How I Scan and Edit My Polaroid Pictures

Digitizing an instant photo collection

I am shooting Polaroids since 2010 and I was always scanning my pictures. Therefore almost all my Polaroids exist as a digital copy on my computer as well.

That pays off in many ways for me. One of them is that early Impossible film was, let’s call it unstable. Hence some of my oldest Impossible Project pictures changed a lot or disappeared completely.

Impossible Project Instant Photo

Impossible Project Instant Photo

The Scanning

I am using EPSON scanners with their V series. My first scanner was their  low budget V300 which is totally fine for most casual users. You can find the scanner used for about 50 Euros and under.

I now use their V700 scanner which I also use for scanning my film negatives. The film holders work for 35mm and 120mm film and their 35mm holder can fit four stripes of negatives.

Epson V700

Epson V700

I have to scan quite a lot of Polaroids and the instant film adapter that Impossible Project produced back in the day is a huge help in getting the task done.

Impossible Project Scan Adapter

Scan Adapter by “The Impossible Project”

An additional advantage by using this is, that the adapter prevents the scans from showing Newton’s Rings. Sadly, Polaroid Originals no longer make this useful tool.

I start by positioning my pictures in the lower right corner. This prevents unwanted shadows cast by the adapter.

I put the scanning device in the scanner and start the Epson scan software. I use the one that came with the scanner. There are other software that people frequently use, like Silver Fast, but in my opinion the one from Epson works just fine.

These are the settings I use:

Scanner Settings

I uncheck all the things like spot removal. I’d rather do these things later in post processing if necessary. This way I have a much better control on the output.

600dpi is enough for what I do with the pictures. I mainly share them on my social media and view them on my computer. I rarely make large prints. If I’d going to do a larger print I’d just rescan the original at a better resolution. I just find that scanning at a higher resolution needs too much space on my hard drive. Same goes for the file format.

I don’t edit a lot so I am good with the.jpgs. If you want to edit more than you might want to save them as .tiff files.

The Editing

After the scanner has done its job I import the .jpegs to Lightroom. My first move is to crop them. Scans of film often look flat so I edit them a little bit to make them look more like the original.

I have a preset where I have the following set: Blacks, Whites, Temperature

Preset Lightroom

I want blacker blacks and whiter whites and cool the temperature just a little bit. These are my default settings:

Lightroom Preset

Then I add some tags to the pictures to better find what I need in the future. I usually add the year (i.e. 2019), the film type, the camera and some other tags that seem useful to me like location.

You can and should watch this video the get a better idea of the scanning and editing process I am using:

Thanks for reading! If you have questions about scanning and editing Polaroid pictures leave them in the comments. I’d also like to read about your scan routine. Do you do things differently?

What’s wrong with my Polaroid? Part I

Some Parts Of My Polaroid Are Not Developed Properly

 

You are wondering why your Polaroid picture came out with parts not fully developed?

Watch this in addition to the blog to learn more about the undeveloped patch:

In fact they look not developed at all? Your shot might look like these:

Well, this is a quite common anomaly and we call it the undeveloped patch or “divot”. In fact its presence can have various causes.

Basically what happened is, that developer chemistry didn’t reach this part of the picture and it is therefore undeveloped.

That is caused by roller pressure. Your camera has two metal rollers that destroy the chemical pods in the film and distribute the developer paste on the picture.

Polaroid Chemical Pods

Polaroid Chemical Pods

This paste can be dried out if it’s old film or not in perfect shape due to bad storage conditions. Another cause might be production related and there was just slightly not enough liquid in the pods.

In this case it is likely that the issue does not happen with your next pack of film.

I just had the same problem the other day and with the next pack of film it didn’t happen again.

This is just something that can and will happen from time to time.

Anyhow there is one thing you can try to avoid having undeveloped patches and it is something you should do anyway from time to time:

Clean the camera’s metal rollers!

How to get the best results from Polaroids even when the weather is not good

5 easy tricks to get the most out of your pictures

It’s rather easy to shoot good Polaroids when the weather is nice. But, as you might know, it’s now always nice. Hence I will share my five most important photo tips for rainy, overcast and cold days. These tips are optimised for someone who uses Polaroid Originals film and a vintage Polaroid 600 camera but they can be easily adapted for other Polaroid cameras. If you have any questions about this, just leave a comment and I’ll try to help.

Tip 1 – Low Temperatures

Polaroid Originals color film likes it warm. Meaning 20 degrees celsius or warmer. Therefore when it’s cold it’s a must to warm the pictures as well as the camera. The perfect place: Keep both inside your jacket, as close to the body as possible. If that’s not possible for some reason at least carry the camera in your bag. Never carry to camera or the picture outside in the cold!

