Happy Birthday Dr Edwin Land

Maison Bleue, Edinburgh, SX70 Polaroid PaintingMaison Bleue, Edinburgh, SX70 Polaroid Painting

Maison Bleue, Edinburgh,
SX70 Polaroid Painting

(This image was taken soon after I started using this technnique.)

As I was about to sit down and write a post this morning I happened to glance through my emails first – and promptly abandoned my previous subject. Today is Dr Edwin Land’s birthday ( Thank you, Impossible folks, for the reminder.) He is the inventor behind all things Polaroid, but most importantly in my book, created the SX70 camera and the film it used.

If I were to compile a top ten list of people who have influenced my creative life then he would have to be on it. From the day I discovered what could be achieved with his materials I was hooked. The person I have to thank for this introduction is a Hungarian photographer, Turi Geza who was working in Edinburgh at the time. Around 2002 He had an exhibition of his photographs,referred to as from a Polaroid Land camera. At the time I had no idea what the “Land” referred to and was rather mystified. As soon as I got home I set about finding out what I needed to try my hand at the technique.

An SX70 camera and TimeZero film was the answer. Ebay came up with the former , and in those days the film was still readily available in high street camema shops. There followed a steep learning curve, with lots of images falling by the wayside – but soon there were more hits than misses.

Why was this combination of film and camera so special ? The camera itself was such a lovely object to work with , transforming itself with a slight tug from a rectangular block into a recognisable camera. The magic of the film was that for a short period – perhaps an hour or so – the film emulsion remained fluid and could be manipulated. So the resulting images were not from computer manipulation , but rather created on the actual image.

This is a little video I made a few years ago showing how it works.

From that time until the film went out of production (sob ) this was my principal medium. Of course I bought up as much of the film as I could ( and I still have a tiny bit left – but probably it will not function properly after all this time.) but I hit a huge block. What had previously been quite a carefree process became rather gloomy. In an effort to move past this obstacle I launched into my “12 City Project” which saw me travel to a different city every month for a year , using my remaining film. In the end it turned into a wonderful adventure. ( As I searched through my archive for a post that neatly summed up the whole idea behind this project, I realised I hadn’t written one – so keep a look out for that in the next few days if you’d like to know more.)

There are two consolations for me – one – I have a huge archive of images shot with the film and I continue to work with them to this day ( for example in my cushion collection) and secondly The Impossible Project have worked hard to create new films ( completely new formulations of film) so that those amazing SX70 cameras still have a future.

So Happy Birthday Dr Edwin Land and Thank You !

Other resources – The Impossible Project’s Blog today.

The image at the top of the post is of Maison Bleue restaurant on Edinburgh’s Victoria Street – highly recommended.

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Notes from the East – Part 1.

Well, I’ve been off on my travels again. Despite the fact that moving between Scotland and Holland for a year has largely satisfied my wanderlust, there was a birthday to be celebrated, and what better way than to do that with a little trip. Over the years I have collected a few favourite places and this time I decided to follow in my “12 City Project” footsteps and visit both Budapest and Romania. Although once in Romania I was headed for an area that I’d not been to before – pictures to follow in the next few posts.

Its nice to mix things up and have a combination of the familiar with the new. And so ,to Budapest, where I’d found a very lovely little flat to rent. On the Buda side of the city in a very charming neighbourhood which was good for transport to the rest of the city but also full of little bistros and cafes, not to mention a really good daily market.

( If you are planning a trip to Budapest this is the company I used – great customer care, with lots of tips about the area )

I travelled light this time, no big camera gear , so all the images come from either my trusty point and shoot or from my iphone. ( By the way,now that it is autumn and I have a bit more time, I am working on a little something that will help you get the most out of your images. Initially I planned to cover only Iphonography – but due to a few requests I will also make a version that is appropriate to those of you using simple digital cameras. If you’d like to get a tip off when it is ready you can subscribe here. )

Not Quite Normal Service Just Yet…..

Well, not quite back into my previous blogging rhythm just yet. And in fact, I’ve decided to give myself till the end of the year to find a proper format again. I will be posting a little more regularly throughout December though, as it helps with those ” end of year reviews” to put it in writing .

