Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

September 30, 2007

The Project – A Book

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:55 pm


One of the points that Brooks Jensen was making when he was suggesting to work on a body of work as a series/project, is also consider what the end game is (okay, that’s my paraphrase, not a quote).  One option is to exhibit the series and another is to publish it. I have a strong interest in doing both for my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip.

I have photograhed and created the resulting images over the last two years to be a cohesive body of work.  I know that it has had an impact on many of you and I appreciate your notes and messages to that effect.  I have not felt very comportable that this is “sellable” work, I don’t think that these are the images you want in your living room, thus they have not been for sale. This series has streched me intellectually and emotionally,  my photographic techniques and reasons to photograph and finally as to who I am.

In a way, I find the exhibiting issue as the easier, for some reason.  That may not turn out to be, but that’s another blog series;- )

To publish this series in a book for me is a more complicated issue.  To publish this series in a magazine will come with time, much like the exhibits.  The complication with the book as I see it is that the book publisher expects to sell enough to at least break even, if not get an out of the ballpark homerun.  A lot of publishers are these financial types who need profits, which I can fully appreciate. If they did not make some money, they would not be around and we would have fewer opportunities.  Which gets back to my subject matter for this series, not the Top Seller subject matter like misty waterfalls or beach sunsets with lighthouses.

So what to do, eh?  First and probably most attractive is to self publish.  Next maybe a paperback (perfect bound) by a University press, but I want this in hardcopy, thank you.  For a high end hardcopy book, you have the really big publishers and specality photography publishers.  Henry N. Abrams and the like are not going to like this series from what I can tell by reading about their interests in Photo-eye.  That then takes me to the specality publishers, some of whom are also associated with galleries. 

The attractiveness of a publisher is that they are going to do the heavy lifting for the book production such as layout, pre-press, book production and then subsequent sales and marketing. Then I go on to read such quotes from publishers which include “to sabotage your chances, be a jerk and expect that eveyone wants to see your work” (I don’t but I don’t like the tone of this) or “don’t listen and be supremely confident in your doomed-to-fail effort to know everything” (hmmmm, more of the same attitude, different publisher).  Then there are the requirments that a certain publisher will NOT consider digital (Opps, I need not apply) or that there is a “fresh approach to sex” (Er, that would be a stretch for my subject, and please don’t go there).  But I do read encourangement also; such as work, work, work, edit, edit, edit, persevere, perservere, perserve (okay, I think that I got that going for me).

I also read about why John Sexton is now self publishing his books as well as many others; editorial control as well as a say in design, paper selections and production quality. I have been in sales and business development in my day job for half my career, I had hoped that I could delegate it for this endevor.  I would just prefer to spend more time creating images and the other series that I have pending.

So bottom line, I need to finish my book publication homework.  I have all 50 images from this series laying on my living room floor and I am now thinking about the pending book design; images paired up or a single image per spread.  I did put together a dummy of the book this afternoon and the page count will be determined by the image layout.  Another consideration is a second writer to collaborate with for either a Forward or Introduction, which will increase the page count accordingly.

Alright, like eating the elephant, just take one bite at a time, and I’ll keep you posted on my indegestion.

Best regards, Doug

PS if you are a publisher and I did not totally piss you off and you think that my project has merit, would you please drop me a line?  If you have read my earlier posts, then you know  that I can eat Crow!

Photo of the Day: Self Portrait

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 5:06 pm

Douglas Stockdale

I received a request for a photograph of myself from Photo Techniques Magazine and realized that it has been a long time since I had a photograph of the “creative” Doug Stockdale.  Thus my self assignment this morning was to create a reasonable self portrait, and now you understand why it is that I usually take the photos vs being in the photos.

Since I am in this moment of self-exposure you could say, it is as good as time as any to also answer the tag that I recieved from Paul Lester as to 7 things you did not know about me, and these are not in any order about significance;- )

First as I already hinted at, I don’t think that I photograph well.  But how did I do with this image? I have focused on the background framed picture to keep my features softer.  Also, that background framed image is an excellent image about my creative vision.  And the framed picture glass reflects the outside (back yard) which is also where I like to be.  The black shirt is not what I frequently wear, you are more likely to see me in either a Hawaiian (as I am now that this photo session is over) or a golf shirt.  And of course in the lower right corner are photos (not made by me) of our two grandkids, who are very important to me as is our entire family. I have a feeling that the grandkids will be croped out by Photo Techniques Magazine, but that does not mean that I have to crop them out in my self portrait!

Two; I have a sweet tooth.  I perfer dark chocolate and locally we have a store called Trader Joe’s which has a great dark chocolate covered orange slices (and there’s some in my fridge as I write).  For local chocolate, there is a chocolate store called Sees Candies and they have a dark chocolate Bordeaux which is wonderful!  I scored some points when I brought two boxes of Sees Candies with me on my trip to China.

