20×24 Studio bio picture
  • 20×24 Studio, the Home of Large Format Instant Photography

    The 20×24 Studio announced in June of 2016 that it will be ending production operations near the end of 2017. The company has been operating with film stock purchased in 2009 from Polaroid Corporation as it exited the film business. Executive Director John Reuter, who began working for Polaroid in 1978 stated that “our original business plan was for five years with the inventory purchased and for a variety of reasons we have not worked through the material. Instant film will not last forever and despite storing the film stock in cold storage and mixing the chemical reagent only as needed the studio projects that they can maintain the quality for two more years.” “Our hope now is that we can work on some great projects with many of our legacy clients as well as new artists who have yet to experience the ultimate in instant analog image making,” says Reuter. The Polaroid 20×24 camera stands apart from all other large format experiences because it delivers an instant finished photograph. The artist is able to react to the subject matter in a manner unlike any other photographic experience. Digital technology may rival it in resolution and instant playback but it cannot match the experience of having the final complete artwork on the wall in ninety seconds for all to see. The team of John Reuter, Nafis Azad and Ted McLelland has worked together for nearly ten years to provide access to this venerable technology. Together the three of them are working to produce the finished product that over a dozen people once accomplished at Polaroid. Azad and Reuter are also the film crew, operating cameras and lighting in New York, Miami and on location anywhere in the US.
    In addition there are cameras in San Francisco and Dusseldorf, Germany. To learn more about renting one of these cameras while the film lasts contact the 20×24 Studio at info@20x24studio.com.

Barbara Kasten began working with the 20×24 camera in 1981, when she was invited by Polaroid Corporation to come to the studio at 575 Technology Square in Cambridge, MA. Kasten had already been working with Polaroid’s 8×10 material and was well versed in the language of large format cameras. The work, at first minimal later evolved into mare complex shapes and colors with textures and rippled reflections replacing the crisp shapes
and sharp edges. Kasten continued her series when the camera moved to the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1983 and also the New York Studio in 1986. The images are unique to the camera, taking advantage of the deep space depth of field by shooting at an aperture of f64. the lighting was complex as well, with multiple point sources covered with colored gels. Each color required a different exposure, and due to the close down aperture, some colors needed to be fired up to twenty times. Each exposure was a symphony of multiple colors, each fired according to density. White light might require one exposure, yellow two, red four, green ten and deep blue the most, sometimes up to twenty. The instant feedback was critical here, one could never prejudge how strongly a color would render as it bounced off objects and through silk scrims. The end result was a dazzling combination of abstraction and lush color.

Here is an excerpt of a review of Barbara Kasten’s work from an exhibit at Kadel Willborn in June of 2011 posted on art news.org

BARBARA KASTEN
A matter of perspective
15 May 2011 – 26 June 2011

Barbara Kastens photographs do not narrate and document stories, instead, they are a “print” of the abstract features of light and shadow. In the 1970s she began experimenting with photochemical reactions and photograms, which she painted over using synthetic colors from the cyanotype process.
The works in the current exhibition, A matter of perspective, belong to the “Construct Series” created in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Barbara Kasten built space-filling, abstract installations in her studio made of light as well as colour surfaces reflecting mirrors and metal elements, which she then photographed with 8 x 10 inch and 20 x 24 inch mid-format Polaroids. Each photograph is therefore unique. Barbara Kasten’s Construct photographs depict a kind of constructivist “stage” that changes from photo to photo, but remains abstract and non-narrative.Although Barbara Kasten’s art-historical significance has been confirmed by her being represented in important American collections such as those of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, as well as the inclusion of her works in anthologies on the history of photography, e.g., “Starburst: The History of Color Photography in the 1970’s” and “The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography”, her oeuvre has almost disappeared from present-day perception in the USA and particularly in Europe.Barbara Kasten’s working method proves to be highly relevant, both for current trends in the abstract/concrete photography of the younger generation, for example, Liz Deschenes, Eileen Quinlan, Walead Beshty, Peggy Franck or Wolfgang Tillmans, and due to its art-historical connections to early trends in abstract photography as can be found with Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Christian Schad or Man Ray.Moreover – and this is what makes Barbara Kasten’s position so exceptionally relevant – her abstract pictures are based on the real construction of expansive installations in front of the camera. Thus, in the early 1970s, she already crossed genre-specific borders between sculpture, painting and installation, something which strongly connects her work with the approach of a younger generation of artists.

