So I have had a few people ask me how I do this and I know there are not really any tutorials out there that really explain this in detail. Fuji instant pack film is pretty amazing stuff and gives you amazing colors prints and great tonality in black and white instant. However, what most people dont know if that print isnt all you get with the fuji instant stocks. Most people know that with 3000B you get a nice paper negative you can scan and invert in PS and have a decent digital file with, but with the 100 series films (100C & 100B) you get a REAL negative. That black thing you peel off your print that kinda has an image on it? well thats a real legitimate negative waiting to be used and in reality gives you better end result that the print. Stop waisting the dollar or two per shot and start using the film to it full potential.
Basically the fuji stocks have and Anti-halation layer on the back of them that when present renders the negative black just like as if you laid a normal negative on a table the image disappears. That anti-halation layer is all that you need to strip away to see the real negative underneath.
What you are going to need:
- Paper towels (and lots of them)
- A glass plate of some kind (I dont know if plexi can handle the bleach you would be using on it constantly but if so plexi would work)
- A 50/50 mixture of bleach and water
- Denatured alcohol
- a towel to work on
- electrical tape
- access to a sink
The first step after you have gotten everything together is to clean your plate you are going to be working on, this isnt that crucial to the process until after you have done this once. the reason for cleaning is to make sure NO bleach makes it to the emulsion side of the negative. The plate doesnt need to be perfect but clean enough, there is another layer of dried chemistry on top the actual emulsion which we will get rid of later but for now its somewhat of a protective layer.
Next you will tape your negatives emulsion side down to the glass plate, again this is to ensure no bleach gets on the emulsion as it will each the “protective layer” and destroy your emulsion. So be weary unless you want bleach on that side in which case you can do this all willy nilly.
After you have taped your negative emulsion side down all you need to do is get to rubbing. put some of the bleach/water mixture on a paper towel and start rubbing on the anti-halation layer on the back of the negative. Quickly you will see your paper towel turning black, just fold it over add some more bleach and keep rubbing. Pretty shortly you will see the layer start to come off and you will see the true negative underneath. Keep rubbing and get in all the nooks and crannies. To save tape I tape two negative down together, make sure to tape all the way around the negative in order to full protect it.
once you have stripped away both of the anti-halation layers on the back of the negatives use the alcohol to clean them, you will notice there is a fair amount of black stuff all over. Just use the alcohol to clean everything from the negative to the glass this way your hands wont get too black. pull up the negatives and look at them in all their glory. If you notice the negatives are quite a bit sharper than the prints and have a good amount more latitude. this is because the peel-a-part instant process is a transfer process so dyes not used on the negative are transfered to the print. The light from the capture actually hit this part of the film and not the print. The results you will get from these negatives far supersede that of the prints.
Remember when I mentioned that last layer of chemistry we need to strip away? well this is the easy part. this layer is simply the developing chemistry from the process that has dried, if its damaged or spotty in any way dont worry about it we are gonna get rid of it. All it takes is a little running water and some finess. Put the entire negative under running water and begin running your thumbs over the emulsion side of the negative. dont worry you dont need to be too gentle but dont rub too long in one spot or you may damage the emulsion. you will notice the chemistry becoming slimy, keep rubbing and soon it will begin to disappear. once the negative no longer feels slimy you are done cleaning it and its time to let it dry. you may have to clean your negative again before scanning them or printing with them with some alcohol or some negative cleaner in order to get rid of water spots but you should have a perfectly usable negative after this.
Really is super simple and pretty hard to mess up. The results are killer and now you get twice the bang for you buck. at $1 a shot for 3.25×4.25 and $2.50 a shot for 4×5 I cant justify doing this for just the prints, but I love instant so much that I take the time to do this.
As far as capture goes, it is better to underexpose your images slightly in order to get a amazing negative out of it. Not much 1/3 or 1/2 a stop will do but this way you dont risk blowing your highlights. Which I did not do on some of the example below so dont take these as perfect examples, in fact I blew some of these out guessing my exposure. The biggest thing about shooting for the negative is knowing that its going to be a rough process, note the last images has some emulsion damage.
Nerd Note: The “how to” posts are probably the only posts ever going to feature digital images on this blog. Funny use of this p&s I acquired, using it to explain things about film.