Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

May 29, 2009

Wikipedia link

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 11:06 pm

Last week after deciding to stop posting on Photo Exhibit and to start deleting off some of my lamer early posts (okay, I think that they did get better latter on when I became a little more confident with what I wanted to write), I had hesitated at the deleting the gallery announcement about (John) Luke Smalley. I think it was because I had planned to obtain Smalley’s new book (Sunday Drive) from Twin Palms Publishers for review on The Photo Book. Anyhow I decided to leave his post on the site and I continued removing about a dozen others.

So over the Memorial Day holidays, while checking my other sites, I did a quick check of the stats for Photo Exhibit. Wow, almost off the chart for my post about Smalley’s exhibit here in SoCal. Being a little curious, I did a quick Google on him and in the top five items were two recent obits. Apparently Luke  Smalley had unexpectedly passed away last week in PA. And it appears that was on the same day that I was hesitating about deleting his gallery announcement.  Oh, wow. 

He has not exhibited very much yet, so my exhibition posting was getting some exposure.

Now the links coming into my Photo Exhibit article for my Luke Smalley announcement are from Wikipedia, as someone has just published his bio on there and my gallery announcement is listed as one of the References for the listing. Now I kinda feel that I need to keep the Photo Exhibit blog up for a while to see how this Wikipedia bio for Luke Smalley evolves.

Best regards, Doug

May 21, 2009

Photo Exhibit & The Photo Book

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

Last year was interesting in that I found myself a little overwhelmed with maintaining my web-journals and other photo-groups and then pulled back. Then one thing led to another.

I then jumped back into the thick of things by startinga blog for our monthly photo group called The Photo Exchange. And I realized that I needed to get to more photographic exhibits than I had, so I started to write about the local exhibits on The Photo Exchange. And that led to the idea of a blog just about photo exhibits, so I started a new blog, Photo Exhibit, concentrating on SoCal photo exhibits. If that was not enough, I started writing reviews about photobooks from my collection, which then morphed into The Photo Book. All I was overextended again. sigh.

But then I had what I thought was a clever idea, take The Photo Exhibit, open it up to a collaborative blog and invite photographers from all over to contribute. So after almost five months, perhaps it was not as clever as I thought.  In retrospect, I found myself in the same place as most of the other contributors, I already had too much on my plate and I was not getting to exhibits as often as I wanted. Although I live in Southern CA where there are a ton of exhibits, I am actually in South Orange County and the majority of exhibits are in West LA, about an hour plus when there is no traffic. And when is there no traffic on the 405?? So that means I am really about two to two and a half hours away, each way. Yuck!

Second, I also found that my exhibition review process is a bit long.  I like to look at the exhibit, then head home and  think about what I saw and how I felt about it, then return and study it again, then try to write a coherent review. If I am still not sure, then I want to go back again. Sheeese. I have tried to take voluminous notes about my thoughts and reactions at the initial exhibit viewing, but that just did not seem to work well for ME. But I will say that with reviewing more exhibits, I seem to be able to get to the core of what I see more on the first viewing and on return, I am now doing more confirming my first thoughts.

Nevertheless, I along with the other contributors were not getting to the photo exhibitions very often, and sometimes even if someone was able to attend an exhibition, they may not have the time to post a review. So after recently polling the contributors to Photo Exhibit, the consensus is to let this blog trickle off to a slow death sometime this summer.

Meanwhile, my review process works much better with the photobooks, in as I have the books in hand and I am able to look at them repeatibly while collecting my thoughts and then subsequently try to write a succinct review. Which seem to be getting a slight bit better as I compare the recent reviews to my earliest. So I am continuing to forge ahead with The Photo Book, as I enjoy the photobooks and the challenage of writing a good review. This is a keeper;- )

So if you have previously linked-up Photo Exhibit, I would not mind if you deleted it now off your blogroll. Like wise if you have not linked-up The Photo Bookyet and you like what I am posting, I would really appreciate it if you would link it up on your blogroll.

Best regards, Doug

May 18, 2009

Designing Full Bleed PhotoBook pages

Filed under: Books, Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:44 pm

Yesterday, I had provided a very brief overview about my earlier bias against full bleed photographs in a photobook and some reasons why my opinion about full bleed photographs have  now changed.  I am actively designing my photobooks with the intent of using full bleed photographs. As Martin pointed out in his comment yesterday, after I decide to use a full bleed, then comes the publishing details to make it effectively look like I intended.

