A Snapshot of Old and New at Campus Party Europe

By Silicon Allee |

By Sacha Robehmed at Campus Party Europe

The former Tempelhof Airport, the venue for Campus Party Europe, is an extremely photogenic location – and so it was fitting that the event included a focus on photography. There was plenty on offer, including iPhone photography and a new revival of instant analogue.

The Polaroid camera still has a marvelous nostalgic feel to it. The Impossible Project’s Michael Fischer presented a great overview of Polaroid’s history and there was the chance to take a closer look at some of the different models of this instant camera.

Since the closure of the Polaroid factory in 2008, the Impossible Project has taken on the task of producing instant film. But while Polaroid simply required the click of a button, the Impossible Project seems to have a long way to go to achieve this simplicity. The chemistry of the new film is different and so it has to be carefully stored at a cool temperature. Various modifications must be made to shield just-taken pictures from direct sunlight.

While Polaroid film took just one minute to develop, the Impossible Project’s black and white film currently takes three minutes, while their colour film takes around 20 minutes.

More prohibitive though is the cost. At €18-20 for a pack of film which prints just eight pictures, other modes of analogue photography, from lomography to using your parents’ old camera, is much more affordable to experiment with.

Demonstrating a technique of splitting the positive and negative layers of film in hot water, the DIY nature and ability to manipulate the images manually is where Fischer sees its real appeal. In his words: “You can’t put your iPhone in hot water.”

In addition, Fischer, like many of us, would take hundreds of digital pictures and then forget them: “The problem with digital was that a single picture had no value for me.” Using the Impossible Project’s film does make you consider each shot more carefully than shooting with an iPhone.

And that’s not to say iPhone photography doesn’t have cool tricks of its own. Richard Gray, the UK’s first lecturer in mobile photography at Kensington and Chelsea College in London, demonstrated a plethora of apps which could be used to manipulate images.

Some (such as Snapseed and BlurFX) allow for tilt-shift focusing and different kinds of blurring on the whole photo or just selected parts. Touch Retouch, meanwhile, allows you to remove parts of the photo and fill in the hole with the surroundings. The result was a photo which looked completely unedited.

Image Blender is an app which creates the dreamlike qualities usually associated with the analogue technique of double exposure (taking two pictures without rolling the film forwards) by blending two images together. Decim8, meanwhile, is an app which looks like a lot of fun – it creates beautifully random, psychedelic transformations of a photo.

So it was the old and the new in photography, side by side at Campus Party. And it didn’t really matter which you preferred, as Grey pointed out: While there are lots of weird and wonderful apps, there’s no substitute for taking a good photo. If a photo is good enough, don’t bother apping it!” The advice is true of both analogue and mobile photography — the focus should be on taking a strong photo, no matter the medium.