Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

July 31, 2007

Web site updated

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 11:25 pm

3 Bouquets

Three Bouquets on Freeway Overpass (from the series: Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

Well, I just updated the image titles and rearranged some of the images on my web site for the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip. One of the changes in the layou was my reaction to a comment by Kjell on my series, specificly the one image that was the most abstract. I am thinking that this image, Fleeting Thoughts, may make the best closing image for the series, thus I have moved to the bottom right corner. Just proceeding Fleeting Thoughts down in the corner is the image Quasi-Awarness, which has a feeling of motion as well, but not as pronounced, thus the visual effect is building for the final image.

Now I need to revist my Artist Statement for this series and bring in all of the great imputs that I have been receiving. All of your comments have given me some great additional artistic insights to my own series and have helped my furhter understand the emotional impact to this series. And I have learned that these roadside memorials are not unique to just the US, so if anyone knows of a grant that I can apply for to continue this series on a global scale, please send me the information.

Regarding this image, Three Bouquets on the Freeway Overpass, this photograph was made right after the three children were killed on the Freeway exit just down from my home last May. This small flower memorial was the first emotional reaction by their friends. Later it became larger, including some angel wings attached to the fencing. As you might suspect, this sight is now shrinking in size and volume of flowers, althought the wings remain. This image was also reworked with the CS3 B&W ajdustment layers process which I was able to improve the local contast for the flower arrangement. This had been an image that I had on HOLD, but with the new artistic B&W controls with CS3, I find myself liking this image and I will include it in the series portfolio.

Best regards, Doug

Image titles: Bad Trip – Sad Trip

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:05 pm

Roadside Cross and Snow Field

Roadside Cross and Snow Field  (from the project In Passing)

For the image titles in my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip (In Passing), I had first started using a more documentary form of naming convention with the titles, esentially “what it is” or “where it is”. After a number of emial exchanges with Colin Jago (blog: Photostream) about images that describe or suggest, I decided to change my naming convention for this series to try to be more “suggestive”.

I had used this type of a naming convention with my abstract paintings in the late 1980’s and it probably made more sense, as they were not very literally. I had not used this type of a naming convention with my photographs much before, so this was a bit of a stretch for me. It was forcing me to try to understand the emotional content of the image or better yet, for me to express my feelings. (I know, guys don’t usually express their feelings, and normally, me included)

To be honest, I have not been 100% behind why I was going with the suggestive titles but to trust that taking a (bold) step forward, I would either become more comfortable and explore this side of me, or I would become less comfortable and this figurative “door would close”. Might be called faith.

Then two recent occurances have given me a stronger sense of direction, a email exchange with Simon Denison (author: Quarry Land)  and a recent comment by Kjell Andersen (Blog: the lentic blog).

I had previously written about Simon and his book Quarry Land, as having a great Introduction to his series and how he was able to write about it in a way that almost had a direct correlation to the my feelings about my series; “inexorable passage of time and the brevity of human life, we become more intensely aware of the wonder of human exsistance and its fragility.” In his own way, Simon has challenged me to rethink the naming of my images, to perhaps reconsider the more documentary naming convention that I had started with. Okay, I did…..and you may have noticed a slight difference in the titles to the recent images in this series that I have posted…

Then the recent comment by Kjell to my post a couple of days ago, when he writes: “I don’t look at “Bad trip – Sad trip” as a record of different road side memorials, but rather a documentary of the phenomena, and how people keeps the memory of their loved ones alive with. The state of the memorial is maybe a direct representation of how the memory is kept by those left behind. Sooner or later the memory gets weaker, and the memorial whithers, and eventually disappears. Life goes on, as it should.”

That is when it struck me that with my “suggestive titles” I was trying to force the image’s emtional content with the title, rather than having the confidence of letting the image speak for itself. Well, that settled it, I am now in the process of renaming my images (again), but with a lot more conviction and purpose.

As to this image, it was made the late afternoon driving East on Indiana Route 30 heading towards Warsaw, Indiana. This cross was just the other side of the roadside drainage ditch, but in front of the corn field that was cut and slightly covered with snow. It was a retty desolate looking scene. I was struck by the moody sky and the expanse of cut field, perhaps symbolizing death & decay, but with a pending rebirth with the Spring replanting. And it actually looks more like I intended after going through a re-development of the RAW image with my CS3 B&W workflow.

Best regards, Doug

July 28, 2007

My refined CS3 B&W workflow

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 4:38 pm

Cross and two Butterflies

Cross and two Butterflies, Nevada (from the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

Having used CS3 for the last month and half, I now recoginize that I have changed my digital workflow to create my Black and White images. When I made this photograph (Cross and two Butterflies) last year with my Canon XTi, Phototshop CS did not have the RAW converter that could read the Canon RAW files. Adobe had upgraded CS2 for compatibility, not CS, and since I was expecting the release of CS3 shortly, I was not going to buy the CS2 upgrade.

To make a long story short, I used a RAW conversion process that was about idential with the Canon Digital Photo Professional to convert a copy of image into a TIFF, then open in CS to create a Photoshop file. For this image, I had tried about every trick that I knew to try to save the dead looking open sky. My final image had a washed out open sky, thus this image went into the HOLD file.

With CS3 and the Black and White adjustment layer, a whole new ball game! As a part of my process, I always make a “Save As” of the RAW file, then off load the original RAW file on my backup Hard Disk. So I could then retrive the original RAW file for another ACR 4.1 conversion. For the following, I always stay in the color mode and I do not convert at any time to Grayscale.

ACR conversion: I look at the colors in the image and pre-visuallize what is the final image I want regarding the tonal seperations. First I make ACR adjustments to for highlights and shadows. I do this while watching the effects on the historgram. I want to pull all of the image data into the histogram (eliminate shadow and highlight clipping) as a global tonality adjustment, then later with a curves adjustment layer I will deciede where I want my shadows and highlights to fall. Next I decied if I need to increase saturation to change tonal relationships. For this image, I wanted to boost the saturation to create a “brighter” blue sky, knowing that I will be adding the Black and White adjustment layer that I can adjust the blues to create a darker sky and create contrast with the small cloud on the bottom of the horizon.

After completing a “save as” for a new file, I then follow the late Bruce Frasers recommendations to add a new duplicate layer (luminosity) for capture sharpening, to correct the slight softening created during the original image exposure. The unsharp mask is very low at 150% for 0.3 and 2.

Next I add the Black and White adjustment layer. For the sliders, I make the adjustment that is the most important and then the corresponding tonal relationships. For this image I wanted the light butterfly to brighten (yellow slider adjustment) while increasing the background contrast, which for this desert, was a red slider adjustment. Then I made blue slider adjustments for darkening the sky and contrast with the cloud on the horizon. Then I made other color slider adjustments as I watched the image and saw the tonality seperations occur.

Next is adding a Curves adjustment layer (Luminosity), where I made some additional global tonality changes. First looking at the shadows and then the highlights. With CS I would have first added a Levels adjustment layer followed by a Curves adjustment layer, but the new CS3 Curves adjustment layer eliminates the need for a Levels adjustment layer. Then I adjust the curve for the shadows and when that looks good, adjusting for curve for the highlights.

Next adjustment layer is a Hue/Saturation (Color) layer and for this series, I use the same settings, Hue at 38 and saturation at 19. I keep this layer on the top of the layer stack as I have noticed that having this layer below any of the layers effects the color.

Now I look at the image and decided where I need to make the local tonality changes. Before I add another adjustment layer, I first go back to the Black and White adjustment layer to see if making any color slider changes can give me the changes I feel I need. Next I will re-tweak the first Curves adjustment layer curves. If the image still needs some more changes, then I start the process of local changes with aditional masking and Curves adjustment layers.

By the way, when photographing something, this is one of those sistuations where as a photographer, what changes do you make? I think we agree that you can alter the image by the perspective you choose by where you set up your tripod and make the exposure. Do you leave the transit odd bit of blowing trash in the image or do you remove it? Are you a totally documentary photographer as the newsfolk now need to be so that you do not edit anything out? I alter a photographic image a LOT. So editing what I am about to photograph is also within my artistic control, such as removing a the bit of blowing trash or maybe pulling an odd weed.

In this case, every time I have stopped here over the last year and a half, the plastic butterflies have all fallen off their mount. I have photographed the butterflies where they lay in the dirt and as you can see, where they were before they fell out again. (The metal stems are getting corroded and the mounting hole is very shallow, so a good wind gust will knock them out). I stand here at this memorial and in respect, try to make right a little of natures continuing entropy. Then I later decide which image communicates the feeling I am trying to convey. I do not claim that this is a fully truthful doumentation of what I found, but it’s pretty darn close, and I feel made within my artistic control.

