Watercourse Way

Zion National Park — 2005 View Full Polaroid Portfolio »

About the Polaroid Type 52 Series

Polaroid Type 52, along with all other Polaroid film, was discontinued in 2008 by the Polaroid corporation. Type 52 was a 4x5 black and white sheet film. There was no negative so the resulting images were truly one-of-a-kind. The film's tonal range fell within a rather narrow 3-4 stops but offered exceptional mid-tone separation which, given the right subject matter and exposure, could render spectacular results.

Notoriously finicky, photographing with Type 52 in the field was an exercise in patience. Each film sheet is exposed and processed for ~2 minutes and evaluated. Production runs were inconsistent, so even when you thought you had everything just right, the print might come out spotted or with a corner missing. While the film's ISO was 400 I often found that ISO 800 more adequately served as a basis for determining initial exposure. And with exposure sensitivity down to 1/8 stop, you had to constantly monitor the available light.  It was not uncommon to expose 6, 10, even a whole box of 20 sheets to achieve the desired photograph.

Once out of the field, a protective, stinky archival coating is sponged on the print adding a subtle purplish hue and glossed finish. Matted, mounted and framed, the displayed prints are perfectly imperfect exhibiting an occasional processing spot or two, minute hairs from the sponge coaters and maybe even a bit of field dust if you're lucky. Coated and presented to archival standards, prints will last upwards of 100 years.