Anyway, today’s news is that I’m featured over on Stephanie Levy’s ” Artists Who Blog” website and I’m really delighted to share that with you here. We got in touch  earlier this year when we found out  that we had a year long European project in common . She is currently almost half way through her project – and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the images and hearing the stories so far. I was also lucky enough to meet her when I went to Hello Etsy in Berlin and we had a great time comparing notes.

She creates beautiful mixed media pieces based on the European cities she is travelling to or imagined interiors – watercolour and collage in vibrant colours – they are gorgeous – go and have a look !

New Work – 12 City Project – Florence

12 City Project - Florence

12 City Project - Florence

Now that I have the super ginormous printer I am starting to issue some of the 12 City Project images as prints on that wonderful heavy Hahnemuhle art paper. Because the colour issues were so “interesting” with these Polaroids I couldn’t leave all the colour adjusting to the Giclee printers who did my work previously. Just too many decisions to be made about how the final image should look.  I won’t deny it has been a bit of a battle to get these images looking good but I do like the finished result. They are not bright like my other Polaroid images, but the colours give them a look of having been done long ago , which I rather like.

If you’ve had your eye on one of my Polaroids for a while then take advantage of my once a year 50% print day at my Etsy shop. For 24 hours use the code HAPPYDAY and the cost should be adjusted automatically.

Meanwhile I’ll be celebrating my birthday in an unusual place that I will be reporting back on .

Travel Tuesday – Paris

Paris Fruit and Veg

Paris Fruit and Veg

Although any work on my 12 City Project is having to be squeezed into little spare moments just now, I thought I’d help keep myself on track by posting Travel Tuesday images from each of the cities in turn. This time it is back to Paris. I’m feeling a bit of a pull towards Paris so maybe a trip there is in order. These photos are not polaroids but I can’t help stick but to the square format even when I shoot with other cameras .They are just little “glimpses” that I took in between the Polaroid shooting that was the main focus of my trip. It was so wintery while I was there that a trip in the warmer half of the year is very appealing. (Though to be fair, I ‘ve made it look a little more wintery than it was,with this faded colour processing.)

Jardins de Luxembourg 1

Jardins de Luxembourg 1

Jardins de Luxembourg 2

Jardins de Luxembourg 2

Paris Window

Paris Window

Behind the scenes, more cushion production going on. And designing other fabrics so that I can put in my next order. My studio newsletter is out next week – that’s the way to find out when new products launch, what else I’m up to and any special subscriber bonuses.

Travel Tuesday – Sibiu, Romania

Sibiu 1

Sibiu 2

Sibiu 3

Today’s Travel Tuesday is still in Romania. It’s amazing what you can find when you are tidying up a studio. These are some of the Polaroids I took in Romania on the type of film that can’t be manipulated. They still have a very recognisable Polaroid feel to them . I also found the equivalent ones from Budapest and Istanbul so they will come up in the next couple of weeks. At the moment I’m still reading the book I serendipitously picked up in Amsterdam – It does not appear to have been translated into English.  This is an English description of the book.

Studio Newsletter will be out later this week and I’m doing a giveaway exclusively for subscribers of one of my new giclee prints. If you’d like to be in with a chance you can subscribe here.

Travel Tuesday – Romania

Sibiu- Liar's Bridge


It’s all had rather a Romanian slant for the last week or so. I’ve been reading “Along the Enchanted Way” by William Blacker.

He spent a number of years living in Romania in the late 90s – dividing his time between Maramures and a Saxon village in Transylvania.  I’m quite envious that he managed to spend such extended periods there. Especially as the social landscapes that he describes will be disappearing year on year. He has had a bit of criticism for over romanticising the life of the Romanian peasant and for  being sad about the changes that come in the wake of “modern progress”. And while no one would wish a life of hardship on anyone, it is interesting , none the less that those peasants lived with a seasonal rhythm and natural sense of purpose that we in our modern cities are only just noticing that we have lost. I don’t think it is a coincidence that there is now so much “searching” for meaning, community or whatever feels lacking.

And then at the weekend Patrick Leigh Fermor died. He wrote several highly regarded travel books , but my favourite has always been Between the Woods and the Water – which followed the part of his European journey from the Austrian border to the Bulgarian one – and so mostly covered Hungary and Romania. He really does give a glimpse into a world that has disappeared.