Before COVID-19 struck, the original plan for my birthday was to be away in France with my husband and some friends for a music festival that my husband was DJing at. I was especially pleased that my birthday had fallen on a Saturday this year which made it perfect to celebrate over a weekend of great music and friends.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and I was to remain in England. We are still adhering to social distancing measures in the UK so I just spent my birthday in the end with my husband.
I was grateful on my birthday that it was lovely and sunny in Brighton which meant we could go out for the day.
We initially spent a lovely sunny morning in the garden with our animals. I took this photo of my husband holding our cat Saffy on my Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 camera with some expired Polaroid 600 film which I needed to use up. Using expired film is always a risk but thankfully they came out in the main part of the photo, aside from the black streak along the side. Also, if you look close enough, you can see my other cat, Lil Saf sitting on the wall in the background:
We decided for the afternoon we would drive to the countryside and visit some secluded woods for a picnic.
We have a lovely italian restaurant opposite where we live which has currently adapted itself in these times to a lovely italian takeaway delicatessen and we were able to purchase some lovely fresh bread, stuffed peppers and aubergines and also some Burrata and cold meats for our picnic.
We took our dog Daisy who absolutely loved wandering around in the woodland area. We came across a lake where I took this photo:
My husband took this photo of me whilst we were eating our picnic which came out blurry but I quite like the dreamy feel of it:
Here is a random, blurry shot I took which was of Daisy but she moved too fast out of where I had originally focused her as she was running around so much sniffing the woodland area so it’s a very abstract photo. I almost think it looks like I’ve put some kind of Kaleidoscope filter on the lens:
After our lovely afternoon picnic we headed to Brighton Marina and spent the remainder of the day on our boat.
Whilst my birthday wasn’t what I had originally planned, I still had a lovely day and it was nice to connect with nature and relax away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Plus I have some Polaroid photos to keep as a reminder of my birthday.
Back in July 2018 I decided to back the Diana Instant Square Camera by Lomography on Kickstarter.
At the point of backing this project, I already owned my Leica Sofort and absolutely love instant photography but also wanted an instant camera with a larger photo size too.
It seemed like a fun instant camera I could do some exciting photos with. I also liked the fact it was fujifilm since that tends to develop more quickly than the current Polaroid film.
At the point of backing this project I didn’t own a Polaroid camera. At the time, my dream instant camera that I wanted to own was the SX-70 Alpha 1 but it was quite an expensive camera to buy so I felt the Instant Diana on Kickstarter was more affordable.
I backed the camera and opted for the Adriano edition instead of the standard Diana design and the flash along with some gel filters.
Not long after backing, I kept getting more offers and deals from Lomography on the accessories which, were a really good price that I could add to the current package. I viewed this camera as a fun arty instant camera. I therefore ended up getting the full works as follows:
Diana Instant Square Special Edition Camera
Diana F+ Special Edition Flash
Diana Flash Color Gel Filters
Diana Instant Square Flash Plug
Diana F+ Flash Hotshoe Plug
Diana F+ Flash to Hotshoe Adapter
Diana+ 20mm Fisheye Lens
Diana+ 38mm Super Wide Lens
Diana+ 55mm Wide Angle & Close Up Lenses
Diana+ 110mm Telephoto Lens
Diana+ 75mm Glass Lens
The kickstarter project was a success and was fully backed which meant that I would receive the finished camera around January 2019.
In the meantime, I came across some Pink and Black Duochrome Polaroid 600 film which I loved the look of and ended up buying a cheap Polaroid 600 camera on ebay (which I blogged about in 2018).
For all Polaroid’s film faults, I still really liked the size of the film and in the end was able to save up enough money to upgrade to the SX-70 Alpha 1 which was the model I’d really wanted.
I purchased the SX-70 in September 2018 and now wonder if I had purchased this earlier on, if I would have even backed the Kickstarter project?
Fastforward to January 2019 and my Diana Instant Camera (and all the accessories) arrived.
When I opened the package I was completely overwhelmed by all the components I had added onto the intial package and quite frankly, I didn’t know where to begin!
