SFA 1203 Lecture 5: Composition #2 Centre of Interest – make your photos interesting




When you study photography, it is essential to focus on the main object, that is, you have to decide the Centre of Interest (COI).



Centre of Interest refers to neither the centre of the canvas nor a point, but the theme of photograph – let the main object stand out from the others. It is the thing that grabs the attention of the viewers.

With the Centre of Interest, it would make an outstanding or inspiring shot even if you don’t apply the Golden ratio. Because the viewers have something to follow. This way, the message you want to convey is easier to express too.


WAYS TO COMPOSE COIinstant-university_yellow-border

1. Make a good use of bright colors.


2. Put the subject in the centre or occupy one-third of canvas


3. Let the main object occupy a larger space


4. Apply shallower depth of field


5. Locate the main object in a brighter place

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6. Create a visual path


7. Create pattern to emphasise the subject


SFA 1203 Lecture 4: Fuji emulsion lift workshop



WHAT’S MOREinstant-university_yellow-border

In this lecture, you will learn about how to do emulsion lift using Fuji instant films. It can be made using FP-100C and 8×10 films. In fact, the process is pretty similar to the Polaroid / Impossible film. The biggest difference between the two is their emulsions. Extra works are needed during the process.


WHAT YOU NEEDinstant-university_yellow-border

Instant photo x 1


Scissors x 1


Soft paintbrush x 1


Hair-dryer x 1


Tray of hot water (around 70°C / 160°F) x 1


Carrier surface

Acetate x 1




1. After taking a picture, pull film out and wait for like 1.5 minutes for full development. Then you can peel the negative image away from the positive.

2. Air dry the print until it is completely dry. Or use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process.

3. Cut all the white borders around the image.

4. Put the print face up into the hot water. Make sure the print is literally submerged. By rocking the trap back and forward, you will see some white bubbles appear on the image surface, and in about 4 minutes, the emulsion should start falling off from the print.

5. If the emulsion has not completely separating, pour some more hot water and continue the agitation. Use fingers to assist the separation, until the emulsion has totally come off.

6. Take a sheet of acetate and slide it under the emulsion, flatten the lift as much as you can.

7. Put the image on the carrier surface, at this time, the image should be in between of the carrier surface and the acetate.

8. Moisture the carrier with little water, put the acetate over the carrier where you want your image to be.

9. Carefully remove the acetate.

10. Apply the acrylic medium (glass gel medium is fine as well) with a small brush on the image area.

11. Air dry the finishing piece overnight and you are done!

SFA 1203 Lecture 3: Polaroid / Impossible emulsion lift workshop



WHAT IS IT?instant-university_yellow-border

Emulsion lift (also known as emulsion transfer) is an interesting photographic technique. By using this method, you can transfer your image onto a completely different surface like mug, paper, t-shirt, or tote bag, for creative printmaking.

It is all about the jelly-like emulsion layer of instant film being separated from its clear layer. Afterwards, a picture can be reattached to other surface you want. Other than that, you can enlarge or change the shape of the image during the process.


WHAT YOU NEEDinstant-university_yellow-border

Instant photo x 1


Scissors x 1


Soft paintbrush x 2-3


Tray of water (in room temperature) x 1


Carrier surfaceinstant-university_SFA1203-lecture-3-polaroid-impossible-emulsion-lift-workshop-#5



1. Use scissors to cut the edge off the picture.

2. Remove the whole frame. You will get a square image.

3. Peel the black plastic foil away from the image. 

4. Soak the picture into the water for few minutes.

5. Use a paintbrush to gently brush the image layer (thin emulsion layer) away from the transparent plastic foil in water.

6. Pick the plastic out from the tray. Only keep the emulsion layer in the water. Make sure your image is forward.

7. Take the carrier material you have already prepared. Gently place it underneath the emulsion layer.

8. Carefully position the image layer on top of new surface by using paintbrush. Of course, you can use your fingers for help!

9. Remove the transferred image from water. After it is taken out of the water, you can still create or remove wrinkles and move the image around or even flatten it.

10. Once you finished playing around the shape, let it dry for about 24 hours. The emulsion will stick on the new surface. And you have a Polaroid / Impossible emulsion lift!


IMPORTANT NOTEinstant-university_yellow-border

You have to do the emulsion lift within 2 or 3 days after the image is taken. Once the image solidifies, you will no longer be able to separate the layers.

SFA 1203 Lecture 2: After effect – Manipulation by Impossible film



WHAT IS IT?instant-university_yellow-border

Manipulation is an alternative artistic “painterly effect”. You can convert a normal picture into an Impressionism painting or oil painting! It is very creative, isn’t it?

From old films like Polaroid SX-70 Time Zero or 600 to The Impossible Project. You can create an image with unique result through manipulation, before the emulsion dries.


“Manipulation makes your Impossible PX70 and PX680 like a little impressionist canvas.” – Carmen Palermo (Credits: The Impossible Project & Carmen Palermo)




Manipulation involves taking a blunt object by applying pressure to a still developing Polaroid. The tools used to the process could be a wooden stick or Cold Clip Pen by Impossible. Sharp tool would ruin the emulsion layer so avoid using it.


Use pressure to create a blending and slight distortion on the chemicals. Remember, the picture can no longer be restored.


**Drawing on Impossible film is not as easy as the original Polaroid SX70 film. To do so, it is better for you to heat up the image by hairdryer first and draw harder.

SFA 1203 Lecture 1: Composition #1 Rule of Thirds – The basis for balanced shots




In Art, quality is never an accident. Before you create your artwork, you should have a good understanding of the basic concepts or fundamentals of art.

Good composition in art shall be a challenge to many beginning instant photographer. Composition it is not only valid in painting and drawing, but also in photography. The Rule of Thirds, sometimes known as Golden ratio, is perhaps the most well known compositional technique for making dynamic and interesting images.


HOW DOES IT WORK?instant-university_yellow-border

Imagine to break the image down into thirds – both vertically and horizontally, there it is the Rule of Thirds. You can place your point of interest in the intersections or along the imaginary lines of the image. Under this circumstance, the subject should not always be placed in the center of the shot.




People’s eyes tends to go to one of the intersection point rather than the middle of image. With the Rule of Thirds, off-centered subjects look more balanced and provides a more natural way of viewing, and a sense of direction too.


The above example conveys a sense of direction. The girl riding a bike is placed along the left vertical line and thus there is much more space on the right of the frame. This kind of arrangement makes for a more pleasant composition that the subject has some buffer spaces.


COUNTER ARGUMENTinstant-university_yellow-border

As long as you can handle the Rule of Thirds, it’s time to break the rule. You do not have to use the rule all the time, instead you can start to randomly yet consciously compose the image yourself. As there are many other circumstances that it might be better to ignore the rule than to follow it.


For instance, when you want to imply the symmetry of the subject, placing it at the center of canvas should be the best solution. Or when you shoot a landscape with leaving a huge area of sky and just a range of hills at the bottom, in turns such kind of composition can feature the landscape.



THE SUM-UPinstant-university_yellow-border

Yup. It is very essential to know what do you want to emphasise or which mood and atmosphere you would like to create in your photography. If the Rule of Thirds could help to achieve your goal, use it then, otherwise, do not let it to get your way of composition.