Sunday, August 21, 2022

Instant photography fun with a Polaroid SX-70

Godzilla and the Multiverse of Raptors (2022)
Polaroid SX-70 Sonar

Editors note: Um, sorry I posted the HTML version of the blog entry. My Chromebook ran out of battery and crashed while I was working on the post. I posted what came back on reboot under the assumption that no one would look at my poor wheezing blog. 17 of you did. oops.

Well, here I am again - typing an entry on the 23rd birthday of the Blogger platform. Once upon a time, I stopped blogging because of the rewarding Google+ photo community experience, and then that died. Prior to death, I started an Instagram account to diversify my photo sharing outlets. In this summer of 2022, it's clear that Instagram is making a slow and painful journey to irrelevance; especially for the still photographers that built their platform.

First Instagram post while G+ was in the process of dying

That's a long way of introducing the odd and wonderful group of photographic rebels who are playing with instant cameras on Twitter, of all places. Why Twitter? Well, the hashtags work and discussions are dynamic. You also don't have to deal with the worst UI in existence on a phone. This delightful event(?) was organized by the Shitty Camera Challenge. Whoever runs that account calls it "a photographic cult, run by cats". Check out the merch at

You will not regret checking out the #InstantRegret hashtag on Twitter. Users are posting photos from Polaroids of every description, large format cameras with instant backs, Instax and third-party cameras for that film, and thermal printer cameras designed for kids. Yes, you read that right.

I dusted off a late '70s Polaroid SX-70 Sonar and bought film directly from Polaroid (formerly Polaroid/Impossible Project/something after that). With an ND filter in front of the lens, it can shoot more readily available Polaroid 600 film.

"How to make your kid look like a serial killer"
Tip from the SX-70 manual

Seven Foot Skeleton and Friends (two exposures)

Why the SX-70? Well, I have some circa 2016 Fujifilm FP-100C in a box *somewhere*. I would love to play with packfilm if I can find it. Conversely, the stockpile from six years ago is now worth around $85 a pack. That can pay for cool lenses or weird bodies I am coveting. 

A not real Polaroid from the now defunct Polamatic app

The SX-70 is an interesting experience. It was well-built and very expensive back in its time. This camera offers TTL viewing and a decent depth-of-field through an f8 lens. Yeah, it requires a ton of light. The shake warning indicator light comes on in a dappled, sunny backyard. The sonar focus works surprisingly well and a tripod cures any number of potential ills.

A happy accident with camera shake and partial overexposure.

Shooting outside in anything but hard daylight can be a bit of an adventure. I have resorted to parking props and backgrounds directly in sunlight. That works surprisingly well.

Raptors serving their Alien master
Rumor has it that this is the guy that was beating on Baby Yoda

While I am likely to burn through a couple packs at the Greaserama car show, playing with my odd collection of toys has been enjoyable.

Portrait of a young Rancor as an artist (1)
Polaroid SX-70 Sonar

Portrait of a young Rancor as an artist (2)
Polaroid JobPro, a very different vibe than the SX-70

As the project continued, I have been playing more with indoor set pieces with lots of LED lights and a tripod. Polaroid film doesn't have a lot of latitude, so extreme lighting begets memorable renderings. The following are three lighting experiments with 'The Mandalorian Meet Godzilla'.

Oh, back at the beginning you witnessed those nasty little raptors abusing Doctor Strange. The indoor, tabletop set allowed for the creation of 'Astral Doctor Strange summoning Astral Baltan'.

Godzilla should have left Doctor Strange alone

As usual, I am at risk of letting perfectionism keep me from publishing this entry. Since I can add to it later, I'll finish up for now by showing a happy accident. As I was taking a photo of the seven foot tall skeleton who lives in the backyard, wind shifted a branch and changed the amount of sunlight being delivered to his head.
"Come with me if you want to live."

Will I be disciplined enough to actually keep this blog rolling? Maybe. The Instagram experience isn't getting better in a hurry.

As always, thanks for reading.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I just updated to get rid of the partial HTML disaster that I went ahead and published earlier. You confirmed that people still see this little blog o' mine. That's encouragment to keep at it :)

  2. Lovely to see your post! Like you, I have been getting my fix from Instagram over the past few years and sad to see that it is becoming such a mediocre experience; I'll continue there for a bit as it's a nice photo journal just for me, but it's a shame that no one else sees my posts! Will add you too :)

    1. Yeah, I am pretty bummed about where Instagram has been headed. I tune in for sports seasons (my daughter is a collegiate distance runner) and for the occasional special event. A lot of the photographers I follow are buried by the algorithm. I also follow a lot of street cat accounts. Those make me smile.

      Anyway, we'll see how often we end up posting on Blogger :)

  3. It's a shame I don't know how to 'like' posts on Blogger but I loved this post (and seeing your setups on #instantregret).

    1. Thanks! I freely admit that playing with toys and cameras is 95% impulse for me. Other than knowing I had to do something with Godzilla and the raptors, nothing was planned in advance.

      I appreciate the comment. The slow back and forth of a blog is a part of the internet I've missed.


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