Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

July 30, 2010

Mon Bistrot – Boulogne, France

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 6:38 am

Mon Bistrot, Boulogne, France copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

I have been still thinking about Eugene Atget and what he might be seeing if he was walking Paris and it’s outskirts. Perhaps he would see the structures and places that were about to change, perhaps seeing the evidence of the changes that are ongoing. I have started the investigation of both of these conditions and it will be interesting to see what I return to in the Fall and how this might continue.

Best regards, Douglas

July 28, 2010

Atget’s Essence

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 1:08 pm

Montparnasse, Paris copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

This past week I have been investigating the memory and essence of Eugene Atget and while working on some background context, realized that as I have been walking up Boulevard Saint Michel, that I have been passing on the edge of Montparnasse, the section in Paris where Atget eventually relocated his studio and apartment.

It was said that Atget had a quick temper and it does not appear in any of the records and testimonies that he was a religious man, so perhaps after his death, he did not ascend very high. Maybe just high enough to find a window view in and amongst the top of the trees, a view that would permit him to keep a vigilant eye on his Paris. No doubt he would be very unhappy with what he was witnessing unfolding before him, but at this point, all he could do was watch or perhaps cause a weird accident or two while riling up the energy and karma by his wrath.

I hope that by now he has found some peace and perhaps is indeed ascending a little further up the ladder.

Best regards, Douglas

BTW, I think that I have somehow backed into what could be a nice little photobook, any publishers interested in exploring this project with me?

July 27, 2010

Seeking Romance in Paris

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 7:56 am

Seeking Romance copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

While walking through Parc St-Cloud I found myself wondering, did Eugene Atget have a sense of humor? Was there something very French and subtle in his photographs that could have been a sly joke, but one that would have been mostly understood by those in the Parisian cafe’s?  I know that while reading Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote of La Mancha (El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha), much like his contemporary Shakespeare, there are some fine subtles that those living in the 1600’s would readily comprehend and find extremely humorous, but for non-Spanish and non-1600 citizens, it takes some digging to extract the gems that lay hidden within the pages.

I am sure that the dour appearing Atget probably had a wink or two to share, but can we find evidence of humor his photographs? Something to ponder while walking the streets of Paris.

Best regards, Douglas

July 26, 2010

Brownstone – Boulogne, France

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 2:00 pm

Brownstone, Boulogne, France copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

While en route to Parc St-Cloud, I was still wondering if this might be the route that Atget would have traveled to Parc St-Cloud? Did he walk or take a carriage? It is my guess that being of simple means, he might have walked this route.

What would Atget have seen and reacted to is a question that I continue to ponder. Yesterday I noted a small two-story brownstone that was in the “path of progress”. To the immediate left was already built a large auto mechanic busines that already seemes to dwarf this small row house.

Now the encroachment continues, with ruby tentacles reaching out in an attempt to ensnare this brownstone. The adjacent wall is a now remanent which conceded to a new passage-way to serve the looming contemporary building. Even the front tree has erected a protective boundary around its base, as it must be sensing the pending danger.

Would Atet realized that this Brownstone was about to become history, that it’s days were numbered and that again the modern city was steadily advancing? How might he have reacted to such a realization? Would this be cause to delay his anticipated visit to Parc St-Cloud this day? Or perhaps make a mental note to return at a much earlier hour to be able to photograph from the advantage point somewhere in the middle of the now busy Avenue Edouard Vailant? Could he take a chance that tomorrow this Brownstone maybe gone, vanishing into only fading memory?

It is a nondescript Brownstone, with a minimum of personality, without any fancy brickwork on its facade. But now there are fewer and fewer of these Brownstones, slowly shrinking from sight, until a realization that they have vanished and were replaced by towering apartment homes and office buildings. But even now the front of the building is encumbered by another power pole sitting on top of a short column of concrete. Perhaps the moment to clearly capture this facade may indeed have past, but giving cause to look about and find other Brownstones whose fate is also in unknown peril. To being photographing these relics before it is too late.  So I continue to wonder, what would Atget have decided to act upon?

Best regards, Douglas

BTW, I have now realized that Parc St-Cloud is located in St-Cloud and that we are no longer in Paris. During the days of Atget, it may have been able to sense that he had left Paris and was not into the outer edges and maybe in a more rural region. Today, this region near Paris is a constant parade of offices, apartment homes and industrial structures, much like Orange County, Los Angeles, Chicago etc, where the boundaries of one large city blurr as you cross into the adjacent cities and regions, such as Boulogne, which is located in between Paris and St-Cloud.

