Reliving Polaroid’s heyday with Poladroid


Digital photography is an amazing thing. The ability to take hundreds of photos without the cost of getting them developed, being able to review photos in the camera, and being able to delete the duff ones makes the digital format very powerful. But think back to simpler times, when “instant photograph” was synonymous with one thing: Polaroids.

These photos were the result of a special film which, once exposed, was spat from the camera spreading developing fluid over the picture. Wait a few minutes and your picture would magically appear before your very eyes.

I know it’s just nostalgia, but I really liked Polaroid photos. There was something incredible about watching the image develop in front of you and, of course, at the time it was really the only way to get an instant photo. Well now a little of the magic is back with Poladroid, an electronic Polaroid clone. At the moment Poladroid is available for Mac OS X with an Alpha version for Windows.

The program is very simple to use: start it up and you get a Polaroid camera on your deskop. Just drag and drop any image onto the camera and you’ll see an undeveloped Polaroid. You can grab a sample from this at any point during the development process if you see an effect you like the look of, but I tended just to leave the images to develop to their fullest extent. There’s no good reason for the length of time each image takes to process except that Polaroids used to take ages too! So whilst this could be annoying if you want an image quickly, I’m willing to let it slip because it actually helps recapture some of the old magic. After a few minutes there’s a chime, and your image is ready to view. It will have been automatically saved to the location you specify in the program’s preferences.

East Wemyss

A coastal ruin in Fife, Scotland

How do the images look, though? One of the things about Polaroids was that the colours were never quite right, and the authors of Poladroid seem to have worked hard to get the same effect. You can see the Poladroid image of a ruin I passed in East Wemyss a while ago, and the original here. I’ll admit that the original was nothing special, being taken on my iPhone, but the Poladroid has a really nice ’70s look to it. Once again, the distinctive colour temperature was another part of the magic of Polaroid.

Quite apart from the nostalgia, though, Poladroid does produce good looking images. You could use it to age a photograph, create a logo or background, or just for making your snaps look a bit more interesting. If you let your kids play with it, though, don’t forget to tell them about the good old days when you were mesmerised by instant cameras :)

Poladroid can be downloaded from the Poladroid project.

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