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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Visioneer's Gallery: Horse By Sea

Phillip Graybill’s one-of-a-kind artwork is a perfect medium to immortalize Montauk’s Deep Hollow Ranch

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Some of the evocative photos from Phillip Graybill's "Horse by Sea" project at the Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, New York.

When I think nostalgically about the technology that defined the era of traditional photography prior to the digital age, the twin-lens-reflex camera is high on my list of mechanical favorites. The medium-format image has always been magical to me, instantly rendering artistic images, acutely modern in their compositions. Today, the TLR is still a beautiful, yet inexpensive option for shooting in the timeless square format.

It was to my enormous delight that we began a partnership six years ago with Phillip Graybill, a photographer who has mastered the art of translating images from his TLR seamlessly onto the digital canvas. Graybill, who specializes in portrait, fashion and lifestyle documentary photography, was given a Mamiya C220 in a chance encounter on a street by a complete stranger who thought Graybill might make better use of it. What Graybill ended up creating with the camera are fine-art photographic installations that have found collectors around the world.

Graybill's recent show in New York, "Horse by Sea," featured stunning photographs from the Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, New York. Established in 1658, it was one of the oldest working ranches in the United States. Getting access to the quaint setting, Graybill experimented with different shooting formats before settling on the TLR. After photographing a couple of horses with film, he knew that he would convert the photos to large fine-art prints.

"To me, the shape of the horse and how they were framed in the square format of my camera's viewfinder felt very architectural, so when I was shooting I was simply imagining what I was framing being in a space. I started using the horse's shape and then started reshooting the whole thing." In a Kickstarter campaign that funded the exhibit, Graybill described the photo process, "On overcast days, I headed to the ranch to photograph the horses. I eventually got to know each of them so well, the images became individual portraits depicting each horse's personality, quirks and beauty. What I didn't know then was that these would be some of the last days most of these horses would spend on the ranch."

Deep Hollow Ranch was sold in 2010, and Graybill says he's grateful to have captured its beauty before it closed. "Horse by Sea" is a beautiful collection of Graybill's images capturing the serenity of the Hamptons and the photographer's inner connection to the ranch.

"This show is all about bringing to life what was once lost," says Graybill. "Not only can the images not be recaptured again, but they were taken on film, with a camera that easily could have ended up in the garbage."

Graybill starts his creative process on film, converting it to digital through high-resolution drum scanning, then printing it onto a fine-art Giclée canvas. For most artists, the final Giclée print marks the completion of their art, but Graybill's unique process begins after we hand him the printed canvas. Taking the printed piece through a five-week process that includes natural waxes, resin, heat transfers and custom wood framing, Graybill begins with stretching the canvas over custom-built birch wood panels, and instead of folding the edges like you would with a traditional painting on canvas, he cuts the edges to create a modern look.


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