Best regards, Doug

Organizing my series

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:05 am

Cross and Tree, Napa

Cross and Tree, Napa (from the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

I have not progressed to the point on my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip that I need to be thinking about the organization of the images, first on my web site and subsequently how would I arrange the images for an exhibit or in a book. Ideally all three of these organizations should be somewhat consistent.

Recently I have laid out the images on the floor to get a large overview look at them or I have been looking at the images as I have them posted on my gallery web site. My initial posting of this series on my web site was a first created, first posted. Thus the images were serially placed for no reason than thats the order I either photographed them or set up my files and created the final image. Okay, up to now not much thought the image flow.

Now I am becoming aware of my web gallery sequence and I am starting to adjust the order of images and where they appear. I do know that my lead image is Randy, which is the first image in the upper left (the Anglo reading process, left to right, top to bottom). So now I am thinking about how to anchor the series with the last image. Which one? As well as the series progresses, which images stay (the keepers) and which of the “weaker” children must go.

As a goal, I hope to have a basice sequence figured out by the end of this week end. I also have one empty spot in the web site that I need to fill in as well, and I have more than one candidate. hmmmm. Expect some changes, even after I proudly announce that I am “done”!

Ah, the creative process, you just gotta love it!

Best regards, Doug

July 27, 2007

ArtBiz101 – Budgeting

Filed under: Art Market, Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 11:35 pm

Double Signs

Double Signs (from the series Insomnia: Hotel Noir)

Budgeting and double accounting (okay not the best visual pun with this image, best I could do!) is probably the very last thing that is on the mind of a creative person, unless you are trying to “cook the books” as Enron did. As was pointed out by Martin in the comments to last weeks ArtBiz101 posting, you do need to think about things such as cash reserves for a business venture.

Developing annual budgets are not fun, but they can be helpful, perhaps essential to your business. I know what the average cash burn-rate per month is for my other business. I know that I need to make twice that amount each month to break even (tax rate is 50%, oh yuk) for business expenses, and that’s before getting paid for my personal expenses. As a result, I also know that its a good idea to have savings equal to about 3 to 6 months of the monthly expesnses. In sales, there are good months (put a little in the savings account) and bad months (Opps, take some out of the savings account). You just don’t know what’s going to happen, only what did.

For me I also try to figure when I can or should purchase some equipment, which is a different line item in the budget. I don’t buy equipment that often, so it is not a monthly expense item, but an irregular expense item. And if it is a big ticket item (say a wide format printer or a 16.7 Mp camera body), I may buy it this month, but I have to expense it (depreciate it) over the next 36 months. Unless I buy it on a credit card or take out a loan, I need that cash now.

You may also find your self needing to budget a other projects. Perhaps your are going on a two week self-assignment trip, you need to plan for the travel expenses, perhaps camera equipment rentals, film and film processing on the return.

Or in my case, I am thinking about an exhibit next year of my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip. I may be framing upword of 50 images, which at $250 per matte, glass and frame for each image, means I would need $12,500 for framing. Now hopefully it would be a local exhibit, otherwise I will need to plan for crating and shipping expenses (???). I am also thinking about larger prints and if I do those myself (buy new wide format printer) or have someone print them for me, that’s going to cost about me about $8,000. So I have a rough budget of $20,000 for the exhibit. Now lets say that I want to have a hard cover book published of this series concurrently with the exhibit, then I will need another $10,000 to $15,000. So now I should be thinking about $35,000. Oh wow.

But what would be my case if a gallery offered my a chance to exhibit and without realizing the cash needed, said yes! and later on as the exhibit date starts getting real close, I find out that I can’t afford to frame the images? Okay, the worst case is I buy some mattes and not use frames nor glass, but even thought I have the exhibit, it would not be my best foot forward & I would not be a real happy guy with this bittersweet experence.

So even if it means making some notes on a napkin, it is stil a good idea to think about this now.

Best regards, Doug

July 25, 2007

CS3 on the portable

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 3:50 pm

Nightscape Napa

….I have to say that I relunctantly loaded Photoshop CS3 on my portable computer. Its a Dell Inspiron 4100, but very old by today’s standards, purchased just after the Windows launch of XP in 2002. At the time we purchased it there was a big improvement over the Windows 97 Dell Latitude that I had been using. It has a Pentium 3 processor and I think it was rated at 1.6 Mhz versus the 2.2 Mhz you could get with a desktop. Well beneath the recommended minimum processor speed for CS3.

First thing that I had to do was get all of the Windows upgrades downloaded, as the CS3 software software baulked at the current configuration. The portable is not used much, so gets little attention to updates. So this was needed, but those upgrades took an hour. Oh well, maybe the first time in about four years.

I finally loaded the CS3 and I have not fully processed an image on the portable yet, it does take a long time to load the software in preparation to use it. I am guessing that this will be a slow software to use on this machine.

But the intent is to improve my photography support while traveling. I am not a big fan of the portable’s monitor even after I use a screen calibration. But this would not be for critical image creative development. It should work fine to convert a RAW file to a jpg for posting an image on the fly while traveling. I’m going to do a test run in a couple of days, so I will soon see if this is going to be a workable process.

Best regards, Doug

July 24, 2007

Napa Color conversion

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:29 pm

Napa Lights (from the series In Passing) copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

….I was not sure how the evening photograph of the memorial from Napa would appear after making the color conversion to Black & White. The one thing that I did know is that working in Black & White would give me more liberties in adjusting the tonal composition without regard to worring about color shifts.

Now that I have made the Black & White conversion and adjusted the tonalities, I find that this image version is now more complex, perhaps a little harder to “read” than the color image. For the color image, we have seen so many night photos with the long exposure red streaks, that most know how to interput this partical reality (we don’t retain the tail light streaks when we see at night, somewhat like not being able to see the falling water of a waterfall that with a long exposure looks like a soft plastic).

I have now decided that this image is probably going to make the cut for inclusion in my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip.

July 23, 2007

Color alternatives

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:47 pm

Woman motorcycle memorial - Napa

…While photographing my different series, I am intending to create most of the final images in Black & White, I have photographs that are very unique in color. And in this case with the long exposure and tail light streaks during a photograph made at late dusk, not an image that will easily translate directly to Black & White.  And so the Black & White conversion of this photograph may not make it into the Bad Trip – Sad Trip series, but I like this color version.

It also has its own meaning regarding this memorial and how I photographed it.  and to re-evaluate my series in a “new” light.

Best regards, Doug

July 22, 2007

Back in the studio…

Filed under: Art, Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 4:29 pm

Yountville July 2007

Yountville, July 2007

…the drive back from Napa took a little longer as I suspected, hitting the LA traffic in the afternoon peak time. That added about two hours to the drive. Yuk! But I did stop by the framers and pick up the framed Tired Bones for OCMA, and it looks niceeee.

The Yountville image above is one of Keller’s resturaunts, which I dined at. I first had to wait about 1/2 hour for the clouds to drift into place.  My first look and the sky was a vacant but clear blue, then I noticed a little cloud floating into the image. So looking around the big tree on my immediate left, I saw the rest of the cloud formation that was on the move and decided that these clouds would frame the palm trees much better. Yes, this is the palm tree image that I mentioned a number of days ago.

As to the resturant, I think the French Laundry is much better known of the three Kellers in Yountville, which has three stars from Michillen (spelling?) and a two month waiting list.  For ad hoc I could drop in and eat at the bar. Fixed menu, varies daily, very nice! Smaller selection of wines, with most of the locals bringing in their own bottles. Still the Pinot Noir that I sampled before dinner and the Cab with diner were very nice. Highly recommended!

Well I have downloaded the 3 Gig of images from this trip and I now have a bunch of work to do!

Best regards, Doug

July 20, 2007

Palm trees are not native to California

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 5:49 am

…Palm trees are the great Southern California location icon. But they are not native to Southern California, or really any parts of California. I know that there is a project perculating here, and if I remember correctly, a number of them have been done about SoCal palm trees. I just have not done mine yet. And I guess that’s all that matters to me. So why worry about palm trees?  Because I see a lot of them here in Napa, which is Northern California.  And so I have found myself photographing them here too. Palm trees of all things.

Well, tomorrow early, I drive back down to Southern California for the next eight hours. Maybe I’ll photograph some more Palm trees and get them out of my system…..and maybe again, not…

Best regards, Doug

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