Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

October 4, 2015

Lens test: 70-200mm on Canon XTi

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:48 pm


Untitled (Canyon crest home, San Clemente, CA 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Zach had a pending flag football night game and the following afternoon a swim meet this weekend and I had been thinking about the possibility of mounting my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L lens meant for my Canon 5D on my Canon XTi body. Used on my 5D at 200mm, this lens has an acceptable reach, but I’ve been curious about getting a bit “closer”. Thus mounted on my XTi (10 Mpx) with the smaller sensor, I picked up about another 40% in magnification, thus I had an equivalent of a 280mm lens. Seemed reasonable to me.

I had not played with this combination before as a telephoto image was not usually of much interest to me. But after looking at some of my sports images of Zach from last year, I felt it was time to try this combination out. And yes I did not want to purchase a fast 300mm for the 5D just for this occasion. I do crop my photographs and that could lead to potentially a similar image, but I felt it was better to get a higher resolution image before I started cropping. Second, the smaller sensor should be fine as for my personal family mementos, I usually do not print any larger than 8-1/2 x 11″.

So this back-yard landscape, above, was my initial image test with this combination at 200mm (280mm equivalent). The image is also slightly cropped after getting the horizon adjusted, so a good test image. Initially I was satisfied with the results viewed in camera that evening, thus I used this combination later at the football game. Now looking at the image after some PhotoShop tweaking, it confirms my suspicions that it could work.

I knew going into the evening game that this had some limitations for a night sports event, e.g. the f 4.0 lens is pretty slow for this type of event photography, and the XTi did not have a lot of dynamic range for the sensor (e.g. push the ISO beyond 800 stats getting image distortion). Also, it was going to be hand held as I do not have a viable mono-pod, but photographing at the right moment, this could obtain some interesting photographs.


October 3, 2015

Paris – the party Seine

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:45 pm

The Party Seine_6988_Paris_Stockdale

Untitled (the party Seine, Paris, 2010) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

In 2010 I had an opportunity to be in Paris during the summer and found a rite of summer (or anytime that is warm enough) that is frequently celebrated in this city; partying along the banks of the river Seine, thus the punster title of the photograph.

We had just completed a Seine river cruise in the later afternoon, but turned dark on our journey back. During our short tourist cruise, all along the banks of the river was a continuous party in progress; couples, small groups, big groups, usually toasting us with their glasses of wine. Really fun as everyone was really enjoying the balmy night and each others company.

As we walked the along the banks of the Seine after the cruise, I noted this one region across the river with a fun group and an interesting illumination of the party in progress. Unfortunately I did not have my tripod. Fortunately there was a waist high wall at this same location which did duty as my impromptu tripod. I also figured that I would not be lucky with only one exposure, so I continued to photography from this location for the next couple of minutes and was rewarded with this composition. With some careful cropping and tweaking in PhotoShop, I created a really great memory for me.

This image was just selected today by the Duncan Miller Gallery for their YourDailyPhotograph, so it’s available for a short time for a nice price from their gallery. So maybe some lucky person will have this print as part of their collection as a surrogate memory for a similar occasion.


Flying by the seat of my pants


Untitled (Over Oz, Michigan, 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

I keep getting asked how I am able to create my interesting aerial landscapes that I share here, such as this one and the one I posted yesterday. So here is the story about how I photograph landscapes while flying by the seat of my pants, thus I guess you could describe this article as a mini-photo workshop.

Since I fly frequently on assignment, I fall into that category of being a frequent flyer (yep, over 2 million miles on just one airline, and yes, the airlines does keep track). The favorites seat for most frequent flyers is an aisle seat towards the front of the airplane. On the other hand, I also go for the front of the plane, but a window seat that will be facing North (e.g. on the left of the plane leaving southern California). Two reasons, I want to be in front of the wing to maximize an unobstructed visibility of the passing landscape and if you are facing South, you will deal with the effects of constant sunlight. Most aircraft have been around a while, which means scratched windows, both inside and out which creates issues with flare and terrible reflections.

The creative corollary is that if you like to deal with the effects of sun as part of your image development process, then go for it and select the South facing window seats; I for the most part, don’t. Another reason to choose a South facing window is if you have a late afternoon flight and you think you might catch an aerial sunset, which at times can be very striking. But then I am not usually chasing sunsets.

