Thoughts On Impossible
In the days before digital, Polaroid film was indispensable. Not only was it fun to use to create an instant print, it was also an invaluable tool to location photographers, studio photographers, architectural photographers, you name it. As an assistant to an architectural photographer we used Polaroid to analyze the lighting of a given space as well as the composition of the image. It saved wasting many sheets of 8×10 and 4×5 film.
I never really used Polaroid in a creative sense until the late 1990’s. That was when the creative potential and just the beauty of that tiny, color photographic print really hit me. It seemed though, that just as I was getting the best of this material that The Polaroid Corporation declared bankruptcy. Slowly and painfully the stock of remaining Polaroid film dwindled. Sad days.
When The Impossible Project announced that they had purchased the old Polaroid factory (or just some of the machinery, I forget which) and was planning on re-creating polaroid material from scratch I jumped for Joy. I followed their every step and became an Impossible Pioneer back in 2009 and was one of the first to purchase the new film. It was quirky to say the least and really expensive. It had a unique and intriguing look. I made many wonderful images only to find out that the images faded. Not one of the original images I made with the new material survived, except as scans.
I kept following the progress of The Impossible Project and dutifully purchased each new formulation but alas. None of these formulas proved to be permanent. So finally I gave up and sold my SX-70 Land Camera and put my Polaroid Spectra in the closet. The Spectra at that time was unsellable and so I decided to keep it just in case.
I kept tabs on The Impossible Project over the ensuing few years. When the company announced that they had created their own camera, the I-1, I became intrigued with the company all over again. Reviews of the camera were a little mixed but generally positive. They also came out with a new film for the camera and as I read this I looked a little closer into their film offerings again and decided to buy some black and white film for my Polaroid Spectra.
After shooting a whole pack, which was very quick as there are only 8 shots per pack, I immediately could see that this film was much more stable and consistent. The older film had a problem of evenly spreading the developer and as a consequence you would get “blank” areas on the film. All 8 shots of the new film were developed corner to corner.
The film was not as sensitive to light when developing. The old film had to be totally shielded; not this version. Color wise, when the film is first exposed it has a more neutral to slightly cold palate. After a few days I have noticed that the color has gone slightly warm. Which is more to my taste, so a pleasant surprise. But I still worry about permanence. I’ll keep an eye on these prints and will report back at a later time. All in all a much improved film experience and satisfactory enough that I will keep using and exploring the potential of this film. Heck, I may just buy an SX-70 again.