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I'm translating a series of texts by photographers from French to English. I'm having trouble with the use of the term "clarification" (in French) as part of the normal processing of Polaroid film. The sentence goes like this:

"this film usually requires "clarification" right after development in order to be usable".

My question is whether the French word "clarification" is used also in English, or if there is a different technical term for this step? Also, what is this step?

The interview with the photographer took place in late May, 2020. He mentions keeping the film in his fridge, as it was no longer produced after 1997.

  • Polaroid made and/or marketed a lot of different types of film over the years. Could you please be more specific about what type of Polaroid film you're asking? – Michael C Jun 3 at 5:19
  • Hi Michael C., I can't specify the film because the author doesn't in his text, so I don't know. Zeiss Ikon provided an answer that answered my question satisfactorily. – JNC Jun 3 at 15:01
  • If nothing else, you could at least give the original date of publication of the work you are translating, so that any film introduced later could be eliminated. – Michael C Jun 4 at 9:39
  • The text has not yet been published, as we publish a bilingual review. The interview with the photographer took place in late May, 2020. He mentions keeping the film in his fridge, as it was no longer produced after 1997. – JNC Jun 4 at 17:22
  • I'm unclear as to why this is relevant to my question. As I am a new member, perhaps you can clarify, Michael C? – JNC Jun 4 at 17:23
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Type 55 P/N Polaroid film (positive / negative) emerges as a positive print and a negative film sandwiched together. These images are comprised of metallic silver imbedded in gelatin. The materials being drenched with the reagents are soft thus fragile. The reagent is strongly alkaline and will cause reddening of the skin (contact dermatitis). The negative must be separated from the print hastily else the reagent and a thin brown paper mask material will adhere and if the reagent dries, all will be difficult to remove.

The positive print requires coating using the special coating material suppled in the film box. The negative emerges completely fixed and thus not light-sensitive. The film, covered by the reagent must be, within 5 minutes, be treated with an 18% solution of sodium sulfite 180g dissolved in 1000ml of water.

This solution hardens the film and prepares anti-halation dyes in the film for removal. The film, immersed in this fluid and agitated until developer reagent falls off. Gentle rubbing with a cotton swab will assist.

The film is then washed, preferably in running water, for a minimum of 30 seconds however for maximum archrival, wash for 5 minutes.

Following the wash, soak in a wetting agent such as Kodak Photo-Flo for 30 seconds and then hang allowing the film to air dry. You may achieve better uniform drying by squeegee.

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I presume they're referring to the (obsolete) Positive/Negative black and white Polaroids, Type 55 (and one of the 3x4 pack films). We'd normally speak of "clearing" the negative from these films after peeling the print off, in order to keep the negative in condition to use for scanning or darkroom printing.

This involves putting the negative, as soon as possible after peeling, into a sodium sulfite solution ("clearing bath") to prevent the pod contents from hardening on the film and remaining fixer from damaging the image.

I've understood that the term is derived from "hypo clearing solution," a sodium sulfite bath used to speed washing of prints (the sulfite promotes the thiosulfate to clear from the print, especially important for fiber based papers). The solution used for Polaroid negatives is much more concentrated, but has the same general effect -- preservation of the negative by promoting removal of fixer (and other chemicals from the pod).

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  • THANK YOU! I think that is it. The author does mention keeping film in his fridge because it is no longer produced, so it sounds like you've identified it correctly. A thousand thanks! – JNC Jun 2 at 12:33
  • It may be Type 55, but the photographer stated he couldn't get it after 1997. Polaroid did not cease making Type 55 until 2008. Between 2014 and 2017 a company named New55 Holdings, LLC. also produced it. Though demand was still strong, they ceased making it at the end of 2017 when one of their key suppliers went out of business. – Michael C Jun 5 at 5:55
  • The original photographer may have been using the 3x4 pack size P/N material -- type 665, says Google. That was discontinued long before 55. – Zeiss Ikon Jun 5 at 11:00

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