Three; I have a sweet tooth and I really enjoy desserts, such as bread pudding, rasin pudding and a tart lemon pie.  My wife makes an awsome Key Lime pie.  My grandmother used to make cakes from scratch, with Angel Food cake being at the top of my list.  I can’t help thinking of her whenever I have Angel Food cake.

Four; my undergraduate school was Michigan State University (MSU) and I follow thir football team and I am a very unhappy camper this morning with their defense, who in the last quarter yesterday went brain dead. Yep, we lost to Wisconsin and we should not have. That’s my opinion and I am going to stick by it.

Five and six;  I enjoy hiking and walking trails.  Fly fishing is a good excuse as any to be out and would like to be able to do it a little more often.  And I am strickly catch and release. I do enjoy a nice trout dinner on occasion, even though these trout are the farm raised variety.  As they say, golf is good reason to ruin a nice walk.  My handicap is high because when given the choice, I will usually spend five hours on my photography than a round of golf, but its a lot of fun with my brother, son and son-in-law.

Seven; I also draw and paint, both with watercolor and acrylic.  My watercolors usually end up as tight renderings and my acrylic tend towards abstract flows.  Yes, I paint in color.  But I have been drawing and painting less and photographing more.

Now I was suppose to tag someone else with the 7 Unknowns, but I am not a big fan of chain letters and the such, but if I were to tag someone, hmmmmm….

Best regards, Doug

Photo of the Day: Culver exit memorial

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:45 am

Freeway Exit Memorial

Culver Exit – San Diego Freeway  (From the originally titled project: Bad Trip – Sad Trip) copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

I don’t know how long this tiny memorial has been hiding in the shadows of these pine trees, but it is one of those small memorials hiding in plain site.  I saw it for the first time about two weeks ago as I was heading to a meeting, and it was one of those scenes that as soon as I saw it, I knew exactly how I was going to photograph it.  I knew the camera position, the lighting and how I expected to print this image so that the small memorial would come out of the shadows.  Sorry, but going back to my little yellow book by Minor White, Zone System Manual, How to Previsualize your Pictures, that was a total pre-visualization experience.

I had planned to photgraph this site later this afternoon.  That would place the sun in a position that would shine a lot of light in this area under the pines and I would be able to create the seperation in the values I wanted.  I also knew that I need to flatten my tripod enough to get the right composition.  I had made 35 exposures, but the one composition that I had anticipate was the one that was the most effective for what I needed to suggest.  Back in my studio, I worked the black and white adjustment layer to create more value seperation.  Nice.

Best regards, Doug

September 29, 2007

Wildflowers: the do-over

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:37 pm


Wildflowers  (from the original titled project Bad Trip – Sad Trip) copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale

The modifications to this image were two fold, the obvious (to me in retrospect) was to lighten the overly dark upper sky (bring back the blue slider in the B&W adjustment layer) and the subtle (after last nights dinner of leftover fried Crow) was adjusting the shadows (curve adjustment layer) to actually create some blacks in the image. 

I like the results and it evokes the mood that I was trying to achieve much better.

Best regards, Doug

Texas Photographic Society

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 7:20 pm


Insomnia  (from the series Insomnia: Hotel Noir)

Earlier this year I had submitted images for the Texas Photographic Society (TPS) 15th National Competition. Although I did not get juried into this exhibit, I did become a member of TPS, and you can find my link on their members page. I think that you will get the most benefit of this non-profit group if you 1. live in Texas, and 2. particularly if  you live near San Antinio, TX, but they have extended their influence well beyond that of a regional organization.

Why I mention them is that they have wonderful resouce pages that can inform you of print competitions, gallery and exhibits, photo links to huge list of suppliers and photogarhy information, workshop listings (theirs and others) and a ton of other information.  And all of this information is open to everyone as public information.  I think it’s worth you time to go look, you may be surprised at what you find;- )

Best regards, Doug

Photo of the Week: Patio Decks

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 2:44 pm

Patio Decks

Patio Decks  (From the series; A Sideways Glance)

A Grayscale Trap

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 12:41 am

Lichen and Rocks

While I was reacting to Tim Atherton’s digital grayscale blog, I had defensively taken the position about the full range of black to grays in a digial black & white image.  Because my system was acting up, I then posted an earlier image to try to “prove my point”.  Opps! 

 “So, Mr. Stockdale, just how do you like your crow served, baked, fried or over easy?”.

