Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

May 26, 2011

Another project evolving: In Passing

Filed under: Books, In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:20 am

Tollroad, Rancho Santa Margarita Copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

For me, it is always interesting how one thing may lead to another. Last week I finally started the re-work of my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir, specifically to remove the blue tint from the images and return to Black & White basics. While printing the Insomnia images for the updated book dummy, I started thinking about my first project In Passing in which I had thought a warm tone was needed to balance the subject matter. The warm tone decision was supported by the subsequent publication in LensWork in 2008, a Black & White publication about Black & White photography that is a magazie which has every photograph printed with the same slightly warm red hue applied to every image. So while on a roll printing the Insomnia photographs, I selected a few images from In Passing, removed the warm tonality hue layer, tweaked the tonal range and printed them in straight Black & White.

I am not totally sure of why the new Black & White images for In Passing seem to work so well. Part is probably me, I have hopefully matured a tiny little bit, a little more confidence in my own decisions, more trust in my instinct, and realizing the body of work can really stand on its own. Some is technology, where the Photoshop CS3 with the black and white adjustment layers have developed over the earlier version of Photoshop 5.5, and even the first CS, coupled with a better RAW converter and I think that I now understand a little bit better how to coax more out of a RAW file. What I am finding is that while I can open the older Photoshop files (2007) and delete the hue layer, what I really need to accomplish to improve this project is to find the original RAW file and start the whole image processing from scratch. Another aspect, not a super biggie, is for new photographs, I am now working with a camera with a full frame sensor and my new images have a wonderful new dimension to them in terms of contrast, dynamic range, fidelity, etc.

In addition to reworking the earlier images into a more objective Black & White image, I am not so interest in re-photographing the previous sites In Passing, but I am interested in another dimension as to what has happened to many of the original memorial sites that I photographed, especially in California. The vast majority are gone and no longer exist. The Cal Trans policy is that memorials on public land are not tolerated, so after a respectful amount of time, e.g. by the time they need to cut the grass again, they are gone. In some cases, those who erected the memorial have moved on. In other cases, it is a constant tug-of-war between a very persistent person or group of people who doggedly figure out ways to continue on, regardless of how many times what they erect is demolished. 

So really another dimension to this project is photographing the sites where I know there was a memorial, which is now gone, but finding the faint traces of the memory that still lingers. I don’t have this entirely worked out, but that is the purpose of writing this, to give the idea some air. Which took me out to the highway recently to check out one of the local memorials erected for a woman, wife and mother who was killed by another speeding and out of control car which rammed into her car, killing her instantly. The original memorial photograph that I created in early 2007 is below, while the recent is above. Over the last four years, I have seen this site plowed under, all traces seemly erased, new vegetation planted, then little by little, the memorial grows back, only to demo’d again, and once more slowly starts the cycle of rebirth.

So the Blurb book I developed for In Passing has yet to sell a single copy in the last two or three years. There has been a lot of interest, but not with the Blurb costing and subsequent pricing. Thus, the few copies that I have will become nicely printed book dummies as I will no longer be selling the book through Blurb, and I’ll be deleting the book sales portion off from Blurb. I may not even keep the book up as a virtual read, especially with the fact that the appearance of this project is changing for the better.

And a couple of years ago, I thought this project was complete and I had moved on. Hah! I do not think that I will let this project rest until I have it professionally published in a book.

Best regards, Doug

May 22, 2011

Evolving Projects – Insomnia: Hotel Noir

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:40 pm

NwM in Transit copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

It is always interesting to me when random events collide, as though the almighty has a delicate hand in it.

For those who on occasion read this blog over the last four years will recall, on and off I have been working on a project titled Insomnia: Hotel Noir. I have thought the project complete, set up a separate blog delicated to this project, developed a book dummy and have advanced that to a Blurb printed version and subsequently have had a number of conversations with a bunch of book publishers. There has been interest, but no committment to take this project the next step, but some nice direct, as well as indirect, feedback.

