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Looking into Camera Obscura

Graham Ward hand-crafts larger-than–normal cameras to capture the aesthetic he wants.


When photographer Graham Ward couldn't find the camera or film that he wanted for his art, he made it himself. "I wanted big prints, and I really like the aesthetic of the old-style photography," the Australian-born photographer says over the phone from his Dartmouth home. "I taught myself because there really was nowhere to learn this kind of stuff---I like the old style, and everyone's doing digital and I went the other way." But teaching himself wasn't solely learning a new method of film development: Ward hand-built camera bodies to produce his snapped images from glass-plate negatives. It's a style of camera called camera obscura (leading Ward to the name of his exhibition), and Ward builds his cameras to be 24 square inches since the negatives have to be the same size as the prints---"I wanted big prints so I made big cameras." The hard work behind the method has been worth it: Ward's rural shots lend a new dimension to familiar landscapes, with flaws and blurred lines that keep the focus guessing.

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