This is a fun benefit of shooting with Fujifilm FP3000B instant film. You get a nice ‘positive’ black and white print from the process, but you can also use the throw-away ‘negative’ part to get a funky, retro version of the same image. I shot this on my Toyo-View C view camera, with a Caltar 250mm f/5.6 lens. Ambient window light, and exposure was f/5.6 and 1/8 sec.
Making portraits with shallow depth of field on a 4×5 view camera is a tricky process. The depth of field is so shallow that any minor movement front to back can bring the image out of focus. So I used a technique employed by photographers in the 1800s,when exposures were so long that they had to practically nail down their subjects. In fact many of them would use some sort of brace or support behind the head, so the subject could remain still for several minutes.
My exposure wasn’t that long of course, but I did need to keep an eight year old from moving while I focused, then inserted the film back and exposed the image. So I had him kneel on the ground, and set a dining room chair behind his head. He used this as a reference point to keep his head still.
The negative part of the image seems to solarize very easily, which simply means that portions of the image that are at the extreme highlight or shadow range will reverse. I’ve been told that’s due to not enough development time and/or the room being too cold. I increased development time from my earlier experiment, and it is much improved. But you can see the bars of the dining room chair in the negative version, which have solarized. They’re not visible in the positive version below. There’s also a weird solarized edge effect, visible around his cheeks and earlobes.
The process is simple: once you’ve made your exposure and pulled your positive print away, remove the paper edges from around the negative portion, including the bottom part where the chemicals were stored. Wipe that clean with a paper towel, and go wash your hands. Let it dry (or use a blow dryer), so you don’t get goo on your scanner later on. We’re talking several hours of drying if you don’t use a hair dryer. Then scan like you would a photo or document, in reflective mode. Flip and invert the image in Photoshop (the negative will also be flipped right to left), and then tweak the contrast as you see fit. I’ve toned these in Lightroom with a traditional silver print two-tone look.