Welcome back to Dr. Love’s Tips, where Impossible USA’s camera resource manager Frank Love provides you with insight that allows you to get the best out of your Polaroid camera and Impossible film. This week: Shooting in Warm Weather…
It’s warming up again and even though we’ve touched on this topic before, it’s worth revisiting, for as the seasons have changed, so have our films.
Now everyone is surely familiar with our previous generation of COOL Films, but it’s possible that some haven’t yet shot our Color Protection films on those hot balmy summer days.
Just to start, whether it’s the COOL film or Color Protection film, the film is meant to be stored cool for best results. But, once you’re taking it out to shoot, you don’t need to keep the film at a refrigerated temperature. That said, if you’re going out on hot days, and plan to be outside for awhile, you will likely want to take some precaution so that the heat won’t affect the film.
There is one key difference to note between what you may be used to shooting (COOL color films and prior film generations), and the new Color Protection formula films. That being, COOL films when actually processing, would benefit from some extra warmth, giving the film a little boost in contrast and saturation. However, the new Color Protection formula does NOT react in the same way. The CPF films process best in those room temp/just below room temp conditions. Keep this in mind when venturing outside on hot days and heed the methods listed below for how to achieve these conditions for optimal results.
For anyone looking to get experimental though, the Color Protection films tend to have a reddish and reddish/yellow hue added to them in the hotter temps (see sample photos). Also, while the CP films may be much more resilient to light, keep in mind midsummer days have a LOT more light than other times, and traditional shielding would be recommended in the first minutes after ejection, as well as generally keeping the film out of the sun.
Now, as for general guidelines, the simplest thing is just minimizing exposure to the heat. There are some basic concepts like: don’t leave anything out of your bag in direct sun or on hot pavement. If you want to take it a step further, I find using a proper padded camera bag works really well. The padding in the bag works as a natural insulation, so when you’re leaving the safety of an air conditioned home or shop, the bag will take longer to heat up to the outside temperature. If you’re going to be out for a while, you can slow this process down more by not leaving the bag open and not having your camera out of the bag for an excessive amount of time.
If you’re still concerned about the heat and think it gets too hot too fast, another thing you can do is put a very small ice pack in your padded camera bag. You should be sure to wrap it in a towel so it doesn’t get your bag wet, but this will keep your bag a lot cooler for longer. I should point out you shouldn’t keep anything up against the ice pack, as while you do wanna keep the film from getting too hot, you don’t want to have too drastic of temperature differences between your bag and outside, which could cause the optics in your camera to fog up. If you carry the ice pack I actually do recommend you keep your bag open a little so it doesn’t turn your bag into an outright cooler.
You can apply the same concepts to your film as well, be it before, during, or after shooting. As it states on the film packaging, they should acclimate to room temp before you actually use them. This is because the film doesn’t want to be cold when you’re actually shooting because of how it will affect processing. Too much heat however can also affect the processing, so having a pocket in your bag that is out of direct sun, or kept a medium temp from the ice pack nearby, can be a good place to keep images during and especially after processing depending on how you want to affect the image with temperature.
In short, the best plan of action for shooting on hot days is simply minimize exposure to any temperature extremes. Padded camera bags are a simple and effective tool to help with this, and adding an ice pack properly can give you hours outside without worrying about how the heat may affect your film. Now get out there! Enjoy the beaches, parks, and pools and happy shooting.
Keep your rollers clean,