The Cloud Filter

Polaroid made tons of accessories for their cameras. Tons. Extra margin, profit, add-on sales for camera salesmen of the 60’s, who I don’t think were crazy about selling Land Cameras, and if doing so, would no doubt try to complete a sale by selling extra accessories. This is a margin driven business, even in 2011. I plan on highlighting a few of these extras in this blog from time to time. This is one I own, but admittedly have zero experience in using. Given the brutal winter the Northeast United States has had to endure this winter, with almost daily poundings of snowstorms, outdoor Polaroid photography is something I have done very little of so far.

The Polaroid Cloud Filter #516 is an orange filter, which was designed originally for the Automatic 100, and can be used on most of the cameras with the electric eye, with some exceptions, of course. There are great sites that list which ones it can and cannot work with, so I am not going to go into detail here.  The filter is pictured here-

Polaroid #516 Cloud Filter

Polaroid #516 Cloud Filter

As you can see above, one piece fits over the lens, and another orange area fits over the electric eye which governs exposure. Dr. Land was a genius in so many areas, but one of his true obsessions was the study of light, and colors of light. Now, he did not invent this particular concept, but its use here is pretty cool. Orange filters reduce blue light. So what does this do to a sky where you have white clouds? It makes them stand out. It must be noted here that this filter only works with your black and white film, not color. The filter works best when trying to make the clouds stand out against a dark blue sky. It does not work well in overcast conditions.

OK, speaking of snow, I have seen elsewhere that some photographers have had success using this filter with snowy winter scenes. This may be of note to the aforementioned photographers in the N.E. U.S., as we likely have enough snow on the ground, and on roofs, to last well into spring. So if that is your sort of thing, definitely pick one of these up.

One thing to watch for with this accessory- when I first bought this one, I had a bit of difficulty slipping it onto the front of one of my 230’s. I spoke with Cory, the owner of the excellent portal, regarding this issue. Cory has run into this before. There are metal “fingers” on the filter, where you bend them in slightly. It is counterintuitive in part, because given the direction of where the filter attaches over the lens, one would conclude that it would cause the filter to slip off. If you ever run into this issue, try Cory’s technique. It works like a charm!

Attaching the cloud filter to the Model 230. The metal "filgers" are on the inside of the black ring that fits over the lens housing.

Attaching the cloud filter to the Model 230. The metal "fingers" are on the inside of the black ring that fits over the lens housing.

Hoping to get some cloud filter results posted soon, if New Englanders can ever venture back outside this winter. Two more storms are forecasted this week. Clouds indeed….

6 thoughts on “The Cloud Filter

  1. I regularly use yellow, orange and red filters on my regular cameras for contrast effects on B&W film. My Mamiya RB67 lenses all take 77mm and so do most of my Canon EF lenses so it works out well but I also have some 52mm for smaller lenses. Of course the Polaroid is a special size but I may try holding up one of my filters over both the main and eye lenses to see if that will work with 100B or 3000B film.

  2. Excellent. I was thinking about grabbing one. Now I definitely will. I have seen a few other shots using color film and the cloud filter but they definitely did not have the same results and the linked shot. I am curious what the lighting conditions were since it seemed to work as a warming filter in that situation.

    Enjoying the blog so far. I am looking forward to checking out the indoor w/ flash tests you plan on doing. Will you be using an electronic flash?

    • Chris- no, I use (2) Polaroid Flashgun’s, Model #268. A future topic for a future blog entry.

      The results were on a sunny, cold day. The Cloud Filter is not recommended for use on overcast/dull days.

      Thank you for the kind words!


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