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Digital....analog....Impossible?

Written by: Simon Palmer | Posted on: | Category:

I'm having a flashback...

When I started taking photographs my parents bought me an brand new Agfa 110 camera. It had a a clever, almost James Bond style, winding function where you pull the two sides apart, took a picture, then closed it to wind the film on. They bought me a couple of films to go with it, and it came with me to Italy on my first trip abroad with my parents. Within the first couple of days, the two films had been used and I was now wanting to see the results. But, the film had to be developed and the prints made! The rest of the holiday was in the way of that task...!!

AGFA-Agfamatic-2000-Pocket_1.jpg

Back to the present....

I now possess some lovely digital camera hardware that means I can shoot to my hearts content, see the results immediately and make a decision as to what stays and what gets deleted.

It is funny to realise that the journey from my little 110 film camera to the digital beast that has more electronics in it than all the household appliances my parents had when I had that little camera, also encompassed some amazing changes in the way we take pictures.

By the time I started taking pictures, people such as Ansel Adams, and Dr. Land, or companies such as Kodak, and Polaroid had pushed the boundaries of technology even then. Creating and inspiring generations to come, with beautiful, challenging, or thought provoking images created using their technology or vision.

I sit here typing this, knowing I have an 8 megapixel camera phone, and a large DSLR, which will do the same job for me. But I also have a passion for the past. In the same way as some car fanatics look upon vehicles such as the Triumph Herald Vitesse (I had one of those), or a Model T Ford with fondness and a desire to take them for a spin again. I have a guilty pleasure that is making a resurgence into the forefront of photography....again.

IMG_0790.jpg iPhone - Instagram

On my phone I have an app that places filters over the image just taken to make it look like an old image, cross-developed perhaps, or highly saturated. Maybe with rough or faded edges to add to the air of authenticity. I have a choice though. Not as to whether to apply it on my phone, but to choose whether to use the phone at all. You see, my guilty pleasure is Polaroid. Even though they went bankrupt and the format, at least from Polaroid, disappeared. I have their cameras, too many of them (much to my wife's frustration). I have many of the iconic machines that until recently, and we are talking the last four years, would have sat collecting dust, providing the occasional talking point.

IMG_0552.jpg Polaroid SX-70 with Impossible "Frog Tongue" But now, with the advent of The Impossible Project, who I have followed for a few years now, I can put fresh, new, exciting film into these cameras and create original images just like those on my camera phone! The Impossible Project (and I won't bore you with the history as you can read about them on many sites these days), have created colour and monochrome films for the most well known of the Polaroid cameras. Recently, they even launched a new 10 x 8 film so if you have a spare old 10 x 8 camera you want to donate to this drooling photographer feel free!

But, and this is the reason for this article, in the space of two or three days they have raise funding to create their first new piece of serious hardware. It is causing something of a stir. A camera phone add-on! You place your iPhone on the top of this unit and using an app, turn your lovely clean smart iPhone picutres into real, physical, unpredictable, original, one-off Polaroid Impossible images!

IMG_0531.jpg An Impossible Lift To think, we have come full circle, and the clever folks at Impossible Project have again found a way of creating a new creative genre of image taking. Looking at some of the posts on Facebook or on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, there are some who just don't get it. You may be thinking the same thing. But imagine being able to take a quality image with your phone, then move it to a piece of film, watch it develop. Then really start the magic. Because these films can be pulled apart, and using an easy to learn technique, placed onto a piece of fine art paper, and turned into a real bit of art!

Sure, you could use Photoshop Elements, a printer, and some experience to create the same thing. But I prefer the excitement of knowing if I get it wrong, its lost, and I have to start again. I want to know that I built that image, and turned it into something I could hang on a wall through having a skill and patience to produce something that is truly a one of unique version of the image. It has a personal value to me! It's a bit like restoring an old car......

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