April 29, 2019

In recent years, many rediscover instant photography. Notably thanks to FUJIFILM’s instax cameras, a real rebirth of the snapshot has been called. This is due to the fact that one can hold in hand immediately tangible and fully developed images, but also to the fact that they are “unique” and not digital, everywhere images “indivisable”. Many photo enthusiasts also love the cult look of instant photos. As an instant camera works and what variations there are, you can find here.

Operating principle of instant photography

Technically speaking, the physicist and pioneer of American photography Edwin Land is the inventor of instant photography. In 1932 he was able to develop the Polaroid filter, a polarization filter that could be produced in any format. But it would be necessary to wait until 1947 to see appearing the first instantaneous camera.

Thanks to Land’s pioneering work, all the chemical reactions needed to develop a film took place in the very heart of the camera. For this, the film was already equipped with all the necessary chemicals. When the photograph is taken, the film passes between two rolls. The chemicals are then brought into contact with each other, which triggers the chemical reaction.

How does an instant movie work?

The instant film is not without analogy with the classic film. In principle, a photo is created by the exposure of a photosensitive material. Chemicals are then used for development. Contrary to what happens with a conventional film, these reagents are already integrated into the film material. It is for this reason that we also speak of “integral film”.

Over time, the original technique of the instant film has become obsolete to the point of almost disappearing. The photographic paper used consists of three superimposed layers. The latter constitute granular emulsion layers. They contain the basic yellow, magenta and cyan colors, which are essential for subtractive color mixing. The original white crystals change color under the influence of thermal pulses of different temperatures and durations.

Instant photography and instant movies today.

The instant film we know today is also an integral film. With modern technology, “containers” with development chemicals are directly integrated into the photo (the developer is in the band at the bottom of the image surface).

This gives the photo its characteristic shape surrounded by a frame. The development of the film or photo begins when the film passes between two rollers during ejection, resulting in a uniform distribution of the developer. The characteristic chemical reaction to development then leads to the revelation of the photo.

Shake and blow

People have the reflex to start shaking the photo and blowing on it, hoping that it will speed up the fixation and the appearance of the image. Is it really useful?

Be aware that shaking, blowing or rubbing has no effect on the development of the image. When the temperature is close to zero, it takes forever for the photo to finally take colors. In this case, dragging the photo in the trouser pocket can accelerate the development through the heat of the body. We hope you can gain benefits from reading this article.