Video: Brendan Barry makes 20″ x 24″ wildflower image using camera obscura and color reversal process
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Video: Brendan Barry makes 20″ x 24″ wildflower image using camera obscura and color reversal process

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UK-based photographer Brendan Barry has used his lockdown to grow closer to nature. He’s been taking regular neighborhood walks with his daughter and learning more about the area surrounding their home in Exeter and the city’s surprising nature. They have regularly picked wildflowers on the journey, which Barry has been photographing using a color reversal process he has been developing over the last few years.

Barry’s process is ‘long and laborious and the photographs hard to achieve.’ He tells us that it can take up to eight hours to create a successful exposure, and due to the nature of the toxic chemicals he uses, he often shoots at night to protect his toddler daughter. Plus, as he says, ‘it is so peaceful and quiet then.’

Barry shoots directly to 20″ x 24″ photographic paper using a camera obscura. He has been using a color reversal process that he’s developed over the last few years to make his images.

In a project commissioned by Maketank and filmed by Chen Liu (Lynd), we go behind the scenes with Brendan Barry as he creates a 20″ x 24″ color still life of wildflowers captured directly to photographic paper. Barry uses a camera obscura and his color reversal process, which he has been working on for the last few years. The image is from his series, ‘Wildflowers picked on walks with Bea.”

The ongoing photo series is a very personal project for Barry. The subjects are collected during walks with his daughter, and the images are time-consuming and difficult to make. The images are also a reflection of the times. The lockdown is very difficult for many, and the ongoing pandemic is even more challenging in and of itself. With that said, the lockdown has also given people like Brendan Barry the chance to connected differently with their neighborhoods.

Brendan Barry carefully arranges wildflowers for a new image. Each shot can take upwards of eight hours to create from start to finish.

For Barry, he feels it is ‘vital to capture and appreciate what is here, to remind ourselves of what we have all around us, literally on our doorsteps, in the hope that we may seek to retain some of this when normality, whatever form that will take, returns.’

If Brendan Barry’s name sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. He has created many fascinating cameras and photographic projects over the years, many of which we have featured. Last October, we shared how Barry was commissioned by the Exeter Canal and Quay Trust to convert an entire room into a camera obscura. If you’d like to learn how to do that, we also covered a tutorial from Barry about this topic last spring.

During the lockdown, Barry converted his backyard shed into a camera and darkroom, which he has used as part of his wildflower series.

In 2019, Barry transformed the 46th floor of the 101 Park Avenue skyscraper in New York City into a massive camera obscura. That same year, he also converted a shipping container into a camera, which he called ‘the world’s biggest, slowest, and most impractical Polaroid camera.’

If you’d like to see more of Brendan Barry’s work, visit his website and follow him on Instagram. He’s always up to something awesome.


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