5 Frames… Of Polaroid Originals on an old Burke & James Orbit 4×5 camera and Ilex Paragon Anastigmat lens – by Nathan Acevedo
April 2020. I purchased my first 4×5 camera, an old Burke & James Orbit 4×5. Learning to use it was immensely fun and rewarding. I noticed an almost immediate change in how I approach my image-making. Roll forward six months and in October 2020 I find myself with a surplus of Polaroid Originals 600 and I-Type film. This is odd, as I am not usually a Polaroid, or Instant, photographer.
So I searched for a fun way to use the film, aside from the original intentions. Lo and behold I found a way to combine the instant with what is almost the furthest from instant there is: that Burke & James Orbit 4×5 camera.
- The old Burke & James Orbit 4×5
- An Ilex Paragon Anastigmat f/4.5 EF 7 1/2” lens
- The film – Polaroid Originals 600 Color
- A Polaroid OneStep CloseUp to “develop” the film
Off we go.
Frame 1 – The classic mirror LF selfie
…did not go well – the focus was off, the lighting was poor. The Polaroid camera I used to develop the image only ejected the frame halfway and I had to pull it out manually. Had a drink and waited til morning to try again.
Frame 2 – Much better
Made sure the Polaroid sat perfectly flat in the 4×5 film holder. Added some light, nailed my focus. Polaroid camera for developing the frame worked as it should.
Frame 3 – To the patio garden!
Set up some cacti and succulents. Took the meter reading, focused, loaded the Polaroid frame into the Orbit. Breathe slowly. Take the shot. Then realize, post-development, that I had loaded the Polaroid frame backwards. Cool.
Frame 4 – It’s OK!
This is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Let’s slow down and try again. I did not slow down. I rushed during the reload and forgot to bring my aperture back to shooting value after checking my focus. Five to six stops overexposed. Realized post-development. Cool.
Frame 5 – …
- I double-checked it all:
- The Polaroid frame is flat.
- The Polaroid frame has the correct orientation.
- The 4×5 film holder is loaded correctly.
- My focus is correct.
- The light hasn’t changed but I take another metering anyway.
- My shutter speed is correct.
- The aperture is correctly set.
- I do a couple of test shutter fires before removing the dark slide. Fires perfectly.
- Take a breath. Take the shot.
- Remove and load Polaroid frame into Polaroid camera. It rolls it out as it should.
The image is under exposed, or rather it looks exactly as it should because I didn’t use a fill light, though I do love the end result regardless. Rationalizing my love of this frame, in order to not try again, also goes off perfectly.
I was in need of a small project to kick my creative flow out of the dam it hit. This helped immensely and I will absolutely be continuing the practice.
At least til the film runs out.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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