Saving instant negatives

Today I tried something I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. I bleached some fuji instant film (fp100c). This is a ‘peel apart’ kind of film, which means that you get two images: a positive image (the print) and a negative image that is covered in black, so most people throw this away. But somewhere along the way somebody found a method to make some use out of the black negatives: when you bleach them, you can get a proper negative that you can scan.

There are several ways to do this, I chose to try it this way, because it didn’t seem as messy and damaging as some other videos I saw. For this method you need:
– some fuji fp100c negatives
– masking tape
– a piece of glass (for example from a photo frame)
– a (soft) paint brush
– bleach (i used cheap toilet gel with javel)
– two small containers (bleach in one, cold water in the other)
– paper towels
– something to hang them up for drying.

The steps are quite easy, you first take off the excess paper around the edges, then tape the negatives to the glass (black side up). Then apply some bleach with the brush, take off the black with a paper towel. In my case, the black came off almost immediately, but this will depend on your bleach. Dip the brush in some water and go over it again, and take off the rest with the paper towels. After that you take off the tape, and rinse the negatives in some water. The front is a bit slimy, so I rubbed it gently until all the goop had come off. After that, just hang them up to dry!


Here is an example of what you get after scanning (and some color correction):

reclaimed negative

And for comparison the positive image (this was fp100c silk, which I tried for the first time and then found out it has a raster over the image. Wasn’t too happy about discovering that only after I bought and used it.):


 As you can see, the negative is a lot sharper and brighter than the positive. It also has more ‘faded’ colors. And it doesn’t have that awful raster (never buying silk again /holds a grudge). It takes a lot more time and effort, but I do like the results. Off to bleach some more!

PS: Always be careful when using bleach, this product is damaging to skin, eyes and clothes. Wear something you don’t care too much about, if possible gloves and protective eyewear. Only use it in a well ventilated area. Also, if you’re doing this for the first time, try this on an unimportant image before applying it to your best work. ;)

Dancing in the room

Here’s to trying new things. Yesterday I had my first lingerie shoot with the lovely Caroline, who made my job so incredibly easy. She moves like a dancer, everything she does looks natural yet exceptional at the same time. I’m very much looking forward to getting my film back from the lab next week, for now all I have is this polaroid. Things were a little tricky as we were shooting natural light, indoors, and the weather was really gray and dark. I hope this didn’t boycott us too much. We’ll see!

This certainly feels different from my usual work, but at the same time it still feels like me. Also it feels good to try different things, to keep growing. To know I can only keep getting closer to the artist I want to be.


Model: Caroline Albertelli
© Els Vanopstal

A wonder I can think at all

Not so very long ago I did something I had never done before in my life. I created an account and… bought something off ebay. More in particular, I bought an old Polaroid Land Camera 210. I had been yearning for one of these land cameras for a long time and I just ran out of patience. Then I saw this one. Patiently I waited until the last minute to bid on it and yay! I got it! It’s actually pretty exciting waiting there, hoping no one else will snap it away in the very last second. I mean, I really wanted it! I would have been heartbroken had someone come along and taken it away from me. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done. It probably would have involved me tracking down the buyer, sitting outside his house in my car spying on him with my night goggles…But I digress.

After I had ‘won’ it, there was more excitement to come! Will it arrive? Whén will it arrive? Will it arrive in one piece? Luckily for my blood pressure, the polaroid was sent quickly and it arrived at my home within a couple of days. Hours and ten layers of gaffer tape later (boy that seller really made me work for it), I inhaled the sweet smell of a 45 year old camera. Which smells a bit like attic. Okay, a lot.

Anyhow, the adventure just kept on coming in, as I put in a pack of fujifilm and asked (well, ordered) my boyfriend to pose for me.  Taking the picture itself (getting my boyfriend’s head to fit between two lines, whilst keeping an eye on the little squares that mark what will actually be on the picture), was peanuts! In comparison with getting the film in and out. But that wasn’t the worst part – the worst part is I’m an idiot. In all my enthusiasm I had forgotten to check the battery compartment, which turned out to be empty and above all completely corroded. Luckily the people at my photo store knew how to fix it and now, weeks after I purchased the thing: voila! A picture!

I guess the moral of this story is: even instant film can take a while when you’re an idiot. True, things didn’t exactly go smoothly for me, but now I’m damn happy I got it, and it’s working. More polaroids to follow.

PS: In my defense, the Mamiya I use to shoot most of my analog photos with, doesn’t even need a battery. You can see where I went wrong.