Polaroids Around the Old Tobacco Factories

This part of the city is changing fast.  What was once the busy industrial center that kept this city alive, had died and gone vacant.  No one dared wander these empty streets. Especially at night.

Nothing was around but an obscure coffee shop, that doubled as a music venue.  My friends and I would all pile into one car, park in a scary abandoned lot and run for our lives down the street to the safety of the coffee shop.

But now things have changed.  The old tobacco factories have been restored and turned into apartments, offices, research labs, restaurants and even a prestigious medical school has moved in.

I even managed to get a job working in this area.

A former sketchy area is now the cool new spot to be downtown.

That obscure coffee shop is now a popular place that also serves food, and is no longer a music venue.

I like to wander around and admire the changes.  I thought this would be the perfect place to use up a precious roll of expiring Land Camera film.

  An homage to the old days.

These photos were taken with one of my vintage Polaroid Land Cameras.

See my Polaroid Land Camera guide Here!

 

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Polaroid Land Camera Guide

Polaroid Land cameras are named after Edwin Land who was the inventor of the instant film camera, which was manufactured by Polaroid. All Polaroid instant cameras were called “Land” cameras until 1982 when Edwin Land retired.

This guide applies to the “packfilm” versions of Polaroid Land cameras which includes series 100-400 and were manufactured from 1963 to the mid 70s. Previous Land Camera models used a different type of film called roll film and a guide for that type of camera can be found here.

Polaroid stopped producing packfilm in 2009, leaving Fujifilm as the only manufacturer until 2016. There is still a supply of film out there but it is quickly diminishing and the prices are rising. Fortunately there are some photo labs that are currently trying to recreate the process of manufacturing this type  of Polaroid packfilm.

My first Land Camera in this style was the model 100, which was the first model ever produced. I found it at an antique store for 20 dollars and was so excited because it was my dream camera.  I managed to get it to work and have taken plenty of photos with it. Over the years I have collected quite a few different models at various thrift and antique stores because it’s my favorite type of vintage camera. I just can never pass them up!

Land Cameras can also be bought refurbished online for a higher price, but they’re guaranteed to work unlike the ones found second hand. Thrift store cameras can be a bit of a risk because you never know if it will work or not. But for me that’s all part of the fun!

I love this camera because it is such a classic vintage camera and still takes great photos over 50 years later. I have always loved the way film photos look and Polaroid film is magical with its instant developing. It still amazes me that these old cameras can still just pop out a beautiful film print.

This guide applies to the 100 series through the 400 series, although there may be some features of the later models that are not covered here.

Remove the Case 

If you’re lucky enough to find a camera that still has its case, unlatch it from the top of the camera to fold it down. Press the metal clip underneath to remove it. In some models the view finder will need to be flipped up.  In other models it stays up all the time.

 

Extend the Bellows

To extend the camera bellows press upwards on this arrow. Pull the bellows out gently until a click is heard and they slide into place.

 

Retract the Bellows

It’s a good idea to make sure the rollers are clean each time a new pack of film is placed inside. Otherwise chemicals will build up on them and make it difficult to pull the photos out.

The rollers are released by pressing the red clip and pulling the rollers up.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe them clean. If there are chemicals that are caked on really well, then a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a Q tip usually does the trick.

 

Open the Back

 Press down on the lever found on the bottom of the camera to pop open the back.

The inside of the camera should be clean and free of any tears or rips. Any rips of tears will provide a way for light to enter the camera and overexpose the film.

 

Clean the Rollers

It’s a good idea to make sure the rollers are clean each time a new pack of film is placed inside. Otherwise chemicals will build up on them and make it difficult to pull the photos out.

The rollers are released by pressing the red clip and pulling the rollers up.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe them clean. If there are chemicals that are caked on really well, then a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a Q tip usually does the trick.

 

 Test the Shutter

Engage the shutter by pressing down the lever labeled number three on the front of the camera.

 Release the shutter by pressing the red button labeled number two.

If the battery is working, two distinct clicks will be heard and the shutter can be seen opening and closing if the back of the camera remains open.  If these two clicks are not heard then there is something wrong with the battery connection and shutter will not open so a photo will not be taken.

Most old Polaroid Land Cameras found in thrift shops and antique stores will contain an old corroded battery.  There are still replacement batteries like this that can be found, but the easiest thing to do is replace the old battery with three AAA batteries.

A cheap mini flashlight has the perfect apparatus for converting the old land camera’s battery system.

This is done by connecting the white and black tabs to the flashlight battery holder. A quick fix is taping it all together with electrical tape. A permanent fix is by sodering.  In some cameras the flashlight apparatus will not fit inside so you may have to break off some plastic pieces in the battery compartment to make it fit.  That is what I did in the picture above, you can spot the jagged edges!

FujiFilm, until recently made new film for Polaroid Land cameras in color and black and white. Although it is now discontinued, the limited supply can still be purchased. Original, expired Land Camera film can still be found occasionally on eBay.

The film pack is loaded by placing it into the back of the camera. Make sure all the paper parts are aligned and not folded over before closing the back.

 

Film Speed

The film speed settings are 75, 150, 300 and 3000. 75 is a good place to keep it on because the color film is speed 100 and 75 is the closet to 100.

 

Lighting

 

Use the blue tab along the bottom the select the light setting. I usually keep mine selected for bright sun/dull day, unless it’s really bright outside.

Exposure

Twisting the ring around the lens adjust the aperture. In darker settings the camera should be set to lighten, in bright settings the camera should be set to darken.

Focus

The focus is adjusted by pressing or pulling the two tabs labeled 1.  This adjusts the below length of the bellows and brings the image into focus.

Adjusting the bellows is done while simultaneously looking through the little circular viewfinder to the left of the big viewfinder. There is a line that cuts the image in half, and they will line up perfectly when focused.

Once the image is lined up and in focus, engage the shutter by pressing the lever labeled 3, then snap the photograph by press down on the shutter release button labeled 2.

If the two clicks are heard, the photograph was taken!

 

Pull on the numbered tab to advance the negative part of the film. This causes the negative to make contact with the positive part of the film and bring the next negative forward in front of the lens.

The image is still inside the camera at this point.

To remove the picture from the camera, grasp the black tab and pull it out with a a firm and steady motion. Make sure it is pulled out straight and not at an angle which could cause a jam, or affect the development process.

The rollers work to spread the development chemicals across the image as it is pulled through, and to begin the development process.

On the side of the film is a developing time guide based on the ambient temperature. Although the fujifilm apparently has no maximum development time so it is ok the leave it for longer than it says.  However if you are using old expired film it’s best not to leave it to develop for too long.

After the recommended waiting time, peel the film apart and admire your polaroid picture!!

 

The flash clips onto the top of the camera and the wire plugs into the front. The flash will fire automatically when it is plugged in. To switch to taking photos without flash, just unplug it.

Flash bulbs can be found on eBay or at antique stores if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon them.

The bulb screws into the flash apparatus, and once it fires, it can be ejected by pressing the red button on top of the flash.

The bulbs are hot and partially melted once fired. Be careful!!

See a collection of some of my polaroids HERE.

Tell me about your Land Camera adventures!