Peeling / Preserving Impossible Project 8×10 B&W PQ Images
A few months ago, I finally got everything I needed in order to shoot Impossible’s 8×10 large format integral black & white instant film. After doing quite a bit of research on this particular format, I knew that there were some key things that needed to be done after the images were taken. Because of the chemical make-up of Impossible’s black and white film, it’s highly sensitive to humidity and moisture. I’ve heard “humidity is the enemy of our silver shade films” from Impossible. For the ones that have used this medium extensively, we all know there are things that need to be done after the image has ejected and/or been processed to help ensure that the image stays stable and doesn’t shift.
With Impossible’s 8×10 B&W film, due to its size and amount of developing paste that’s squeezed in between the negative & the positive, a good amount of moisture gets trapped inside. If you don’t take steps to prevent the moisture from essentially attacking the image, the images will shift, start to crystalize and destroy the art that you’ve created. Considering the cost of the film, it’s not ideal to just sit and watch this happen over the span of days, weeks and months. There are dry-age kits that you can purchase from Impossible in which you store the image inside a packet, for about a month, with silica packs inside to pull moisture out of the image and dry the paste and excess developer goo. I’m just not patient enough to wait a month while an image dries in a dry-age kit. I want to share the image once it’s been taken almost immediately.
Peeling the image, shown by Impossible here, is the best way to prevent tonal shifting. You release the trapped moisture inside the image, arrest any tonal shifting that could occur and quickly the positive and negative side of the image dries out. Images I shot 3 months ago, all of them peeled, haven’t shifted whatsoever. It’s definitely the way to go.
Peeling is time sensitive. If you peel too early, you can ruin the image. If you wait too long, you start to pull up the dried white goo that’s stuck on the negative side of the 8×10. I’ve found that peeling 15-20 minutes after you pull the image out of the processor is the best time to peel. If peeled within this time frame, you won’t need to heat the image with a hairdryer (as shown in the Impossible peeling video) and you’ll get a clean peel. You have to peel slow & steady. I prefer to peel from the corner at a consistent speed and it usually takes me about a minute to fully perform the peel. If you peel too fast, you’ll start pulling up the white goo from the negative. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll develop a technique and have no problems drying your images to help preserve the investment.
- THE RATE IN WHICH YOU PEEL IS ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE SPEED SHOWN IN THIS STOP MOTION VIDEO -
Once the images has been peeled, scrape the excess developing paste with a card and wipe any excess off that’s stuck on the ends of the negative & positive. Also, remove the developer packet that is at the base of the film. Once you do that, either lay them out to dry separately in a safe place, or after 5 minutes of dry-time, place a piece of copy paper in between them. I usually either cut the paper tabs off with a paper cutter and tape the bottom & one side of the image, or I slide the paper tabs back together to keep the image together.
TIP: If you’re out and about shooting and you’ve peeled your images and need to pack up, wait about 15 minutes after the peel, place a piece of copy paper in between the negative & positive layer and the image will be dry enough to carefully transport. I usually place them inside the lid of the 8×10 box the film came in.
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