As a last alternative, I may have to end up with a window seat at the back of the plane. If the plane engines are configured on the wing, then I try to get as far back in the plane as possible, as the hot engine exhaust can create a soft blur in the resulting photographs (optical diffraction caused by the hot rapidly moving air). Again, the corollary is that this optical effect can be used to creative purposes, but I prefer to get as straight of an image as I can, then work my creative options post-production in PhotoShop. I find it much easier to add a layer to an image and if I decide the effect does not work for me, to then delete the layer and start over again.

As to when to photograph, I think that there are three basic flying conditions; take-off, in-flight and approach on landing. For me, the best of these three conditions are the approach for landing as I am more interested today in the middle landscape, and not as much with the high altitude (30,000 ft plus) broad landscape. On approach, the aircraft will slow down to perhaps 150 mph, rather than the 350 mph plus while cruising. Unlike the take off which can be a rapid climb, the approach is a slow decline lining up with the runway, taking upwards of ten minutes or more in duration, which creates a lot of photographic opportunities. My other trick is to try to look far enough ahead to determine what might come into view by peeking out the window in front of my window, if I can. Even at 150 mph, the composition opportunities are rapidly fleeting.

One of the nice aspects of digital capture is to do a quick sanity check to see if you are picking up any unwanted reflections in the image, as the angle you photograph out the window can pick up some subtle’s that might not be evident in the viewfinder. Not unusual to find my hand or interior of the aircraft being picked up on the interior window reflection if not careful. Basic rule of thumb is to place the front of the lens flush on the window, because as soon as you start to tilt the lens down, the higher the probability you will pick up some window reflections. Since I usually do aim the camera down to capture the passing landscape, I complete a quick check on what angle I can use without picking up unwanted reflections. Always some compromises.

My last piece of advice is to have your camera ready after boarding, not in a never-ready case or in a backpack, as the images are literally fleeting and there is not much time to react to what is rapidly unfolding outside the window. Thus I like to take at least one or two images while the plane is still docked and starting to move out on the tarmac. It gets the creative juices flowing.


October 2, 2015

Serious fun

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:38 am


Untitled (Dallas, TX 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

I think that for me, it helps from time to time to just have fun. Sometimes messing around leads to an interesting project, as it allows my right brain to do what it does best; lurk, watch, listen, dream, free associate, and allow creativity to creep into my life.

So at the moment, my fun stuff revolves around using my SnapSeed app on my Samsung phone/camera. Yesterday I posted about finding the Grunge filter back in my basket of play options. One of the things that I liked about using the Grunge filter was how it allow the focus to move about, but it also introduces some textures and colors that I may not want to use. Especially when I want the image to look a “little” less manipulated. So on my recent assignment trip to Detroit (with a change of planes midway in Dallas), I started playing with some in-flight photographs using the SnapSeed Focus filter option in conjunction with my usual bag of tricks.

I think of this as a post-exposure LensBaby. Really tough to figure out where and how you want to tweak a LensBaby exposure when you are hurling along at 250 mph plus. And no going back to say: Oh Golly I need to bracket this exposure or maybe if I adjusted this and that for my composition. Just grab the image as life literally flies by. Thus, first things first; capture the image’s image as best I can, then while in flight on the next leg, proceed to tweak and play with the image.

This photograph might work with one of my lingering projects that investigates my personal travel and related to a project about identity. Plus, as a singular photograph, I find it to be an interesting graphic image. The lines, patterns and positive/negative spaces creates an interesting movement to this. The graphic aspect in mind helped guide my decisions as I tweaked this image. Enjoy!


October 1, 2015

OCMA update

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:16 pm


Untitled (OCMA administration office, Newport Beach, CA 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Last weekend was interesting time for me at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA). First, the Deputy Director had selected one of my photographs to hang in the administration space, which I dropped off in the morning. This is the second opportunity to have my work hang on a semi-permanent basis here, earlier a selection of 4 of my landscape black and white photographs were here for about a year. This time a photograph from my Ciociaria photobook project was selected and best part was this photograph was already framed, as it was curated into an exhibition last year at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA).

After dropping off the photograph, I was then the event photographer for a “Family Fun Day” that the museum was hosting for the day in conjunction with their exhibition for Young Chinese Artists. It was a walk about while I captured candid’s of the families as they interacted with the various craft booths that the museum had arranged. Since I had to immediately leave town for an assignment, I am just now going through the first edit of the photographs that I captured. So wait to see what “develops”. One thing that we did come to terms on is that I retain the copyright on all of the photographs and they get some first time rights. So I will see how this aspect evolves.


September 30, 2015

Snapseed grunge filter – its back!


Untitled (Evidence #Evidence 081940-02-01-01) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

One of my favorite photographic phone apps is Snapseed. Earlier this year I did one of my upgrades for the app, but then realized that the updated did not include the Grunge filter setting. Bummer. I enjoyed playing with the possibilities of this particular filter set as it allowed me to explore some options that were outside the box of “straight” photography. I could introduce some moodier effects that for me had possibilities to create interesting metaphors. Although sad that it was not updated, I pressed on. Just another bump in the road.

While investigating some Snapseed options for a couple of recent images that I realized that my little grunge filer was BACK! I have the phone set for this app to allow updates as available, thus I was not aware that a recent updated included bringing back this filter option. Nice.

I had been using the grunge filter extensively for my Memory Pod series to create some moody metaphors last year. Seeing that it was back, I had to pull up an image to see what little tweaks that had made to this filter set. Seems like it is almost identical to the previous, so not sure why it was not included with the earlier upgrade. Maybe they thought it was not that popular, so when I (and I hope some others) blogged about our disappointment with its disappearance, this may have got someone’s attention?

As to this image for my Evidence series, I had initially envisioned that like the popular TV series CSI, that I would use straight photographs that were similar to CSI evidence; literal, objective and appear like facts. The evidence would be laid out and the reader could complete their own investigation and draw their own conclusions. I have my own version of what the evidence points to.


September 28, 2015

Super Blood Moon

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:17 pm

09-27-15_KI6A0466_Blood moon eclispse

Untitled (Super Blood Moon, Rancho Santa Margarita, September 27, 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Yesterday was a fun day, spent most of it at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) as the event photographer for one of their Family Fun Day’s in conjunction with their current exhibition “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists”.

Then to return home after dinner to witness the full lunar eclipse which is being called the Super Blood Moon, as this eclipse is concurring when the moon is about the closest proximity to earth. I am not usually a night time photo-astronomer, but since this event will not to occur for another 18 years and I was curious about the capabilities of my recently acquired Canon 5D mark III for night photographs, I thought why not?

My decision was aided by the fact that I could watch this event unfold and photograph the eclipse in my back yard with an unobstructed view made this occasion all that more easier. Thus I set the camera up on the tripod, pulled up a chair and brewed a cup of tea. The eclipse lasted for more than one hour, so I had a chance to try a variety of lens and compositions. For me this photograph above seems to work best; I like the framing of the eclipse with the tree branches, which closely approximates my view point and experience. Although I could get a full image of the eclipse with my 200 mm lens, by pulling back (probably about 70 mm) I personalized the image. So the only tweaking of the image was to try to obtain some tonal separation between the black tree limbs and the slightly lighter night sky. My surprise: when slightly lightening the night sky in Photoshop, a smattering of stars became more evident in the image, many of which I do not recall seeing. nice.


September 23, 2015

Paris night

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:53 pm


Untitled (Paris Nuit) Copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale.

While looking through all of my Paris photographs after an inquiry earlier this month, I found this image that I have continued to find intriguing. I was in Paris on assignment and out to dinner with my friend Donovan when on the walk back to the hotel he asked that I photograph him with this classic Paris structure in the background. The only “camera” I was carrying with me at the moment was my Blackberry phone, which I obliged and even able to sneak into the image the lite-up Eiffel tower in the background. He thought that this was the best photo of him on location, every. He still mentions this about every time we get together. It’s really nice to create such a strong memory for someone.

I had purchased this Blackberry in 2010, which had a 3 Mp sensor and as far as I was concerned at time, an awful plastic lens, which was not that great for creating “quality” images. Now in retrospect I think it makes beautiful ambiguous images. As a night exposure goes, this is a very noisy image and I really can not make out Donovan’s features. Then a curse, now a blessing, as he has become every-man out on a night on the town in Paris. Of course if you know this spot, there is a lot of car traffic and I made him patiently hold his position until all of the traffic was out of the frame. He swears it was my clumsy attempt to kill him. Then a quick snap or two & done. Then some magic in photoshop on my return to the studio. Not too bad if I say so myself, so I have submitted this image for my little Paris portfolio.

Now I am thinking that I might try to get that Blackberry working again as a camera ;- )


September 20, 2015

Neightborhoods – Walk about

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:20 pm


Untitled (Neightborhood, Rancho Santa Margarita, September 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

One of things I enjoy are my walks around the neighborhood. During which, I like to photograph the things that I find interesting. Sometimes after a while the things I have photographed start to hint at something that I might not be aware of or eventually lead to a more specific project. I do not have a specific project right now from my various walks, other than I am usually in a neighborhood. Thus I have loosely been collecting the resulting singular images in a folder with that title.

So what is a neighborhood and why might this be interesting to me? To use contemporary terminology; a neighborhood is an urban collection of man-build structures. The structures are relatively permanent, lasting for 50 to 200 years and in some places, perhaps hundreds of years. These are dwellings in which people take up residence and transform a house into to a home. Thus indirectly, the structures embody the local social culture and by observing the structures, we might obtain some insights about that culture, or just maybe, some interesting photographs about our culture.

For the most part my urban neighborhood photographs do not include any people. Not that I am unsocial, it is just difficult for me to include people in my neighborhood photographs. I also understand this, so it is something that I have been thinking a lot about. Looking at many photographs by others, seems there are two basic camps; photographs with and those without people.

So why this neighborhood photograph interesting to me? I notice that most homes have a public persona and possibly a private place, a sanctuary if you might. Both how the public persona and private sanctuary’s are constructed and maintained are interesting as a reflection of our local culture. This photograph includes someones back-yard, perhaps only a small porch area, which is directly adjacent to a public walkway and street with a constant amount lot foot and car traffic. It reminds me of the old saying “good fences make good neighbors”, sometimes modified to “tall fences make good neighbors”.


September 19, 2015

Looking for Atget – Parc Saint Cloud

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:25 am

07-25-10_Searching for Atget_8433_Parc_Saint_Cloud

Untitled (Parc Saint Cloud, France) Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

Just recently I was asked if I had any photographs that investigate the city of Paris, which it turns out, I do. Regretfully, when I was in Paris, I was not inspired to work on a personal project that included Paris as a location, so for the most part I really have a collection of singular images of the city.

What I was inspired to photograph over a couple of days was at a location adjacent to Paris, the Parc Saint Cloud, better known to photographers as one of the places photographed by Eugene Atget at the turn of the last century (about 1907 – 1926).

For a short time I was associated with a company whose French investment partner was located in Boulonge-Billiancourt, a city that is adjacent to Paris and it turned out, a short walk from my hotel across the Seine river to Parc Saint Cloud. The first time I ventured into this huge park, I only had memories of the photographs by Atget to draw on. My intent was to photograph this place over the next couple of days and then do some more research on Atget and Parc Saint Cloud when I returned to my studio. Then I might be much better prepared for my next trip back to Paris and another visit to this wonderful park. I was aware that Chris Rauschenburg had already produced a photobook about walking in Atget’s shoes in Paris, so that was not my intent. I was still working on defining my project when the company I was with went sideways and my return to Paris became ashes. Oh well, another bump in the road.

Thus I have a small collection of photographs from my venture into Parc Saint Cloud, perhaps not of interest to anyone but myself. This statue, like most of the others in the park, dates back to the early 1800’s. I did add a bit more reddish tone to this image that emulates the photographs printed by Atget as sort of a homage to him.

I will admit, I do not feel strongly compelled to return to continuing working on this series, but if someone wants to finance such a trip to Paris, I would gladly accept and lead the way. It could be a lot of fun!


Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Create a free website or blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers