Artist Showcase – DB Stovall

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D. B. Stovall, a Washington, DC area native, bought his first camera at age 10 – a Rosko purchased for 88 cents at Murphy’s Five and Dime. Quickly moving on to various Instamatics, an old Leica D, and finally Japanese 35mm SLRs, Stovall explored various aspects of black and white photography, becoming adept at all kinds of darkroom work by the time he entered high school. Stovall was introduced to the view camera at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the very early 1970s and by 1974 moved on to large format (4″x5″) color transparency in a realism-based vision, which he still practices today.

His earliest attempts at photography as a youngster, besides the standard pictures of relatives and friends, gravitated towards the everyday: parked automobiles owned by those unknown to him, random storefronts and taverns, gas stations, and garages. Although Stovall explored many aspects of photography such as pictorialism and surrealism, his education exposed him to the works of various photographic artists, and seeing and appreciating the works of Atget, Evans, and others quickly steered him back to where he began. When he mastered the view camera at age 19, he returned to a realism-based vision by finding the almost perfect tool to complement the directness of his early images.

The images Stovall records are what he now calls the American Vernacular: things that seem mundane or commonplace to others yet define our existence. A 4×5 view camera is used for total image control, both perspective and detail, and because it disciplines his vision and facilitates a slower way of seeing that is a hallmark of his work. Color transparency best captures what he sees, and the result is a multitude of images that reflect the world as he experiences it. The film he uses provides full color saturation for maximum color detail that, coupled with large format high acutance and his own fine control of subject luminance, make his images explode off the walls.

Stovall started entering his work into juried exhibitions at the beginning of 2008 and since then has been in more than 100 juried shows all over the US as well as several solo exhibitions. His 2013 show at the Hillyer Gallery in Washington, DC, – A Slower Way of Seeing: Photographs of American Vernacular was judged as #5 of the 10 best 2013 photography exhibitions in Washington by Louis Jacobson of the Washington City Paper. Local solo shows have included exhibits at VisArts in Rockville MD and BlackRock Center in Germantown MD.

All of the images are made using a Calumet CC-400 4×5 view camera. The film used is either Ektachrome E100VS or Fuji Velvia color transparency (positive).  Lenses used are 90mm Super Angulon, 150mm Symmar-S, or 215mm Caltar-S as appropriate for the situation.  Post-processing involves scanning at 2400 spi and matching to the original using Photoshop.  Prints are made on an Epson 7900 printer with HDR archival pigment inks. All prints are in editions of 15.