Polaroid contact sheets are hard, especially if you forget to photograph the Polaroids after you take them and before you start altering them. Fortunately, most of the survivors are still in a biscuit tin so I photographed fronts and backs (where altered) today and cropped down to portrait rectangles.
It took a while to get used to the idea of tampering with the prints. I couldn’t cut 7292 (Format) and 7315 (my desk) at all. I tried some with random prints on out of date film, but it felt as if they were just too random, and the work needed a subject, even if I then chose to ignore it. 7301/2 cut nicely though and I liked how it looked with the inverted cut-out. 7293 is an Instax instant print, which was a good size and cut well but bled black and crunchy when altered.
The last three are from exploring calotypes (on fabric). I was inspired by Fox Talbot’s Lace work, but although the results are engaging they were a bit too far from the concept I wanted to explore. The third was one of two that used a Polaroid emulsion lift as a negative. Sadly, it didn’t work.
Next up, I identified Lacock Abbey as a subject, and took some test shots in colour, still on expired film.
So next up was Lacock Abbey, with a twin pack of black and white film, with a black border. These delivered higher contrast for the indoor shots, the outdoor ones however were a bit washed out. I played around, again, and discovered that I preferred the results from embossing over cutting. The black and white didn’t cut as cleanly as the colour did, but I did lift a square of emulsion from one image that looked promising. I also photographed the backs of some images with my DSLR whilst the emulsion was drying, and this looked like an interesting path to follow too. By the time I was done I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do, and ordered some more of the same film.
So rather later than expected, the film arrived and I found that I’d accidentally ordered the white bordered version. I was tight on time so decided to shoot anyway, at Lacock, of windows. The film turned out to be beautiful with perfect rich contrast and worked very well indoors, and the white border worked better than the black had done. I was finally happy with the shots, and 16 exposures plus a few usable ones from the previous shoot gave me enough images and parts to make the work. Emulsion lifts were harder from this film, but did work nicely even so. It was near impossible to get the negative cleaned but I had a clean neg from the previous shoot. When I looked at these I could see that my idea of mounting an emulsion lift onto clear acrylic could work. I photographed the back of every altered shot with my dslr immediately it was altered and this let me photograph the blue colour of the emulsion which turns white after a few minutes. I like how a black and white picture bleeds blue, just for a few minutes.
Finally, the contact sheets from photographing the backs of these images. I couldn’t leave these images, I liked the abstraction of the pattern and colour, the way the backs of the images became landscapes and abstracts in their own right.