Keep the photos during the development close to your body. We use a lanyard and a plastic pouch (see picture below).

Lanyard with plastic pouch and Polaroid

Lanyard with plastic pouch

This will keep the shots warm and protected from harmful sunlight.

The warmer you keep your pictures and your camera the better they will develop. This will lead to better contrast, color and details!

Polaroids shot in the cold

Polaroids shot in the cold (by Snap it See it)

Tip 2 – Grey Skies

If the weather is grey and it’s overcast outside I recommended to try and not have much of the sky in your picture. Otherwise your Polaroid will very likely look washed out and boring. Also the contrast between brighter and darker parts of the scene will often let your picture turn out too dark (see below).

Polaroid of Votivkirche

Too much contrast

If you are keeping your pictures warm if it’s cold outside, you can still get very nice results with rich blues.

Blue Skies in Winter versus Washed out Polaroid

Blue Skies in Winter versus washed out Polaroid

Tip 3 – Use The Flash

A great option for grey fall and winter days with not much available light is to use the flash for most of the pictures (architecture, portraits). This will reduce the average number of blurry pictures (but it’s still important to hold the camera stable). With flash the shutter times are fixed and the camera chooses the correct aperture. The following pictures show, that using the flash in this conditions doesn’t negatively affect the picture quality!

Polaroid of the Vienna State Opera

Left: Vienna Opera House without flash, Right: With flash

 

Vienna City Hall with flash

Polaroid of the Vienna City Hall with flash

Outdoor-Tip: Keep in mind that being to close when using the flash will result in an overexposed picture. Perfect distance to flash would be around 1.5 to 3 meters.

 

Flash versus no flash

Left: Gold Christmas ornaments without flash, Right: White and silver Christmas ornaments with flash

Indoor-Tip: Indoors try to place your subject in front of a background i.e. a white wall (otherwise it can happen that the background is all blacked out).

Tip 4 – Choosing your subject

The outcome of a picture starts with the choice of motif. Generally speaking you should try to go to places where a lot of light is available like wide open spaces. Look for the light and avoid shadowy areas.

In addition actively look for strong colors and colorful subjects like a graffiti, colorful clothes, an umbrella…

Tip 5 – Keep Your Polaroid Camera Stable

The less light available the longer the shutter speed times get the easier it is to blur your pictures.

Find out how to best hold the camera still

Tip: Stand broad, look through the camera, hold still, breathe and calmly press the shutter

I hope these five, very practicable tips will help you in creating better Polaroids! If there’s anything I can help you with, just let me know in the comments. Also go and check out our YouTube channel where we have loads of tutorials that can improve your instant photography.

How to take Polaroid pictures outdoors?

 

Today’s tip is about how to shoot with your vintage Polaroid 600 camera outdoors:

Outdoors, under normal light conditions, use the flash override shutter button. It is located right beneath the flash shutter button. Check out our Manual for Polaroid 600 cameras for pictures and more information.

Watch the following video to find out how it’s done:

Just press it all the way to take your picture. There are some outdoor situations that might require you to use the flash, for example if you want to make a portrait when not much light is available, when the subject is backlit or when your subject is located in a doorway or under a bridge.

Check out this video to see how to apply the tips:

 

Check out our other tips:

How to take good Polaroid pictures indoors?

 

Today’s tip is about how to shoot indoors:

If you want to take a picture indoors, use the flash by pressing the flash shutter button. Check out our Manual for Polaroid 600 cameras for pictures and more information.

Check out the Video and see how it’s done:

 

There are circumstances where you’d rather not use flash indoors, for example when you want to snap a Polaroid of something that’s lit by a natural light source, such as a window.For taking pictures of people indoors with flash it is recommended to place your subjects in front of a light colored background (i.e. a white wall) and stand about 1.2 to 3 meters (about 4 to 10 feet) away when taking the picture.

Watch our video to learn more about the topic:

 

Check out our other tips:

 

How and when to use exposure correction

Today’s tip is an important one for using Polaroid Originals color film. When should you use the camera’s exposure correction?

Polaroid Photo-Tip 10 - Exposure correction

Exposure correction slider on your Polaroid 600: Default position (middle)

Your camera has a slider to control how bright or dark your picture should be. Adjust it to manually tell your camera to change the exposure of the next picture. With the Polaroid Originals color film (Oct. 7, 2017) we recommend leaving the slider in the default position.

Polaroid Photo-Tip 10 - Exposure correction

(1) Adjustment in normal bright daylight

Your pictures turn out too light? Move the slider further towards the black arrow (2).

Polaroid Photo-Tip 10 - Exposure correction

(2) Adjustment for a very bright setting

Your pictures turn out too dark now? Move the slider towards the middle position (3).

