To use polaroids or not to use...

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brent8927

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I've asked a number of beginner questions here, but I have yet another! (As a side note, I am now a subscriber to APUG, so I supporting the community from which I get all my answers!)

Anyway, I went on my first LF shoot today, which was quite fun, until it just started raining out of nowhere... Anyway, I took polaroids of all my shots and personally I didn't really feel like they were benifiting me. I felt like it just took up more time. I know large format photography is inheritantly slow but not using my polaroid equipment would sure save me some space in my backpack (at the moment my Photo Trekker is full and I only have one lens, which stays on the camera, and I do plan to get at least one more lens, though hopefully two more). Plus... I didn't really enjoy using the polaroid film, and I much prefer to take two pictures (different exposures) of each subject.

I'd like to know how many people out there actually use polaroid film for personal work. I know for commercial work it is something very handy to have but I'm thinking of just doing away with my polaroid equipment. Is this a bad choice? I do have a lot of experience metering because I used a Bronica S2A and then a Hasselblad for two years (I'm a college student by the way) so I was always using a handheld meter.

I have a feeling that people are going to tell me to do what works best for me and to do what I enjoy most, which would mean not using polaroids, but as a LF beginner I'm also wondering if this would be a bad choice. Thanks in advance!

Brent
 

André E.C.

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Do what works best for you and what you enjoy most!

Have a good light!

André
 

paul owen

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Personally I don't use Polaroids for the reasons you describe! The only time I think they would be worthwhile is if you have travelled some distance to get a shot and are unlikely to be able to repeat it - having said that you will find that LF procedures do develop quickly with practice and pretty soon your confidence will grow so that you "know" you have done it right! Mind you there are still surprises to be had! I found the Polaroid system bulky and expensive and only ever tried it for the negatives from Type 55 film - I very quickly realised that I was getting great results with regular film so ditched the Polaroid quickly. In their defence they are a great learning tool on workshops to give immediate feedback.
 

BBarlow690

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On the advice of Fred Picker 20 years ago, I used Polaroid EXCLUSIVELY for almost the first year I had LF. It was designed to be strictly a learning tool, so that I could see what was going on immediately. I learned a ton about movements and focusing, and also about exposure, since there is no room to correct anything in the darkroom later. Therefore, exposure needed to be dead-on.

Then, at Fred's workshop as apprentice instructor, I made the picture of my life. Fred looked at it and said "Wow! Can't wait to see what you do with the negative!"

"There is no negative," I replied, "You told me to use Polaroid for the first year."

"And you actually did it?" said Fred, amazed that anyone would actually follow his advice. "Well, start making negatives." I did.

Polaroid is a great tool for learning, and if you actually get a keeper, it's all the more precious. I still go out from time-to-time and use only Polaroid Type 72 just to clearr my head. It's great fun.
 
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You asked what we did...

In the studio I find it invaluable to check lighting...

In cities I find people constantly coming up to me curious as to what I'm doing... Having some images to show them and have them get a better idea of what I'm doing has been a huge help.

With that said, that's my working method... You seem to have already decided that your system does not require polaroid.

Good luck,

joe
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Polaroid is handy for checking lighting, seeing the effects of camera movements that aren't always clear on the groundglass, checking for vignetting in situations where you might not be able to see the edges of the glass very well as with a wide lens, and there are reasons to use Polaroid that have to do with the materials (you might like Type 55 negs or the muted colors of type 79 or you might want to do transfers).

I don't usually use Polaroid for landscapes, but if you're just starting out, it might not be a bad idea for a while--maybe not for every shot, but whenever you're unsure of what you're seeing, or when you try something new.
 

Neal Shields

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I find the type 55 negative so good that I am begining to wonder why I use any other B&W. However, I work full time and don't have a lot of time to get out with my LF equipment. Type 55 would break Bill Gates if you tried to use it full time for hobby applications.

The only gripe I have with the type 55 negative is that it is so flemsy that you need either a glass negative holder or a Negaflat (grabs the edges and streatches the negative drum head tight) to keep it form sagging.

Beyond that, some of us are idiots which need to see on paper what there was not reason at all that we couldn't have seen on the ground glass.

A friend of mine (Cathy Church) who is a expert on underwater photography says that: "the brain turns to mush when you submerse the ears", sometimes I think that my dark cloth has that effect.

Neal

Neal
 

Danpv

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I am new to LF and find that using Polaroids is a great way to check composition and exposure - although I realize that with additional experience I may come to rely less on this instant feedback.

Sometimes I neither can, nor want to, return to the same location for repeat sessions; getting the best possible shot for my initial efforts makes the additional weight and expense of Polaroids a distant second consideration when backpacking.
 

rbarker

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I use Polaroid Type 54 - both in the studio and in the field. Studio use is, of course, to check lighting, verify exposure, and such. Reducing the set to two dimensions often points out little details that might otherwise escape notice (e.g. the light meter left in the scene, etc. :wink: )

In the field, I use the Polaroids to both verify exposure and to serve as a place for field notes - including info about the location, etc. (what the heck was that place called?) Thus, the Polaroids serve to document the trip, as well.

I use a zippered nylon brief case (a freebie from a tech conference) to carry 8x10 film holders. A couple of years ago, I was in Death Valley, moving from location to location, shooting both 4x5 and 8x10. I got to one spot and discovered (to my immediate horror) that I had forgotten the case at the previous location. By using my last Polaroid, I was able to re-locate the spot from which I took the last shot, and found my film case. Trip saved.
 

msage

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Brent
I sometimes polaroid prints as a end in themselves. I have a few matted and framed 4x5 polaroid prints that are the finished piece. Just another thought.
Michael

Sorry I don't have a witty or clever quote to place here, I am new so I will try harder next time!
 

jmdavis

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As others have said the polaroid can be a useful tool. I sometimes shoot type 55 and print from the negs. I haven't had a problem with them being flimsy. But for me they wind up being thinner than my fp4 negatives. I have to shoot the 55 at an ASE 25 to get negatives that I like. This, of course, makes the positive over exposed. But it is still useful for checking vignetting.

I do not trust polaroid materials for checking fine focus or exposure. But they can be good for composition and occasionally as a final product (negative or positive). I try to keep the 545i holder in the car if not in my camera bag.
 

roteague

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David A. Goldfarb said:
I don't usually use Polaroid for landscapes, but if you're just starting out, it might not be a bad idea for a while--maybe not for every shot, but whenever you're unsure of what you're seeing, or when you try something new.

I think that is good advice. I find that the light changes too fast for me to shoot Polaroids, but I have used them once in a while to show a friend what I was shooting.
 

bobfowler

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I use Polaroid (well, Fujiroid) mostly as a quick lighting and exposure test under "studio" conditions. I rarely use 4X5 Polaroid, mostly the 3X4 pack stuff with either with the Bronicas or in a 405 holder with the Toyos. Now that I have a fully functional 8X10 camera, that may very well change...
 

rbarker

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bobfowler said:
. . . Now that I have a fully functional 8X10 camera, that may very well change...

Yep. You'll find that 8x10 Polaroid is expensive, but very addictive. :wink:
 
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