Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Polaroid

Polaroid cameras offered immediate gratification. While photography in general was amazing, the ability to see the picture within minutes of taking the picture was an astounding novelty and innovation.

Before digital photography revolutionized picture taking, Polaroid film produced results quickly and allowed us to see our marvels as well as our mistakes. Used in work and for fun, the Polaroid enjoyed a reputation as the ultimate party camera.

Invented by Edwin Land, and first sold in 1948, images started developing inside the camera and then continued for another minute once outside. The familiar mechanism sounded and spit out a murky image which, after some arm waving back and forth, went from fuzzy to fine before our eyes. Little did we know back then, that waving it dry was completely unnecessary.
This diagram was printed in The Golden Handbook "Photography: The Amateur Guide to Better Pictures (copyright 1956 by Simon & Schuster). The handbook is co-authored by two University of Illinois professors, one of education and the other of science education. In the forward they write:
"Photography, in just a century, has become a great medium of communication. It is a universal language, equally effective whether its task is factual or fanciful, scientific, artistic, or recreational."

Regarding photography and photographic equipment in the 60's and 70's, Vocabulary SpellingCity's mayor and techno-collector remembers, "We took pictures with cameras that had flash bulbs. The Polaroid was incredibly cool back then. I remember when the Instamatic arrived and you could 'point and shoot.' Today, that all sounds unbelievably quaint!"

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