As we enter 2011, we may symbolically shed old habits and adopt new, more favorable ones. Or, if you’re like me, you practically shed old habits because you have to (shooting Kodachrome) and adopt new, just-as-archaic ones (shooting Polaroid). I have a huge stash of expired Polaroid film left, and now that I’m not distracted by having to shoot through a ton of Kodachrome, I really should shoot it.

So my first project of 2011 is to shoot a Polaroid print of Arlo, every day, using the same camera and same film. The camera is the underrated and clunky Polaroid Big Shot. The film is Polaroid 669, their classic ISO80 color print pack film. Trust me, I have plenty left to complete this project.

January 1, 2011

The first shot didn’t go well–the Magicube didn’t fire (I think the whole thing was burned out), so I shot three frames on the first sheet and then switched the Magicube to a known fresh one. The first shot actually turned out well–I had thought there would be multiple exposures, but there didn’t seem to be. The second shot (above) turned out fine, though a little dark (and serious).

January 2, 2011

The second day was even more problematic. Wasn’t 2011 supposed to be better? The next shot in the pack (number 3) got jammed after I took the photo, and I ended up having to remove the whole pack. I stashed it in a little dark bag I have, but I’m not confident I’ll be able to thread it back in. I popped in a fresh pack and started again. This one turned out brighter and Arlo was in a less-serious mood (see above). I’m glad I didn’t adjust the exposure compensation on the camera as I had intended to, to avoid the darkness of the first shot.

After you shoot pack film, you pull a tab that reveals a second tab, which is attached to the print itself. You pull this second tab through what’s called a spreader, and that apparatus squeezes the developer across the exposed film. After a minute or two, you peel off the backing and you’re left with a slightly damp print–don’t scan it or expose it to a dusty environment or it will 1) stick to your scanner’s glass and 2) pick up every micron of dust in its environment. It will do number 2 whatever you do, actually. Anyway, the stock spreader apparatus in the Big Shot, which is what mine has, is made from stamped metal and jams up with dried chemicals rather quickly, apparently. Supposedly you can replace it with a roller-based assembly (like you find on the higher-end pack-film cameras), and I might look into that between packs. I have an ID camera that doesn’t work, so I’ll take a look at that shortly and see if I can cannibalize it.

So it’s been a rocky start, but I trust it will get a little better. I’d hate to burn through 460 frames of Polaroid 669 film to get the 365 (give or take) that I’ll need. And I need to re-check my stash of new-old-stock Magicubes!