I briefly looked through everything but I was very disappointed by the camera design itself. I stupidly hadn’t realised just how large it would be and I had been spoiled for the past few months using a gorgeous, well made SX-70 and also my Leica Sofort which are both stylish and cool looking in their own right.
The Diana Instant Camera in comparison looked like a cheap child’s toy (which I suppose is the point of the Diana camera’s) and once I added on the very large flash, you should have seen my husband’s face! In fact, I should have taken an instant photo!
He looked quite alarmed at my purchase and thought the design was horrible in comparison to my other two instant cameras.
I initially wondered if I should just sell it on but I really wanted to experiment with this camera and see what it could do with the various accessories.
I took the camera down to my boat and left it there with every intention of using it through the spring and summer of last year.
However, everytime, I went to use it around people, I suppose I just felt embarrassed by it. It really did feel like a toy and it’s certainly not subtle! In the end I just kept using my other two instant cameras.
However, I still really want to try out the accessories and I do like the instax square instant photos.
Last weekend, I finally brought the camera back home from my boat and have decided I’m going to use it for some of my daily walks, like I normally do with my Leica Sofort.
I’m going to make a journal of the photos taken using the different accessories and rather than be overwhelmed and try and use everything at once, I’m going to make a plan and use one accessory at a time and finally see what photos I can make using these accessories.
I then plan to blog about each accessory seperately and will give my views on what I thought and sample photos.
I started this week and decided to try out the 75mm glass lens. However, I didn’t have a great start. The film got jammed in the camera when trying to release the camera sheet so I removed the film and some plastic broke off and fell out but thankfully it was from the film packet and not the actual camera!
I re-inserted the film but it was damaged with light exposure.
I had some more film so put that in the camera and initially thought I had broke the camera as the photos were coming out blank still (very frustrating!).
I then realised there was an exposure button underneath the lens and I had it on Pinhole mode and it needed to go down to f/11. Once I did this I managed to get the following photos:
I also must have accidentally hit the double exposure switch on the side instead of just the on switch and I got this trippy shot of my dog:
I thought the pictures came out quite well using the glass lens.
I also feel more comfortable carrying the camera over my shoulder like a handbag rather than round my neck as I really do look a bit strange because it is quite big and toy like. It’s more subtle when carried to the side.
Lastly, I forgot to mention the viewfinder….you have different ones for different lenses and they are another large piece that stands out on the camera so again, another thing that really isn’t subtle.
If you want some funny looks, then wear this camera around your neck! Otherwise, you may want to consider what other instant cameras are out there.
If I had paid full price, I don’t think I would have purchased this camera. I really did get caught up in all the hype of the Kickstarter project and it’s a lesson learnt that I will try and never repeat again.
On the plus side, I’m really going to try it out over the next few months and see if this camera grows on me since I’ve not really given it a chance.
I’m hoping I will get some cool effects from it that I perhaps could never achieve with my other two instant camera’s so we shall see.
I look forward to updating you all in my little adventure with the Diana Instant Camera.
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year!
December has been an extremely busy month for me socially (as I’m sure it has been for a lot of people) so I’ve not had chance to blog as regularly as I normally would.
This means that December was a perfect opportunity for me to take some instant photos over the festive break.
I spent Christmas day with my husband’s family and took along my Leica Sofort to take some instant photos.
We had great fun playing about with this camera and taking various photos. The photos were also a nice keepsake on christmas day for the family to take home with them.
Here are a couple I managed to keep from Christmas day:
On boxing day I met up with my family. I have a couple of nephews who are 4 and 7 years old so I thought it would be perfect to use up a few packs of the Disney Polaroid film that I had in my film stash.
I also decided to use my Polaroid 600 camera rather than my SX-70. The main reason for this was so that my nephews could have a play and take some photos too.
The Polaroid 600 camera is a lot more robust for children and there is no risk of accidentally putting fingers through the bellows like on the SX-70.
My nephews had great fun trying out the camera and were so excited to see a photo come out instantly and watch it develop in front of their eyes.
