Polaroid Automatic Land Camera…On Vacation!

Posted: 12/12/2011


Guest Blog by FPP Listener DonkerDave

It's that time of year again, when family donkerdave go on the 'bucket and spade' holiday. After a year being dragged around castles, stately homes, art galleries and forests, usually in the rain, the family cried 'enough' and demanded some sun and sea. If that wasn't enough, the kids also demanded I only take one camera, they even told me which one to take, saving me hours of heartache and indecision - 'The Polaroid' was the chosen one.


Actually that was quite fitting really, I'm sure Mr Land had recording such a commonplace thing as a family holiday, top of his list when dreaming up the 100 series camera. The kids love it as they get prints out of it rather than the images being locked on a hard drive somewhere. They can stick prints in a scrap book, photo album, post to their friends or stick onto their bedroom wall. So armed with my Polaroid 350 and 7 packs of expired FP100C we got on a plane and head for the sun.


Having just one automatic camera is quite liberating, after shooting mostly large format this year, just focus and shoot. The Polaroid is a robust metal bodied camera, with very few moving parts or electronics it was actually perfect on the beach, with no worry about bits of sand or salt making any impact on the camera. The Fuji gives lovely saturated and contrasty images which together with the slight vignetting from the glass lens makes for very classic looking images. I found the best way to handle the images was to leave them unpeeled until the evening back at the hotel, as the Fuji film is self terminating this has no adverse effect and prevents sand sticking to wet prints.


The best prints I kept the negatives to take back home with me and bleach to negatives that can be scanned. These bleached negatives are more contrasty and have a different colour palette, they work particularly well on images that were underexposed originally or highlights and skin tones can blow out. These negatives have enough detail to make a very nice 8x10 enlargement.


Once the sun has gone down, you can carry on shooting by plugging in a flash. I use an old cobra but any flash that can take a PC cord will work. Set the flash to F8 and ISO100 and shoot. The camera won't recognize the flash for exposure metering. If you press and immediately release the shutter, you will have just the flash lighting, by keeping the shutter down you'll get the ambient light making an appearance, but will test your hand holding skills. Double exposures are of course really easy on the 100 series.


We had a great holiday, came home with an album already made up to show friends and family, and managed to get a few more people interested in 'that strange camera', as at one point we had kids lining up on the beach to have their picture taken. It was looking expensive in film terms, until their parents started buying me beers in return...."


DonkerDave lives in the UK and is an avid FPP listener. (above: DonkerDave with FPP’s John Fedele and Michael Raso at the 2011 UK FPP Meet-Up / Image by Rabea G)


FPP Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address and receive our newsletter directly to your inbox.