 

special thanks to Olivier Renaud-Clément

www.kadel-willborn.de

 

20×24 Studio FAQs

When did the 20×24 Project begin? 
1976, when Polaroid at Dr. Land’s direction built the first functioning prototype. This camera was used to take portraits at the 1976 Polaroid Shareholder’s meeting.
Why did Polaroid build such a camera?   To demonstrate the quality of Polacolor II Film. Polaroid was about to release a professional color film in 8×10 format.
When were the 20×24 cameras built?   In 1977 and 1978, Polaroid’s metal and wood working shops built 5 cameras under the direction of John McCann of Vison Research.
What were the cameras used for?  Polaroid built a studio on Ames Street in Cambridge, MA. This studio contained two studios and a gallery to exhibit the images. Initially, they invited a number of select photographers to experiment with the cameras, in exchange for donating images to the Polaroid Collection. Polaroid also used a process camera version to copy paintings in the 40×80 studio at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Cameras were also sent to Amsterdam and Tokyo.
Where are the cameras currently located?
There are two cameras in New York City.  One is at our flagship studio at 75 Murray Street.  The second, on temporary loan from 20×24 Studio West, is at a studio at  the Film Society of Lincoln Center.   The third is owned by Elsa Dorfman and is in Cambridge, MA.  The fourth is owned by Jan Hnizdo in Prague, Czech Republic.  The fifth is being operated by Impossible Works in Paris. France.  A sixth camera, one of the original five is now in the Harvard Museum of Scientific Instruments.  It was a retirement gift to Edwin Land in 1982 and was part of Land’s Rowland Foundation bequeathment to Harvard University.  The 20×24 Studio West camera is not one of the original five, but rather an earlier prototype with a new front end built by Wisner Manufacturing and customized by Mammoth Camera.

What are the specifications of the camera?  The 20×24 camera is a traditional view camera, but has hybrid characteristics of a rail camera and field camera. It weighs 235 pounds and sits on a rectangular frame on wheels that supports a two-column studio stand. The bellows is driven by a telescoping nylon gear that allows bellows extension from 17’’ to 60”. The front standard has 24” of rise and fall, 6” of side to side shift and the ability to swing 4” forward and back. The rear standard of the camera is static and has no independent rise and fall separate from the camera itself. The camera can descend to   24” and rise to a height of 72”.  The camera rear box contains a built in processor with 22″ titanium rollers. It is driven by a geared motor drive powered by a 110v AC motor. Transformers are used for 220 or 240v current.

What kind of lenses does the 20×24 Camera use?

You can use any number of lenses on the 20×24 Camera. The New York studio offers a 1200, 800, 600, 360, 210, and 135mm lenses. The 1200, 800, and 600 were designed for 20×24 format, but the other lenses are for 8×10 and 4×5 formats. The bellows extends from 17 to 60″. A 1200mm lens is 48″ and can pretty much only be used outdoors. The 800, or 31″ provides a bit of a telephoto look and can render images from infinity to nearly life size. The 600 or 24″ has the most range, going from infinity all the way to 1.5 times life-size. The 360, or 14″ can provide magnifications of 1.5 times life size to almost 4x life-size. The 4×5 lenses allow extreme magnifications of up to 10X. As magnification increases, depth of field decreases, as does subject to lens distance. This makes lighting more difficult, as there is much less room to insert lights and the bellows factor of light loss can reach up to 8 stops. The shorter focal length lenses will give a wide angle effect, using the 360mm will provide a similar distortion to a 24mm lens on 35mm film format.

How does the 20×24 instant process work?

The 20×24 format utilizes the exact same material that Polaroid once produced for all peel apart films from 3 and ¼ by 4 ¼ inches up to 8×10. There were three distinct film types, Black and White, a silver only emulsion and two Color emulsions, Polacolor ER and Polacolor 7. In black and white film the image formation is accomplished through a transfer of undeveloped silver halide, unoxidized developer, and unused alkali to the receiving layer. Once in the receiving layer, the chemicals react to create a positive silver image. The Black and White film that is used in 20×24 is known as “Coaterless”, and does not require the print coater solution that earlier films such as Type 52, 552 and 57 did. The physical makeup of color instant films contains many more components than found in comparable black and white films. The basic structure consists of a black support material holding separate silver gelatin emulsion layers sensitive to red, blue, and green light. During processing, each of these will form its own separate color record as it releases a complementary subtractive dye (the red-sensitive layer releases cyan dye, the blue-sensitive layer releases yellow dye and the green-sensitive layer releases magenta dye). In between these color layers are spacers that contain alkali-diffusible dye developers. Above these dye and spacer layers sits the image-receiving layer, followed by a timing layer that consists of both a barrier and an acid. Lastly there is an acidic mordant layer that will fix the dyes in place. The layers are arranged as such to facilitate the chain reaction that takes place during development.
The developer pod in instant color materials contains a strong alkaline reagent in gel, usually made of sodium or potassium hydroxide. The reagent has been made viscous by water-soluble polymeric thickeners and also contains high molecular weight polymers, reducing agents, alkali,as well as components that assist in image formation and stabilization. The pod itself must be inert to strong alkali and able to keep out oxygen and water for long periods of time. The process used by Polaroid known as alkaline induced dye diffusion transfer is outlined here. After the alkaline developing reagent has been spread over dyes, it forms a uniform layer that serves as a “protective colloid” during
processing. (The reagent is spread above the light sensitive layers and below the image layer.) The developing reagent then begins to migrate toward the receiver sheet. While the reagent moves, it changes the exposed particles in each layer into metallic silver. It then dissolves the three developer dyes allowing them to diffuse from their original locations toward the receiver sheet. As the dyes move they are blocked wherever the metallic silver exists. Only dyes from the unexposed areas of the film will reach
the receiving layer to produce a positive color image. At the same time the developing reagent is moving down toward the light-sensitive layers, it is also diffusing through the timing layer to eventually come in contact with the layer of acid. Here the acid and alkaline combine to form water and salt. In some types of instant color film the developing chemicals may remain on the surface of print while in other cases
they are pulled off and discarded. Thanks to Annie Walker of the University of Texas in Austin for her in depth interviews with Polaroid scientists to produce the above information on the film technology. You can find her entire paper here.
How is the film put in the camera?
20×24 film is provided on rolls. The negative is supplied as a 150’ roll and sits on brackets at the top of the camera box. The positive is on a 50’ roll and sits on a similar bracket at the bottom of the processor. There are no sprockets in the film and it is moved into position with tab connected to string with adhesive tape. This simple solution was utilized early on and has never been improved on. Above the positive roll in the camera sits a tray that through a chain driven system moves the chemical reagent pods into position between the two rollers where the negative and positive meet.