July 25, 2010

more Parc St Cloud

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 9:22 am

Flower Vases, Parc St-Cloud, Paris copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

Today has turned into a cooler and overcast day in Paris, and it reminds me of the late Fall overcast days in the photographs by Eugene Atget in Parc St-Cloud, so that ensures a return trip for today.

The photograph above is from the end of yesterdays walk in the Park. This photograph seems more fitting in black & white, although the color version is almost equally interesting. Nice thing with digital and Photoshop, I can create a black & while layer and with a click, jump between the two versions. For the black & white image, I can be a more interpretative of the tonal ranges within the composition.

So while I was walking back from the Park yesterday, I was wondering what Atget would be interested in photographing if he were walking his treasured Paris today. What are the aspects of Paris that he could see becoming things of the past? The things that were becoming dated and may soon feel the wreckers ball and the brute force of the bulldozers steel blade? Perhaps in his journeys from within Paris out to Parc St Cloud, he also passed over the same bridge as I over the River Seine, so what did he see and what might he think and observe today?

So if you are in Paris today and decide to also stroll the Parc St-Cloud, and you see an obvious American in his flowered Hawaiian shirt (yes, a Reyn Spooner) with a Canon 5D, please say Hello!

Best regards, Douglas

July 24, 2010

Parc St Cloud – Paris

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 9:42 pm

Parc St Cloud, Paris copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

When I was having my hotel booked for my recent stay in Paris, I realized that it was in the Boulogne section and actually close to Parc St Cloud, one of the many haunts and locations that Eugene Atget photographed in the early 1900’s. But I now here and my Atget photobooks are still back in my Southern California library, so I completed a quick internet check on the Atget photographs in Parc St Cloud and thought I was ready for a nice late afternoon walk to the Parc and see what I could see and potential photograph.

I already realized that I would not want to attempt a re-photography of the almost exact compositions as Christopher Rauschenberg (Paris Changing) competed a number of years ago. My line of thinking was two-fold, IF Atget was alive today, what might he do if he were in the Parc again today? The second was to photograph equivalents to Atget’s images. First, recall, Atget made his living by selling his photographs of the Paris urban and rural landscapes as reference images for the use by painters and architects. To really, really simplify Atget, his photographs were fact like and objective, straight and in a documentary style to render things as they were seen.

It might be debateable as to whether he would use digital today or still work with film, but he did adhere to his very old view camera and film well after new lens, tripods and cameras became available. I think that we would have been switched to color, not so much that Black & White was something that he could control, but that his clients and customers would want the reference photographs in color, thus to ensure his print sales, I think he probably would have switched to color. I think that for his personal work, he may have stayed with Black & White, but it is hard to be sure if he created personal work, because everything he photographed, he sold as reference prints to his customers, but as he grew older, there is a shift in the composition and framing of his park photographs.

Perhaps what I did not realize is that Parc St. Cloud is a really big garden park. So when I arrived in the late afternoon, I did not have much of a chance to walk about, but did find the pools and ponds that are nearest to the Seine River and adjacent to the Chateau St Cloud. So the question for tomorrow is, to return to the Parc or walk about else where in Paris? If I had to bet, I think I will be back in Parc St Cloud again tomorrow.

Best regards, Douglas

July 23, 2010

Fire Flies

Filed under: Ciociaria, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 6:52 pm

Fire Flies copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

While walking back from a Restorante in Fiuggi that was located in the woods the night before, I had the distinct feeling I was being watched. After a long pause on the darken road allowing my eyes adjust to the night, I realized that indeed I was being watched, but then again I was not. I could make out in the darkness of the woods, the lazy flitter of the glowing fire flies. That took me to a memory of fire flies when I was a kid standing outside my grandparents house in Pennsylvania on a warm and balmy summer night, much like this evening in Italy. It was mesmerizing.

So today I know that those fire flies are out in these woods, probably sitting on some weeds and leaves, waiting for the darkening of dusk to start again their wonderful mating flights.

Best regards, Douglas

July 21, 2010


Filed under: Ciociaria, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 2:38 pm

Arrivederci, copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

While I have been on assignment in this region of Italy, I have been staying in Fiuggi and slowly allowing a project to evolve. I have been using the opportunity of having lunch by walking to the different Ristorantes near the hotel. As I left this Ristorante, I was struck by their sign Arrivederci for those who were leaving, inviting them back again. I am not sure how this project will progress, but this photograph is a nice potential ending image in many ways.

