A lot of us are in isolation right now. We're bored, tired, we've got cabin fever and we're starting to develop nervous ticks. Well, I've got just the therapy for you: grab an old Polaroid camera and shoot some Polaroid film!
Today we're going to be shooting with two flavors of Polaroid film: Color 600 and Black and White 600, and our camera of choice is this vintage Polaroid Sun 600. These cameras are super cheap: you can get them on eBay for around $25
Basically you just load the film, it automatically spits out the dark slide, and you're ready to shoot. The only control you have is this exposure slider. Leave it in the middle for a standard shot or slide it towards dark or light if you want to over or under-expose the image. To take the photo you can either trigger the flash by using the main shutter button on the side, or shoot a non-flash shot by using the secondary trigger behind the main one. And that's it: super simple.
Now obviously with social distancing you don't want to go to places where there are lots of people, and if you're in a town where you're supposed to stay inside, you can just shoot around your house. But if you live in an area where you're allowed to go to parks, get out there and shoot some nature!
What I love about shooting with this camera is the simplicity: you just compose your frame, take your shot, and the camera decides what it's going to look like. The updated film from Polaroid Originals offers more stability than we were accustomed to back in the day with the Impossible Project film. It's still not perfect, but overall it's about as good as the original film was. Occasionally you will see some weird color shift and slightly faded images, but that's part of the fun and authenticity of this nearly instant process.
When shooting in bright light or the cold, putting the exposed film in your camera bag or a warm pocket will help you get a better developed image. Even by taking these precautions though, shooting in the cold can affect your film. Here’s an image that was affected by the cold, adding weird patterns to the edges of the film. It's a cool look but can also be annoying if you want a cleaner image.
Cleaning the rollers in your camera with q-tips and some rubbing alcohol will also help you avoid aberrations in your image.
If you don't clean your camera's rollers you'll get build up on them, which can add weird streaks to your shot like this.
Polaroid is a great medium for shooting really simple images. This is a shadow of a tree that I see everyday when I go out my front door. I just like the beauty and simplicity of it.
Here is a beautiful walkway in the park that I like to go to. It feels almost like an old computer game, like Myst.
I love the clouds in this shot. The sun was behind them and it looked really beautiful. The image isn't as great as what I saw with my eyes, but with a little editing in post I was able to make it look pretty good.
I'm always drawn to the sun when it goes behind brush like this. It feels like you're looking through an other-worldly forest.
This is probably my favorite photo from this shoot; it's just a boardwalk over a pond, but I like how on one side the water is fairly blue and on the other you've got the sun. The angle of the sun leads your eyes to the branching path to the right. It just has a real Zen feel to it. It's chill and I just like it, it makes me happy.
There's a real peace and calmness to shooting Polaroid 600 film, especially with this camera. By not having any real controls to worry about, you're on the hunt for interesting compositions, snapping the shot, putting the film in your coat pocket or camera bag and waiting for it to develop. Laying out all the film on my table and seeing what I captured when I got back home was a really relaxing experience, a great way to get my mind off of everything that's happening in the world today. I hope you enjoy shooting polaroid too!