The Disney film is expired so I wasn’t sure if it would be any good but thankfully the photos came out fine and they had the old 70s/80s retro feel about them which reminded me so much of my childhood:
On New Years Eve my Japanese friend stayed with me. In the daytime we managed a quick visit to the Photomatic shop in Brighton where we had these instant photos taken:
In the evening, we ate out with a few other friends at a Japanese restaurant in Brighton. We then went onto a local pub with some friends (and my dog) as my husband was DJing there.
This again, was the perfect opportunity to take my Leica Sofort with me and whilst I gave a lot of the photos away, I managed to keep a couple:
Also at Christmas, my Intrepid 4×5 Camera and Enlarger Kit arrived which was very exciting to receive!
I’m very much looking forward to trying out this new camera and also creating a darkroom for my new enlarger.
2020 is going to be another exciting year for my film photography and I look forward to blogging about all my new adventures!
Recently, I decided to book a last minute holiday to Tenerife to get some winter sun before Christmas.
I had never taken my SX-70 camera abroad with me before, and since discovering the use of the ND (Neutral Density) filters that I can add to the Polaroid 600 film instead of having the extra bulk of adding the mint flash to the camera, I decided it would be good to take it with me on this trip.
For anybody not familiar with the ND filters, here is a picture of them and they can be purchased direct from Polaroid:
The reason I use the ND Filters is because I prefer using the Polaroid 600 film in my SX-70 camera. This is because I like the different variety of frames you get from that film. The SX-70 film tends to have only white frames which I personally find quite dull.
These were the three Polaroid film packs I took with me:
I took the camera and film in my hand luggage and asked at Gatwick airport if the film needed to be handed over rather than go through the x-ray machine.
I was fortunate enough to speak to a young male employee at Gatwick Security who was a keen film photographer himself and he explained that any film up to ISO 1000 was fine to go through their x-ray machines. Although on this occasion, the film was carried through for me without going through their machines.
I made the mistake of not taking the SX-70 camera out of my bag and somebody different was checking the x-ray machine so they had to do a search through my bag as they thought the camera was an electrical device.
I also had the same issue with the camera through Tenerife security so my advice would be to take your polaroid camera out of your bag (like you would your laptop etc) when going through x-ray at security.
These particular polaroid films had been sitting in my film stash for sometime (since last year!) as I had planned to use them at some point in the summertime but for whatever reason, this never happened either last year or this year.
I had written in a previous blog post about using up my current film stash when I had recently done a film inventory and I knew this was the perfect time to start using up my polaroid film which I’d accumulated over the past two years.
When I got to Tenerife, I realised that all the films I had taken with me had either expired last year or earlier this year.
They had all been stored in the Fridge but I know how temperamental polaroid film can be so prepared myself that I may not get great results with these films.
I decided to first use the Tropical film since that had the most summertime feel to me and it certainly was nice and sunny in Tenerife:
The photos came out fairly well considering the film expired last year. I had to do an initial test shot which I found takes a good 10-15mins to properly develop (oh how I miss the original polaroid film!). This was frustrating when wanting to take further photos because I had to wait since I didn’t want to waste film if exposure wasn’t quite correct.
Thankfully, I found that the film worked fine with normal exposure and and I didn’t need to amend the exposure dial on the camera.
There were streaks on some of the photos but I expected this since it was an expired film.
On the next day of my holiday, I visited a little fishing port close to where I was staying in San Blas and decided to use the summer type coloured frames:
The photos exposed again quite nicely without having to amend the exposure dial on the camera. However, some of the photos were streaky and there was even a ‘lightning bolt’ effect across one of the photos of the fishing boats which looked quite cool but I can imagine some people would be annoyed by this and view it as ruining their photo.
On the following day I decided to use up the primary coloured frame film but the battery that is built into the film pack didn’t work to eject the actual photos so I couldn’t use them at all!
If the film had been in date, I could have returned it back to Polaroid and got a refund or a replacement. However, since it had expired several months ago, I was unable to do this.
One lesson I have learnt from this is that I’ve realised I need to use the Polaroid film within the expiry date if I want to try and get the best image possible.
I’ve got some more expired Polaroid film in my film stash so I plan to use this asap before purchasing anymore.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention that I have an instagram page @natalie_smart_photography where I had posted photos of my trip before writing this post, for anybody that doesn’t currently follow me who may want to.
