I feel so happy (and lucky) to have been able to test this film and be part of the very beginnings of bringing my way of working back to life. As I am sure those of you who love Polaroid Type 55 (and miss it dearly) are anxiously awaiting the day when you can go out and shoot and develop a negative right in the field may feel just by knowing that the negatives have been exposed. Once in a Blue Moon (when I shot the images) good things do happen! And it’s all thanks to Bob Crowley who has been working like crazy to produce the film again. Please visit the New55 FILM project website and get to know the new goodness!
I received the hand made film and immediately got nervous, “what if I mess this up?” Luckily it is so much like shooting with Polaroid Type 55 that from the first exposure, and handling it so very delicately, I lost that sense of nervousness and just started dancing (uncontrollable dancing happiness) around after each click of the shutter.
It fits in my i545 back just as easily as the Polaroid Type 55 does.
I still have a stash of Polaroid Type 55 locked away in a secret bunker so I was also able to shoot with both and compare the two films. Gladly, I had a model, St. Merrique, who is quite the pro so doing the same poses and remembering them wasn’t a big deal for her. Let’s hear it for awesome models!
As you can see, it’s truly the beginnings of the film. Hand written instructions on the film sleeve and everything. It’s amazing what they have done so far in such a short amount of time. The “Stop” is obviously where you stop pulling up the sleeve before you expose your neg. The dotted lines are a guide for where you need to cut the sleeve open with scissors as this is truly the beginning of the film production. Shooting it like this really made me appreciate it so much more.
See the Polaroid Type 55 negative in the bucket of Sodium Sulfite with the pinkish chemicals washing off the negative, I didn’t get this as much with the New55. It was a bit pink, but not as much.
There are no attachments on the negative of New55 like there are on Polaroid Type 55 (paper – see above, first photo) – which I found to be lovely. A pure sheet of film that has been hand coated almost even resembling a platinum print. I allowed each New55 negative to sit in the bucket of Sodium Sulfite for 5-10 minutes. They suggested using Rapid Fix but I didn’t have any so I used Sodium Sulfite (to clear the chemicals off the neg) and it worked fine.
When you come back to it a white goo has formed on the negative which you have to gently smudge off by hand by carefully rubbing the negative. I suggest wearing rubber gloves for this but I didn’t have any so I just sacrificed myself and dove in naked.
This is what the negative looks like before peeling it off of the sleeve to dip in the bucket. Notice the hand taped love! So cool.
The white section on the sleeve that holds the negative in place are the chemical pods. When you yank the film out of the i545 back these chemicals get dispersed so a positive side of the negative can develop. An immediate contact print. (and yes, that’s a rubix cube)
The positives of the two films are completely different. The New55 positive (on the left) looks like a platinum print while the Polaroid Type 55 positive looks like a straight black and white image. The developing time for the New55 is 2 minutes while the developing time for the Polaroid Type 55 is about 20 seconds. I wish I would have tried developing the New55 just a little bit longer, maybe 3 minutes, to see what it would have looked like, but I JUST thought of that this second. I wonder if it would give me more contrast or darken it a bit. I hope I get to try that out some day soon!
I posted this image on Facebook right after I shot it (before it got flagged by a prude and facebook deleted it) and someone (I forget who) asked me a question that I’ve heard lots of times from photographers. Do you have to expose for the negative or the positive to get a good positive side? Photographers who don’t religiously (I’m a zealot) use Polaroid Pos/Neg always seem to think that the exposure for the positive is different than the exposure of the negative. I THINK THIS IS A MYTH. The way the positive develops is completely different to how the negative develops. And who wants the positive anyway? It’s really only a contact sheet. The way you get a good Positive is not to peel apart the two pieces (the negative and the positive) before the developing time is up. With Polaroid Type 55 in 75 degrees that’s 20 seconds. If I want my negative to be darker I let it develop more (30-40 seconds). If I want it to be lighter, I peel it apart after 5 seconds. Just like you would in a darkroom under a lamp when you’re printing. Or if you’d leave a print in the developer for too long it would get too dark. But I just don’t put a lot of interest into the positive side of the film. It only shows me if I’m on target and if I shot what I thought I shot, or if I need to try it again. Plus, the model can see if she needs to adjust her pose or I can see if I need to adjust my exposure a bit. The negative is the big deal, the big kahuna, the whole enchilada… If I wanted a positive “only” why would I bother shooting pos/neg film? I’ve always wondered about this when some photographers say this about the exposure thing. And I could be wrong… I’ve just never concerned myself with the positive. Unless it pertains to happiness.
