Polaroid Instant Print and Negative Film
Even in this age of digital cameras, there is still something truly amazing about Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film.
Expose for the print or film?
Out of the box Polaroid Type 55 is rated at 50 ISO. But I rate it at 32 ISO, giving it 1/3 stop more exposure to the negative and print. That affords me a bit more shadow detail in the film. However the down side is that the print is 1/3 stop lighter.
You get a Print and a Negative
This film is capable of recording superb detail and tonalities. With Polaroid Type 55 PN 4×5 film, each exposure yielded a positive 4×5 polaroid print and a 4×5 negative. This means you had a negative for enlarging and printing.
My approach to using this film has always been to treat it like regular film. Compose the image and expose carefully, then process the instant film when I get home.
Hang on don’t process it yet!
Using the Polaroid back I would do this processing in my darkroom. I keep light away from the freshly processed Polaroid negative until fixed. Polaroid recommend an 18% sulphite solution** to clear the film.
I complete the processing with a regular film wash. After washing treat with a wetting agent and then dry just like a regular film. You now have a 4×5 contact Polaroid Print in one hand and a perfectly usable 4×5 negative in the other. What a bargain!
This image of the Dune Cabbage is an enlargement from Polaroid PN 55 made on Forte graded paper. This Dune Cabbage (Arctotheca populifolia) was photographed near Cape Leeuwin, Augusta, Western Australia.
Dune Cabbage has bright yellow flowers. Although widespread around coastal regions this successful dune coloniser originated from South Africa. There is a native mauve flowering Native Pigface which shares similarities. Apparently the leaves can be peeled and eaten as salad or lightly steamed. So here’s one I prepared earlier…..
Polaroid 55 Negative Clearing Formula
It is recommended that you don’t use regular film fixer on Polaroid negs. It does work – in that it clears the film, but it may not preserve the negative in the long run.
**The following formula is from Ansel Adams’ Polaroid Land Photography, 1978, New York Graphic Society. In it he recommends:
|Sodium Sulphite Clearing Solution||18% for for Type 55|
|Water 30˚C||750 mls|
|Sodium Sulphite anhydrous||180 grams|
|Water to make||1000 mls|