On Friday evening I went to the opening of the Andy Warhol Polaroid Pictures exhibition at the Bastian Gallery in London.
Since I’m a huge fan of Polaroid photography, I was really looking forward to seeing this exhibition and after a chat with the staff running the exhibition, I was really happy that I was allowed to go to the private viewing on 1st February before it officially opened to the public on Saturday 2nd February.
There were over 60 portrait and self portrait Polaroid photographs on display that had been taken by Andy Warhol. Some of these photos had never been shown before so that was quite exciting.
The photos were taken in New York in the 1970s and 80s. There were a variety of people in the photos from artists, actors, politicians and friends of the Factory group.
I was hoping to see some photos that Andy may have taken on a Polaroid SX-70 (my personal favourite Polaroid Camera) but judging by the size of the photos, I think they were mainly taken on a Big Shot camera which was created by Polaroid for portrait use only. For anybody not familiar with this camera, it’s quite a simple design with an integrated flash, viewfinder and fixed focusing. These types of Polaroid cameras use the peel-apart style film, which was certainly more widely available back then.
What I also loved was the fact there was a huge Self-Portrait of Andy Warhol from 1979 which measured 81.3 x 55.9 cm so I think this must have been taken on one of those large instant polaroid cameras. I had watched a documentary about these large cameras on Netflix which was about Elsa Dorfman who used them a lot in her work so it was great to see one of these photos up close.
The opening night was extremely busy and had a great buzz which I really enjoyed.
I also managed to speak to the owner of the gallery, Aeneas Bastian and asked him about some Polaroid photos I could see on display downstairs (this area was closed off from the official exhibition). He explained to me that Andy Warhol was a family friend and had taken some personal polaroid photos of his family and that was what was on display downstairs but since they were private to him, he didn’t feel the need to have them officially shown in the public display which I completely understood. I think these photos may have caused some confusion in the exhibition if they had been shown alongside the the other photos of well known people.
There were a lot of great photos but here are some of my personal favourites….I apologise for the bad quality but the opening night was extremely busy and it’s quite a small gallery so I had to try and take photos around many people. I also didn’t manage to get a photo of the large polaroid of Andy Warhol since there were too many people constantly standing in front of it and admiring it which was nice to see.
I would highly recommend visiting the exhibition if you’re around in London over the next few months. Below are details of the exhibition dates and the address of where the gallery is in London:
For the past week I’ve been trying out my recently purchased Polaroid Filter Kit for my Polaroid 600 camera and the Polaroid Originals 600 colour film.
I found this kit for sale on the Polaroid Originals website and since I like experimental colour photography, I knew this would be a great addition to my camera.
The filters come in a really nicely packaged box so I can continue to store them in there when they’re not in use. They also come with a velvet drawstring bag which I can put them in when I’m out and about:
The filter set contains the following:
Here are some photos I took using the Blue filter:
I wasn’t particularly impressed by the blue filter but I think in hindsight I had used the wrong things to photograph for this filter.
In the first picture I took a coastline photo where most of it is blue anyway (the sea and sky) so it looks like a pretty normal photo. As with the usual quirks of polaroid pictures, there are blemishes at the bottom of the photo which I actually think livens the photo up a bit otherwise it would have been extremely dull. The bottom part of the blemish almost looks sand like.
The next photo I attempted with the blue filter was of a green tree. Again, I didn’t feel particularly excited by this photo and thought it was rather dull. By this point I had got bored of trying out the blue filter. I’ll perhaps try it again when I find a subject with colours that have no elements of blue in them already.
Here is a photo I took with the Yellow filter:
This colour is ok and I think it works well with the coastline but when I decide to use this filter again, I think I will need a particular idea in mind that I think will also work well with the yellow.
Here are some photos I took using the Red filter:
As you can probably tell from the amount of photos I’ve taken, this was by far my most favourite filter to use. I initially thought the photos would come out red so didn’t think I’d like them, but when I discovered they actually come out as this cool pink colour I was over the moon with the results.
As you can see, I used a variety of different settings for my photos and I think the colour works well in all of them. You’ll also see there are again, some classic polaroid quirks (blemishes) at the bottom of some of the photos.