Speaking of HAPPINESS!!!!!!!! Check out the negatives!
and expired Polaroid Type 55 (peeling negative sadness)
If you have followed my work at all and have seen my Polaroid Type 85 or 665 images where I solarize the negatives, you will understand why I like the New55 film better than the Polaroid Type 55. What depth and funkiness and just WOW awesome!
After testing my first image (it’s a bit lighter than I’d ultimately like it) shooting at 50 ISO, I decided to change my settings just a tiny bit. I don’t remember exactly how much. But just a tad. So I probably shot the second exposure at about 35 ISO. I just had an impulse to do it and it worked out great.
And the Polaroid Type 55 for comparison (shot at 50 ISO):
So as you can see, much different films, but just beautiful, luscious, and YUMMY. For my work… this is what I want! The New55 Film reminds me more of the Polaroid 665 or 85 films than the 55 film. With the 665 you would always get little surprises that would put a unique spin on the image. I live for those little surprises. I enjoyed shooting with Type 85 on a Holga with a Polaroid back way more than I enjoyed shooting with Type 55 because of this. Like shooting a Holga with a peculiar light leak or solarizing your negatives in the sun. (see an earlier post I made about this here: http://www.zoewiseman.com/ZW/2011/08/04/85/)
Sure – you can get tack sharp images with a Hassy or some digital contraption, but I have always loved quirks. The quirkier the better. And the New55 film has got quirky covered.
With the image below this text, I tried peeling it at one minute instead of 2 minutes (the total developing time) to see if I could get some solarization happening by holding it up to the sun. I think that’s what the fog bit is on the lower left and the funky line near the top edge. I wish I would have been braver and pulled the negative at 2 seconds to see what would happen, but testing it just proves to me it’s possible – I just got chicken and waited too long. (see an earlier post I made about this here: http://www.zoewiseman.com/ZW/2011/08/04/85/ if you don’t know what I’m talking about)
And on this image below… as I was putting the film into the film holder the sleeve slipped off about a quarter inch. I caught it in time before it exposed the entire negative (cursing at myself), but as you can see it has the line at the top of her head where the sleeve slipped. I think it may have fogged the negative just a little bit because of that. But I love the way it turned out anyway.
So those are the images I was able to shoot from the 5 slides of film I received. I would like more please! haha. I’m just happy I have the negatives and it worked and that I didn’t disappoint myself or Bob as he’s worked tirelessly to make this happen. Does anyone have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around? Production must commence! If you are an investor and believe in art related goodness… give Bob your money so I can shoot this film every day. Please? With sugar on top?
One of the other things I love about the negative is it conforms to all the standard 4×5 film holders! Especially for the film holders on my scanner. The Polaroid Type 55 negative is just a smidgen larger than a 4×5, so trying to get that huge negative into a 4×5 film holder and scan the entire negative can be quite the challenge. The New55 negative fits in perfect with no fuss at all. It’s a true 4×5 negative.
I took some iPhone snaps of what I’m talking about so you can try to see what I mean.
Please let me know if you have any questions about my experience using the film below in the comments section. I hope I covered everything! If not, just ask! And if you have any questions about the production or that sort of thing – Please visit the New55 FILM project website and get to know the new goodness! Bob Crowley answers a lot of questions about this and his FAQ will tell you a bit too. And don’t forget to send him a few hundred thousand dollars. Annenberg… are you listening? Please please please? 🙂
Everyone have a very safe and sober Labor Day! Much love!
Excellent review Zoe.
It looks a little flatter compared to t55 but like you said with a little experimenting I’m sure you could over expose a little more and change up your processing method (temp and times).
I love P/N, always have and always will. My binder of 665 and 55 negs as well as my Polaroid 195 sits behind me in my office, opposite my big Mac workstation, waiting for new companions to keep them company. I too like the haphazardness of the negative coating, the aberrations and warbles across smooth toned surfaces.
The majority of my work were all shot on location; working out of a production van with seconds to get a shot and then piling back in to move onto the next. Negatives were left on the back seat to dry in the sunlight, giving me a gorgeous solarized look and deep rich shadows. It was then back to the hotel, clear them in those old white P/N clearing buckets and then rinsing under the bathroom faucet (the maids must have hated me wherever I stayed).
