Monday, June 6, 2011

Zen of shooting with my Polaroid 420 Land Camera

Image by Scott L. / FPP Blog

Guest Blog by Scott Levine

I take pictures almost always on film.

I prefer older, more inexpensive manual focus cameras to fancier ones. Most of the photos I take are taken with a Olympus XA2, a Minolta X-700 or SRT-201, Canon Canonet GIII QL17 or my Polaroid 420.

No photoshopping or anything, except for a little bit of corrective cropping. What I saw is what you see.

I got my 420 about five years ago for two dollars about at a garage sale in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The seller of it was so eager to get rid of it, for some reason, that he threw in a couple of other plastic 35mm cameras and two packs of film. The battery still worked, the lens was clear, the bellows were in good shape (unlike on the 220 that my father gave me, which he used for many years) and I had film, so I was able to head out and start shooting right away. It was sort of a boon to me because I got it right around when I gave up on my EE100 Special. So all of a sudden I had a new peel-apart camera that worked. It wasn't meant for the square format films, but they work in it just fine as long as I remember to compose my photos as a square.

I don't know where most people stand on this, but I prefer peel-apart films to integral films. There's just something about those colors, and about the delicacy or the fragility of the print. The smell, maybe the warning about the caustic chemicals. Maybe it's just that integral films are tucked away, encased in a spacesuit. I'm not sure.

Whenever I have the chance to use my 420, I really get excited. I don't use it as much as I should, I'll be the first to admit, but I always find that I sort of see the world differently when I use it. I find a certain calm in what I'm shooting that I don't know that I seek out otherwise. I love holding the camera up to my eye, framing a shot, watching the rangefinder's focusing patch line up, and then that pop, not a click, a pop of the shutter.

One of the interesting things is I remember a lot about what was going on in my life when I use that camera. They stand out in my mind for one reason or another somehow. For instance, I shot this one: when my first daughter was only a few days old. I remember the day I shot it. The walk I was on, what I was doing that day, exactly where those sunflowers are, and what errand I was running when I shot it. The same for this one:
There's more to the photos I've taken with this one than just rectangles of film. There's real memories there. I have memories of my father shooting some photos of my family with his camera, and, now my daughter gets disappointed when I'm not photographing her with my "picture camera." Is it silly nostalgia? They're also great cameras that put out great pictures.

Scott's Flickr Photostream

Top Image:
Polaroid Land Camera 420
Polaroid ID-UV film.
Image copyright Scott Levine

FPP Polaroid 420 Automatic Land Camera blog series
- Introductions
- April-Lea's 420 Polaroid Photography
- Mat Marrash and his "Pack-Tastic" 420 camera

Film Photography Podcast - March 2011
What is FPP?
The Film Photography Project seeks to inform, engage and inspire amateur and professional photographers working in the traditional film medium. Launched by FPP founder Michael Raso in 2009, FPP provides a forum for photographers from around the globe to share their creative output, challenges and product reviews, while promoting the viability of vintage cameras and film through frequent give-aways and exchange programs. In addition to the Film Photography Podcast Internet Radio Show, the Film Photography Project network of imprints includes the FPP Flickr Page, YouTube Channel, Facebook Group, Twitter Account, newsletter and the Film Photography Project Store.

FPP Episode Episode 36 - June 1, 2011 features a spotlight on the Polaroid Automatic 420.

Have a question about your film photography? E-mail me anytime!
Michael Raso
FilmPhotographyPodcast (AT)

April-Lea Hutchinson's Polaroid Automatic 420 Land Camera
Purchase your own Polaroid 420 Camera at the FPP Store!

Content Copyright 2011 Film Photography Project, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Have had my Land 420 for about a year and, like you, I don't use it as often as I'd like. I've recently had a creative block so looked over and decided to get out and use it. So used it more and even picked up a Land 250 and am very excited to use it too. Started a tumblr page to post the ones I like. If you've got time it's