The snow has begun to fall and the weather has definitely turned frightful in my part of the world.
More than 50cm of snow has fallen here in the past week and the temperatures are staying on the south side of zero. All of this presents a challenge for me and my love of instant photography. According to The Impossible Project site, Impossible Color Shade film is best shot at temperatures between 13 and 28 degrees, celcius (55-82° F). They indicate that the Silver Shade film is more temperature sensitive, with an ideal temperature range of 17-24° C. As I shoot mostly with the colour films, I’ve found their “sweet spot” to be 16-22° C. As I can’t expect to see 16 or even 13° during several months out of each year, I have tried to adapt my process, rather than put away my Polaroid cameras for the season.
The key with shooting instant film in cold weather is to try not to let anything get too cold. This goes for the camera, the film and the photos. For me, this means that I need to adapt my usual practice of heading out for the day with two cameras and extra film in my bag. Instead, I’ll try to shoot in shorter bursts, and closer to home, thus leaving less time for the camera and the film inside to chill. If I do go out for longer periods I try to keep my camera inside my coat or at least in a pocket. Same with any extra film I’m carrying. If I’m out for the day I find that frequent café breaks can help to ensure that both the camera and the photographer don’t freeze up.
As for the photos themselves, it is crucial to try to keep these warm as they develop. The Impossible Project sells a handy Cold Clip to help with this. You can pull the photo from the camera and put it into the Cold Clip, which gives you a reading to indicate if the film is at the right temperature to develop or if it is too hot or cold. If it is too cold, you can warm it up by putting the Cold Clip in a pocket or next to your body. I have seen friends use the Cold Clip to good effect, including Meghan. I own a Cold Clip but I have to say that I am a little more laissez-faire in my process. That’s to say that each shot that is ejected from the camera is then immediately tucked cozily into my armpit. It’s not glamourous, but it’s true. Actually, sometimes it’s not even my own armpit. Family and friends with warm coats also make good “Polaroid incubators”. Two things to keep in mind: 1) It’s best not to bend the images as that can affect the spread of the developer 2) sometimes images can leak developer on you or on each other (if you are like me and tend to accumulate a few images under your arm). A Cold Clip would likely help with both of these issues (hmmmm, perhaps I should start using mine).
I have found that I like the results I get in cold weather with the PX680 better than with the PX70. The shot above is PX680, shot with my SLR680, as are these (all were shot in the back yard and were tucked under my arm after ejecting and then allowed to develop fully in the house).
Here is one taken at the same time with PX70 in my SX-70.
Finally, here are a couple from last year that I took on PX100. True to the advice from Impossible, I find that it doesn’t perform as well in cold weather (however, for those of you in the southern hemisphere, I’ve found that PX100 LOVES the heat and have gotten great results at +38 C). These were taken on an unseasonably cold (well below zero) Paris day last February.
(This one may have benefitted from incubation in my sister’s coat, which was warmer than mine on that day)
As with other types of film, shooting instant film in extreme temperatures can have its particular challenges.Yet winter offers up so much beauty that it would be a shame not to try to capture it on our favourite medium.
Debra ~ Manifeisty