Here are a couple of photos I took using the orange filter:
The orange is quite similar to the yellow filter although the colour is slightly darker and richer so I actually prefer the orange filter for this reason, hence why more photos were taken using it.
Here are some photos using the Mulit-Image 3 filter:
Both images are of the coastline divided into three of the same image which I think looks quite cool and I’ll definitely be using this filter again.
I haven’t yet used the Multi-Image 2 or Starburst filters. The reason being that I haven’t yet found any particular subjects where I felt the need to use either of these but I’m sure I will at some point.
Overall, I’m really happy I purchased this filter set from Polaroid Originals. It gives a different style of photo to a bulk standard setting and since the limited edition colour photos such as the duo chrome from Polaroid Originals are few and far between, I think this is a good way of getting that colour fix I’m after if I’m unable to get hold of the duo chrome style films again which at some point will run out or get more expensive when there are less of them about.
I recently purchased some ‘Gold Frame’ polaroid 600 colour film so I’m keen to see how the filters may work with that as a contrast.
I first discovered this camera a couple of years ago when I wanted to get an instant camera for various social events.
I had been to a few social gatherings where some friends of mine were using the Fujifilm Instax Mini instant camera and I really thought it was lovely that I was able to take home an instant picture of the occasion.
Prior to that I hadn’t really thought about instant photos except for the old polaroid instant cameras which were used by my family during the 70s/80s.
I therefore started looking into the types of instant cameras that were available but at a reasonable price as I wasn’t sure how often I would actually use it so didn’t want to spend a small fortune only for it to end up sitting in a drawer several months later.
Whilst looking at the various styles I really liked the look of the Polaroid Snap Cameras as their style really reminded me of the late 70s / early 80s with the colourful rainbow stripe across it.
These cameras come in various colours but were quite pricey at the time (around £105 I recall) which was a little higher than I really wanted to pay. However, to my luck, the pink version suddenly came up in a sale at Urban Outfitters and was reduced to around £49.99. At that price I decided to buy it and it really helped that I loved the pink colour any way (the other colours remained at full price).
I also loved the fact that a really cool case in different colours had been designed for the camera and I bought a contrast white one from Argos for around £15.
What I love about this camera is that it has a magnetic lens protector and it’s very much the same weight of a compact camera so can easily be carried in a handbag on a night out. It has a viewfinder which pops up when pressed up and then closes back into camera when not in use.
What I wasn’t so keen on when I started using it was the type of photo quality you get. This is because the camera uses ZINK Zero-Ink Printing Technology. I found the colour quality to be rather hit and miss.
You can select 3 different types of colour options on top of the camera from full colour, to slightly muted colour and black and white. You can also select a style of print from normal frame, to a border frame and a 4 frame photo (like a Photo Booth) where the camera takes four shots rather than a single one and prints it onto the same piece of paper.
The other downside to this camera is that it doesn’t let you know how many prints are remaining (there are 10 per pack) so unless you keep count (which I struggled to do when at a busy party), I would find myself taking a further picture for it finally to flash at me to state there was no more film and the instant photo moment would have passed so that kind of defeats the object of being an instant camera.
Also, the zinc paper does take a while to print and slowly comes out of the camera so it’s not particularly ‘instant’.
For all it’s faults, it certainly has provided great entertainment over the past few years and I’m pleased that I’ve got full use out of it and it hasn’t sat in a drawer as I worried it may do.
Personally though, I’m pleased I got it for the price I did and didn’t pay the original price as to me, I’m not sure I could have justified it for the print quality of the photos and the inconsistency of not knowing if I have enough paper in there for the photo.
The Zinc paper is cheaper overall per photo than the likes of fujifilm instant film so that is where I think the compromise is.
Since I bought this camera, it has reduced in price to around £69.99 – £89.99. This is because Polaroid have now brought out a newer model called the Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Camera with an LCD Screen so you can digitally view the picture on the back of the camera before you print it. There is also bluetooth connectivity and the newer model takes an SD card up to 128gb, which enables you to continue to take photos even if you run out of paper and print them later. This newer model currently retails for around £149.99.
Below are some photos I’ve taken so you can decide for yourself the quality of the images: