| Sep 22, 10:48 PM
For this installment of Artist in Residence, we check in with the talented Adam Goldberg, who shot our new Pioneer test version of the 8×10 Impossible film. His photos are on view in the Impossible Project NYC Space until September 24th, as part of the 8×10 by Impossible Exhibition.
“When The Impossible Project invited me to test their new 8×10 film I felt as overwhelmed as I did honored. I knew this was quite literally a big step for them. I felt challenged to represent the film as fully as I knew how, and at the time of the challenge I wasn’t sure I knew how at all. I have been shooting 4×5 Polaroid for some time but I understood the 8×10 undertaking to be a different animal. But I also relished this excuse to overcome some degree of self-doubt and finally give 8×10 a shot. And frankly I’m always looking for excuses to hoard more gear.
I would come to find that shooting 8×10 and processing it, though challenging at times, paled against the effort it took to track down a Polaroid 8×10 processor. The word seemed to spread: there was a new film on the horizon and processors were being snatched up. I think one Impossible shooter, Jessica Reinhardt, and I, even unwittingly jacked up the price of a couple processors in the recesses of Samy’s Camera’s used department when they realized that there was suddenly a demand. Don’t let this deter you! Since the scramble I see them a bunch now. Rather fortuitously I ended up getting mine at Mel Pierce, a small camera shop within walking distance from my house. And got some free 809 film to boot. A miracle? Impossible?
Once all the elements came together I was ready to shoot and began with subjects, frankly photos, I had taken before in some variety or another. Before my muse came home I shot my favorite tree. I tried to heed the advice from Frank, Samy’s Camera’s medium/large format guru and all around good guy. He said to step back: 8×10 is a much larger viewing surface than 4×5. This can’t be overstated. I was—as I remember I was when I first viewed an image on a Speed Graphic’s ground glass—genuinely moved by the grandeur of the 8×10 image on glass. But it also posed a challenge. There’s a lot of area to consider. I found the movements of my Wista Field 8×10 similar enough to my Speed Graphic and Toyo 45a but I definitely fell prey to settling on the center of focus. There was more dead—unwitting negative space—in a couple of my shots than I wanted or even recognized at the time of shooting.
But as time went on I came to find it more and more intuitive and suddenly working with my Toyo 45 felt a bit like whipping out a rangefinder. I eventually took to employing the double exposure motifs I tend to explore with other films. Obviously technique translates from camera to camera and film to film but I felt it was both more daunting and a greater achievement to realize the double exposures with this film than with any prior. In no small part because there are so many things that can go wrong along the way: the holder, the dark slide, the exposure, a certain amount of guesswork that can go awry when doubling, the critical focus on those big prints, the processing, etc. Point is it felt like a much bigger victory when I succeeded in translating a concept to this large format.
There is no question that there is room for improvement with the Impossible stock, but I want to be clear (Obama-speak?). The stuff is amazing. Most of the issues I had with it were in the processing—the machine taking the positive, leaving the neg, slathering the processor’s large rollers with pod akin to something like Ghostbuster refuse. The stuff isn’t archival yet and I wish I had dry aged them and not merely scanned the silvery prints before they shifted. But the results were stunningly consistent. I have heard and read some of the other shooters rating it higher, but I rated the film at 640 under tungsten light and in bright hot sunlight. The speed was terrific for shadowy natural light which is my favorite way to shoot. The film has a painterly contrast that can really be exploited. It was a bit tough to get shallow DOF at that ISO in blistering bright Palm Springs, for one of my shots, (not to mention, barely sufferable under a dark cloth) but some ND helped my cause.
Okay I really could nerd off and wax on for a while but I have to go to bed and you’re getting bored. In sum: the experience reinvigorated and inspired me. Thank you IP!”