Tag Archives: 4×5

Caroline Ventura

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As an artist there are some people who I LOVE photographing. I could photograph them everyday. There is something about their beauty, bone structure, and spirit I love to capture, that my eye finds fascinating and wants to study them over and over. This is the case for jewelry designer Caroline Ventura who is one of (along with Heather) my muses. I first met Caroline on a shoot for Cup of Jo three years ago and we have been friends ever since. Did you know she was the first cinemagraph we ever shot? We just never tired editing it until AFTER our first public one. She was the first person I photographed at our old studio and this shoot is our first together at our new one.

We are both artists and we have known each other as photographer + subject for sometime now. I’ve shot Caroline beautifully, I’ve shot her COOL, but as we have been getting older we are looking to find more depth in our work. I’ve been wanting to focus less on the clothing in my personal shoots these days and more on the beauty of the female form. Caroline and I were going to meet up for dinner and I said, hey, let’s do a shoot before we head out, which eventually turned into a night of film photographs, margaritas, girl talk, and these moments below.

… and just for fun I asked Caroline a series of fill in the blank questions just for a new take on an old friend.

I am most inspired by…

My friends. I’m so lucky to have an incredible circle of talented friends who all support each other and push one another to do/create beautiful things.

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An ideal day for me is…

When I can see blue skies. As long as the sun is shining, anything can be thrown my way.

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My favorite artist is…

Lia Chavez, who is doing really beautiful things in the art world right now. I am so fortunate to call her a friend. Her solo show, Carceri, just opened at Two Rams on the LES. She is one of the gentlest and most humble humans and a huge inspiration to me.

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The best way I express myself is…

With my mouth. I talk a lot.

Caroline_Ventura_25  New York City is…

Home. No matter where I go in my life it always pulls me back.

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Film vs. Digital

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I‘m often asked in interviews the difference between film vs. digital, if film is dead, and how I choose which medium I want to shoot with. Film photography will always be a part of my life. It was how I was raised to take pictures; it is my roots in photography. It feels different to take a photograph on film than on digital even though so much of what they accomplish is the same.

When I shoot on film I am looking for a depth to the final image…quite simply, I find film images to have a soul. Maybe that has something to do with how you take the picture. We go through thousands of digital photographs weekly which feels like the next image diminishes the value of the one before. With film, even when I feel like I’m shooting a lot, it is only in the hundreds and when I push that shutter release each time, that shot is thought-out, composed, and one where I waited for that perfect moment. My friend Adam who had a show this past fall at the Sasha Wolf Gallery said if he ever had to teach a class in digital he’d make his students shoot on camera cards that only hold 36 frames to train them to think about each shot.

However, digital has this beautiful clarity, this “reach out and touch it” ability that I find so beautiful. The velvety texture of flower petal, the saturation of color in a blushing rose. Digital puts you there, in the moment, feeling the light, and seeing even what the human eye can’t. The speed with which we can capture, document and share with digital photography is so astonishing. Recently I tweeted, “Every two minutes, we take more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s.” I alway say, photography is a right, not a privilege, and thanks to digital that has never been more true.

On a day where I just don’t want to sit at a computer editing or writing emails, or I need a break to get in the zone creatively, I find my favorite thing to do is photograph flowersFlowers represent so much about life to me: the beauty, the aging, the individuality and sexuality. I wanted to illustrate the difference between film and digital, so on my last flower study I took (as close as possible!) the same photograph on a digital Leica M with macro lens and then again on a 4×5 Toyo View Camera on Ilford Delta 100 ISO black and white film. I used natural light and did a variety of shots using different F-stops for a varying depth of field.

You tell me what you prefer: Film or Digital?

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Simple natural light setup in our studio, white textured cardboard background. Above, using the shutter cable release to avoid my hand shaking on the shutter release, which  causes motion blur. Most of the 4×5 exposures were between 30 secs and one minute. Below, focusing view on the 4×5 ground glass. 

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The outcome. 

at f/45

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Old School Photography

I do a lot of personal projects throughout the year to satisfy my curiosity in photography and art, my need to create and continue to explore as a photographer. My personal work makes my professional photos better and my professional work pushes my personal; they are like opposite ends of a magnet always reacting to each other. Our Ann Street Studio holiday card is one of the personal projects I most look forward to every year. I like that it takes place over a multitude of cities (New York, Boston and Savannah), I like that it takes a really long time to create, I like that the entire thing is done by hand, by my hands, I like that there is nothing digital about the process and I like that in the end, we send it out as a true artifact you can hold and that will be there for years to come.

This year’s print starting unknowingly on the beaches of Montauk, during an autumn walk that presented our little artifacts, moon shells washed up on the shore: all of them different sizes, colors, tonality, some with nicks and scratches. It reminded me of how we are all different but beautiful…and though this year has had so many ups, we all face the downs and the scars left on our shells from the beating currents of time should be celebrated – for without them, we must not truly be living.

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We brought them back to the house we share with our friends in Amagansett to be photographed on Ilford Delta 100 black and white film.

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Old School Photography

Much of what we do at Ann Street Studio is with digital technology and I do love digital. I think it’s important to know the newest technology because that will forever shape how we shoot and see tomorrow. However, I was not raised on digital, but on the slow pace of film… the time it takes to load it and think about your exposure, never knowing if you got the shot until hours or days later. For our studio holiday card this year I wanted to step back, slow down, and enjoy the process of photography. It was amazing how much longer everything took, such a contrast to the enormous amount of content we can quickly produce these days.

We wanted to print an edition of 200 and started with the concept of shooting a simple still life of peonies to represent romance: the romance of mine and Kevin’s marriage this year. I went down to the Chelsea flower market and bought a variety of options.

It took 6 me hours to photograph 20 plates of 4×5 film.

Each sheet of film is carefully processed in pitch-black rooms with large dipping tanks. We then reviewed the contacts sheets of the film to choose our select for printing. I used red and green filters on the flowers when photographing to lighten and darken the greens and reds of the image and add more tonality to the end black and white product.

My favorite photo lab to use is actually LaPete in Boston. It’s large, clean, quiet and Bill (the owner) is an encyclopedia of photography and old school techniques. I go there partly to pick his brain.

30 sec exposure to light on warm toned fiber base paper, 2 mins in developer, 30 secs in stop bath (stops development), 5 mins in fixer (makes it not light sensitive), 30 mins in wash baths. It took two full days of printing to produce the 200 prints.

Using fiber based paper is a longer drying process than RC; each print was dried and pressed in 3 different machines, then cooled under weighted glass to flatten the print.

We headed down to Savannah and spent three days in Gallery Espresso spot toning each image by hand, since dust spots sometimes occur in the printing process. Signed, dated, and numbered – then sent for shipping.

It was, for me, like taking a deep breath. Although we always strive to create the best work we can possible create, I had an overwhelming since of pride looking at the photograph after all the time and detail and days it took to create it.

“Flower #7″, 2012

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