Case in point was my example of the cropped photograph that was created for a full bleed in the book I am developing. Specificily understanding just what is going to get lost on the edges of page when the full bleed is printed and the subsquent trimed during the binding operation.  Martin was right on when identifying the potential issues with my image Away Station in that I had some content close to the edge before the trimming action and I could lose some of it. I had made a mental note of that exact same thing and I had already figured that I was not done with that image yet.

The practice design issue is, how do you know what you might lose, eh? The answer ought to be the book publishers specifications.  Specificly what do they state you will lose in the triming operation, a 1/8″ or 1/16″  or 1/32″ and the tolerance stack on that triming process, thus the 1/16″ with a +/- of 1/32″ means you need to allow a maximum loss of the image of 3/32″. My problem with Blurb, is that for real results, I have lost almost 1/8″ due to sloppy triming, and when you want page numbers and they get trimmed off, you know that something is not right.

With the Blurb Booksmart software, all you will see for a full bleed is an alert that you will lose something with the triming process, but no visual indication of what you will lose. So the better solution for me is to open the image up in Photoshop and use the cropping indicators with the rule bars showing. If I use the Blurb trim spec and move the crop lines into place, I will have a closer indication of just what I should expect. And then I can make an informed decision on what I need to do next in order to get the photograph printed like I need in the photobook.

 Best regards, Doug

May 17, 2009

Full Bleed Photobook pages

Filed under: Books, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:06 pm


Away Station from my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir photograpy copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of the interesting internal changes that have arisen from my recent book reviews is my complete reversal on the use of full bleed photographs being in photobooks. Up till last year, I have realized that I was a bit of a purist (also read Modernist) regarding what was the best way to display a photograph in a photobook. I really enjoyed seeing the entire photograph with the small amount of white margin around the photograph in my photobooks, similar to the experience of viewing a matted photograph on the wall. I was not a big fan of publishing a photograph where even one edge was flowing off the page, bleeding the content off into neverland, least all four edges were off the page, called the full bleed.

I understood that for a photograph to be a full bleed on a printed page, the photographer/publisher had to sacrifice some very small loss of the photograph’s image due to the process of trimming the page to achieve the full bleed. Thus, as a photographic modernist, that meant that I did not have the opportunity to see all of the photograph’s “full” potential, thus something was being held back from me. It was one thing to crop a photographic image to achieve the final composition, but it seemed another to do that same edge cropping on the photobook page. Okay, this was some of my logic. In fact, seeing a full bleed photograph in a photobook put me on edge (pardon the pun) and created a tension that I was not fully tapping in to as part of the process of understanding the resulting body of work.

It is not that printing a photograph with a full bleed is a new thing. In retrospect, I just think that I was too closed minded and did not fully understand how this could be a creative and effective design. Not exactly sure what was the Aha! that changed my mind.

Perhaps it was the process of reviewing a successive and interesting number of books with the full bleed design, and it challenged me as to what could be the other implications of this layout and try to get beyond my own admitted opinions and bias. Concurrently, I have been reading about assessing and evaluating photographs, one of which was Stephen Shore’s book about the photographic print and the implications of the photographs edge as an artificial boundary on reality. Third, trying to get out to more photographic exhibits, I have been seeing the equivalent of a full bleed photograph, which are photographs that have been face-mounted to glass or plexi and do not have a mattes or borders.

Anyhow, now I see some of the creative possibilities and implications in how I might read or use a photograph with a full bleed in a photobook. Thus, when I have decided that for my Insomnia series to utilize a full bleed image, I now understand much better the resulting cropping implications.

I am not going to find a “perfect” photobook design that will allow full bleeds for every photograph that I want to use with only a minimum of loss. Within the digital age, we can crop any photograph to the best composition independent of the resulting size. In the past wet-age, we usually found out-selves limited to the paper easel for an 8 x 10″ or 16 x 20″ photograph and did the cropping with the enlarger. So my resulting image size varies a lot and is not very consistent. Thus if I am going to use a full bleed in a photobook, the amount of cropping necessary to work with a given photobook page is also going to vary a lot. Which also means, I have to evaluate the resulting cropped image and decide if the trade-off between the cropped / full bleed photograph still retains the content that I want as opposed to showing the full image with some margins.

Now I have more options to evaluate, but I am also thinking more “outside the box”. nice.

Best regards, Doug

BTW, Away Station, above, has now been cropped for a full bleed image for my Insomniaphotobook. The uncropped version for comparison is here.

May 14, 2009

Keeping a broad historical perspective

Filed under: Books, Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 6:22 pm


Cover photograph, Oak Tree in Winter, 1842 – 1843, photograph copyright of the William Henry Fox Talbot Estate

Well again, I succumbed to temptation at the book store. This time it was a retrospective of the developmental and creative work of one of the early photographic pioneers, William Henry Fox Talbot, published by Phaidon last year. I had been thinking again about who would be on my list of 50 photographers you should know, and for me, this is the guy that should be the lead-in photographer on my list.

But what I had not realized until I thumbed through the book at the store, was how the quality his photographic work developed over the time that he had dedicated to taking photographs. FYI, he segwayed from taking photographs about 1846 into developing a printing process for books, that became the photogravure printing process. Remarkable.

Regarding the aesthetic merits of his photographs and this book, I’ll be publishing a review on The Photo Book late next month or sometime in August. Regardless, I found this a hard book to put down, it just kept leaping into my hands regardless of the late hour.

I had always associated Talbot with the very crude early photographs and later the contact calotypes, but Talbot had realized the potential to capture a “negative” and then subsequently print the “positive”. Such as the “Oak Tree in Winter, 1842 – 1843” that is the tipped in image on the books cover.

So not only are Talbot’s early scientific discoveries for both photography and book publishing of great merit, but I have found that his body of work (some 5,000 photographs) is wonderful as well.

Okay, this is where my list starts for the 50 photographers that you should know. William Henry Fox Talbot.

Best regards, Doug

May 13, 2009

WordPress spell-checker not up to par

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 4:52 pm

Just a small whine today.

After publishing my review of Zoe Strauss’s book America on The Photo Book, I sent Zoe a follow up email letting her know that it was published and if there were any factual changes needed. To my surprise, besides liking the review,  she indicated that there were some spelling errors in the article. Huh?

I had run the WordPress spell-check probably three times as I was completing the article and once after I had completed the article, especially when there was one word that I was not so sure about. But WordPress spell-check indicated no problems amigo. So I asked Zoe what specifically were the misspelled words. Yikes, the words she indicated that were misspelled were actually misspelled. But even when I put the cursor right in front of my misspelled word and ran the WordPress spell-check, still no indication that it was wrong. sigh.

So when I have a hunch that I don’t have the word spelled right, even after running the spell-check, it appears that I better haul out the trusty dictionary and double check.

Best regards, Doug

May 12, 2009

Triptych photographs

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:23 pm


California Aqueduct, Pearblossom Highway, CA photograph copyright of Ann Mitchell

Ann just sent me the announcement about her pending exhibit in San Pedro for a new body of work called American Triptychs. Which by the way, I enjoy a lot.

But viewing her triptych’s created my own emotional response regarding my earlier attempts at creating a project using triptych’s, my Chinese landscape project Re:Development. In Ann’s case, having the three images butte up with each other actually complement the entire triptych,  she is essentially creating panoramic images. These are photographs where the three images collectively are greater as a whole.

Some of her triptych images do not have very smooth transitions, which is okay for me. It calls attention to the photographic process and states, these are not the real thing, but an artifact of something that was before the lens and is an a new reality.

Something that I continue to internalize over.

Best regards, Doug

BTW, if you are in the San Pedro area in June, here are some exhibition details; Gallery 478 this June in San Pedro. The Artist’s Reception will be part of San Pedro’s 1st Thursday Art Walk, June 4th from 6-9pm, 478 W. 7th Street, San Pedro.

May 11, 2009

Insomnia – Ten images still to go

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:55 am


Expressway Room from the project Insomnia; Hotel Noir photograph copyright 2009 Douglas Stockdale

Seems like I figure out one image for my project Insomnia and I end up needing to change two others. But I am slowly making some headway and almost down to single digits for the remaining images. And in the process, two images that I thought would be inside the book have now found them selves as the front cover (above) and back cover.

