Using Contrast Filters with Polaroid SX-70 Black and White Film

NOTE: You will find the YouTube video version of Using Contrast Filters with Polaroid SX-70 Black and White Film at the end of this post.

Polaroid Black and White integral film for SX-70 cameras has become a favourite of mine. I love the deep blacks and crisp whites of this contrasty film yet it still captures a good range of subtle mid-tones. As opposed to colour SX-70 films, which often have pink highlights among other odd tonal shifts, the black and white films have a consistent, reliable tone. Right out of the camera, the images have a neutral tone but, over several hours or days, the tones warm up. Not to an over-the-top sepia tone but a subtle warm quality that adds depth to the picture. Lastly, Polaroid monochrome films develop faster than their colour cousins; images can be evaluated in five minutes compared to fifteen minutes for colour. It just makes the Polaroid workflow that much more enjoyable.

Coming from a black and white film background, I am well-acquainted with the use of black and white filters to enhance the tonal rendition of monochrome negatives and prints. And that technique works equally well with Polaroid black and white integral films.

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First Snow in Black and White and Polaroid

My Polaroid work of late has been entirely in colour, using the latest iteration of Polaroid SX-70 colour film. However, for some time I have coveted the opportunity to play with Polaroid’s Black and White SX-70 film. After all, I was a black and white film photographer for twenty-plus years leading up to my introduction to digital photography—and colour— at the turn of this century.

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Camera Tales: The Omega D2 Enlarger

I can’t recall when I bought it. 1978 seems about right, the year I acquired the Cambo, my first view camera. Nor can I recall how much I paid for it. $300.00 perhaps.

It was a used enlarger, purchased, like the Cambo, through a Winnipeg Free Press classified ad. I remember visiting an older man, who had carefully stored it under a drape of plastic. He graciously offered a Gra-Lab timer, the de-facto darkroom timer of the day, as part of the package. I like to think he saw me as a serious photographer, someone who would use his equipment to make beautiful prints. The deal was done. I happily lugged the awkward beast home and set about building the first of several darkrooms to house it. Continue reading