The Instamatic Fireworks Experiment

So here’s the deal.  I’ve been puttering around with cracked-open 126 Kodak Instamatic film for a few years.  And so far, the results have been good enough.  Yes, I’ve entered some shots in competition, but still…

My problem is that I have to find a way to make the film’s limitations – the green framing boxes, the 25-year-past-its-expiration-date, the fact that I’m still trying to use Instamatic film in this day and age – all work for me somehow.

Last Friday night, I took in the fireworks at Freedom Park in Schenectady for the Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In fireworks show.  My AGFA Clipper Special f/6.3 camera was packed with two rolls of Kodak Instamatic Gold 200 film, and I figured I could get a maximum of 15 fireworks shots for my efforts.

The camera was stationed along the Mohawk River.  No obstructions, no tree branches, nobody in front of me.

I’ve done all I can.  Now it’s time to photograph.

And here’s what I got.

Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive in fireworks show!

A video posted by Chuck Miller (@kchuckradio) on Jul 23, 2016 at 5:36am PDT


Man, doesn’t that look swank?

And you’re thinking to me… “Hey Miller, you said Instamatic, not Instagram.  Don’t try to play us like fools.”

Well, no, I did capture those fireworks with my BlackBerry PRIV camera phone.  But that’s not the basis of this experiment.

Monday morning.  Dropped the roll of film(s) off at McGreevy Pro Lab.  Say it with me … it isn’t a Monday morning unless I’m dropping something off at McGreevy Pro Lab.

Tuesday evening, McGreevy Pro Lab contacted me.  The film produced images.  Yep, 25-year-old film in a 75-year-old camera produced images.

First off… I wanted to see if the film produced fireworks shots that expanded up to the Instamatic frame lines.

Fireworks Instamatic 001//

Ka. Freaking. Boom.

Although I have nearly no idea where the fireworks blooms would interact with the Instamatic frame lines… it looks like I got lucky and hit this frame perfectly.  Aces.

Now let’s see what happens when I match up two frames together – from different Instamatic film rolls.

Fireworks Instamatic 002//

Smash and bash.

But the thing is… I had the camera angled at a 45° angle.  So if I turn my next picture into a 45-degree angle… what would happen?

Let’s find out.

Fireworks Instamatic 003//

Bang Shang-A-Lang.

So this is good.  I now have an outlet that will work well for the Instamatic splitfilm.  I can shoot fireworks with it, have the blooms burst right from one frame to the next.  Heck, maybe I can take one of the splitfilm strips and cross-process it in different chemicals to get a way-out photo.  Or maybe I’ll just take what I have and work with it.

Okay, goal time.

July 2017.  I can shoot fireworks with my other camera gear… but I will definitely set aside some shooting time for fireworks a la Instamatic splitfilm.  I can’t use these shots for this year’s Competition Season – but I CAN keep this concept open, get some fresh Kodak 200 Instamatic film (or some funky old stuff, I don’t care) and keep this going.

And heck, even that big bloom that burst through the Instamatic frames… that’s kinda cool in and of itself.

Yeah.  This sounds like fun.

And I can use some fun in my life.  Don’tcha think?