I love my Polaroid 103!
After listening to the Film Photography Project podcast in the Autumn of last year, I decided to jump in and order one of their refurbished and renewed Polaroid cameras. I had intitially bought a Polaroid 100 off Ebay from a different seller, but the shutter on this camera didn’t work. However, the FPP came to the rescue and I bought a fully working, battery converted (to a CR123 type, which is much easier to find than the original) Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 103 from their online store.
After a trip across the Atlantic, my camera arrived along with an excellent DVD on how to use the camera. It proved to be an instant success, and I’ve taken it to Berlin and to various motorsport events around the country, and have even used it in the studio.
“What is that camera?”
The camera has been a real conversation piece, as well as producing unique photographs. People often point and stare (at the camera, I think) when I’m shooting with the Polaroid. This version of the Land Camera uses Fuji FP-100c, which I buy in packs of 5 from eBay. Each pack contains 10 shots, so careful consideration has to be taken when shooting. The camera works best on sunny days, but can be used with a flash too.
My most surreal Polaroid shot
A trip to Germany provided one of the most surreal shots with my Polaroid 103. A strange mix of Brandenburg Gate and Darth Vader against a beautiful blue sky. The characteristics of the Polaroid do add an extra depth to images, with the chemical burns at the edges, and strange colour banding on the prints.
I’ve sometimes contrasted the cheery, innocent style of the Polaroid format with dark subject matters. On my trip to Berlin, we visited the eerie, haunting concentration camp at Sachsenhausen. The colours of the instant film had a very different fell taking photographs here.
Vintage cars, vintage camera
I’ve taken my Polaroid 103 to several Vintage Sports Car Club and historic racing events over the past few months. One of my favourite shots is of the GN/Ford ‘Piglet’ car, raced by Dougal Cawley of Longstone Tyres. Sitting in the pits, up on the jack with a wheel missing at the VSCC Silverstone Spring Start meeting.
Capturing narrative is always a good way to photograph events, and this retired classic F2 car at Donington Park provided a great shot. The lush green colours, disappointed drivers and bright orange marshals framed in a chemical Polaroid turned out really well. I took this at the Donington Historic Festival in May of this year.
A flash of light…
I added to my Polaroid 103 with the Film Photography Project’s electronic flash and holder for 100-300 cameras. This allowed me to take photos in low light, as the film used only has an ISO of 100, limiting it’s usefulness in low light. This great little kit allowed me to use it at gigs, photographing artists in a different way to what they’re used to.
Topic a day
During half term in February a ‘Mysterious Individual’ set me different challenges to take with my Polaroid. One such challenge was simply called ‘Triangles’, which produced great little shot, typical of the Polaroid format feel.
In the studio
The Polaroid 103 has a PC Sync port that can be hooked up to all manner of different studio flash equipment. I used a single Bowens Esprit 500 flash head with a softbox to take a photograph of Sam from college.
The inevitable Polaroid cat picture
Another subject, present in all my photography work, is of course Timmy, our lovely white cat. One of the most popular photos of him is with him sitting by the pond in the back garden, looking rather old and dishevelled.
Fancy a go with a Polaroid Automatic Land Camera?
Want a Land Camera of your own? You can pick one up at the Film Photography Project store, or as my sister has done, buy one on eBay from this guy who looks to sell some good condition, battery converted cameras.
You can see other photographs from my Polaroid 103 camera on my Polaroid Land Camera Flickr set.