I used Type 55 right from the start of my photographic career in 2000 and began this project with a small existing supply. Once this ran out, around 2011, I purchased more through eBay as needed – all now expired and much of it stored at room temperature (cold storage is critical to maintaining the quality of film). This resulted in issues such as brittleness, sensitivity reduction in the silver halides, thickening of the developer, the print and negative sticking together, developer exhaustion, etc. These issues can prove to be disastrous or wondrous, depending on the artist’s taste, patience, and most importantly, desired outcome.
I learned to work with these issues by opening each box and testing the first sheet or two – and when you’re paying $300 for a box of 20 exposures one tends to learn rather quickly. Happily all 20 would typically respond in a manner consistent with those tests.
The "wave" along the top exemplifies the impact of low developer viscosity as described below.
Developer viscosity was one common hurdle - left long enough the developer within the Polaroid pouch would completely harden and become unusable. You can see the effects of this thickening in some of the final prints where the image unexpectedly stops and there is a liquid-like appearance at the image edge as the developer, with reduced viscosity, attempts in vain to cover the entire surface of the film. This leaves parts of the film undeveloped.
There were also many occasions where the positive print and film negative stuck together inside the envelope. After some trial and error I overcame this by manipulating the film by hand before exposure - running it over the edge of a table, bending it, folding it, and basically roughing it up until I heard it give with a quiet crackle. This necessary but harsh treatment would typically leave evidence such as streaking, crease marks, and clouding.
The necessary rough handling of some of the more outdated and un-refrigerated film resulted in effects such as the 'clouding' apparent over the tip of this Guitarfish.