‘Roid Week 2013

Another ‘Roid Week has come and gone. It was a hot one, in fact too hot for this Englishman’s sensibilities, so I didn’t wander in my lunch breaks after getting a bit pink and shiny on Tuesday. My brain felt a bit sautéed all week, not sure I played my A game (or similar sporting analogy I don’t fully understand).

Anyway, here they are:


Wellington Arch Horses

Wellington Arch Columns

Wellington arch is on my way to and from work. The Black frame was beautifully shielded with a darkslide, which fell out as I pressed the shutter. Result: horses rising from the mists. The Spectra shot of the corner shows what temperatures in the high 20’s (mid 80’s fahrenheit) do with Impossible colour film: they scare away the blues!


Brompton Quarter


These two shots were taken on Monday, using my untrusty Automatic 250. It’s had problems firing blank shots, the shutter not going off properly, so I recently replaced the battery holder with one which takes 3 AAAs, and re-soldered various bits. Doesn’t seem to have helped – of the five shots I took, only these two appeared, the others being almost nothing except a dark ghost of the subject. Grrr.

Incidentally, these are two different packs of Chocolate film – the building has grey backing and curls in around the image, the wildebeest has white backing, and curls away from the image. The first one has much better contrast. Interesting…


St-Mary-le-Strand Church - 'Roid Week 2013 Day 3

St-Mary-le-Strand Church - 'Roid Week 2013 Day 3

St-Mary-le-Strand church, in the middle of The Strand, near the river. This was the boiling hot Tuesday, and when I got back to work, it was like someone emptied a bottle of warm salty water on my head. Very attractive.

I’d not been to this church before, and it’s very near where I’ve been working for nearly three years. Must explore more on my lunch hours.


Green Park Jogger - 'Roid Week 2013 Day 4

Green Park - 'Roid Week 2013 Day 4

Keeping with images taken the day before posting, these two of Green Park were on my ride to work at 7.30 in the morning. The film and I are more appreciative of the cooler temperatures. Cycling through the dappled light of the plane trees, looking through the haze of the park is a pleasure.

Also, I appear to have deliberately allowed a person into one of my images. Must be the heat.


The Royal Society - 'Roid Week 2013 day 5

St Martins in the Fields - 'Roid Week 2013 day5

Columns. The Royal Society’s building is very smart, and the golden morning light is lovely.

And I thought I’d better get the Holgaroid out. St-Martins-in-the-Fields looks like it could have been taken any time since the dawn of photography (except that until about 30-40 years ago, it would have been thick with the black soot that covered all the old buildings).

So there it is. Do visit the ‘Roid Week pool of over 3000 images, and thanks again to the amazing * cate * and gardengal for organising it.


A few years ago I bought a Polaroid ProCam from The Impossible Project. Actually, to be correct I bought a ProCam from Polapremium, as they had yet to assume the name. Because the Enschede factory made the Spectra film as well as the square formats for SX70 and 600 cameras, I thought it a good idea to have a go.

The ProCam is strangely shaped (it opens from the side), and I tended to find it somewhat unergonomic to use – it felt to me like holding a loaf of bread in front of my face. Not entirely for me, but I’d persist.

Firstly I had some Image film for it.

Love - Hope

Very nice, but it didn’t pluck at my heart the way ‘real’ (SX-70) Polaroid shots did. They just seemed a bit normal in tone. Like ‘normal’ film photos. I guess the non-square aspect added to that feeling.

Well let’s try some mystery white box film that they found at the factory…



Hmm. Still not quite doing it for me. I’m not keen on the way the expired 600-type films turned yellow and faded. Grumble grumble.

At last! The Impossible Project started to produce Silver Shade PZ600 film

Charing Cross Road

That’s the most success I had. I wasn’t terribly happy with any of the shots I took with the ProCam, so eventually I decided to sell it, and put the whole Spectra thing behind me.

And then a few weeks ago I found a regular Spectra camera for cheap in a charity shop. How could I resist? My thinking was “if it doesn’t work, I’ve not broken the bank. If I don’t like it, I can give it back to the shop for someone who will like it”. I ordered some PZ680 Color Protection film.

I like it.



Floral Street/James Street

I think it’s a combination of the ergonomics and the wonderful new film. I’m won over. In fact, I think I may take just this camera to France with me next month, rather than pack the SX-70. Funny how things turn out…

Blue Saturday

A friend of mine was having a bit of a photographic block, not having picked up his camera for a while. I suggested he needed a project; he was keen. I suggested he pick a colour; he picked blue. Seemed like a good idea, so on Saturday I joined in, and took three blue pictures on the amazing Impossible Project PX70 Color Protection Formula film.

Blue Egg

An egg from the Big Egg Hunt

Blue Edge

Blue Door

Newton’s Rings


Way back in the mists of time I blogged about whether one should crop a Polaroid (no Impossible film then) shot to correct the framing. Looks like that old entry has fallen down the back of the sofa in one of the many moves. Anyway, I think the general conclusion was yes, why not/no, absolutely never. The main issue I was confronting was whether to crop into the shot. If you look at my flickr stream you’ll see that I usually crop away the Polaroid frames: this is for both artistic and pragmatic reasons. Artistic, because I’m not so worried about the frame itself, mainly about the image. Sure the frame is there on the real image, but once it’s been scanned, it’s not the real thing any more, and my focus is on the picture.

But sometimes the frame is part of the image, particularly with films such as PX600 Black Frame. And I’ve generally avoided scanning the whole frame because my scans suffer terribly from dreaded Newton Rings. Those rings are hateful rainbow interference patterns caused by contact between the shiny surface of the print and the shiny surface of the scanner. My solution has been to pop the print back into an empty cartridge and scan, thus raising the print just above the surface of the glass. But inevitable that covers up most of the frame. Sigh.

But sigh no more! The magnificent Dave Bias, Impossible America’s Vice President, founding member of Save Polaroid, designer of the original website for my favourite band in the universe, Medeski Martin and Wood (design since sadly replaced), wearer of hats and beard, has come up with a solution, which has been manufactured, bought by me, and it works!

The Impossible Project Scan Adapter

Really simple and straightforward, and as you can see from Neptune above, no rings.

So, thank you Dave!

Remote Location

A brief story about how Twitter can be great…

A couple of years back, I got chatting on Twitter with an American jazz drummer called Scott McLemore who lives and works in Iceland. I can’t remember how we found each other, but I’m pretty sure it was related to the guitarist Bill Frisell whom we both love. I think he had posted a link to a (guitarless) group he had who played Frisell numbers, I responded that it sounded great, and musical bonding ensued.

The jazz scene in Iceland sounds very healthy, lots of really creative and interesting musicians out there. One major name out there is pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs, who is also Scott’s wife. She has various recordings out, mainly trios and quartets. I can’t recommend them enough: Long Pair Bond by her trio is beautiful, as is The Dream with the addition of alto saxophone. Her music playful, thoughtful, and stays with you long after you finish listening. If you like the music of ECM pianists like Keith Jarrett and Bobo Stenson, you’ll love her. Scott’s dancing drums accompany and push all the way through. And she’s very generous with her music! On Sunna’s Bandcamp page, there are plenty of free live recordings to download.

One of Scott’s groups is ASA Trio, a drums, organ and guitar trio. They too have freebies on their page, including their interpretation of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Last year they released the CD and download Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk. I love this album. Seriously one of my favourite things of last year, with great humour, swing, drive. San Francisco Holiday is wonderful. Definitely one for the desert island.

Last summer, Scott got in touch wondering if he might use some of my images in some way for a new album he was working on, and I was thrilled! He sent me a live recording of some of the music – it’s a quintet with electric and acoustic bass, guitar, saxophone, and Sunna on piano and Wurlitzer. Great, dreamlike music, themes weaving their way into my head. 

Last November Sunna and Scott were over in London with her trio for the Jazz festival, so I finally got to meet them. Loved seeing the trio live (even if the Barbican almost hid Sunna away at the side of the stage), and hope they come back soon for more. It was an afternoon and evening of jazz from Iceland, and it seemed Scott was the house drummer, sitting at the back of nearly every group.

And now in late summer 2012, Scott released his group’s album Remote Location. And my photos are all over it!

The cover is this shot from spring last year, taken on Impossible Project PX680 test film. A hot day, sun beating down, walking back to the car in Caseneuve in Provence with my mother.


The back cover is this Polaroid Time Zero image of Pont Julien:

Pont St Julien

Inside is more Time Zero – a bicycle in the Provençal town of Apt:


And the woods near Mildenhall:

Mildenhall Woods in Time Zero

You should definitely buy the download from Scott’s Bandcamp site, because you get an informative PDF. However, you’ll miss out on holding the CD in your hands, and you won’t get any of the images other than the front one! So buy the CD, and you get the download too. Bargain!

Thanks again to Scott for the wonderful music, and for using my images along with it.