Tag Archives: nostalgia

From Out of the Darkness

Recently, I began shooting the last of my Time-Zero.  Polaroid photographers know just what a painful statement that is to make.  The film is rapidly becoming degraded, though, and any effort to save it at this point is only an opportunity for loss.  The last pack I shot had an expiration date of December 2006, meaning it was a fairly new pack of Time-Zero, and I had arranged to film these shots during their developing process with a fellow artist.  The initial shots I got from it were quite black and rose, and those are the shots from the pack that I’m including here.

To shoot this pack of film, I visited the home of an artist who is a musician, painter, and actor, who is very photographable and who had agreed to help me film the Polaroids.  Chad is the upright bass player for a Twin Cities band Hot Rod Hearse, and the painting in the second portrait is his own.

a portrait of a musician

a portrait of a musician

portrait of an artist

portrait of an artist

It was enjoyable to photograph someone who was not part of my list of usual suspects for models (my daughter, my son, their playmates, or my friend Lindsay).  I liked the experience so much that I am thinking of beginning a project of photographing artists of all kinds in their natural environments.

Anyway, because we were filming the the Polaroids in their developing process, I wanted to do a few still life photos which would be simple and visually pleasing to watch develop.  We took a few objects from Chad’s shelves, beginning with a ballerina figuring presumably belonging to his wife and finishing up with an evil little gnome.

a dancer for sophie

a dancer for sophie

another little dancer

another little dancer

There were a few characteristically blue shots from this pack of Time-Zero, but I will include them in a separate blog entry, since they do not belong visually with these.

Thanks for Visiting,
Elinor
elinor@equivoquephoto.com
equivoquephoto
My Flickr Photostream

Advertisements

A Portrait of a Polaroid: Painted Light

Most people know by now that Polaroid recently stopped manufacturing film cameras and all the Polaroid film types.   I don’t think the general public was really prepared in advance for the loss of an American institution such as Polaroid instant photography, but we who love Polaroid photography got our first taste of what can only be described as panic when we began to see seemingly innocuous notices such as this one, announcing the end of manufacture of Time-Zero film, on Polaroid’s website.   The author wrote in a cordial understatement, “We realise that this is disappointing news for our loyal SX-70 users and we would like to underline that, although the circumstances made it inevitable, it was not an easy decision…  We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”  If by inconvenience the writer meant the first time in the history of photography that an entire medium would be taken away from the photographers who loved and used it, then it was a convenience.

For me, though, it was much, much more than an inconvenience.  I was one of the many artists who had come to rely almost solely on Polaroid film types to express my passion for instances of light.  Since I have only 82 shots left of my favorite film, which is Time-Zero film, I have devised ways to work with and view my Time-Zero Polas without having to use more of the film just yet.  It was when I began sorting my Polas into categories according to the degree to which the film was or was not expired that a story emerged.  I was surprised to see how the story of my development as a photographer paralleled the story of the decline of the excellent film; my style was growing a little more “esoteric” to match the effects I was getting from the expired film.  Even the beginning of the story is a bit sad, because there will never be fresh Time-Zero film again.  Everything that remains is expired, but there was once the film that I affectionately call Painted Light.

The dreamlike and painterly qualities of Time-Zero film are really accentuated by the use of a camera such as the Pronto! B, which lacks the ability to accurately focus on an image.  Instead, the photographer estimates the distance of the subject and sets a dial accordingly.

Painted Light

Painted Light

A 1960s wedding gown makes the perfect nostalgic subject for a Polaroid.  This is my mother’s 1962 wedding gown.  The camera was the Pronto! B.  The model, once again, is Lindsay.  The girlfriend of my oldest son, she is one of my favorite models.  The light becomes her, and she becomes light…

Becoming Light

Becoming Light

The image of this peony in evening light was taken with my favorite camera, the Polaroid SX-70 Model 2.  Because the SX-70 (aperture range f/8- f/22) determines how wide its aperture will be based on the available light, the photographer has very little control over the depth of field, except to choose the lighting that will result in the desired aperture width.  I’ve gotten to know my SX-70 quite well, how it will behave under different lighting conditions, and so forth.  I actually gravitate towards lower light settings for the SX-70.  The aperture opens up nice and wide, which really yields some dreamlike results with Time-Zero film.  This simple peony appears almost painted.  It is the color of dreaming…

The Color of Dreaming

The next photo is one of my favorite portraits of my daughter…  It isn’t a surprise to those of us who know and love her that, when she finds a piece of wood on the beach, she picks it up, draws a face on it, and names it…  In this case, she named it Chunky.

“Some ideas arrive in the form of a dream…”
–The Log Lady in David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks

In the Form of a Dream

In the Form of a Dream

Time-Zero interprets light with grace and perhaps a bit of magic…

Of Light and Magic

Of Light and Magic

A detail from vintage signage that is still in use in Grand Marais, MN:

RIG

RIG

Late summer…  How can a body be so filled with possibility (of love and of drenching the senses with sensations from an almost autumn afternoon) that really it is too much for the senses?

The Stars of Summer

The Stars of Summer

Finally, here is a loose quote in Time-Zero of a portrait of O’Keeffe by Stieglitz.

Morning Song

Morning Song

Time-Zero film, whose sad disappearance was a result of a series of complicated and unforunate events, is an exquisite and extraordinary film type, and its beauty and elegance is painfully underscored by the stranger and darker iterations resulting from its aging.  I wish future photographers would be fortunate enough to have the opportunity and pleasure of working with it, but they will only be able to enjoy its finery by looking at the Polaroids of others.  The blog is the first in a series chronicling the film in its transition from painted light to its bittersweet decline.

The first in a series chronicling the transitions and decline of an aristocrat of film types, Polaroid Time-Zero film… Polaroids by Elinor Scott-Sutter.

Portrait of a Polaroid
Painted Light
Fire & Ice
The Blues

Memento