Introduction: Easy Instant Film Effects

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I still use my Fuji Film Instax Mini, but most of the cool, instant film effects either require discontinued peel-apart film or messing with the insides of the camera. Personally, I have no intentions of clogging my camera with tape or mesh, so I researched into non-volatile effects. In this instructable, I will demonstrate two of these effects: photograms and laser writing. Let's get started!

Step 1: Materials and Work Space

Picture of Materials and Work Space

For both of these projects, you will need a room darker than a black panther eating a bar of dark chocolate at the bottom of the Black Sea at midnight. This is because we are taking the film out of the camera to manipulate, and even 'safe lights' in most dark rooms can ruin ultra-sensitive instant films.

For the photograms, you will need a flashlight you can easily turn on and off. You will also need flatish objects and cling wrap (more on that later).

For the laser writing, you will need a laser (surprise, surprise). For the sake of convenience, I suggest buying a cheap, mini laser/LED flashlights you can purchase at almost any dollar store.

Be sure you know where the materials are located on your workspace before turning off the lights.

Step 2: Photograms

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Sometimes called instagrams, you take a photogram by placing objects on top of instant film, then exposing it to a sudden blast of light. Almost anything can be photogrammed; in these I used batman confetti, gears, and a cucumber slice.

The process is simple. In your super dark room, open the camera and remove film container. The film is upside down, so rotate it if your objects have a top and bottom. (You can tell which end is which because the film container is wider on 1 side, just like the photos' white frame has a wide side to write on). Next, place whatever items you wish on top of the film, but try not to touch, arrange, or smash the film too much. If you're using something wet like fruit, place a piece of cling wrap down first so it touches the film instead. Take your flash light, aim it at the ceiling, and turn it one for the shortest amount of time possible. Alternatively, some people prefer to use the flash on the camera. Then remove the items, pop the film back in, and take a picture while covering the lens.

Behold your photogram!

Step 3: Photogram Troubleshooting

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Two problems of taking photograms exist:

1. If your camera has an automatic counter, it will reset every time you remove the film packet. To avoid miscounting, I write the numbers 1-10 on a piece of duct tape and cross them off as I take the photos.

2. You accidentally didn't remove all the items. This happened to me with one of my batman pictures. If you look closely, there is a white bat and an impression on the back from being pushed through the rollers. While this looks kind of cool, it is possible to break the camera if the object is thick or clogs the rollers. A good idea to count however many objects you photogram, i.e know that there is six pieces of confetti and count them as you remove them.

Step 4: Laser Writing

Picture of Laser Writing

This process is essentially the same as the photogram's except you draw with a laser and also can double expose afterwards.

In your dark room, remove the film and draw or write what ever you want, then replace the film and either take a photo or cover the flash and just keep the laser's markings (like the blue heart picture). If you do take a photo, you'll achieve an unusual color scheme of reds as well as a pale, antique look. Just make sure you use flash or have bright, natural light, otherwise your photo will be too dark compared to the laser to show.

Step 5: Laser Troubleshooting

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The biggest drawback with laser writing is its unpredictablitty. If you write something normal, it will be reversed in the print. Another accident is to forget to flip the film pack so it's right-side up. And sometimes the photo doesn't turn out because of poor lighting.

Nevertheless, both of these techniques are enjoyable and can easily be achieved with any instant camera. Happy shooting!

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