In early April, I did a blog post on Polaroid, right at the very beginning of my renewed interest in film photography. (On another note, I can’t believe it’s only been a month and a half; it feels like it’s been a year, given everything I’ve been doing.) As fascinated by and happy as I am about the former Impossible Project (now Polaroid Originals), I’ll be honest: I’ve been pretty disappointed in the reality of it. Just yesterday, I read this blog post over at Emulsive that really resonated for me.
To quote David Hume, the post’s author:
If you want my Cliff notes on the Impossible/Polaroid Originals SX-70 Film – here they are:
1. It’s shit – but it’s the only shit we got.
2. It’s useful today in a way the old stuff wasn’t back then.
I’m not sure that for me, it’s all that useful — which isn’t that different from back in the day. But yeah, it is shit — but it’s only shit we’ve got. (Unless you count the stuff from Fuji, but that does nothing to help me use my old camera.)
Hume had two other points that resonated with me:
Let’s get this straight right off the bat; the real SX-70 film was in another universe from today’s in terms of vibrancy, consistency, longevity; the works.
We all know the story; Polaroid closes down, it’s resurrected by Impossible Project but through no fault of theirs, the chemicals and processes that made the originals great are no longer available and while we all wanted the new film to work, it didn’t.
I thought it was just me. It’s not.
The Polaroid photos I’ve taken so far, to be blunt, kind of suck. First off, they take considerably longer to render than the originals did back in the day. Now, granted, I don’t have a time machine, and my memory is not the best. But I don’t think I’m smoking my socks to believe that the images came-up far faster, and they started almost immediately. New Polaroid prints take several rather long minutes to appear at all — and hours to come-up to final intensity and appearance. And once they render-out, let’s just be honest here: The results are not anything that’s going to bowl me over:
I know… My composition wasn’t great; these were test shots, not keepsakes, or any effort at actual artistic results. But across the board, the results are unimpressive. The photos lack detail, they’re all dark, all have streaks and flaws that could partially (or completely) be blamed on the camera, and the middle one is out-of-focus despite using the close-up selector on my OneStep and ensuring I was the proper distance from the subject — which I can’t really blame on the film, although I’d suggest that they’re all blurry.
And I have to say, I admire
Impossible Project Polaroid Originals for even bothering to try this, let alone actually do it, and let alone managing to convince retailers large and small to carry products that produce such marginal results. Maybe we’re all being nostalgic, although I hardly believe that the market for Polaroid Originals’ products are based on nostalgia alone; that’s just not a large enough market, I wouldn’t think.
So what is it? I don’t know.
I’m going to shoot the rest of this pack of Polaroid, trying my best to do the shots in the brightest possible lighting conditions, and we’ll see what happens. I’ll clean the rollers in the camera. Again. And I’ll make sure the crummy lens in the OneStep is clean. But even with that, I don’t expect much from the Polaroid photos.
Will I buy more? Shoot more? I don’t know. I think the answer is probably yes, although I’m hard-pressed to explain why.
I suppose it’s that Polaroid back in the day had, and still has now, a certain charm, a certain mysticism and magic — even in the days of instant gratification provided to us by digital photography. Magical things still appeal to my inner child, and call it nostalgia or call it something else, magic is… Magic.