Sunday, April 22, 2007

Color Creeps in...

Spring has come to Lansing, and with Spring comes color of course. For many it's time to break out the slidefilm, or perhaps the dSLR, and take a photo stroll to see what you can capture. I look forward to the warmer days of spring for another reason.

As you may or may not know, I am a Polaroid fanatic. I love the colors, the immediacy of the image, the simplicity of the cameras, the social aspects of shooting a Polaroid. When the temperatures hit 70 (optimal temps for Polaroid development), it's hard to stop myself from spending massive amounts of money on Polaroid film.

Shooting Polaroid film can be frustratingly simple. You put in the pack of film, point the camera at a subject, and shoot. There are no development controls, no depth of field controls, no shutter speed controls. Perhaps most limiting, you only get one copy of the image.

I love that. If you get it right, you get it right on the first try. You don't monkey around in photoshop, you don't increase development to compensate for poor lighting, and you certainly don't change lenses to get a better angle. The only thing you can do is work with the camera's limitations in mind. Concentrate on composition, and after a little while you begin to see what works well in the format.

With a Polaroid, you only get the one copy. You can certainly try to copy it with a copy stand or scanner, but you never get that original quite right again. The scans I post online pale in comparison to the real deal. As photographers, it's easy to try again and again to get the perfect print from a negative. You can copy it ad nauseum with no degradation to the image. There's nothing wrong with that, but something is to be said for having a unique original.

The film is expensive too, about $1 a shot or so. That means someone like me doesn't take many photos when they're out. I'd go broke like that! Instead, I have learned to look through the viewfinder and consciously decide, "Is this shot worth $1?" These are rules that can benefit anyone, regardless of what equipment they shoot with.

Be warned however, if you try Polaroid photography, you could become addicted.

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