Sunday, August 27, 2006

Santhiphap Park on Fuji Instax film

I think you can count the parks in Bangkok on an old yakuza's hand, which prompted me to do a story on them for BK Magazine. To spice things up, the story will double up as an investigation into the joys (and pains) of alternative analog photography.

Alternative analog photography is quite simply the art of taking pictures with any camera but a digital--preferably a cheap piece of Russian junk--and producing images that are technical failures: screwed up colors, blown-out highlights, vignetting, etc.

Our first camera in this line-up is neither Eastern-European nor even vintage. It's a big, ugly, piece of plastic. People will actually burst out laughing when they see it; the Fuji Instax 200. It's also one of the very last instant film cameras in production which means I could get hold of it through Fuji. It's not that I don't like vintage Polaroid (I have a gorgeous black leather and brushed steal SX-70 back in France) but I couldn't find a single working Polaroid camera in Bangkok--and I did quite a few shops. Even if I had, SX-70 film is now only available in Hong Kong. You can use 600 film instead but that requires some hacking.

Anyway, the Fuji Instax 200 came free, with film, as a loan from Fuji. I would have never guessed I'd get to write that one day. Fuji is lending me stuff and giving me film! Once you get over how ugly the Instax 200 is, you might notice it takes HUGE Polaroids--uh, sorry, Instaxes--of 6.2x9.9cm. That's nearly the surface of pro peel-apart instant film (7.3x9.5cm) and way bigger than Polaroid SX-70. It also explaims the dimensions of the Instax camera. This thing is half-way between a medium format and a 4x5 inch camera!

Colors are typical of instant film and the pictures have a pretty special feel "straight out of the box". An Instax picture is also a unique object that can only be reproduced through scanning and that alone makes it a very arty thing. But for a really alternative look, your Instax deserves some extra tampering (note how just because Fuji was nice to me I'm saying Instax instead of Polaroid).

Writing with a capped pen on the back of your Instax just after it pops out will just produce dark lines--not exactly what we're after. Rub it down for 20 seconds and then start doing your magic. I used something a little more blunt than a capped pen, the aluminum canister of a cigare. I find Cuban Cohiba or Partagas to work best. Ok that was a joke. Only experimentation can teach how hard, how much, and how long you should tamper with your picture.

Santhiphap Park is located between Th. Ratchawithee and Soi Rangnam, in Bangkok. It's open every day from 5AM to 9PM.

Coming Next:
Peel-Apart instant film on a Polaroid 600 SE
Holga with cross-processed film
Lomo Kompact Automat with cross-processed film
All in different parks of Bangkok!


Anonymous Mathieu said...

Whoohoo! A whole series to look forward to... great idea.

Princess thinks the first two look gory (bloody) and we both really like the last two, in an old vintage look kinda way.

Makes me think of album covers, for some reason.

Kudos to chemistry for still doing some things better than digital, and viva la celebracion of the eye over expensive glass.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Austin said...

I really enjoy watching your experiments, especially those having to do with flash. I know virtually nothing about flash photography, as well as just about anything outside of 35mm, so I find it all very educational!


2:32 PM  

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