Instax: Full Colour vs. Monochrome

Undoubtedly, one of the best things about using an instant camera is waiting for each exposure to develop.

Will it be a good one?

Will it be blurry? Overexposed? Underexposed?

Will it be better than I hoped?

When using the Lomo’Instant Wide for the first time, I was completely blown away by the detail in each photograph given that this Lomography camera uses the same film as the Instax Wide 300 and the Mini 8 + 9 cameras (in half the size) which is produced and sold by Fujifilm. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to try out other kinds of film, so I rushed to Amazon to buy my old favourite: Monochrome.

Monochrome

My first instant camera was a baby pink Instax Mini 8. I used it to death and continue to use it still.

However, each exposure, regardless of the time of day and volume of light in the space being photographed, would usually turn out to be hellishly over-exposed. In particular, people’s faces to the point where my future children will likely look at my old portfolio and ask how old we were when our noses finally started to grow.

To begin with, the brightness didn’t bother me too much as I was attracted to the novelty of the camera more than anything, and a little overexposure seemed to be “the look” famously synonymous with the original Polaroids.

That saying, it did start to get rather frustrating when I got over the novelty of photographing friends and family at parties and wanted to start capturing some scenic shots outside and close up. The only sort of film that was guaranteed to have the right level of contrast was the mini monochrome film by Instax. The Mini monochrome film is particularly good at capturing peoples’ faces and smiles.

Within no time I found myself treasuring each shot as every exposure developed to reveal attractive, chemical greatness.

I wish I could say the same for the Wide alternative.

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Cons

I photographed the same outdoor location using the same lighting settings and lens with both the monochrome film and the full-colour film less than an hour apart. The difference is immediately apparent between the two.

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Perhaps the Lomo’Instant Wide isn’t suited to black and white film but having now finally trudged through the 10 exposures in the cassette I won’t be rushing to buy it again for this camera. After the first two shots turned out a little off-focus, I began to wonder whether it actually was my incompetency or the film not agreeing with the device at hand. Every photograph I took seemed a little dull, a little too overexposed, and lacked in focus and sharpness even whilst shooting with a closer lens and the flash on.

Pros

The one good thing about the monochrome film was the silhouette effects it produced. It made for some spooky shots which were quite nice. Again, though, they did lack that level of sharpness that I like most about using the camera.

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I won’t rule out buying monochrome film completely as I didn’t do any sort of head shot using this camera but I would definitely be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed.

 

 

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Two nights beneath red lights

Amsterdam | January 2018


What does a gal do when she has little in the way of events lined up for the New Year? She books a two-day trip to her favourite European city on the 30th of December, departing a mere 11 days in the future. Was she panicked at the prospect of going it alone for the first time with only one piece of hand luggage*? Scoffs. Is The Netherlands flat?

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I know how it looks: does this girl not have any friends? 

I do, I really do, and they’re smashing but let’s consider that having us all together, at the same time, for a few hours in December to swap Secret Santa gifts was just as astounding as the miracle of Christ’s birth itself. Tying a squad of introverts, masters students and full-time workers to a specific date wasn’t possible in the short, heightened period of excitement that possessed me — the very sort known to induce impulse buying.

I had a few personal ambitions for this trip that are both very geeky and a little dated, admittedly. But, boy, did achieving them make joy burst through my veins!

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First and foremost, I was travelling alone for the first time. I was excited to spend sometime problem solving through issues I’d once relied on someone to help me with. In 2015, prior to having only left the UK once in my life, I Interrailed across Central Europe with my boyfriend of the time for 28 days. We visited eight countries in that time, all of which I wrote about Scotcampus Magazine at the time: Amsterdam was one of our final and most anticipated stops on the trip. From a security perspective, it was extremely unsuccessful as I was robbed blind in Prague of pretty much anything of value to me in our hostel and two men made an almost successful attempt at mugging Stewart’s phone from him on the streets of Brussels. Security is something I am highly conscious of as a result.

Two… I got a beautiful Lomo’Instant Wide camera forChristmas — actual heart-eye emojis right now. It comes with a variety of lenses meaning for the first time my instant photography would not be entirely limited to chance. It’s important for me to capture polaroids as well as pictures on my phone. I like the way we cannot alter them and each exposure feels a little like a souvenir from any place and time. It’s not the most environmentally friendly approach to being, or the most cost-effective but I think that’s what makes me treasure it more.

Super wide, super zoom and fish eye are are just some of the lenses I received in the gift pack (can’t even begin to fathom the cost of this all) not including the zoom, portrait and wide angle settings on the camera itself. The camera allows you to turn the flash off, which is a simple yet wholly appreciated feature to someone who is an Instax Mini loyalist, and also enables the photographer to take multi and long exposures as well as adjust the brightness settings. It’s a dream and Amsterdam seemed like the perfect location to experiment with it. Seventy exposures later, I think it’s fair to say I did.

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Three… I wanted to switch off. I must hold the title for taking the most books away places and never reading them. Seriously. The two John Green paperbacks that trotted across the globe with me in 2015 returned with their spines unbroken. I prevailed on this trip to Amsterdam as part of my utterly sad New Year’s Resolution to read more. I read two books, actually!

I took a notepad with me too and jotted down everything I saw when I got back to the hotel each night for no particular reason other than wanting to remember it one day. I spent two hours being invisible in Amsterdam Centraal Station, just observing the commuters and wondering where their rushing feet were taking them that night.

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The fun in having no plans or motivations was that I could float to anything that caught my eye. This just so happened to be a Martin Luther King, Ghandi and Mandela exhibition at the De Nieuwe kerk and a pop-up Banksy exhibition at Moco museum. I floated to the ice rink, still alive from the festive period, which looked incredibly beautiful before the Rijkmuseum and Van Gogh museum. I jumped on a cruise just at the right time for the Amsterdam Festival of Light, meaning that various light shows were taking place on the water which were added into the already highly informative and captivating tour of the entire Jordaan and surrounding city.

*note to self: excitement isn’t a currency

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