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Polaroid from El Mirage

June 1, 2009


This baby was taken a long time ago, on El Mirage Dry Lake. I was shooting and traveling on my motorcycle with 4×5 Crown Graphic, and Polaroid Type 55, a unique beast of a film that is no longer with us. For you geeks who think you can fake this look by scanning the border and applying your digital file to the middle, think again. It wasn’t just the border, it was the lens and falloff of the camera that also made this look.

Not to mention the tones and feel of the “roid.” It was a grand thing. You can still get this film, in limited quantities, and for a much higher price than what was originally intended for this product. There are rumors of someone buying the machines of Polaroid and reviving this once great entity, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

This was a fun way of working. Slowly. Methodical. One sheet at a time, packing and unpacking the bike. Spending time with people. talking, telling stories, hearing stories. You can’t do a drive by with a 4×5.

I used to shoot portraits, and commercial jobs with this camera until parts and pieces of it began to break off and fall at the feet of the client. “Ah, something just fell out of your camera,” they would say. “Oh ya, I don’t need that anymore,” I would answer as I quickly tried to distract them.

I really miss this damn thing. A friend just made me a 4×5 pinhole, which I have yet to use, but I will in the coming days.

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