I have another photograph with a similar message that I made last week, but this one is rapidly growing on me. So Arrivederci!

Best regards, Douglas

July 18, 2010

Cutting the grass – a universal tradition

Filed under: Ciociaria, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 3:54 pm

Fiuggi yard, Italy copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

Today during my Sunday walk investigating Fiuggi Italy, I had decided to venture to the outskirts of the city, in a region of what I would consider the suburbs, although I do not think that many in Fiuggi might understand that term. In so many ways, they do not understand me and I do not understand them.

Nevertheless, today I think that I did find what seems to be a universal summer task, cutting and mowing the grass of your yard. Of course the qualifier is that you need to have a yard of grass, which is not the case for everyone in Fiuggi. But it is a rite for those in the suburbs, the region of single family homes which have planted grass instead of concrete or stone or rock. American esthetics as its worst, because if you have a grass yard it looks absolutely wonderful just after it has been mowed. And that wonder lasts for about three or four days, because that green stuff just keeps growing and growing shaggy each and every day until you need to mow it once more. Been there, done that.

Okay, another thing about mowing the grass, I find that everyone is a critic. How can something that is so simple create such animated discussions about the right way versus a wrong way? Come on already, you just need to cut the damn grass, eh? Which is why taking this photograph became so amusing and a little bittersweet memory. So I hear the mower as I am walking up the hilly street, guessing someone is mowing a yard just up and around the bend. A potential opportunity to photograph a location with some action. Somehow I am drawn to photographing people mowing the grass, for it is far better them than me.

Now I walk up and around the corner and spy this young kid in a red shirt pushing the mower up and down the yard. Excellent, a nice spot of color so that I can frame this photograph with the kid on the far right edge, creat a little tension, movement and life in this study. But as the kid gets near the house, an older man starts a lively discussion with the kid. The kid stops mowing and the older guy, guessing it is the kid’s old man, walks up to the mower and seems to be telling the kid how to hold the mower and how to push it.

Wow, I do not understand Italian, but this was a flash back to when my Dad did the exact thing because he did not like how I was pushing our mower. So now while I watching, there are some sharp words, the old man takes off pushing the mower with the kid throwing his hands up in the air and stomping off towards the house. OMG! Some things are totally universal! (Yeah, the same thing happened with me, but only when I went inside, I opened a Coke, pulled up a comfy chair and watched my dad finish my job on that hot, humid Michigan afternoon.)

The fun part was now photographing the older guy pushing the mower, as he needed to exert a little more energy to complete the same task that the younger kid was just sailing through. I prefer to photograph the individuals moving away from me, so when the guy was in a nice clear open location in the yard, I squeezed off a couple of frames in quick succession, with the first exposure being the one I prefer. nice.

So I may not understand everything in Fiuggi, but I think I got this tradition right.

Best regards, Douglas

Fiuggi – A Death in the Family

Filed under: Ciociaria, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 7:03 am

Fiuggi Funeral Procession, Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

Yesterday I had commented on a photograph from Fiuggi that I could easily relate to and potentially understand. In direct contrast was the photograph I made in the old quarters of (Up Town) Fiuggi of a funeral procession that was ending at the entrance to this church.

Death, loss and grief I understand, but on this occasion, there is a great much that I do not understand. I suspect that the deceased was from this part of the city, but I do not know. Was this person a man, woman or young adult? Again, I do not know, as I do not know the cause of death nor the traditions of the funeral that proceeded this procession, why this type of procession, the service which is about to occur and the events that might occur afterwards? Who was the woman that was standing at the top of the stairs at the enterance to the church as the procession came down the street and then she turned away and could not watch as the casket was being carried into the church?

Language is a huge barrier as I am unable to obtain any information other than what you see in this photograph above.

But what you see in this Black and White photograph are not the “facts”. To illustrate, what does the black and white photograph communicate to you as compared with the color photograph directly below? Or how does the full frame color photograph compare to the cropped version which eliminates the woman on the left in the foreground with the bright bluish-purple pants?

For me, the full frame color photograph which includes the woman with the bluish-purple pants does not appear to me to be appropriate for a Funeral, which is part of my cultural bias that I carry about with me. Nevertheless, she is there at this time observing and did not take part in the funeral procession itself and nor did she enter the church with the others. She could have easily been like me, where the circumstances on a Saturday morning in the old section of Fiuggi happen to bring us together to be at this location when the funeral procession was occurring. But I don’t really know that for sure. I really do not understand Fiuggi.

Best regards, Douglas

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