Polaroid Photo-Tip 10 - Exposure correction

(3) Adjustment for when your pictures turn out to dark

Polaroid Photo-Tip 10 - Exposure correction

(4) Usually you wouldn’t move the slider towards the white arrow.

You might want to move the slider as shown in picture (2) when either the sun or the setting is very bright.

Watch our videos to learn more about exposure correction for Polaroid 600 cameras:

Check out our other tips:

Why do I have to protect my Polaroid pictures from sunlight and how do I do that

Today’s tip is about how and why to protect your Polaroid Originals and Impossible Project color pictures from sunlight:

Instant film contains multiple layers. One of them is a regular film negative, which is why the photo is sensitive to light until it is fully developed. The development time of the Color Polaroid Originals picture is about 15 minutes.

The reason for this rather long development time is mainly caused by the so-called opacification layer. It is another, blue, layer within the film, which protects the lower (light-sensitive) layers from light.

Think of the opacification layer, or opacifier, as a chemical curtain that needs to be drawn over the film to protect the image you’ve created.

The opacifier isn’t perfect protection: Therefore we recommend using the “Frog Tongue” (or film shield), a device that can be installed in most Polaroid 600 and SX-70 cameras which helps to further protect your pictures.

Polaroid Photo-Tip 9 - Protecting Polaroids from Sunlight

Polaroid 600-type camera with built-in film shield

And this is how you take and remove a picture using the film shield for Polaroid 600 box-type cameras:

Polaroid Photo-Tip 9 - Protecting Polaroids from Sunlight

There’s another method to protect the Polaroid if you do not have a camera with a built-in frog tongue. Watch our video to learn how to install the film shield in your Polaroid 600 camera:

Hit the shutter button. Right after the photo got ejected, quickly turn the camera by 180º or take the picture with the darkslide (put it on the side with the developing picture). Then quickly place the picture in a bag, pocket, book or let it develop face down (be careful to not bend it).

Polaroid Photo-Tip 9 - Protecting Polaroids from Sunlight

Darkslide – A cardboard that protects the film from light

Avoid exposing and developing in direct sunlight; this will cause overexposure and reddening of the final result. Polaroid instant-photos are no longer sensitive to light after a few minutes but it will take about 15 minutes to fully develop the Polaroid. It might even develop further after that point!

And that’s how it works:

Polaroid Photo-Tip 9 - Protecting Polaroids from Sunlight

How to protect the Polaroid picture from light

In short: Expose your Polaroid as little as possible to sunlight.

Watch our video to learn more about the topic:

Check out our other tips:

How to create colorful Polaroids?

 

Today’s tip is about how to really make your colors pop:

There is one key ingredient to colorful pictures: Color! If you want to have saturated colors in your Polaroid Originals instant picture the subject must be colorful. How to get good colors in cold weather? Check out tip #4. Tip #9 is also helpful!

The first picture is the perfect colorful subject. The second not so much 😉

Polaroid Photo-Tip 8 - How to Get Great Colors in a Polaroid
Polaroid Photo-Tip 8 - How to Get Great Colors in a Polaroid

 

Check out our other tips:

Get close and make your subject the main focus of your picture

 

Today’s tip is about making your subject the main point of interest:

To make the most of your instant-shots we recommend getting close to your subject and making your subject the main interest of your picture! Frame it in your viewfinder as big as possible and keep the background simple. Don’t think too much about it: Often the simple things work best in a Polaroid.

Check out our video for more info:

 

A few sample pictures:

 

Check out our other tips:

What is a parallax error and how can I work around it?

 

Today’s tip is will teach you about the parallax error, what it is and how to work around it. The Polaroid 600 type camera will take the picture through the lens, but you’ll see the scene through the viewfinder next to the lens. This results in a so-called parallax error. This error is bigger the closer you are to your subject, it’s less visible the more far away you are.

Polaroid Photo-Tip 6 - The Parallax Error

Polaroid 600-type camera

Polaroid Photo-Tip 6 - The Parallax Error

Parallax error

If you are for example framing your subject in the middle of the viewfinder, your camera in fact “sees” it closer to the left, upper corner. To work around that we recommend avoiding full frontal framing of your subject. Rather go for a side angle. You could also frame the subject a little bit more to the left, leaving space on the right side of the viewfinder. Another note: Your camera doesn’t show you the full scene it’ll capture in the viewfinder. It’ll add a little bit on all sides. This makes the parallax error seem smaller.

In short: We think it’s very hard to successfully work around the parallax error. Our tip: Don’t worry too much about it – rather embrace the imperfection 🙂

Watch our video for more info on the parallax error:

 

Check out our other tips: