Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

June 30, 2007

It’s the process..

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 9:46 pm

Fading Memories

Fading Memories (from the series: Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

…Mark commented today about the potential impact of reworking the tonal qualities of my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip as being a “nightmare”. He was not aware of how true that statement was! After the realization of what I was going to have to do, it did keep me up most of the night. I had implemented the changes to eliminate the partical image diffusion for about half of the portfolio, when I now realize that I will need to go back and start the process over again. At least the last half of the images that I needed to change, I will only need to make them once!

But this issue has been a good lesson in a number of ways. One, if I want the same tonal image, then as I print the “final” version of an image, I need to put along side the rest of the established portfolio and make sure that it “fits”. What I had allowed myself to do was to let a tonal shift slowly move through the body of work. Placing a freshly printed image next to the previous printed image,  I did not notice any changes. But after placing that image next many images is it apparent that I had let a small tonal shift occur, and it had become accomulative. heck!

Next, unlike my day job with real deadlines and penalities, I do not have a deadline with this project. Nope, none! Wow, that is something different, I can keep working on this until I have it right for me. What a delight and I need to keep that in mind. Mind you I have a tendency to think about the completion of the project rather than enjoying the process itself. The potential print reviews, exhibit juries, meeting with a gallery curator, getting the portfolio into print all do get in the way of the process of exploring the reason for the series.

Last, I thought that I may not have to fine tune every image with regard to the tonality. If I have a good match with my benchmark image, regardless of how I arrived there, I will not have to mess with the image. Turns out that most of the images are going to need to fine tuning. Oh well, I now have two images complete and time to consider the third. The second image has taken me three days, so I hope as I learn more about this process, my skills get better :- )

Best regards, Doug

June 29, 2007

Image toning for “Bad Trip – Sad Trip”

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:37 pm

Randy

Randy, copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

…it does appear that I have some fine tuning to do for each of my images tones that I am creating for the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip. After working on the different methodologies that are available with CS3, I have found that for a series of images that the Hue/Saturation (H/S) adjustment layer is working best for me. The other toning methods are very good as well. I understand that I should be able to work up a toning scheme with the other methods and do some sort of copy and paste, I’m just not there.

The other pressing issue is: which tone scheme? Looking at thirty printed images lying on the studio floor, the tone color is varied all over the place.  This has confirmed for me that I do not have a consistent “look”. I had to select one image & color that will be the benchmark that I will evealuate the rest against, so I choose my photograph titled “Randy”.

Now I have started pairing the images on my screen to make sure that I have the tonaity and color matched. and I have found that I have some other creative controls to use regard to color that I was not aware of, such as the color and luminosity blending modes for the adjustment level and adding a color adjustment layer.

I am taking a step back on this series, but it is taking me two steps forward. It’s just that it takes so long to make the corrections, print the proofs (and more adjustments), then update the web site and the back-up files. Okay, that was my winning for today.  Now to start putting one foot in front of the next and soon I will have myself caught up (again!).

Best regards, Doug

ArtBiz101 – Business Plan

Filed under: Art Market, Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 7:13 pm

Night Watch

Night Watch (from series: Insomnia: Hotel Noir)

…this is the third article on my series of developing an artistic business.  Business plans have been written extensively about, as a written and detailed business plan is what most new companies take to the bank or key investors to get their start-up money. People who invest their money want to be able to see a detailed outline of what the business is and howthey will eventually get their money back. I did not need a business plan for my other start-ups to be able to borrow money, what I needed it for is to make sure that what I was attempting to do made sense. And get myself organized; what, when, how, where and why did I need to do to get the business going?

Over the next month or so I will cover in more detail the parts of the Business Plan: Orgainization, Marketing Analysis, Marketing Plan, Development Plan, Financial Plan, and Exit plan.

Now I want to provide another way to tie in the life strategy with making a living. Another tool that companies and individuals use is to define their vision, their mission and their objectives. The vision is another way to talk about the long term life strategy that I discussed earlier. My vision is to be recognized as an artistic and creative person and make an acceptable living from my artistic ablities.

The mission is getting into more details about what needs to be done, but over a shorter time span, such as over the next five years. My mission is to complete some bodies of work, get noticed by collectors & galleries and start generating the cash flow neccessary to support ourselves.

The objectives are the current details that I feel that I need to complete in order to achieve the mission. My current objectives include completing the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip, getting this series published as a book and getting the series exhibited. I also have as an objective to start bringing together my other series Insomnia: Hotel Noir. A third objective is to get juried into two or three group exhibits (accomplished one so far) and to get my images (probably Bad Trip – Sad Trip) published in an art magazine. I would also like to sell some of my prints, but I do have any specific numbers for this, but just that I have an objective to do it. And now I have a new objective; to learn and understand Photoshop CS3 for toning black & white images:- )

I don’t think that all of this needs to be written in a lot of detail, but putting this on one sheet of paper and tacking it up next to the work space has a way of keeping us on track. I did write my first business plan in a whole lot of detail. We were venturing into some really unknown business territory for us, which was very financially risky for us. The second business plan was really brief in comparison.

Also, business plans are not written in stone, but best in pencil with a really big eraser. Use as much paper as you want. Things in life change, the art world changes, and our interest changes as to what is important and what we want to do. You have to be a little flexible, as it is the rigid trees which get blown down by the storms.

Best regards, Doug

June 27, 2007

PS C3 Digital “Toning”

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 10:01 pm

…I had received a request from Julie in the comments to an earlier blog post about what I found regarding the image toning options I have with the new PSC3 program. Without doing any checking, I thought that I just still had the one option of using a Hue/Saturation adjustment level as I had with CS.  But I’m glad I checked out the options that Martin Evening suggests in my C3 “manual”. There still is the Hue/Saturation, but then Martin explains the use of the Color Balance adjustment layer, how to use the Black&White adjustment layer and finally his use of two adjustment curves. Wow!

Okay, that’s the good news, so now I have to carve out some time to figure what works for me! Initially I was thinking that my image tone problem was not an issue with the Hue/Saturation Adjustment level but maybe something else. With CS I have found the toning color of the image varies by where in the Layer stack the Hue/Saturation (H/S) adjustment layer is located. If the H/S is above the curve ajustment layer, the color is different than if the H/S is just below it. I have never found much that discusses this, but I can sure tell you that it makes a big difference. So the question is, what else effects the H/S adjustment layer location and the resulting digital tone of the image?

If I take Martin’s advice, I should spend more of my time learning how the two Curve adjustment layers option can provide the image tone that I am seeking. But I am going to understand each of my options, to make sure what works best for me.

I just hope that this does not throw me into a process of re-working of all my ealier images….

Best regards, Doug

Update: I may have found my issue with the Hue/Saturation and the additional Cures and Levels adjustment levels that I was doing with CS. Per Martin Evening, “when you increase the contrast in an image using a Curve adjustment, you will also increase the color saturation”. The fix? He recommends that to use the luminosity blend mode every time you add a Levels or Curves adjustment level to an image, ESPECIALLY if the tones and colors have been optimized for contrast and COLOR. Yipeee! This should mean that I can go back to my image files and change the curves and level adjustement curves to a luminosity blend and the toning effect that I have been trying to apply will then come through. Well, I sure hope so!!

June 26, 2007

No Longer Paradise

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 3:41 am

No Longer Paradise

No Longer Paradise

(From the Series: Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

I am re-posting this photograph from my series,which is one that had I made in Hawaii, but the first time I posted it, I had a strong diffusion effect on the foreground. One of the few images that the diffusion effect seemed to work with the photograph….

What I am noticing with the posted image is that the toning (PS hue/saturation level) that I am using is not effecting the white highlights. I wonder if this is an artifact of a medium resolution versus high resolution JEPG? This was my first use of the new curve adjustment layer in C3 as well. I have a stronger feeling that this effect in my highlights is a result of my image for this blog as I do not see it anywhere this prononced on my web site or on C3 at 300 dpi.

As I check the thumbnails for the series on my web site, I also notice that I do not have a consistent tone/hue between all of the images. I am using the same hue/saturation settings for each image but getting different results. hmmm.  can anyone help here?

Best regards, Doug

June 25, 2007

Melancholy Series?

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 6:45 pm

Hope

Hope (from the Series: Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

…being visually oriented, words are the hard part for me, becasue otherwise I would be a writer, eh?. For those who have been following my writing about my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip, you are should be vary familiar with my struggle with the words to the feelings. So when I came across a book that had images and words that closely related to what I was trying to say, I immediately want to extract the full extent from what was published. The portfolio and book was created by Simon Denison called Quarry Land, and here is a link to the introduction. Simon is a Brit who over a four year period photographerd an abandoned Quarry area in the Midlands of England.

Simon writes “But melancholy is a bittersweet emotion – it is not the same as “depressing”. In mourning for our losses, for the inexorable passage of time and the brevity of human life, we become more intensely aware of the wonder of human exsistance and its fragility.” Wow, well said, that is as much about what I would like to say about my feelings for my series.

Other quotes from Simon that when parapharased would well with my thoughts about my series; “Given a bit more time, the visible ruins (for me: monuments) will disappear altogether, leaving nothing buried traces…..this quality of atmosphere of a place where time has moved on is almost tangible….is cloaked in the kind of echoing silence that enfolds you…..the traces of people who have been there not long before, but have since moved on.”

And;these marks on the landscape surviving a short while after the people who made them have gone, but each one itself desitned to be swept away in time.” Then he goes on to say “where a traumatic event has happened that has left no trace, just memories echosing in the silence.”

And finally “if the landscape…evaoke a sense of the brevity of life, it is because everywhere sadly, they contain the signs of death…”

Not much I can add to this for the moment……

Best regards, Doug

June 24, 2007

PS C3 less concerns

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 7:16 pm

Worm Holes #4

Worm Holes #4

….okay, prehaps I should not have been so gloomy before I actually loaded CS3….These are going to be my immediate first impressions. First, thinking about the need for only 1 G HD for the program, I quickly realized that if I can now read my Canon RAW files directly, then I do not need to keep my intermediate TIFF work-around files any longer. Thus I would probably free up more space than I would need, so I loaded CS3 on my main computer. I could also nuke PS CS, but being a little conservative, I will wait a couple of months before I make that change.  Since I knew where I have most of the TIFF files I went and nuked them (from Bridge – which is new to me as I did use CS2). Net effect, I have more Hard Disk space on my main computer now. Yeah!

Next was opening one of my recent RAW files, no problems. I was able to view both my older Canon RAW files (.crw) and my current Canon RAW files (.CR2). Yeah! One thing I still need to work on is how to use Bridge; when I clicked on the file, it did not come up in the Preview box.

This is my learning segway; I also bought Martin Evening’s book, Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers as my “manual”. Previously for my CS “maual” I had purchased the Scott Kelby book The Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photograhers. I liked Scott’s book, it usually helped me figure out some good alternatives to some creative problems.  But Sctt’s book was not available in my Borders yet and I had kinda liked Martin’s CS book for photographer, but I did not need two. So now I have Martin’s book for CS3 and I will get through the parts of this I need. Then I will see what Scott’s CS3 book has that I might need, guessing that he is going to update his CS2 book. So far Martin’s book is a nice easy informative read, thumbs up.

Back to CS3. With my workflow, after opening this image in RAW, I first to check the various values and tones to make adjustments if I have clipped the dark or light values in my initial camera exposure. So far, so good, this image does not need any initial RAW adjustments for me. Then I opened this image from ARC into Photoshop. Next is to immediately “save-as” into a Photoshop (.psd) file. That well fine. I checked the historgram again (just like in CS) and that did not call for an adjustment layer. For me, this image was done for now. Then to prepare for the web, which is to downsize to 72dpi, make sure 8-bit and then resize for this blog. Then a final Sharpen filer before the “save-as” for a medium size jpg image. What I learned from this is that my RAW conversion converted this image to a 8-bit, not a 16-bit image.  So I need to go back to the ARC and set the default to convert to PS in 16-bit.

Bottom line, CS3 is a bit slower, but hardly noticeable yet, but I have not worked with a big layer stack in 16-bit mode yet. The workflow is not a radical change, such that I quickly went to the tool bars to find what I was looking for. I don’t need to read Martins 600 word book tonight to be able to do anything tomorrow with CS3.  And it is not neccesary for me to buy a new computer just yet, so that purchase goes into the plan for next year, unless something else rocks the boat sooner.

Best regards, Doug

PS C3 concerns

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 4:13 pm

Warm Holes3

Worm Holes #3

…I just received my Photoshop CS3 upgrade and it is a good news – bad news situation for me. The good news is all of the new upgrade features in CS3 from CS that I am using now. I am looking forward to putting into my workflow; a RAW converter that will read my Canon RAW files from my XTi, the smart sharpener to name just a few. I did not make the conversion to CS2 as I did not understand the benefits until recently when my friend Paul did a little what-if with the CS2 smart sharpener. I was going to purchase the CS2 for that feature alone at the end of last year, but then the CS3 announcement.

So now I have the CS3 upgrade software and into the system requirements, which is where the bad news is emerging. Darn. I’m running a Dell PC, which is about 5 years old, does have XP and we bought the state of the art box at the time. I know, that means it was really good for a full year. Regardless, now I read about the “minimum” recommended system requirements and that is not what I have. It probably means that I can load the CS3 software on my current system, but just expect molasses in the late fall: Slooooow. Now add to this my current battle with available Hard Disk space. I am thinking that my best option for right now is to run the CS3 software off my external Maxtor HD until I purchase a new computer.

Which takes me to my next quandary; Dell/PC or Mac? Complex because for my other business, I have four other Dell PCs and I need to have back-ups and redunduncy for that company (very neccessary cashflow!) I ran Mac’s for over 8 years and I like their systems.  The CS3 seems to be best optimized for the Mac systems, but in life there are compromises. So I would like to have a Mac, but it will probably be a PC, although today the differences today are not as great at they were 10 years ago. Now I am looking at a Dell loaded with what I would like: Mulitple Quad Core processing, a Raid 0 system with 3 each 500 G internal hard drives, etc, and it is looking like 7 grand+. Oh wow. That’s my Canon 1DsMk2! And a new computer was not in this year’s budget. Another groan.

Well, at least I think I have my temp work-around while I figure this out…..so now I need to load the CS3 on my external HD and hope for the best!

Best regards, Doug

June 22, 2007

Folk Art Sculpture

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:05 pm

Death Scar, copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

…this picture that I made in Hawaii was a during my transition for the In Passing  (Bad Trip -Sad Trip) project, from “what Doug saw” to what this series suggests. I think that this image better illustrates what first attracted my to begin this series. Most certainly a factor was the context of these roadside memorials located where there are. But equally of interest was the uniquness of these memorials, the way they are individually crafted, the materials and symbols used. I now think of these as variations of Folk Art Sculpture. They are made with a variety of skills, mostly with what talent they have and doing the best that they can to honor someone who they care alot about.

So that I can now say that “what Doug saw” was a type of unique Folk Art Sculpture that exits, not located in galleries and can not really be “collected”. They are transit art works that will be shaped by the elements, rapidly for some components, over a long peroid of time for other parts, thus everychanging and morphing. They are unplanned and very random, you do not know where one will appear or when it may later disappear. There is no guide or “Dummies for Roadside Memorials” to provide instructions, just pure creation of a symbol to a very authentic emotion. Thus these memorials are authenic works of art.

Best regards, Doug

ArtBiz101 – Business/Art Strategy

Filed under: Art Market, Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 4:15 pm

Reflection

Reflection

(from the Series: Insomnia: Hotel Noir)

…There has been a ton written about Business Strategy, most of which applies equally to a small business (us as artists) as the big corporations. I have found one gem on Business Strategy that has been been the greatest help and there are three basics parts to what is called the Hedge Hog Strategy. This is all detailed in the book Good To Great by Jim Collins. Basicly it means figuring out what you do best, and then doing it. (Duh!) But how many times have you liked a compnay’s product, then see them go into left field with other products & services and soon they are no longer be in business? It is very easy to get distracted, so these following three equal parts will help keep your hand on the tiller as you naviagte towards your island: What is your business/market, What do you do Best, and How do you measure your income?

What is your Business? This helps define who you are and as I mentioned in the Personal Strategy last week, this is very much intertwined. In most small business such as a Fine Arts, this is one in the same. But it helps to articulate this, are you a Fine Artist, a Fine Arts Photographer, or a perhaps a Photographer? Are you also an illustrator or freelance or teacher or a journalist? Do you have a public Gallery, and who do you show and represent? For our retail store, we were a gallery that represented local artist, sold custom framing and art supplies. Now I think in terms of my business as being a Fine Arts Photographer. At one time I was thinking of adding Black & White to what my market was, but realized that was tooo specific and I just might start working in Color. So you need to define your artistic business in relatively broad terms, but just not too broad.

What do you do best? Usually we can do a lot of things and this is where we can get distracted. As a photorapher, I can also photograph weddings, the soccer teams group photos, etc., and all very well. Is that my interest and what I do best, or better yet, is this what I want to be known for doing best? No.

Another personal example; when we started our consulting business, we we quickly asked by many medical companies to help with validating their processes. We were validating entire factories with a small team of engineers. But we were also asked to validate systems that we were not familiar with and even though the jobs were done correctly, it bothered me to put ourselves at a business risk of potentially botching a job. So using this question, what do I do best, it became very apparent: we do Sterile Medical Packaging best and essentially what we were known through out the U.S. for doing. So that is now our corporate business and we travel the world providing these very specific services for a small part of Corporate industry. Personally I can paint, I can’t make pottery, I can’t sculputre, but what I do very well and best of all of these is Photograph. And I want to concentrate on this as a Fine Artist, not a generalist.

How do you measure your income? And we do need some incoming cash to pay for all of those things we need to do to survive. Some have developed a minimalist lifestyle to make this work, but everyone still need some cash to live. For me as a Fine Arts Photographer, what I use to measure my cash flow is to measure print sales. If I see that my print sales are averaging 5 prints per (X), then I can anticipate what my future income may be and budget my spending. If the print sales start to slow down, then I have an indicator that something has changed and perhaps we don’t go out for dinner as planned later this month or I don’t buy the new lens. You may have book sales, grant applications, or instruction days/students.  It just helps to have a barametor to know what is happening to your artistic career.

All of this probably sounds very basic, but the simplicity of seeing your artistic career in these three parts is very powerful. I have used this for the last six years with my consulting business with enourmous success. I am also using this for my artistic career to help us make decisions that don’t veer me off course.

Best regards, Doug

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