The 20x24 Camera and Processing Back

Camera in Tilt Mode/ Bellows extended

 

Camera in Swing Mode/ Processing Back

 

Where do you get your film? 20×24 Holdings purchased over 500 cases of film in raw stock form from Polaroid Corp.in 2009. The negative is kept in cold storage at 38º and the positive is stored in a climate controlled space at 45% relative humidity. The chemicals that make up the reagent are stored in component form and only mixed when needed. Once placed in a pod, the reagent will begin to age.

Ted McLelland, John Boudrow, Rob Young and Tom Silva, are Team 20x24 Holdings. They are shown here with the reagent reactor.

What is a pod? A pod is a foil packet with special seals designed to break under pressure when passing through rollers, allowing the reagent to spread evenly between the negative and positive rolls and begin the development process.
How are the pods made? The pods are produced on a special machine, the only remaining one in the US (Polaroid nice had dozens of pod machines in their US factories). It is housed in our warehouse in Putnam, CT.

The Pod Machine, built in 1956 in 20x24 Holdings Putnam, CT facility.

 

How often do you make pods? It is based on demand, so far it is four or five times per year.
What kind of film do you have left? We have Polacolor ER, which was sold by Polaroid as T669, T59, and T809. It is also referred to as P3. This film was a favorite of photographers making Image Transfers and Emulsion Lifts. It has a rather subdued color palette and is excellent for portraits. Our other color film is Polacolor 7, and was sold as T690 by Polaroid. It has a brighter color palette, more contrast and is similar to Fuji FP100C in performance. It is excellent for fashion and still life, many photographers prefer it for portraiture as well. Finally we have Polapan 400, our Black and White emulsion. It provides beautiful grayscale transitions, has excellent contrast and is also a favorite of portrait photographers. It is the film we are in shortest supply of and will look to find a replacement in 2012 and 2013.

Will you ever produce your film in smaller format?  That is something we are actively looking into.

Here is a video on the pods being made in 2010.  Roy Johnson, Marc Soufrant, and Ted McLelland produced the run.

 


 

"Prom", ©2012 Mary Ellen Mark

On Friday, March 30, 2012, Lens featured a series of portraits from Mary Ellen Mark’s new book, “Prom,” with a clip from the accompanying film by Martin Bell. The portraits also appeared in the Sunday Review over the weekend. The images were made using the Polaroid 20×24 Land Camera and Polaroid PolaPan 20×24 film. In our conversation last week, we asked Ms. Mark about the camera. Featured here is a selection of additional images she has made using the 20×24.
Read the full story here.

Nile Rodgers, 2011

The We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) is an American 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by songwriter, musician, and producer Nile Rodgers in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Its mission is dedicated to the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate people about mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation of cultural diversity – while striving to solve some of our biggest global problems at the same time.

The foundation began on September 22, 2001, when Rodgers and Tommy Boy Music president Tom Silverman brought 200 musicians, celebrities, and personalities together in New York City and Los Angeles to re-record Rodgers’ hit song “We Are Family” (best known in its 1979 hit version performed by Sister Sledge) to start the healing process after the events of September 11. Director Spike Lee filmed the “We Are Family” music video, and director Danny Schechter filmed a documentary entitled The Making and Meaning of We Are Family, which depicts the recording session. The documentary was chosen as a Sundance Film Festival Special Selection in 2002.

The 20×24 Studio is proud to help support the We Are Family Foundation

 

 

The hulking dinosaur of a camera that photographer Elsa Dorfman has based her career on for over 30 years could soon become extinct. Dorfman, now 74 and living in Cambridge, was first introduced to the 20″x24″ Polaroid in 1980. She had been invited by the company to try one of the 240-pound behemoths that had originally been built in 1976. Simply referred to by the size of the prints it makes, the 20×24 was like a much larger version of the Polaroid cameras most people were familiar with (the camera and Dorfman are pictured above). It only took a few shots to get her hooked.
“From the minute I used it I loved it,” she says.

Read More at Wired OnLine