Here we go again. Another pandemic year. While Gail, Styxx and I have made the best of the year with road trips to our provincial neighbours in Saskatchewan and roamed across southern Manitoba, travel has been substantially curbed by Covid-19.
So, this year’s gift list is a little different.
It totally reflects my renewed interest in Polaroid photography, a creative habit (or addiction) that I picked up at the beginning of the pandemic, back in March 2020.
Lastly, the video is shot outdoors…entirely outdoors…in Winnipeg…In December! It had to happen.
It is also my first video gift guide. As you may be aware, I have been posting a number of Polaroid-centric videos on my WalkClickMake YouTube channel. It makes sense that this year’s gift guide be a part of that new venture.
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.
My two year—and counting—foray into the wild world of Polaroid SX-70 photography has taken me in various directions. Recently, I have been working with Polaroid Black and White 600 film and this has led to my current project at Camp Morton Provincial Park in Manitoba.
Established as a Fresh Air Camp in 1921, the site was once an escape for underprivileged children from nearby Winnipeg. Set on the banks of Lake Winnipeg, the eleventh largest fresh water lake on planet Earth, it would have been a happy place to swim, play, breath in fresh country air. The camp ceased operating in 1971 and has since been transformed into a Provincial Park. While many of the unique camp buildings have been retained, they are all in various stages of decay. In particular, lakefront stairs, retaining walls and other structures have been ravaged by the angry lake, which completely freezes over in winter.
It seemed a perfect subject for a black and white photo project.
Note: There is a video version of Using the Zone System with Polaroid SX-70 Film, Part 1 at the bottom of this post.
It would be nice to adjust exposures in ½ EV increments with my MiNT SLR670-S camera. Unfortunately, the camera can only make full shutter speed adjustments, one EV at a time; there is no ability to select in-between speeds. While most manually-controlled cameras allow f-stops to be set in half or third stop increments, the original SX-70 cameras that MiNT refurbishes have a ‘fixed’ f/8 aperture.
All too often, I will take a meter reading only to find that the best exposure lies between two shutter speeds, for example between 1/125s and 1/250s at f/8. Because I can’t change the aperture, I’m forced to choose the lower shutter speed, which will result in a slight over-exposure, or the higher shutter speed, which might be darker than I wanted.
Because I’m shooting Polaroid SX-70 integral film, which has a very limited latitude, especially in the highlights, these seemingly minor compromises in exposure can have a major impact on the quality of the final photograph.