All semester I've been working on a project with my professor regarding Polaroid pack film. Once you develop a peel apart Polaroid you have a print on one side and the other side is well, the best way to describe it is goopy. But don't mistake this goop as trash! Save it because under all of that goop is a negative. Saving the goop side can be difficult because it needs time to dry. So when you're out in the field shooting, keep in mind that you'll need a place to store them. Drying time varies depending on the environment. Once the goopy side has dried, tear it away from the print side and you're ready to try this process! There are several methods for doing this process, but this is the way I've been doing it with consistent results.
What else you need:
- clean sheet of glass
- bleach spray
- painters or masking tape
- foam brushes
- paper towels
After you've detached the negative from the Polaroid print, peel off the excess paper around the outside. (I usually leave the white part attached so I can easily hang the negatives to dry.) Now take a look at each side of your negative. One side will be matte black like this:
The other side will have a border and you might be able to see outlines of your photo. It also might be a bit dusty like this one:
See the differences? Now you’ll want to place the negative face down on the glass. This means the black matte side should be facing up.
Place tape only around the edges. Although you cannot see the edges on the black matte side, before you place the negative down, pay attention to where the edge is on the other side. Make sure the tape is firmly in place so the bleach cannot seep underneath and damage the other side. Every once in a while I would have liquid seep under the negative (usually this happened during the rinsing process so nothing happened to the other side). If you’re paranoid, try using clear packing tape (that stuff is really sticky!).
Spray the bleach product onto the negative so it’s covered well in liquid. It’s hard to tell you how much to use but usually 5 or so squirts of the bleach worked well.
Using the foam brush, wipe the bleach around the negative in brush strokes. You may want to use a wet paper towel to wipe off some of the excess black goop or use a fresh brush. Sometimes I would spray a little more bleach product on there to ensure all of the black goop dissolves. There’s not real time frame for this part, some negatives are quicker than others.
You should be able to tell when you can see the negative come through. Generally it takes about 1 to 2 minutes, depending on how much you work the bleach with the brush.
While the negative is still taped to the glass, rinse it under warm water. There may be some gooey parts left along the sides, but those can be gently wiped away. If you still see black parts on your negative, you can go back and wipe it away with the brush or sometimes I would spray on a little more bleach if it was being extra stubborn.
Once the bleach is all rinsed off of the negative, peel off the tape and rinse the other side. Now your negative can be hung up to dry. I used the film dryer at my college but with some twine and close pins, I was also able to hang them up at home in my laundry room.
Before repeating the process, be sure to clean the glass and brushes. Once your negatives are dry, they're ready to be scanned!