Saturday, August 16, 2014

MWAC: Color of Impossible Project film in Asia's weather

My blog is possibly getting a little schizophrenic but I'll like to think it's evolving. The boys are growing up and the issues they face (and I face) are increasingly complex, which explain recent posts that are on the serious side. Less of the cute stuff.

Plus maybe because I've passed the big FOUR-OH and with more time on my hands now that the boys are older, I'm digging out all my old film cameras (and buying new ones). This explains lots of photography-related posts lately and because photography gives me an opportunity to think about the objects I photograph, I've been writing about our country's past.

Big vase at Antique Row
(Diana F+ with Fujichrome Provia 400X)
I started my "Mom With A Cam" (MWAC) series in September 2013. It's like a photo-roll of the pictures I take in between cooking, chauffeuring, grocery shopping, doing volunteer work in Kai's school, and real-world work that I do for Mr. Boss-Man (i.e. husband) at his clinic. I bought a Polaroid Sun 600 LMS refurbished by the Impossible Project in June this year, and I started taking color photos for some of the Singapore heritage posts I did recently. (The Impossible Project purchased the last factory in the world manufacturing Polaroid instant film in 2008, and started manufacturing their own re-formulated versions of Polaroid instant films.)

I was horrified by the results. My color Polaroids didn't come out in colour, like in the CMYK sense. They are brownish, sepia-ish, bronze, reddish even. Some people, like my husband, would say the result is charming. I wouldn't mind if a few of them look like the colour of mud, but not when almost every image is washed out with hardly any other other colour tone.

The photograph on the right from Antique Row is what you'd get with a cross-processed color slide film.

I trawled the Internet for answers. Why is everything I'm taking turning brown/sepia-ish. Is it the camera? Is it the film? Is it ME??? The community of Polaroid users in Singapore isn't big to start with; film is expensive. Perhaps the answer is buried deep inside some photography forum thread? Well, I can't find it! I was stuck until I spoke with Noreen, a friend who is one of the founders of 8storeytree, a toy camera boutique in Singapore.

So. For Polaroid newbies out there in our island state facing the same problem, here's the answer out in the open and not buried in some forum/review thread. Consider it a community service since Impossible Project's films are expensive. (It's close to S$5 per film.)

It's the temperature. The color film, which is highly unpredictable to start with, is allergic to high temperature. With our temperature constantly at 30°c and above most of the time, you will get the result that you see here.

The solution? Here are a two options I can think of after discussing with another Polaroid photographer and the husband:

1) Bring a thermo bag with an ice pack (placed in a ziplock bag) inside and throw your film in for developing immediately.
I haven't tried this though technically the theory is sound. The ice pack should reduce the reddishness of the photograph. But one must plan for the photo shoot in this case; nothing impromptu!

2) If you're shooting at home, throw it into the fridge immediately for developing.
Once again, I haven't tried this option though technically it should work in bringing more blueish hues to the photograph. Experiment with how long you can leave it in the fridge for.

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