The issue is not one of can a digital color image be converted to Black & White, but its the thinking behind what the intent is and how it’s executed.  (Today in an earlier email exchange with Tim, I said I would not use the term pre-visualization).  The execution also includes what you do after the image is captured up to the final print.  Looking at this image Lichen and Rocks on the monitor, it did seem like it was grayscale, not a full range of black & whites.  Bad monitor, bad monitor.  So I found my print and I was happy.  Then I laid the print down next to some prints where the starting material was film as well a full digital.  Now I was unhappy.  This print was a full range of grays, but only grays and then I realized my mistake.  What I will call the Grayscale Trap for digital B&W using Photoshop, regardless of version.

It goes like this, you want a full range of tones.  Thus when you made your RAW conversion, you made sure that the histogram reflected all of the availabe data for highlights and shadows.  Then the image was converted to B&W, subsequently adding a curves adjustment layer.  Not thinking, you make sure that the shadow slider is just touching the histogram. 

So in effect you may have a tiny, tiny little bit of real black, everything else is a value of gray.  But when you view the print, you have a hard time finding that little bit of black even if you have some really dark, dark grays.  As an ex-film guy, I always had issues with getting the shadows to open up a little, but now I had wonderfully open shadows.  I just forgot to make sure that there was some wonderful black blacks. 

Thus my do-over of the image Lichen and Rocks. Compare this image, although this is a tigher crop, with my earlier version down below in an earlier post and see if you don’t sense the difference.

So now I have two issues to be keeping in mind, don’t let the eyes slide out the lower right corner of the image and don’t be cheap with the real blacks in the image;- )

Best regards, Doug

September 28, 2007

Digital Black and White

Filed under: Art, Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 6:43 pm

Construction Yard

I wanted to add one last comment to the Tim Atherton dig at digital black and white images, where he has written:…

colour digital work can sing (as can analogue/digital hybrid colour). Though probably the biggest single reason that so many converted colour images look crappy in greyscale is nothing to do with technique, but rather vision – on the whole, good black and white pictures simply aren’t colour photographs with the colour removed.”

Yep, you read right, per Tim, Digital is only good for color photograhy! Now you know why I found his posts so amusing.  I think I also recall many of the silver halide black and white photograhers objecting to the chromagenic dye black and white films (e.g. Ilford XP1) for almost the same reasons as digital, the image is toooo smooth.  Heck, go outside and look at the blue sky, is is a continuous tone or do you see any grain?  I guess he probably thinks that acrylic paint, since it provides smooth, slick images is only good for houses or color paintings, or at least many fine art oil painters thought that so many years ago.  Just so you know Tim’s bias; he’s a photographer who uses black & white film in a large format camera. 

Digital photography is but one tool among many to express a vision, which has it’s own unique characteristics.  Oh well, enough already, I do not need to be the champion of a dead issue about Digital Black and White, this is such a silly discussion.  I do need to create some images and get something positive done.  And yes, from digital capture, images that are rendered in awsome black and white prints;- )

Best regards, Doug

Update: the image above may be included in my series A Sideways Glance

Yesterday’s Photo of the Day: Winchester Road

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:14 pm

Winchester Road

Oi!, my IT guy has me back on line, so this should have been posted yesterday as the Photo of the Day, but I think you’ll understand;- )

Best regards, Doug

September 27, 2007

Stills – an online print review

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 6:37 pm

The second part of Anita’s question was about how an on-line print review can function such as Stills, a small on-line group (a collaborative photoblog) that I am a member of.  Like the Photographers Exchange, I am a recent participant to Stills, so if I don’t get this right, I’m sure I’ll hear about it;- )

Stills was started and coordinated by Colin Jago, of Photostream (my blogroll) and gives the inspiration to this photoblog to Paul Butzi.  The idea is a very small group, with some simple rules of conduct, and an open minded and honest review of posted images. 

By its nature, Stills is a closed photoblog, comments only from the members (1 in Tokyo, 3 in UK (Wales, England and Scotland), 3 in USA (Northern IL, Southern FL and Southern CA).  Each member is encouraged to post one image per week, but every member has to comment on every image posted, which means that you will get at least 6 comments per image. Need to be civil as the basic rule of conduct.  Comments are on image content, with the technical stuff only if trying to help out with a fix.

I have received some great feedback that helps me understand that I may be in the right direction with some of my series image content.  And that my images seem to tilt to the bottom right and viewers have a tendency to fall out of my images in that corner.  So now I do a double check of the horizontals, etc to see if I have done it again.  Amazing that I think that I am now doing a good job on an image, post it and darned if the image flows out the lower right corner!  I just can’t see this happening. Oh well, I guess I am just an out of balance guy (almost wrote “unbalanced guy”; Yikes, where’s Freud to help me diaognos this??)

Best regards, Doug

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