So this is what I would call the advanced pasta test; I had cooked up this idea, threw it on the wall and it stuck. So I keep moving it ahead. Well then the book publishers threw the idea up on the wall, but it did not stick; something was wrong with the recipe or the cooking. Since I was not sure what to do with this project, it went dormant, as I sure have a bunch of other projects that I am excited about developing. So about a year ago, I came back to this project and after another interesting discussion with another book publisher I realized that there was one thing I needed to do to this project; delete the blue toning hue (which I now refer to as the “Blue Edition”) and return back to Black & White basics. In retrospect, the blue toning was an interesting idea, but too conceptual weak. Some guy named Picasso kinda has this blue period thing nailed pretty tight. It was the immediate blue toning that caught the immediate attention and sank the ship before it left the dock. Okay, that can be fixed, (deleting the various color layers for this hue in Photoshop) but it takes time, mean while I have other projects that are active.

Then I recently acquired Larry Sultan’s Katherine Avenue, which has become a retrospective book about Sultan, who recently passed away from cancer. Although Sultan developed a number of projects, he is known for three long duration projects; Pictures from Home, The Valley and Homeland. While working on a my notes for a discussion about this book on The PhotoBook, it dawned on me that I need to continue working on and finish my earlier Insomnia: Hotel Noir project. Not sure just what the exact emotional trigger was, but this book has re-energized this earlier project.

Perhaps without really understanding why, one of my in-process projects, NoWhereMan, was digging into the same emotional and conceptual space as Insomnia: Hotel Noir. From the get-go, NoWhereMan was going to be a project completed in color. I visualized it in color and intended to complete it with color photographs.

So with the aha! from Sultan’s book, starting to work on Insomnia: Hotel Noir again, I took off the conceptual blinders to NoWhereMan and tested a few images in Black & White. Hmmmm, seems to be working. Meanwhile, I also tested a number of the earlier Insomnia: Hotel Noir images in color; interesting but not the same emotional quality, as the color images were not passing my spaghetti test.

So I am again off and running on my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. So I need to work on integrating the newer images with the old, visualize the book dummy, and determine which publisher I want to contact again, or add to the list, while concurrently finishing the book dummy to re-engage our conversations. nice.

I was be interested in reading about your thoughts on the lastest evolution of this project.

Best regards, Doug

Subsequent Note: I just added a new Catagories reference in the side panel of this blog to link up the past Insomnia: Hotel Noir posts. I will be adding this Catagories linkage to the past posts, which will probably take me about a week to complete.

May 15, 2011

Douglas Stockale Ciociaria – book dummy

Filed under: Books, Ciociaria, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:04 pm

Douglas Stockdale Ciociaria – copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

One of the principal reasons to initially assembly a book dummy (a.k.a. marquette) of a project for a potential photobook is to facilitate conversations with the publishers, to gain traction with them and hopefully a contract for your concept. In the case with my photobook Ciociaria, I had captured the imagination of Marco at Edizioni Punctum, who was intrigued by our discussions of my concept, supported by a few photographs coupled with an artistic statement, was willing to proceed on the book development without a book dummy presentation. I suspect that our discussions about my earlier projects, especially my Blurb “book dummy” for Insomnia: Hotel Noir, provided some reassurances, as he really likes the concept behind Insomnia.

Another reason to develop a book dummy is to show to prospective investors who might be interested in providing some financial support to underwrite the project. Fortunately, for Ciociaria I have received major underwriting support from a company located in the same region of Italy as my project as a result of sharing the photographs of my work in progress without a book dummy.

A third reason to develop a book dummy is to help move the project from a conceptual idea to a paper-in-hand reality, to vetted out the possible combinations of paired images and attempt to understand the visual and emotional effects of the sequential order of the images in the book. This is the principal reason that I assembled my book dummy, and I am very glad I did. As I had stated before, one of my primary interests in working with Marco and the Edizioni Punctum publishing team is reap the creative benefits of collaboration. I was very interested in working with Marco and the book designer, hoping that they could help distill even more out of this body of work than I envisioned.

Even though I sent Marco about 200 photographs that constituted my final rough cut to initiate the book design, concurrently I also was interested in understanding how I would design this book.  So I printed the 200 photographs in the relative size that the book would be printed and started the process of pairing and sequencing them to construct a loose book dummy. In the photographs below, you can see the paper clips in the corners that I use to temporarily hold the prints in place.

I can validate one of the statements that Himes and Swanson stated in their Publish Your Photography Book, that when you deal with a publisher who is located half way around the world, the ability to communicate and work with them even in this digital age can become more complex during this process. After Marco had received the images and my updated artistic statement, which is now developing into an essay for the book, he let me know that he was having some difficulty with the rough design of the book. As I carry my book dummy around with me every where I go and continuously tweak it, I was able to very quickly photograph the book dummy layout and provide Marco my idea of the image sequencing and pairing. And this was exactly the thing he needed to start the rough layout! Since I developed the book dummy to a pretty advanced state, we have kept my book publication on track for later this year. nice.

Meanwhile, I will continue to test other images as alternatives to what I have in the dummy, as well as the sequencing. I recently uploaded many of the Ciociaria images to a FaceBook album that is allowing me to virtually accomplish the same feat.

Best regards, Doug

May 5, 2011

Simplifying Life – Nuking an old blog

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 5:25 am


After much mulling over, I have decided that I will delete one of my project blogs, Chinese Picture Postcards (MingXinPian), that I had set up in 2009 to test out one of my concepts for the body of photographic work that I had accumulated while working in China between 2007 and 2008.

In retrospect, my idea did not pass my own spaghetti test; after throwing some photographs up against the wall, they did not stick. Intellectually, I kinda liked the project name and idea, but it has not jelled and gained additional conceptual or emotional traction for me. I guess I knew that my interest was dwindling earlier this year when I posted that I had placed this project on HOLD and subsequently realized that the concept behind “Flow of Light Brush the Shadow” (Lui Guan Lue Yin) was much stronger.

So my trial balloon has deflated, but that is okay.  I feel that this is the nature of being creative; thinking up new ideas, trying them out, if they succeed, push on, and if not, then cut bait and move on to something else. There is too much to do and so little time to do it in.

 But now in addition to deleting this blog, I have some other administrative clean-ups, deleting an assortment of the other links to that blog. In the end, that will help simplify my life a little.

Best regards, Doug

May 3, 2011

Flow of Light Brush the Shadow – continuation


Enroute to PingHu Copyright 2008 Douglas Stockdale

I am continuing to evaluate my body of work from 2007 – 2008 made in China that is evolving into one of two potential book projects, with these photographs for “Flow of Light Brush the Shadow”. I am also using a new tool (for me), uploading the strongest images into a FaceBook album of the same name. I am trying this virtual album to help with experimenting and testing image pairing and potentially sequencing as I prepare to make a Marquette of the book to show around.

So far, once I figured out how to create a FB album and then load additional images in it, the process is proving to be not too bad. In fact, I did a copy and paste of the images for this post from that album, something I was not sure that I could accomplish, but here is the proof of the process. One of the aspects of this FB album that I appreciate is the ease in which I can move images from location to location within the matrix and they remain in place as I leave and return to the album.

Over the past week, I have finished uploading about 25 photographs and now I am pausing while I consider the images that are now in place. Also, I am not in the studio this week, so that forced a stop to my uploading. Another nice aspect is that I can also work on the possible pairs and combinations while I am on the road, an interesting aspect of this virtual album. So when I return to the studio, for the next photographs I upload, they will be for a specific location in the album, a process I only recently was accomplishing with prints. hmmmmm.




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