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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.

St John's Church from the Polaroid 103

One of the first photos I took on the Polaroid, St John’s Church, Wakefield. I loved the vivid blue colours and warm yellows.

“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.

A sculpture of a large jacket at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A sculpture of a jacket at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with the moon as a tiny speck in the top right of the photograph.

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.

Darth Vader outside Brandenburg Gate

The most surreal shot I’ve taken, with Darth Vader standing outside of Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. I had to pay 2 Euros to get him to pose for it!

Contrasting connotations

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.

A polaroid photograph of the hanging posts at Sachsenhausen concentration camp

The hanging posts at Sachsenhausen camp were a sobering subject to capture on the Polaroid 103.

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.

A vintage car in the paddock at Silverstone

The GN/Ford ‘Piglet’ of Dougal Cawley sits in the paddock at Silverstone.

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 driver stood by his car after retiring at Donington Park

A classic F2 driver stands by his stricken car at the Donington Historic Festival.

I also managed to capture the beautiful GN Wasp with the Polaroid, with a Cowboy Hat Marshal (there’s always one present at every motorsport event) setting off from the Harewood Hillclimb VSCC event.

The VSCC GN Wasp car sets off at the Harewood Hillclimb

The GN Wasp car setting off from the start of the Harewood Hillclimb, as a Cowboy Hat Marshall looks on.

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.

Ryan Mitchell-Smith and Kal Lavelle taken with the Polaroid flash.

Ryan Mitchell-Smith and Kal Lavelle at Harry’s Bar, Wakefield, taken with the FPP flash. One of my favourite Polaroids from the past couple of months.

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.

A photograph of a road sign, with houses in the background

A triangle in the foreground, and tiny triangles in the background. Triangles.

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.

A Polaroid photograph of Sam in the studio

A single flash light, linked to the Polaroid with a PC Sync lead produced a great shot of Sam in the studio at 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.

A white cat sat by a pond.

Timmy the white cat sat by the pond in the back garden. He’s always difficult to photograph as he is so white, but I just about managed it with the Polaroid.

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.

Posted in: Film Photography, Motorsport, Polaroid, Studio, Travel

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