Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

May 31, 2007


Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 7:37 pm

…from Octave of Prayer, Minor White wrote “Intensified concentration is common to all creative people…philosphers name this concentration Creativity; the devout call it Meditation”.

This book by White has been sitting idle in my bookshelf for some time and I recently pulled it out while looking for something. If I recall, I bought this book because I was interested in the interesting context of images, because I sure did not follow or understand alot of what White was writing about at the time. Perhaps a little too metaphysical.

But I find that as I read it again, he describes different ways of artists getting into what I call the “zone”. Time seems to drift. There is an intensity to the moment as the concentration seems to increase almost on its own. You seem to flow effortlessly.

Sometimes this occurs while making an image, sometimes it occurs while I’m just out photographing in an area. I have had this occur while working on an image, whether it is in the wet darkroom or on the computer. I seem to be more fully engaged.

I remember an old adage; try to make at least one exposure within the first 15 minutes of arriving at the area you are interesting in photographing. Now I understand that this is a methodology to engage me and my vision, increase my concentration and make a quicker transition in to the “zone”. I have noticed that when I do not heed this advice, that it in fact takes me longer to become ingaged, sometimes not at all. And when I do follow this advice, it seems like I become more creative or at least I become ingaged in the potential images quicker and usually more of them. So I guess I better follow this adice more often…

Best regards, Doug

Octave of Prayer

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 2:51 am

Placerita Canyon Cascade

Placerita Canyon Cascade, photograph by Douglas Stockdale

…Minor White published the text for Octave of Prayer as an Aperture publication in 1972 concurrent with an exhibit of the same name at MIT. Worth reading if you can find a copy. I have been re-reading my tattered copy (a “HURT” book to begin with, better price at the time) again. More thoughts to share about this later….

Best regards, Doug

May 30, 2007

DSLR sensor resolution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 4:09 am

I’ve been meaning to add my two cents to the discussions about sensor resolution that were going around recently. This much I know from doing some “engineering” resolution testing, for my Canon XTi and my two Canon L lens, 17-40mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/4, the very best (optimum) image resolution is at f/6 and f/7.1 respectfully.

FYI, “engineering” resolution testing is a very practical methodology; I photograph a complex carpet with a ton of texture using the XTi on a tripod and use a cable release for the exposure in the Av (Aperature priority) mode. This is versus the “scientific” methodology using optical charts under very controlled conditions.

The bottom line is that when I look at the test images at 200% and 300%, I have the most detail in the f/6 and f/7.1 exposures. When the aperature is just above my optimum, the image quality is barely different and by the time I get to f/9 I start to lose enough detail that the sharpening software doesn’t restore it. At f/16 and smaller, I lose a lot of contrast and detail that I have never been able to restore. Even at f/6 & 7.1, I still have to do a small amount of image sharpening to compensate for the the sensor filtration on the camera. But still side by side, f/6 and 7.1 is really amazing and fantastic when compared to an f/16 or f/22 image.

By the way, why evaluate my test images at 200 or 300%? Because I make 16×20″ printed images and I want to know what I may get if I use my 10.1 Mp file and do some moderate cropping and still make a 16×20″ print.

So now I keep my Av parameter set at f/7.1 (I can barely see the difference between f/6 & f/7.1 at 300% for the 17-40mm lens) to optimize image resolution. I can make informed changes to this “optimum” aperature knowing that I am potentially compromising in image quality, but there may be a compleing trade-off. Unless I want to create a soft focus image, I don’t plan to go beyond f/11.

Which means that if I want to consistently make images that need f/9 or f/11 (or greater), then I will need to change cameras/sensor systems, such a purchase a Canon 5D or the 1DsMark2. For the record, being an old school film guy, at first I did not believe that the choice of sensors will also determine your best lens aperature shooting process. But after reading the sensor reviews and then doing the testing, I now fully understand one of the trade-offs when going to a DSLR from my 6×6 SLR. ..and I still use the DSLR because what a great work flow and a wonderful new set of creative tools.

Best regards, Doug

May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:53 pm

Roadside Gully, Nevada copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

It is Memorial Day here in the U.S., a day we set aside to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in what they believed in. Traditionally this day is about those who perished in war and in many ways, about those who survived the war to come back another day to honor those who did not. We also use this day to remember others who have passed on.

