Icy Instant Impression

I just found an old photo taken in 2009 with my Crown Graphic 4×5″ camera on Polaroid 55 black and white film. The film was already expired when I took the photo – it was only produced by Polaroid until 2008.

Frozen river Aare in Switzerland, 2009 (Crown Graphic, Polaroid 55).

I thought I had screwed the manipulation of the Polaroid 545 back in the freezing cold and almost threw the film away, but the photo actually turned out alright – though it has some fingerprints as a consequence. It’s an instant photo, but it’s actually not that easy to manipulate using gear that is decades old and often worn-down.

Clearing Polaroid 55 negative in sodium nitrite.

The film emulsion is fragile, and the negative has to be cleared in a sodium nitrite or sulfite solution after the positive image has been peeled apart. The film has a glorious status among photographers because of its delicate tones and high resolution. There were various projects to manufacture Polaroid 55 film again, but the original film isn’t produced anymore.

My Crown Graphic camera was built around 1950 by Graflex in Rochester, New York. I bought it form eBay about fifteen years ago, and it was already jittery then…

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