Monday, March 31, 2008

Dem Bones

One of the great advantages of using Polaroid for me has been the availability of good high-speed film. Thankfully Fuji also produces a 3000 speed pack film, so I'll be able to shoot in low light even after Polaroid is gone.

With a 4.7 lens, my Polaroid 110A can shoot handheld in situations like this darkly lit museum, as long as I have 3000 speed film with me. This shot, for example, was handheld at EV 5 or so, which is really something for what is basically a large format camera. Try that with your baby Speed Graphic!

Nowadays you can achieve even more dramatic low-light shooting with some of the better digital SLRs out there, such as the Nikon D3. Some are capable of very low-noise even at ISO 6400, which opens up all sorts of new opportunities for lighting. I'm excited to see where this technology is finally going to take us, opening up new doors for all-new modes of photography.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Polaroids are for People

I may have written about this before, but it begs to be said again: there's nothing finer than a Polaroid for portraits. I'll bring my Polaroid cameras out and fully intend to shoot photos of still life or landscapes, and somehow the camera always gets turned to people. Folks don't seem to mind getting their picture taken with these cameras, in fact many will stop me and ask me to take their photo on the street, no joke. Many times I've been more than happy to shoot twice and give them a copy.

Recently, a friend of mine, Craig Nelson, has done quite a bit of portrait photography with his Mamiya RB67 and a Polaroid film back. His stuff is pretty distinctive - low shutter speeds, gorgeous natural light, and a quality to the portrait that says something about the relationship between photographer and subject. His stuff is great, and it shows a big reason why losing this film is such a shame. To be completely honest, he's using the Fuji version of the instant film, which is great because it will be in production for at least a little while yet.

Another guy to look at is Lou Bedlam, whose Polaroid integral-film portraits are stunners. Again there's the tight framing and personal connection with the subject, something that the medium can really shine at. I think he's progressing to TLR-based medium format right now as Polaroid phases out 600 film.