My father was a an army vet of War World II in the Europen theater, first Africa then his arrival in Europe on the second day after D-day. He did not discuss his experiences much. He was pulled out of the brig for D-day, was hospitalized by a half-track roll-over accident in Africa, and became a cook in order to get some decent food. We all heard these stories more than once, but usually not too much more. He did not like the war, but it had to be done and he knew he was lucky to come back alive. He has since passed on, so today, I remember and honor him.

Best regards, Doug

Bad Trip – Sad Trip, Take 2

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:23 am

Fading Memories

Fading Memories

After a lot of consideration, I have decided to eliminate the diffusion effects from images of the Bad Trip – Sad Trip series. The final catalyst for the decision came as a result of the drive-by image for the Presistent LA memorial.

What I now understand is the emotional effect that these road side memorials have on me as I am driving. They are there, but not really seen or noticed. That effect of noticing something in the semi aware state of driving long distances and not understanding what it is that is bothering me. A blurred vision that in a sense I was trying to achieve with the diffusion effect, but that was not providing the true emotional connection. Close, but not really it. I had to dig in, really work it to better understand it.

Now I have to re-work each of the images of this series, which means that I am not working on my other projects, but that is okay. I have just disconnected the series on my web site and scrubbed the diffusion images of the series off the server.

So as I rework each image, I will slowly add the series back to my web site and start working the next phase of this project, how do I present these images in a serial progression? If these images were in a book or on the walls of a gallery, how do I tell the story? (okay, is there a story?) This is an opportunity that I have to build some further soul into this series.

Best regards, Doug

May 25, 2007

My derivative work

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 4:34 pm

LA 405 Memorial 

LA 405 Memorial

As I had stated yesterday, I was going to make another drive-by photograph of the “Persistant” LA memorial that is on the 405. But I do realize that the resulting image is totally out of character with the rest of the series. Almost consistent. I like the image a lot as it has a lot of implications that I associate with these memorials. Just don’t know if it “fits”.

So I am going to work on two fronts, figure out a way to photography the Persistant memorial that is consistent with the current body of work, but also start re-photographing some of the other memorials with this drive-by methodology. Thus I find myself working on a derivate project series, related, but different.

And of course the internal discussion as to why I like this image and why re-do the series and what am I trying to accomplish, etc, etc, etc.

Best regards, Doug

May 24, 2007

Drive by

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:33 pm

Last night I finished the first pass on the non-diffused version images of my Bad Trip – Sad Trip series. So I am evaluating them against the other versions of the same images. hmmmm

But today, I need to meet with a client, but the good news is that I have another opportunity to work on a “persistant” roadside memorial that is being maintained in LA. FYI, the California Dept of Highways does not condone these memorials, thus memorials are allowed for about a week after a tragic accident and then eased away. But there is one memorial on the 405 freeway that will be eliminated and then just as quickly replaced. I think that this persistent dual has been going on for at least a couple of years. This memorial is now winning, as it has not been taken down again within the last five months.

I think that I can understand the many issues that face the Dept of Highways regarding roadside memorials. For my “persistant” memorial, there is absolutley no place on the 405 to safely stop due to the widening of the road to minimize the traffic conjestion. I think that this memorial is being maintained from the back side of the fence, off the transit road, which also has no shoulder and very risky. Which also the same issue for me as to how to photograph this memorial.

So I have to take another approach for this memorial and very different than any of the others. The “drive-by” photograph. Each time I drive by, I have my SUV window down, the camera into the active metering mode by partically depressing the exposure button and then pan the image. I also get behind a slow truck to help keep my speed down, as 65 mph on the LA freeways is just a “suggestion” to most LA drivers. 

This has made for a very unique series of images of this one memorial.  Now I am trying to figure which image works best, but so far none of the “resiliant” memorial images fit in with the rest of the series. They are very intreging images. And it may make for a whole new series….a different way to “seeing” these same memorials, but much more abstract, but in a “straight” sort of way.

Best regards, Doug

May 23, 2007

Never that Simple

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:04 pm

Randy, Nevada copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

I’m about a third of the way through revising all of my In Passing (project originally titled Bad Trip – Sad Trip) images and as usually, it is more complex than just deleting a layer in Photoshop. Sometimes, but usually there is a need to revaluate the entire tonal range of the image. So this has been a very slow process. After completing the new edition of “straight” prints, then comes the evaluation step and that will take some time.  I am finding that when I the eliminate the diffusion effect on most of the images, I do not miss it. For a coupe of images, the diffusion effect seems to look better, and for a few, a more localized application is an effective compromise.

