Presenting Polaroids Part 7: Making A Portfolio Boxed Set

Note: The companion YouTube video can be found at the bottom of this post.

In this final episode of Presenting Polaroids I’m going to look at a hybrid approach that lies somewhere between an album and a framed print hung on a wall. A portfolio box is basically a set of matted prints stored in a presentation box. It’s an approach you might use for a set of curated prints that hang together thematically. Or they might be a collection outstanding Polaroids taken over a period of time. Unlike hanging a few framed prints on the wall—and let’s face it, finding a good amount of wall space can be difficult—showing matted prints in a box allows a viewer to sit down and browse an entire series of photos. And, compared to an album, viewing a set of SX-70 prints highlighted in a white mat conveys a sense of value that you, as the photographer, place on your images. And, if you were pursuing gallery shows, showing a boxed portfolio of your Polaroids set in clean white mats is an expression of your professionalism, that you are serious about your craft.          

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Presenting Polaroids Part 6: Framing the Image

Note: The companion YouTube video can be found at the bottom of this post.

Most publications displaying Polaroid SX-70 images will include its iconic white frame. After all it is an intrinsic part of the presentation, a self-contained frame that needs nothing more than to be held in the hand to be a complete presentation. 

However, as a photographer, my focus is on the image I want to make, not the white frame that makes an appearance after the film is ejected from the camera. When I look through the viewfinder of my folding SX-70 camera, I see only the image area, not the frame. Edwin Land was very specific in wanting nothing to interfere with the image seen through the viewfinder; the image was everything to Land. 

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Using the Zone System with Polaroid SX-70 Film, Part 2

Note: There is a video version of Using the Zone System with Polaroid SX-70 Film, Part 1 at the bottom of this post.

In Part 1, I explained the theory behind the Zone System, how I thought it might benefit today’s serious SX-70 photographer and I painstakingly outlined my process for taking the photos required to make a Zone Ruler. If you haven’t, I recommend you take a look at Part 1 before continuing with Part 2.

In Part 2, I analyze my set of “towel photos” taken with Polaroid Color 600 film, build a Zone Ruler, provide some practical tips for using the Zone Ruler in your own SX-70 photography and show a number of photos I’ve taken over the last six-plus months using my Zone Ruler.

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Using the Zone System with Polaroid SX-70 Film, Part 1

Note: There is a video version of Using the Zone System with Polaroid SX-70 Film, Part 1 at the bottom of this post.

SX-70 film is a remarkable feat of engineering. To think that the entire photographic process—taking a photo, developing the negative, printing the negative, developing the print, framing the print—is all done in one step: take the photo and a finished, framed print is ejected!

That magic comes with a few downsides, the most concerning being the limited latitude or dynamic range of the film. While most camera films might be expected to have a dynamic range of 8-9 f-stops between black and white with an extensive range of grey values in-between, SX-70 film has a much smaller dynamic range. Simply put, SX-70 film is extremely contrasty. The film loves low contrast scenes shot in overcast conditions but good luck capturing a bright sunny scene with deep shadows.

In an effort to gain some level of creative control over the SX-70 film’s limited latitude, it occurred to me that the Zone System might be worth exploring.

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