take portraits, but I was in the mood, so I got my 600SE with Chocolate film. Camera as prop, father deploying stern, serious expression. Exposure measure with the fab Pocket Light Meter iPhone app. 


Pull out the film, wait, start peeling. Oh right, as I often do, I forgot to take out the dark slide. I need something which pops up in the viewfinder with the word “idiot” if I press the button with the slide in. Swearing and laughing ensued. 

Try again, and success. 

Next day we went for a matching shot, father at the camera. Me in stylish attire. 


Dark slide in. 

Sigh. Laugh. 

Try again. 


Lens cap on. 

Third time lucky. Successful serious face despite the terrible giggles. 

I’m very keen on this pair of pictures. I’ve kept the one of him, he the one of me. Perhaps I should do more portraits.