| Feb 27, 05:00 PM
Hello again, Love Patients! This week Dr. Love explains a little about Impossible films’ light sensitivity…
Some of you may wonder why Impossible film needs to be covered from light when it first comes out of a camera when Polaroid film didn’t. If Polaroid film could be exposed to light, why can’t Impossible’s film be?
The short answer to this is…“Opacification Layer.” This is a layer within the film, that upon the spreading of the developer chemistry, reacts in a way that blocks out almost all light from affecting the lower (still light-sensitive) layers…of the film. As instant film has a regular film negative at its base, will still be sensitive to light until it’s been fully processed. Think of the Opacification layer, or opacifier, as a chemical curtain that needs to be drawn over the film to protect the image you’ve created.
Now you might be thinking, “What’s hard about this?” Well the answer to that is the fact that this layer that has to block almost all light, even strong sunlight and has to then dissolve away and become completely clear in order for your image to appear on the film.
So herein lies the challenge…it’s simply one of the most sizably complex of all the challenges in making the film, and it’s expensive. It’s thankfully not an issue that renders the film unusable, as many of you may know from using a PX Shade or Frog Tongue…or even simply a dark slide, there’s always a way around it, but…
…How did Polaroid do it?
Among other components, Polaroid used one ingredient called ‘Titanium Oxide’ or TiO2 as one key component for their Opacification layer. Being that the number 1 reason Impossible couldn’t simply keep making Polaroid film is that the lion’s share of materials were all gone and literally impossible to recreate. Now TiO2 is not entirely ‘extinct’ in the supply, but is scarce enough it’d be like trying to base a new diet around the dodo bird when you’re looking at the last one. It is also incredibly expensive to recreate, like “blank check” expensive, so to build a series of films on it would be expensive, and not last. It also wasn’t 100% perfect, that’s why Polaroid put their own, shorter ‘frog tongues’ on all cameras since the plastic-bodied SX-70 OneSteps, to protect the film in those first moments of ejection.
Impossible is working on finding a more sustainable solution to this issue. With some time and a lot of R&D, there will one day again be the chance to watch your images develop before your eyes, even outside. For a sense of scale, it took Polaroid 17 years to initially develop their first integral film, let alone the years of refinements, so at about 2 years in, a little bit more patience should give us all that satisfaction once again.
Keep your rollers clean, -f