| Jul 13, 11:00 AM
It’s time for another edition of Dr. Love’s Tips, where Impossible USA’s Camera Resource Manager Frank Love provides you with advice on how to get the most out of your Polaroid camera and Impossible film. This week: Shooting Checklist.
Yo, Camera Checklist, one-two, what is this?
Thanks to our Flickr thread looking for topic suggestions, we got a topic request for a ‘Shooting Checklist’. In effect, something people can use to make sure they have everything set before shooting. I think when it comes to being prepared, there’s more than one ‘list’, there’s the checklist for when you leave the house, and then there’s the checklist you have for every time you take a shot.
I’ll start with the ‘Before you Leave’ list. I think this is probably the easier of the two as you have more time to think through things. I also want to say there is no definitive checklist, it’s more what works for you, but these should help with just general items to keep in mind.
Before You Leave Checklist
1) Camera grab-and-check
The first and most important thing is your camera, you need to make sure you first have your camera in your bag, that it’s the right camera, that it works, and check if there’s still any film in it etc.
2) Film grab-and-check
Make sure you have enough film to shoot what you plan too, better to bring too much than not enough, and make sure it’s the right film for what you’re shooting.
3) Tools of the trade
This means you have something to shield your images, a place to keep them while processing or just until you get home that’s safe. Something to help keep film cool on a hot day, warm on a cold one.
Are you needing a close up lens? Flash? If you’re doing anything more specialized than straight photography with your camera, make sure you’re bringing the pieces you need to accomplish your ideas.
This item just means make sure you’re prepared. If you’re doing a big paid shoot, you should probably have a back-up camera and plenty of extra film that you’re familiar with. Going through an airport, look into best traveling practices, etc. If you know you’ll need to leave your camera/film bag somewhere while you shoot, make sure it’s safe. If you’re just going out to shoot and walk around though, just make sure you have a comfortable bag you don’t mind lugging everywhere.
Now comes the think-on-your-feet checklist of what you do before you take nearly every shot. This is something you’ll want to tweak and integrate into your natural shooting techniques.
1) Take Cover
Shield your images. If you have a frog tongue on your camera…great, this becomes automatic. If you’re using a folding camera, whether you’re using a PX Shade or the dark slide technique, you’ll need to be a little more vigilant as these aren’t permanently fixed on the camera. It should become second nature that you have something in place before you even look to take a shot.
2) Look before you Leap
You should have an idea in your head of where you camera is as you shoot, this means have an idea of how many shots you’ve taken so you don’t take a shot and discover you were out of film. Know where your Lighten/Darken wheel or switch is, and if you change angles or if you switch to a different kind of film; this could save you poorly exposed shots, and for sure if you close your camera and come back to it later, as the exposure settings can reset.
3) Flash Ahhahhhhh….
Depending on your setup for using a flash, odds are you’ll be familiar with it and will get into a rhythm of shooting between charging. If you’re using flashbars, keep track of where on the bar you are so you can know when to flip it or swap it for a new one without breaking up the shoot…and make sure you have enough flash bars. OR, you could pick up an Impossible Flash Bar
4) Think like your Camera
This one comes with practice, and will become natural to you over time. Polaroid cameras were designed to do all the thinking for you, which can be great, but if you’re thinking one thing, and it’s thinking something else, shots tend to not come out how you expect. What does that mean? It means you need to learn how your camera behaves and use it accordingly. This is most important with regards to exposure. Know when there are bright windows or sunspots in your frame and how your camera will meter that in comparison with how bright your subject is and where you put your L/D wheel or switch. Don’t think of it as if “it’s bright so you should darken”; the camera will know it’s bright out, but it won’t know if your subject is in direct sunlight or is shaded slightly, and that’s what you adjust for. This also means think like a sonar, so if you’re shooting through glass…it’ll wanna focus on the glass and not what you are intending to photograph. On SX-70s and SLR 680s, just look to focus, on Spectra look to the number in the VF, and with a Sun 660 there’s the AF bypass button under the flash.
Hopefully these are helpful reminders that you can build your own checklist around and work into your own system that becomes just part of how you shoot.
Oh, and don’t forget to keep your rollers clean,