Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

November 25, 2015

Descanso memorial – Halloween

10-17-07_Halloween Costume - I-15 Frontage Road - Victorville - California 0845

Untitled (Halloween Costume, I-15 Frontage Road, Victorville, California) copyright Douglas Stockdale

While researching my In Passing – Lest I Forget project, I came across an interesting term; Descanso memorial. This is a Spanish derived word, literally meaning “to rest”. It originates from the old Spanish practice of marking the place where a coffin was placed the ground along the route to the cemetery, allowing the coffin bearers to rest. As the photographer Dave Nance states about the Descanso memorials, “The association thus created between the road, the interrupted journey, and death as a destination, eventually found expression in the practice of similarly marking the location of fatal accidents on the highway.”

Descanso now appears to also designate those memorials which are decorated for each of the holidays. Which is the case of the I-15 Frontage Road memorial that I photographed near Victorville, above. I had photographed this memorial about mid-October, just prior to Halloween. Not evident in the photograph is a bowl of candy nestled within the flower arrangement at the base of this memorial, along with a memorial plaque, which from the wording was probably placed there by the mother of the individual who died at this place.

Best regards

November 16, 2015

Paris on my mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 9:17 pm

04-29-07_Laguna Beach - California_3214

Untitled (Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach 2007) copyright Douglas Stockdale

With the recent events occurring over the weekend in Paris, I am feeling pretty sad for those families whose lives have been dramatically altered. The acts of terrorism attempts to undermine and destabilize  the social fabric, bur only if we let it. I continually remind myself that this is a small disruptive minority, a flawed mentality which seems to have existed since the recorded history of mankind.

This is a city I have enjoyed working in and as well as visiting. This event will not deter my return.

November 11, 2015

Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 6400

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 4:17 pm

11-07-15 Zach Karate tournament K16A0738

Untitled (Zach Karate tournament 11/7/15) copyright Douglas Stockdale

One thing that has intrigued me about the Canon 5D Mark III, which is one of the reasons I decided to purchase this versus the 5DS, was the higher ISO capabilities of the sensor. For my older 5D, I found the images became noisy (“snow”) for me even at an ISO 800, which limited the shutter speed for occasions like Zach’s recent karate tournament.

So at this karate tournament last weekend I had the pleasure to check out the 5D Mark III pushing the ISO to 6400, still well within in the theoretical maximum ISO 25,000. With my f/4 lens, I was still able to obtain a 1/160th of a second inside the gym with lens wide open at f/4, which is not too bad. The image holds together well, no real perceivable noise and I probably could have ramped up the ISO even a bit more. Fun.

I like the dynamics of this image with the combat of the two boys while being framed by a couple of other contestants in the foreground, the intensity of the judge’s expression and mom is on left edge and appears to be just a little bit anxious. Regretfully Zach was eliminate by one of his buddy’s in the following match-up (after Zach won this match).


November 4, 2015

Juggling Photographic Projects – Just like Life

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:57 pm

Plastic Lei - Maui - Hawaii

Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, 2006 copyright Douglas Stockdale

So the issue with refocusing my earlier project is that this results in having two photographic projects in progress. My Ciociaria memory book is published, but I have not obtained any meaningful exhibitions of this body of work, thus if you take into account that I will be looking for exhibition venues for Ciociaria, that places three photographic projects on my plate. All of this in conjunction with the fact that I have a full time (non-photographic) day-job and a loving family to attend to. And lets not forget my photographic book reviews on The Photobook blog that I like to fit in. At times, it all feels complex, layered if not outright overwhelming.

This is where my day-job does help as a large portion of what I do entails all of the aspects of project management, which provides much needed experience to lean-into in order to keep on keeping-on. The skills of project management help me get organized and probably keeps me decently focused on what tasks needs to be accomplished next. The draw back is that getting “too” organized can creative limits, box me in, thus I try to stay “messy” organized, more of a loose project structure rather than try to have a rigidly defined project. Another way of saying that I try to be flexible; time, goals, tasks, relationships, etc. I need to allow some give and take and know my priorities, such as family comes first.

One key aspect of project management that has helped me is to set goals, both long term as well as short term. This helps me organize what tasks are needed and what time frame I would like to complete them in. Such as for each of my projects, one long term goal is have it published as a book, which for one project, this is complete. Nice. Another is that I would like to have one solo exhibition of each body of work, which is a goal that is in progress.

Meanwhile, I am reevaluating the photographs for In Passing, while still composing and developing my Memory Pods photographs. It has been a while since I examined all of the photographs that support the In Passing project, so I am giving them a fresh look and finding some pleasant surprises. I am not sure why I did not realize the potential for a number of these photographs, but nevertheless, I do now.

For Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, above, I have dramatically modified the cropping of the photograph; from a vertical image to a square image. Earlier if I had composed a subject to be contained within a photograph, I would do my best to keep it intact in the final version. Not so now. I realize that for this photograph the emotional aspect was preserved even if I lost the top portion of this memorial. This is one of the few photographs that include a vehicle, as I had accidentally made an exposure while a car ran through the composition, but I liked the ghostly (blurred) appearance. I then made another half dozen exposures with various vehicles moving through the frame until I obtained this exposure. Nice juxtaposition of the two key elements and creates just enough visual tension. And like many of the photographs that I am reworking for this project, I adjusted the overall nicer tonality, which I think is a nice improvement over my earlier version. Nice.


November 2, 2015

Refocusing a project

Morning Shadow - Central California

Morning Shadow, Denverton, California, 2007 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Following up on yesterday’s post perhaps a little more about how this project has come back full circle to a Black & White portfolio. As a project, this series of roadside memorials was starting to get a little traction in 2008 and I felt it had potential to go beyond the LensWork magazine publication as a photobook. The project at that time had a uniqueness, although  I did feel that the subject did not lend itself to posters (I did get this wrong) and something folks would want to hang in their living room. After a couple of rejected book submissions the project began to coast, as feeling a little defeated, I stopped making book submissions and became very introspective.

As a result, I “jumped the shark“, the t.v. slang for when there is a big change in a series plot, resulting in the audience losing interest and the series quickly tanks. I think that moving to color photographs and renaming the project did just that. I lost continuity with my audience. I did learn more about myself during this transition, such as photographing my Ciociaria project in color which resulted in the publication of a book. But in retrospect, I think that the In Passing project was visually stronger in Black & White.

Now I am re-examining all of my original photographs and although I will develop these as Black & White images, I have found that my interpretation has become a bit more refined. Part of which is that I have learned more about how to convert a color digital file in Photoshop to Black & White.

As an example is this photograph, Morning Cross, Central California, I had used a lens polarizer for the original exposure, but regretfully that only effected part of the morning sky. This resulted in a dramatic darkening on the left side of the sky and fading to almost white on the right side of the print, which I had found visually distracting. Now with a Photoshop Black & White adjustment layer and playing with the two blue settings, I am able to create a more even sky tone across the horizon. I think the print/image retains more of the emotional impact that I had experienced and I am very happy to have revisited this image.


November 1, 2015

In Passing – Lest I Forget

Randy - Route 179 - Nevada

Randy, Route 179, Nevada, copyright Douglas Stockdale

Reading the recent October issue of PDN magazine, which is their annual photobook issue, I found myself thinking back to my real first photographic project, a series of roadside memorials. As a quick recap, it was a series that I became very fascinated by in late in 2006. This project gained real momentum in 2007, as I made note of each various roadside memorial we came across and I quickly tried to figure out when and how to photograph each one. This Black & White photographic project, In Passing, was subsequently published by LensWork magazine in their Jan/Feb 2008 #74 issue, then I self-published a hard cover photobook  of In Passing using Blurb (which was juried into a self-publishing photobook exhibition in Portland, OR) and one image, Winter Field, Route 30, Indiana was published in Brooks Jensen’s Looking at Images in 2014.

During the publications, I had read Nathalie Herschdorfer’s book Afterwards (Contemporary Photography Confronting the Past) and began rethinking my earlier decision to convert my photographs to Black & White and that using the original color could be relevant. Meanwhile I still found myself photographing road-side memorials, but now staying with Color, not transforming these photographs to Black & White images. Concurrent with the color decision I had also decided to rename the project to Lest I Forget.

So I am now back full circle, with the project again in Black & White. And reconciled that the project should have a combination name; In Passing – Lest I Forget.

In the next couple of weeks, I plan to write more about the continuing metamorphose of this photographic project.


October 30, 2015

Friday Night Lights – action on the field

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:35 pm

10-23-15 Zach flag football game KI6A0563_San Clemente

Untitled (Zach, San Clemente, CA) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale

For last Friday’s touch football game, as I posted here, I made the switch up to the the larger Canon 5D MarkIII (Mk3), which has a image sensor with a very wide ISO capability in conjunction with using a trip-pod. Btw, since I had acquired the Mk3 just recently, I had to make a choice between this and the Canon 5DS with its 50 Mp sensor, but due to the limited ISO capabilities of the 5DS (to get all of those megapixels on a chip, there was a large reduction in the size of the individual sensors with a corresponding limitation on their light tolerance), I choose the Mk3 for it’s robustness in general use. The user reports on the Canon 5DS pointed to limited night time use because if the ISO was bumped up past 800, the dark’s in the image would start to get increasing noisy.  If I were evaluating studio work in conjunction with a tripod and cable release, I might have chosen differently.

The faster shutter speed of 1/60th of a second (ISO 3200) with the Mk3 versus the slower 1/10th of a second with the XTi was enough to make a difference in stopping the action under the field lights. The smaller Canon XTi sensor had the advantage to extend the reach of my short telephoto, but the higher quality image with the Canon Mk3 allowed tighter cropping and I accomplished essentially the same effect. If I wanted to create a more abstract image with blurr like I was obtaining with the XTi, I only needed to modify the Mk3 exposure settings.

Although the photograph above is just a tad bit soft, it is a nice candid portrait of Zach coming off the field. A trade off of youthful enthusiasm for sharpness which probably required a more static pose. I might just push up the ISO a tad bit more to increase the shutter speed another notch or two.

Well, it’s Friday again, so you probably know what combination I am bringing to the game tonight. Go Zach!


10-23-15_Zach_being_double_teamed_KI6A0582_San Clemente

October 25, 2015

Getting back on track

Filed under: Instant Nomad, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:50 pm

10-11-15_Garden_District_NoLa_153321-02-01_St_Charles_trolley way

Untitled (Garden District, St Charles trolley way, New Orleans, LA October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Today I seem to have a case of the blase, so I feel a off. Usually one good cure (for me) is to jump back in the fray. Thus a great reason to finish the development of this image above I made earlier this month in New Orleans. We had taken the St Charles trolley line out to the Garden district to investigate a cemetery and to just poke around. After lunch and waiting for the arrival of the trolley to go back into the city, I played with some possible compositions, while thinking ahead about my Instant Nomad project. I was also considering the use of the lens blur app at the time I made this photograph, so this is one version that I developed. I may tweak the lens blur a bit to bring into focus a little more of the trolley post that is in the middle area near the palm tree.

I am already feeling a bit better as a result and back on track (yep, pun intended!).


October 24, 2015

Friday Night Lights – Flag girl

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:10 pm

10-23-15_Ella_flag_girl_KI6A0570_San Clemente

Untitled (Ella, San Clemente, October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

This is the third in my series discussing my Friday Night Lights photographic adventures. As I stated in my last post, I made a camera change for last night’s flag football game. Still the same relatively slow zoom lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L lens, but now mounted on my Canon 5D MkIII in conjunction with my tripod being used similar to a monopod (tripod legs still folded together).

My very willing model, Ella, was not as much of a challenge to photograph compared to the action on the field, as she provides a best case evaluation of the camera/lens combination in this lighting condition. I waited until darkness, thus only illuminated by the lights on the field and without any fill-in flash to evaluate how my Canon MkIII sensor might perform with the ISO ramped up. I had the camera set to full auto with highest resolution JPEG capture, which the camera defaulted to a moderate ISO 1600 to obtain a 1/60th second exposure at a fully open lens aperture of f/4.0. I had composed this photo with lens set at 70mm, thus a decent pairing with the 1/60th shutter speed, especially in conjunction with the tri(mono)-pod.

I think that this photo passes night photography muster; the original JPEG file has plenty of sharp detail and the sky has only a tab bit of noise. This camera/lens combination is a much better choice compared using the smaller sensor of the Canon XTi.

Btw, Ella did a mighty fine job cheering her little brother’s team on to victory last night.


October 22, 2015

Wedding memento

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 9:58 pm


Untitled (Stacey & Damien Valdez wedding, October 2015, New Orleans) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Having professional photographed a number of weddings in the past, one thing I enjoy now is NOT being the official wedding photographer! Between us, I found that weddings are very stressful events for many reasons. You can’t ask the bride and groom to cut the cake over again, the bride to re-throw the bouquet, etc. In the old days, you weren’t sure you had the shot (or even if you had screwed up loading the film or other camera disaster) until a week later after the film was processed and the proofs were back. Now, like this event, there are multiple photographers photographing from alternative angles, constantly checking the camera backs displays, perhaps a bit less stressful.

Now when attending a wedding, I am more interested in a one or two compositions that are very personal, not on the wedding pro’s check list, and ripe for my own personal interpretation. To create a small memento that I think would be enjoyed by my friends who are in the wedding. So during a lull before the start of the ceremony and in one case below, during one of the many events of the wedding, I arranged some of the items to better suit and achieve the composition that I could subsequently tweak. In this case for Stacey and Damien, I ended up with three nice photographs. Two are not tack sharp since it was well into the evening, hand held & no flash, since for these kind of photographs, the little bit of softness I do not find objectionable.




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