Over the past couple of years I’ve started to get back to my roots, shooting more 4×5 and re purchasing a RZ system. Due to the lack of instant and not having the time or funds to go for an alternative method like wet collodion, I’ve been doing calotypes. They are giving me a decent look and feel to substitute for P/N until I can get my hands on some. I love the fact that each image is unique and you only get the one chance to make your method work. I’ve been trying chemical contamination, scratching, fogging and I have not yet been disappointed.
The next step is New55 for me as well as possibly taking a stab at the Impossible Projects 810 limited stock.
I look forward to reading future posts from you as well as diving into the archives and catching up with all the news.
Very nice. Great to get an update. Thanks for sharing your work.
wonderful account, zoe !! beautiful model & pics…. i was interested that the bench in the first series of prints seemed “tack sharp” while the nude seemed more atmospheric: any theory to account for that ? btw, what camera are you using? … and where can i find sodium sulfite? (i have a small stash of 55 and 665 that i’ve never used yet !!) 🙂 [posted to FB first, sicne that’s where i see most communications.]
“theory” – I had the bellows skewed a bit to play. so it blurred it a bit.
i was using a Speed Graphic 4×5. And http://www.samys.com Samy’s Camera still sells Sodium Sulfite.
I hope you’ve kept your stash in a cool place. You should probably shoot that film as soon as you can as the chemicals are starting to get a little tweaked.
Love your new polaroid stuff, does the epson 750 scan film, good too ?
i scan all my film with it, Alex. it’s awesome. thanks!!
LOVE your account on the new55, so exciting. My 195 and 180 is sitting in my studio watching the sunlight just waiting to be picked up and LOVED. I’m sitting on a stack of 665s in my fridge waiting for a day and a project to use it. Like you I’m very sensitive about it. No film or digital has gives me excitement like 665s or t55s. Thank you for your account on the new55 :o)
Thank you for posting this.
I’ve been holding on to my 4×5 Polaroid back for years not in the hopes that one day a type 55 film will become available again. I really hope they can get this up to a point where it can be commercially available. I will be first in line buy!
keep that back. you’ll need it! 🙂
Zoe! Thank you so much for this. I’ve been patiently waiting for any test news on the New55 and this looks like great news indeed. I still have 10 boxes of 665 in my fridge but ran out of 55 a while back.
I knew you would love this, Dave!! It’s very exciting!!
I came here from The New 55 site. I am terribly envious that you got hold of the film, but very grateful to let you figure it out. I can’t wait to explore your site.
I love the results… you’re really lucky to be able to try them and you haven’t disappointed at all. Unfortunately when I discovered the Polaroid 55 film it was too late for me to buy as the price were high… now it’s just incredible how expensive they are so this project brings me a new hope!
I was really sad when Polaroid stopped manufacturing it’s film product. I loved the image transfer, SX film Image manipulation, and the Polaroid emulsion transfers. I didn’t use Type 55 film very much but I did use it on a photo assignment when I needed to have B&W prints “Pronto”. The negative quality was not as good as film, but hey, for having a B&W negative in 90 seconds, it was great! I’m so happy to hear that the New type 55 maybe will be coming around soon. Good luck!
Hello Zoe, I just say… WOW! I used (and using) Pola55/pola59 for lot a projects in the past. Iam very lucky to see the first field-results with the new film, I guess I will order 5 pieces right now… Is it the same way (and time) to fix the negative? (Sodium Sulfite) No problems in the i545? I hope it will be possible tu buy it very soon to a – let me call it – “realistic” price
greetings from leipzig/germany, Kai
Great photos Zoe! You’ll be thrilled to hear that the New55 met its Kickstarter target, so we can all hopefully get our hands on some of it soon! I can hardly wait.
Good review (and good photography), Zoe … thanks so much. I’m a friend of Roger Bartzke (HP Marketing) and I know that —while the actual HP Combina tank for 4×5 has now been discontinued— they still have parts in stock to assemble the film rack that was traditionally handy for the sodium sulfite bath in the field. Transparency disclaimer: Roger didn’t ask me to plug his tank parts (doesn’t even know I’m writing this), it’s just that I know that many users would probably appreciate using this rack to keep their negs apart while wet and avoid scratching them!
In any case, this is definitely an exciting development. I say, “vive silver-based photography, vive New55!”