I have been more concerned about the front cover than the back cover, as I want to lead into this book with a strong image, but I had not guessed that this was going to be the image. In fact what had bugged me for a while is that I have not been sure which photograph I would use for the front cover. Unlike In Passing, which was evident from almost day one which would be the front cover image, I just had no doubts at all. This time with Insomnia, I did not have a photograph that shouted to me; chose me, chose me!

Meanwhile, for The Photo Book I just published my book review of Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison’s counterpoint and I am in the middle of my write-up for Zoe Strauss’s America, with Hiroshi Watanabe’s Findings waiting in the wings. That is a diverse set of photobooks.  Even a nice note from Hiroshi about the book review blog when I was arranging with him for some images to use with my review.

When I purchased the book 50 Photographers, I remembered that when writing about the pending Swann Auction, I have always been interested in the photographs of Ed Ruscha, a Southern CA artist. So what did I find and include with my other recent purchase, but a Steidl book, Ed Ruscha, Photographer. Bad habit, bad habit.

My book review backlog is now getting a little larger, but the nice thing is, my reviews only need to get published when I am good and ready to share my thoughts. It is not like I have a Friday deadline.

Best regards, Doug

BTW the image above was one that I made entirely in the camera, taking advantage of the window reflections in conjunction with the landscape outside the window. I just had to play with the lights inside the room to find the right balance of light to capture both enough inside and outside the room. The “instant” feedback of the digital camera is the 21st century version of the Polaroid, as I have no idea how close I would have been if I had been using the Hasselblad with film. Even if I had used my spot meter and the full zone system exposure analysis.

May 8, 2009

50 Photographers you should know

Filed under: Books, Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 8:45 pm

I am always intrigued by books that state that they have THE list of important information, in this case, 50 Photographers you should know. Nevertheless, I bought the book, published by Prestel and edited by Peter Sepan, a British editor.

It also made me think about past books that wanted to provide the history of photography, such as Newhall, and in retrospect, provided a very biased opinion and included their favorites and excluded those that they did not approve of. As well as, what if I had to come up with my list of important photographers, who would I select?

Anyhow, with slightly less than two columns per photographer to support his reasoning, Sepan’s list makes for a thin read. But there were some on his list, which has a heavier European influence than the USA writers, that I was not as familiar with, and some I was amazed not to recognize the names at all.

So here is a quick list of the 50 photographers whom I did not recognize or realized I only know of the name and not so much of their work: Felice Beato, Alexander Rodchenko, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Willy Ronis, Robert Hausser, Seydou Keita, Ara Guler, Rene Burri, Malick Sidibe, and Daveh Golestan.

The others were more along of the great names, including Felix Nadar, Mathew Brady, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eadweard Muybridge, Eugene Atget, Edward Curtis, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Lewis Hine, August Sander, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Man Ray, Josef Sudek, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Andre Kertesz, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Andreas Feininger, Brassai, Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Garry Winogrand, William Klein, Bruce Davidson, Bernd Und Hilla Bechler, Lee Friedlander, Josef Koudelka, Robert Maplethorpe, Sebastiao Salgado, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Nan Godin, Marting Parr, Andreas Gursky, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

So, I guess that this might be a nice little investment ($20 US) to get my curiosity going and broaden my horizons.

Best regards, Doug

BTW how did you do with this list, were you familiar with all 50 photographers, and would you agree?

May 6, 2009

More Photo and Journalist comix

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 2:31 pm


This is the first Kebabirstan comix drawn by Steve Wilson about the ventures of Larry Frolick and Don Weber. This one actually precedes the one that I posted yesterday, here.  For some reason, over the years, I have always made time to read the newspaper “funnies”.  

As Larry states about this comix series:

What this “Welcome to My Country” comic strip was about, incidentally, was the continuing dialogue between image and idea, photo-and-caption vs text-and-illustration. It ran from 2004 to 2006 in OutpostMagazine as a regular feature and always commented on the backstage of the creative process of photo-and-written-journalism — “the backstory is the real story”.

Similar comix that Wilson drew about and inconjunction with Frolick and Weber was the Manitoba series, sample below.


best regards, Doug

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