Polaroid Emulsion Lifts

Polaroid Emulsion Lift

Last year I stumbled across a Polaroid at a local Good Will store.  There was a tray of film in it, but the camera showed no sign of power.  I looked up Polaroid battery while I was there in the store and found out that the film actually powered this camera.  For about $9, I bought the camera and then went to Target to get a pack of film. After that, I was in business. Not surprised at the fact that the pack of film was $20 and the camera was only $9. It was a little beat up, but for $9, I didn’t think I could really pass it up.

Polaroid One Step

I ended up shooting a few with the Polaroid just for fun and then decided that I would try my hand at an emulsion lift. There are a ton of videos out there about the process so I don’t think I will be recording one of my own.  No need to reinvent the wheel here. If you are interested in which one I watched, this video from Matt Day was probably the most helpful. I found another video on transferring the image to a piece of wood, but wasn’t ready to let that be my very first attempt.

I went out and grabbed a photo of the front yard.  Given that I totally missed focusing on the purple flowers, I didn’t mind it if this one came out like hot garbage.

Polaroid emulsion lift

This is such a cool process and result…  assuming you do it right.

Which I did not.

Getting the image off of the plastic backing was not too terrible, though mine did not come off nearly as quickly as I saw in some other instructional videos.  Shifting the image around was nothing major and a small brush dipped in cold water did the trick.  There were a lot of small white artifacts that I assume came off the back of the image and stayed even after transferring the image from the tray of hot water to the tray of cold.  Something I will have to pay better attention to next time.

Polaroid emulsion lift

This entire thing was going so well until I got the bright idea to lay a small paper towel on top of the image to dry it off quicker.  As soon as I started to lift the paper towel, I knew I had messed up.  The image did not stick to the watercolor paper.  Instead, it stuck to the paper towel and shifted the position around too much.  I could have dipped it back into the water to move it around, but when I pulled the towel off, it actually left some holes in the image.

Polaroid Emulsion Lift

I also noticed that as the watercolor paper dried, it started to bow just a bit.  When I tried to flatten the paper, the image cracked a little in random areas and began to peel.  A mental note for the next attempt is to place something heavy on each corner of the watercolor paper as it dries so that it can dry flat and require little to no shifting of the image.

Last weekend, I took the Polaroid out and finished off the film I still had left, which was just four shots.  I know that there are many out there who will do anything to stop light leaks from getting in the shot, but personally, I love them.  Seeing the miscoloration at the top of these as well as the leaks coming in at the bottom only adds to the image in my opinion.

Polaroid One Step Photos

I am especially excited about the 4th image (bottom right) and plan to try lifting each of these very soon.


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