For this blog, the image is a straight version of Randy. It still retains most of its high impact qualities for me, but there was an interesting effect with the diffusion in the immediate foreground that is no longer present. Not sure what that was and why that was. This project was not an attempt to create a “high concept” artistic body of work. It still is my reaction (quasi-documentary?) to what I saw and how I feel about it.  And I don’t think of this as a documentary project per se in the more traditional sense, but I guess others might.

Working on this series some more today, plus a Hep-B boster shot by the doc as it appears that I have a better than 50-50 chance of heading back to China for a client project. I still have not spent much time on the few images I made from the last trip yet either, as I have been kinda consumed with getting the In Passing series relatively completed.

But I did make one observation in China, I did not see any road side memorials like those here in the U.S. And in recalling my numberous trips into Western Europe a couple of years ago, I do not recall any road sider memorials there either. So perhaps this is a U.S. phonemenon? I completed only one cultural anthopology course, so I do not feel qualified to state that the roadside memorials are only a U.S. cultural expression of grief, BUT so far this is only where I have seen them. oh, well, back to printing….

Best regards, Doug

June 11th 2011 update: I have updated the image in this post with my current interpetation of this photograph, with the warmed toned version that was in my original post, below.

Randy revised

May 22, 2007

Shadows of Self Doubt

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

I-5 Triplets copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

I have a very nagging issue. With my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip I have added a new visual element to these images and one that I am not fully reconciled with. Each image has the foreground, if not the entire image, with a large degree of diffusion that blurs the image.

In preparation for submitting this series to a gallery for consideration, I had to complete an artistic statement, which is now posted on my web site in conjunction with many of the images. But now having written this, do my images with this diffusion now support what I have tried to create? Especially when I write that these road side monuments “need a longer look” and then I add an element that makes the longer look potentially harder to accomplish. This is what I have been waxing back and forth over all weekend.

Then while reviewing the 5B4 blog, Mr. Wiskets adds this regarding a book review;

There seems to be a strong trend in contemporary documentary photography that relies on those visual gymnastics to wow the viewer into paying attention as if one doesn’t trust the power of the subject to do the job alone. Sure, it makes for interesting and dynamic imagery, but one question: Is the potential understanding of the subject amplified by those attention getting mannerisms of the photographer or is it just a self conscious formalism?”

Now I do believe that I am creating a quasi-documentary series that is also a personal project. But even so, as a personal project what am I accomplishing with the diffusion effect? And if I don’t have an immediate good answer, that then becomes my answer; an un-needed element.

Am I afraid that this series and my project will not be taken seriously if it does not have some kind of “new” as though I am trying to advance what photography “art” is? Doesn’t my vision have enough clarity that I have to go looking for a visual crutch? But to be sure, I am going to redo the entire series without the diffusion and make side by side image comparrisons (and gracefully decline the gallery option at this time).

And so again with this series I feel that I continue to grow some more as to who I am and how do I want to create and communicate. Even if I do decide to pull back to a more conventitional “straight” image, I have pushed my boundaries and learned more about myself in the process.

Best regards, Doug

FYI, the image with this post is an un-diffused version from my previous post on May 15, same title.

Book reviews

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 3:26 pm

Cloud Burst, photograph copyright of Douglas Stockdale

I’ve been back thinking about publishing my images in a book again and remembered the reference to a relatively new blog, 5B4, which is an extensive review of photographic books. So after reviewing the book reviews on 5B4 again, I believe that I can further endose the 5B4 blog by adding to my blogroll. Beware, this blog is not a quick read!

The book reviews include some information about the photograher, the images and the quality of the book and the quality of the printed images. Good information to have on many different levels.

As a photographer, I know that we usually do not have many opportunities to have our images presented in a book by a publisher, thus you want to have your images presented in the best possible “light”. I highly value the printed image, and the thought of finally having a book printed of my images and then have the blacks blocked and highlights blown out is a big concern of mine. Correspondly, I love to read about books that are printed and the images are almost identical to the original print. That’s the type of book I would like to have of my images, not a crude teaser.

Best regards, Doug

Update: A link was requested for the blog 5B4, which I have now added to this post. Becasue this message will roll off into the archives, I have a link to 5B4 on my blogroll, above.

Best regards, Doug

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