I could gush about how cool the people who created and work at The Impossible Project are, and I could gush about how cool their film is, and how far they have come from the beginning, but I have done all of that before.
Today I am going to talk about a couple other points that makes me excited to be part of this community.
1. I am a Pioneer. No, really. When The Impossible Project started, if you were an early supporter and bought a number of their first packs of film, supported them from the beginning, you were considered a Pioneer member with certain membership benefits. I, of course, became a Pioneer member quite quickly. The biggest benefit right now of this membership is getting first run access to some of the newest films…test batches that haven’t been released to the general public yet, and being able to buy them at a significant discount. Cheap film to try out because it may be a bit unpredictable?? AWESOME!
2. There is a pretty large, supportive group of photographers on Twitter that has grown up around The Impossible Project and their films. In a discussion the other day about the latest test film, we approached the subject of posting our ‘failed’ shots online as well as our ‘successes’. It is a hard topic! It isn’t easy to admit that you have failed, come out with a less than perfect shot (even though WE ALL DO QUITE OFTEN!) it is much easier to just hide those in the closet at home and never show them online. But, what do we learn? We learn that the film is of course awesome and people can of course make awesome images with it, but we always know that. This film takes a lot of adjusting for and playing with, and if we don’t know the settings that failed, how will we ever understand the settings that are right?
So here goes. I am posting about my first pack of Px70V4b color test film from The Impossible Project here. All 7 photos (I took one in my house yesterday that was just totally black because it was much darker inside than I thought it was) that I had some results with. My successes and my fails. It isn’t easy, but I am doing this in hopes someone learns from it!
First, the background story to these images:
I admit it. I have a true love/hate relationship with the MN State Fair. I have friends who love it, and I have tried to! I have! The most fun I have had there in a long time was a couple of years ago when my husband and I were able to go with two friends, one who is also a photographer. We had a blast running all over, trying wine and beer and taking photos, and then spending loads of time that night after the sun set walking through the Mighty Midway taking night photos of all the lights. Night photography has always been one of my favorite things, and I have not gotten out to take night photos enough lately. So, fast forward to this year, two years later, when no one’s schedule is working so we can go together, again. I was determined that my husband and I would go anyway, and we would have fun, and I would take night photos at the Midway. Two years ago, I didn’t bring a tripod. The crowds were not that large, and there were extra benches placed around the Midway. It had been super easy to sit down on a bench, set my camera on the bench back, or the arm rest, and take a long, steady exposure. So, I did not bring a tripod this year.
I had my Sx-70 loaded up with new Px70V4b film, and also my Yashica 635 medium format camera loaded up with black and white film. After a few hours of walking around, meeting up with some family that was there for the day as well, and not really enjoying it a ton (it wasn’t the worst day! We just ran out of things we were interested in), with the sun finally almost gone, we headed to the Midway. I decided that this would be a wonderful place to finally get back into night photography, try some night photography with my Sx-70, and test out the colors of this new film.
Problem 1: there were significantly fewer benches to set my camera on this year.
Problem 2: there were record crowds this year, and everyone had the same idea to go to the Midway at the same time.
I snapped my first photo, bracing myself against a pole to hold my camera steady.
I turned my dial two notches dark like everyone had suggested and took the photo. I realized my shutter did not stay open nearly long enough. In fact, I started confirming my suspicions right then that the long shutter speeds are not working on my Sx-70. :( But, it was night, and this film doesn’t have to be shielded if there isn’t bright sunlight around, so I stood there for the first time watching it develop. I started to see the faint lines of light from the swing ride, and was so excited! We continued on and I carried my image, no longer worried about stuffing it in my camera bag right away.
We went by the ferris wheel, and I took a photo after making sure my wheel was still turned 2 notches towards dark. I started worrying a bit about my shutter speed, and thinking the scene I was photographing was not at all going to be bright enough. But I had no tripod, and the benches they had out two years ago were non existent. Normally, I would have just plopped right down on the ground, braced my camera on ground by my feet and taken a photo, but with all the people I would have been stepped on.
So, I tried the next logical thing, using my husband’s shoulder as a tripod.
This shot I had the wheel at neutral because I knew it wouldn’t matter. I braced the camera on his shoulder, with one had pushed the shutter button, and with the other popped the film door open to lock the shutter open. I counted to 3, and closed the film door, then pushed the shutter once more to eject the image. Honestly, I love how bright this one is! It will make a lovely layer in one of my compilation images.
I was so excited that the film door trick had worked so I tried it again!
This time with my camera propped against something other than my husband’s shoulder, though I can’t remember what I had found. It didn’t work. I didn’t get the film door open fast enough before the shot was ejected.
I tried once more towards the back of the park at a ride that was really quite bright and had a recycling bin by it that I could brace my camera against.
The film door trick still didn’t work. The dial was at neutral. I do love how the stars came through though!
So I tried one last time with this particular ride.
This time though, I turned the wheel two notches toward light and clicked the shutter without trying to open the film door.
I was getting sick of the crowds, so we headed back towards the entrance. I saw one last light sign I had to take a photo of:
This was a SUPER bright sign and I was standing quite close to it. I was still thinking that having the wheel two notches dark was the best exposure, especially for something this bright. I set that and took the photo. (This is my favorite!)
It was then that I was in a clear enough spot to look at the photos I had taken already that I had just been carrying around. There were faint traces of light on a few of them, but hardly anything! I was heart broken! I thought I had just blown 7 shots of a test pack of film on the silly idea that I could take night exposures with it! I shoved my camera and the photos in my camera bag (so I wouldn’t drop them) consoled myself with the fact that I still had one shot left in that pack and 3 packs left at home, and we made our way to the front gate.
I was so grateful to get on the shuttle ride back to our car. I just wanted to be home. Once again, the fair had disappointed.
We finally made it home, and I started unloading my camera bag. When I pulled out these photos, I was amazed!! There were colors on them!!! And not everything was horrible! I couldn’t believe it! I quickly wrote notes on the back of the images about exposures and where the dial was before I could forget.
So, there you go. My first pack, fails and all. Pack #2 I will be testing in the daylight though ;)