What is a Polaroid?
Polaroid is the iconic name for a photographic technique that dates back to the 1920s. The idea is to print a picture on aluminum, and then expose it to light with a tiny film that “washes” the image. This is how Polaroids are made: you take an exposed photograph, expose it again with light (and develop or bleach it as required), and combine all of these exposures into a single image.
The first images were printed on paper, but later became popular because they were cheap and easy to make. You can see how this works in action here:
Many people think polaroids work like this…
These images were taken by taking a photo of a piece of cardboard with your printed image on it. The second image is then developed and printed – exposing the paper again, developing it and finally printing out the final product.
Polaroid cameras have been around for about 80 years – since at least the early part of this century. So there’s no doubt that they work as you’d expect them to work: you take an exposed photograph, develop it (depending on what process you have chosen) by exposing it again without developing or bleaching, and print out the final product. Just like any other camera!
But what if you’re not using these processes?
What if you aren’t using photography? What if you use something else? What would happen if I took a Polaroid picture of myself wearing my glasses in front of my computer screen? Or I took one while I was reading this post? How would my polaroid look? Would it be blurry because I was holding my phone or my iPad, or because I wasn’t looking at anything while taking the picture? How would I see what I was looking at in such circumstances? Would I be able to see anything at all through my glasses while wearing them or not? Can I even see anything through them at all when they are worn but not being worn? And so on…
This is where polaroids come in! Polaroid cameras are simply great for capturing fleeting moments. They offer three main advantages over other photographs: high-quality resolution (the same resolution as high-definition photos), low noise (cheaper than digital cameras) and instant gratification (you can have your first Polaroid in minutes rather than hours). But there are some subtleties involved that many don’t understand.
How Polaroids Can Be Used in Holography?
While being a bit unclear about what exactly is happening with holography (other than a questionable improvement in optical transparency), the general consensus is that polaroid photos are used in it.
In fact, in my most recent book “Holography: The Art of the Impossible,” I use the word “photograph” a lot to describe holography, because it is one of the tools used effectively by holographers to show their images.
This has been true since the earliest days of photography. Michelangelo used it on his frescos; Vincent van Gogh did so on his works. But where most people today think of photography as something that’s done with cameras, there have been several past and present uses for Polaroids:
• Specially-made film (i.e., pre-developed from chemicals in a darkroom)
• Lithography (which means printing by layering photographic images on glass)
• Holography (which involves using special mirrors to make different parts of the image appear different but only when viewed through polarized glass)
It turns out that Polaroid pictures can be very good for holography too. In this post, I explain why: I show how a simple experiment using two polaroids can be used to show that they are indeed useful for holographic imaging. In fact, I even mention three other reasons why you might consider using them in your own experiments!
What Makes Polaroids a Great Memo Creation Tool?
When I was a kid, I always wanted to take a Polaroid picture. I was told that the best way to do it was by standing in front of the camera with your back turned. However, I couldn’t do that because my body was too big and my back was too short! This meant that any picture I took would be blurry unless I moved around — which made it seem like taking pictures with a Polaroid all the time.
This issue has been solved by two companies: Polaroid Photos and Polaroid Phones . The former is focused on digital cameras and the latter on smartphones . Both have created apps which allow you to take photos which can then be printed using the smartphone’s camera (like a Polaroid). You simply place your phone into the slot at the bottom of the device (with the shutter button facing down) and wait until you see a gray dot appear on top of it. Then, press your finger gently onto it until you see “Polaroid” engraved at its bottom. This will trigger your app on your phone (and turn your phone into a shutter-driven camera), and you’re good to go!
Polaroid Photos lets you take pictures of both still images (which can then be saved) as well as animated GIFs (which can then be shared). Polaroid Phones makes it possible to create GIFs by combining still images with an image editor :
I took this photo with my iPhone 6 Plus , but there are apps for every smartphone out there — so if you want something different or just need something simple, give them a try!
The Various Advantages of Using Polaroids
The basic idea here is that a polaroid was invented by the Italian inventor Elettrino Chiarini in 1905, and was first used for photography by Ernst Rietz in 1908. The idea behind the device was to create images that were strongly “pinhole” like, when viewed from a different angle than from which they were taken.
The difference between the two views can be seen as the difference between an object being seen from above or below its vertical axis, and being seen from the side (which is why you can’t see it from above or below). In other words, if you take a photo of an object from above, it will be blurry except for its vertical axis (in this case you can’t even see what it is), while if you take one from below, it will be sharply sharped along all its sides and not blurry in any direction (and hence look more like an image made with pinhole cameras).
It should come as no surprise that such devices caught on almost immediately; Chiarini was able to sell 10 000 units within 18 months of going into production with his company Goldschmidt & Co., and many photographers followed suit soon afterwards. There were several other products being sold at around the same time which focused on taking photos of things that moved. The idea behind all of these devices was pretty much identical.
They were essentially pinhole cameras made small enough to have been used for taking photos of objects closer than their thin vertical axis (hence their name “pinholes”), but far larger than your average camera lens could ever be made to be (it had to be very small). The advantage came down to how much detail a camera could get out of its field of view while still giving you a good view of what was going on around it — so long as you could get close enough and didn’t break your camera (a big problem with pocket cameras back then).
So when we talk about “polaroids” we’re talking about something entirely different than what most people think about them: even though there are several ways in which one might use them; I believe this post is not aimed at people.