Friday, September 24, 2010

The Impossible Project

The Impossible Project is a group of people dedicated to creating a new instant analog film product designed to be used in Polaroid cameras.  The first type of film they created is a black & white/sepia tone film called Silver Shade.  Just recently they've launched the first new color film for Polaroid cameras called Color Shade.

When I found out that The Impossible Project finally had film available for purchase I quickly placed an order.  At the time the only Polaroid camera I had was the 600 model, so I began an eBay quest to find cameras to fit the film I'd bought.

So, now with a few more cameras in my arsenal, I could pick & choose which one I was going to take to Tech Field Day.  I opted for the Spectra (on the right) because it is the widest film format Polaroid made, it is auto focus (sonar!), has a flash and is compact for traveling.

During the three days I was in San Jose for Tech Field Day, I was excited to be able to introduce The Impossible Project film for Polaroid cameras to a large group of people.  I imagined that a lot of people weren't aware you could buy film for Polaroids anymore - and I was right.

 Tech Field Day gave me an opportunity to gain access to cutting-edge data centers and networking hardware.  I thought it was wonderfully fitting to contrast the high tech with the analogue lo-tech Polaroid camera.  I brought along some deadstock Polaroid film, and a pack of the PZ 600 Silver Shade film by TIP.

The first cutting-edge gear/analogue picture was of the new HP A12500 Data Center switch.  This bad boy is nicknamed "The Widowmaker" cause it took 6 men to lift it into the data center rack.  This bad boy can have up to 512 10G ports or 864Gt ports - moving 6.6 Terabytes of data PER SECOND.

I took a Polaroid of it & tweeted it before it was done developing.  Sure enough, someone thought it was an old picture!

The visit to the Juniper data center was equally exiting - the room was filled with the din of cooling fans. There's just something about a room crammed to the rafters with white noise and blinking machinery. A certain je ne se quoi if you will.

The second picture I took was of the Juniper T1600.  It supports 160 10G ports, 16 40G ports or 8 100G ports. Capable of moving 1.6 Terabytes per second..

Now granted, the picture on the left doesn't match up with the switch in the rack, but they're both T1600s.

The real photographic joy of Tech Field Day was the trip to the Computer History Museum.  How cool is it to take Polaroids of the first mouse, the Cray-1, the Babbage Difference Engine and the first hard drive?!
I was giddy I tell you. 

The full set of museum Polaroids is on my page.
The main link to my page is

At the final Tech Field Day dinner I cracked open the PZ 600 Silver Shade film.  I hadn't used any of the Silver Shade film by The Impossible Project yet, but I'd read that the film exposure was temperature sensitive.  The sweet spot for proper exposure is around 72° F and I figured that most of San Jose inside and out is about that temperature in mid-September.

All of the dinner pictures turned out great, especially considering that I was using a flash indoors.  I covered one shot with my hands while it was developing to test the warm temperature overexposures I'd read about - it's true.  The warmer the picture when it is developing the more overexposed it will turn out.

I am very pleased with the quality of the Silver Shade film by The Impossible Project - I've already lined up my next film purchase.  I hope I was able to spark the curiosity of a few people to try film from The Impossible Project.  I think what they're doing is pretty amazing.  They bought the last Polaroid factory in the Netherlands, and they've had to reverse engineer Polaroid film and use less chemicals and materials in the process.

Before you even ask - no, I'm not a paid sponsor or anything like that.  I like taking pictures, and I'm glad that I'm still able to get film for my Polaroid cameras.  There's nothing quite like a Polaroid.

Polaroids make people smile.


  1. What a great post! Your enthusiasm was contagious - I know lots of the TFD folks were thinking about getting a Polaroid camera, too!

    And it was mighty cool to have an new/old-tech mixed...

  2. That is sooo cool. My mom has been a camera collector for 30 some odd years, I grew up going to obscure camera shows and such. She has over 700 antique cameras, and quite a few polaroids...mostly she has bellow and brownie style camera's. Seeing this technology used with "My" flavor of technology (basically anything networking) floored me!