Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Art of Polaroid transfers

What you are looking at here are some of my Polaroid Transfers that I made in the years, 1992 to 1994 and 2001. To explain a bit about the process and how I made them it's useful to read my explanation and to help the viewer understand what you are looking at. Also of importance, It should be noted that each of these Polaroids featured here is a 1 of 1, that is they were made directly from my 8 x 10 view camera, with only one exposure made at the scene. Also here is a link to a PDF downloadable gallery of the entire collection.

olaroid film has long been used by amateurs and professionals since it was introduced to the market in 1948 and was manufactured until 1992. Many professional photographers used Polaroid film to "proof" to gauge how the finished photo would look while out in the field or in the studio,  as it only took a minute to develop to develop the film. This was before the days of digital photography in which a photographer could look at the screen on the back of the camera.

Depending on the film format most used, a special holder for 4 x 5 sheet film was used that also held the film during exposure and acted as the processing device. Each sheet of film contained a pod that was squeezed through rollers that started the development process which usually took 60 seconds. For 8 x 10 cameras, the film and the positive receptor (which produced the finished print) were separate items, a film holder, and a special processor was used in order to process the completed print.

In the 1990's it was popular to make Polaroid transfers using either a camera, enlarger or a special day lab using pull-apart film, for the work featured here I used Polaroid type 809 film ( 8 x 10 inches ), many photographers used previously-taken slide as many did not have an 8 x 10 view camera. I bought a manually cranked film processor made by Calumet Photographics, Polaroid also sold their own special electric-powered processor, which was much more expensive and also had to be plugged into a standard household electrical outlet. With the manual processor, I was able to work out in the field without having to plug my processor into an electrical outlet. I owned one 8 x 10 film holder which holds a single sheet of film.

In order to create the transfer process, first I made my exposure, often of a scenic or sometimes with people that modelled for me, once the exposure had been made, I then inserted the positive receptor into the manual-cranked processing device then loaded the film holder with the exposed film into the processor, I would turn the crank handle and it would pull the film out of the holder and join the two pieces together, positive and negative normally I would wait for 60 seconds for full development, but instead I would pull the two pieces apart 10 to 15 seconds into development.

I would then have my "receptor" material ready, my preferred choice was BKF Rives fine art paper, a nice thick paper used for printmaking purposes. I would pre-soak this paper in water, squeegee out excess water so it was just the right dampness, put the paper on a piece of polished 12 x 12 inch slate, then lay the still developing 8 x 10 negative, containing the color-dyes on to this paper, I used a wide rubber roller to apply pressure and then let it sit for 10 minutes or so, after that I would gently peel apart the two pieces, this was the tricky part of the process as sometimes the image would not transfer totally and some would still be left on the negative which would be then thrown away, only one print could be made from each negative.

Each photograph was unique in its own way, as the paper added texture, plus not all colors would transfer 100% so they often looked muted. After the print was dry I often enhanced the print with colored pencils or watercolor paints or even oil pastels, adding another layer of uniqueness the photo.

As I mentioned each of these Polaroids in this portfolio collection here is a 1 of 1, as they were made directly from my 8 x 10 Tachihara view camera, with only one exposure made at the scene. I even devised a system where I could create the image out in the field, setting up my processing equipment in the back of my then Toyota 4-Runner, on occasion I would backpack my 8 x 10 view camera with only a single shot film holder to be used that day, for example, my hike to the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park.

I hope this information helps in understanding how I made these photos. 

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