Viewfinder

Viewfinder depicts large-scale meditative scenes of water, shot at all five of the Great Lakes on large format film with a historic camera. The film was then scanned and digitally overlaid with scans of the ground glasses (also known as viewfinders) of large format cameras. The ground glasses were scanned at George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, and in private collections, and they span almost the entire history of 19th and 20th century photography.

By using a camera and ground glass similar in design to the ones that I scanned, I was able to physically reconnect with the medium’s history and image-makers. To emphasize the material nature of working with film negatives, I did not retouch the dust, fingerprints, and film labels, or the marks made by metal clips that held the negatives in place during development. Heightening these material qualities are the unique markings on each ground glass. Many photographers chose to draw compositional lines and notations on their ground glass using pencil, pen, or grease. These markings suggest careful compositional planning and a commitment to slow and sustained looking, in contrast to the almost instantaneous production and transmission of images we experience today.

Essay by Amish Morrell: The Shadow on the Glass: On Susan Dobson’s Viewfinder series.

Vevey_h exterior mural edit
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Festival Images
Swiss Camera Museum, Vevey, Switzerland. 2016/2017

Vevey_a musee de photographie
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Festival Images
Swiss Camera Museum, Vevey, Switzerland. 2016/2017

Vevey_b edit
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Festival Images
Swiss Camera Museum, Vevey, Switzerland. 2016/2017

VF-2-bg
Cambo, circa 1950
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 44.5″ (88.9 cm x 113 cm) and 47″ x 61.6″ (119.4 cm x 156.5 cm)

VF-1-bg
Anniversary Speed Graphic 4 x 5, circa 1940
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 44.5″ (88.9 cm x 113 cm) and 47″ x 59.4″ (119.4 cm x 150.9 cm)

VF-3-bg
5 x 7 Deardorff, circa 1965
Digital C-print, 2013
35″ x 44.5″ (88.9 cm x 113 cm) and  47″ x 59.9″ (119.4 cm x 152.1 cm)

VF-21-bg
Eastman Commercial View Camera, circa 1930
Digital C-print, 2015
35″ x 42.3″ (89 cm x 107.4 cm) and  47″ x 56.9″ (119.4 cm x 144.5 cm)

VF-4-bg
Bouquin Daguerreotype, circa 1850
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 35″ (101.6 cm x 101.6 cm) and 47″ x 47″ (119.4 cm x 199.4 cm)

VF-7-bg
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Wista Technical Field Camera, circa 1980
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 49.5″ (88.9 cm x 125.73 cm) and 47″ x 66.6″ (119.4 cm x 169.2 cm)

VF-8-bg
Deardorff, circa 1923,
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 44.5″ (88.9 cm x 113 cm) and  47″ x 59.8″ (119.4 cm x 151.9 cm)

VF-10-bg
Century Studio Camera with reducing back, circa 1925
Digital C-print, 2013
35″ x 48″ (88.9 cm x 121.92 cm) and  47″ x 66.7″ (119.4 cm x 169.4 cm)

VF-11-bg
Rochester Empire State View Camera with reducing back, circa 1900
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 44.5″ (88.9 cm x 113 cm) and 47″ x 59.9″ (119.4 cm x 152.1 cm)

VF-16-big
Sanderson Tropical Field Camera Half Plate, circa 1920
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 49″ (89 cm x 124 cm) and 47″ x 66″ (119.4 cm x 168 cm)

VF-12-bg
Seneca 5 x 7 View Camera, circa 1940
Digital C-print, 2013
35″ x 49.5″ (88.9 cm x 125.73 cm) and 47″ x 66.6″ (119.4 cm x 169.2 cm)

Vf-13-bg
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Speed Graphic View Camera, circa 1940
Digital C-print, 2013
35″ x 35″ (101.6 cm x 101.6 cm) and 47” x 47” (119.4 cm x 119.4 cm)

VF-20-bg
Newman and Guardia, circa 1912
Digital C-print, 2015
35″ x 44.7″ (89 cm x 114 cm) and 47″ x 60″ (119.4 cm x 152.4 cm)

VF-15-bg
Daguerreotype Sixth Plate, circa 1848
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 40″ (88.9 cm x 101.6 cm) and 47” x 53.9” (119.4 cm x 136.9 cm)

VF-17-bg
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Linhof 4×5, circa 1946
Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 43.5″ (89 cm x 110.4 cm) and 47″ x 58.5″ (119.4 cm x 149 cm)

VF-19-bg
Canadian Camera, circa 1920
Digital C-print, 2015
35″ x 48.5″ (89 cm x 123 cm) and 47″ x 65″ (119.4 cm x 165 cm)

VF-18-bg
John Stock & Company New York, Stereo Wet Plate Camera, circa 1866

Digital C-print, 2014
35″ x 60.6″ (89 cm x 154 cm)

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