Untitled (Ella, San Onofre, April 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale
This is the start of a new portrait project that I am being drawn into. To be honest, even though I have photographed a fair number of individuals, it is very difficult for me to approach someone, especially a stranger, and ask if they would be the subject of my photograph. Unless I am playing the part of the photojournalist such as last weekend’s Paris Photo LA and Photo Independent. Perhaps this will become an element of my investigation into the human condition.
Related to this, I do have another project that has progressed up to the point of making the portraits I envision. Thus the project is in a state of suspended animation. Silly, eh? So to overcome that personal hurdle, I am taking a side track and working with some family members who are very tolerant of my lens.
Likewise, I am acquiring more photobooks that have a stronger human element including contemporary portraits. Although not a contemporary photographer, I did acquired Henri Cartier-Bresson’s recent retrospective (he passed away in 2004), I read his famous quote that the art of the portrait was a “question mark you put over somebody“. Food for thought.
Untitled, copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale.
This past weekend there were two photographic fairs in L.A., and in fact they were adjacent to each other. The largest of these was the second Paris Photo LA held again on the back lot of the Paramont Picture Studios in Hollywood. I wrote about Paris Photo LA in a lot more detail and posted photos on The PhotoBook blog, as my main reason to attend Paris Photo LA was to look at and acquire photobooks.
Thus, a little about the Photo Independent fair. This was it’s first year and similar to events in Paris for Photo Paris, this venue is attempting to take advantage of the large crowds that the Paris Photo LA attracted last year (as well as this year!). In this case, the venue was another film studio, Raleigh Studios, literally across the street from Paramont on Melrose in Hollywood.
I was gifted by Susan Burnstine with a VIP pass for the Friday’s opening night and I was able to weasel this into a PRESS pass and then onto the Raleigh Studios back-lot parking. I took an hour to walk the pre-opening and take some photographs before heading across the street to Paris Photo LA. I returned back for the 7pm VIP opening and walked the two stages where the photographers were exhibiting. The emphasis of Photo Independent was on individual photographers showing their work, versus the emphasis (and pricing) on galleries exhibiting at the Paris Photo LA. Note: unlike Photo l.a. earlier this year, I noted that Paris Photo LA had a much higher percentage of solo exhibits.
First the back lot stages at Raleigh Studios are small than Paramont Pictures, thus it seemed both more intimate and smaller in scale overall. It also meant that for the opening night, it did not take long to get this place crammed with VIPs that were strolling across the street from Paris Photo LA. I saw a number of familiar faces, thus I think the location strategy for Photo Independent was very successful as they were trying to do their best to not step on big brothers toes.
Not sure how the Photo Independent turned out for those who participated as I have not heard from anyone this morning. Most were going to be happy to break even with their investment and appreciate the heavy crowds that resulted from their proximity of Paris Photo LA. and hopefully make some good connections.
Untitled (San Onofre State Park, CA April 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale.
While we were picnicking at San Onofre State Park last Easter Sunday, we took a long walk down the beach toward Camp Pendelton, where the public beach officially ends.
I have always been fascinated with what the ocean tide creates on its own and in this case, a long strand of kelp that became loose and drifted ashore. The resulting pattern did not require any intervention from me and with each surge of the surf, the pattern changed slightly. Then it was only up to me to choose where to stand and compose the resulting photograph. Of the variations I photographed, I find that the shape of the kelp in this image seemed the most suggestive.
I find this just an interesting singular image that pokes my imagination.
untitled (San Onofre State Beach, CA April 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale
For Easter this year, the family headed to San Onofre State Park and down trail 6 to the beach for a picnic. Also an occasion to say a last goodby to Lucy, the kid’s dog for the past 14 years, who passed away in March.
Trail 6 is located at the edge of the Park adjacent to the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, so this region of the beach is usually used a lot less. In fact it used to be a well known nude beach. On this day the weather was more like what we call “June Gloom” with the overcast sky and coastal fog, air temperature in the low 60’s as was the water, but the water sure did seem a lot colder than that. The surf was not that large this day, but there was an occasion large set. Mostly well suited for short boarders than the long boarders. Thus no surprise seeing this long-boarder walking down the beach kinda looking like he’s calling it a day.
At the moment this a singular image, somewhat monochromatic and is not a part of any of my current projects or series. Just an interesting situation that I saw.
Update: After posting this and linking up the photograph and post to Facebook , I viewed this post on my other monitor. I then realized that I had made a tactical error. I had not set my PhotoShop monitor to my color calibration, thus the original image is a bit more washed out in the highlights than I had intended. So for grins, the image below was the original post, while the image above should appear closer to my intent, with a little more visual presence of the ocean. I also had a black and white version of this photograph in my original post, but I have decided that I prefer the color monochromatic version.
Untitled (Santa Ana, CA April 15, 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale.
Today was my day for jury duty. I was summoned to the Superior Court of California in Orange County. As always, I figured that this would be an interesting experience. Usually is.
In the past, I have found that the court system is pretty fussy about the presence of cameras. So that was going to rule out the Canon. So I would defer to my Samsung 4 camera-phone as a possibility.
It was an interesting walk from the parking structure to the court building and the route took me past the Santa
Ana college football field. In the morning overcast light it looked interesting (photograph below), especially the graphic look of the gate entrances. Reflecting on these images while waiting in the jury room, it dawned on me that these locked up gates provided the potential for a really nice metaphor to investigate the jury-court system that I was now a part of. Thus I was hoping to return to this same area during the lunch break and photograph this area again in the mid-day light.
It turned out that I was released from jury duty just before lunch and I subsequently made a series of photographs on my walk back to the parking structure. The slightly back-lite composition, photograph above, accentuated the graphic look of the bars with the shadows extending into the foreground. Fortunately I was also able to include the sign. Very nice.
Only drawback to the image above was the background sky as the coast fog was still receding, thus the sky was only partially clear blue. Guessing most may not have noticed this unless I had pointed it out, or thought it a image defect due to the small sensor of the Samsung camera-phone. UPDATE: while studying the image above, I have come to like this combination dual-sky, sort of what the jury trial system is similar to. The trial with all of the evidence offered by both sides is never entirely black and white, or clear and blue, but usually a little murky and unclear, much like what the coastal fog is like. Some evidence about the facts seem obvious and other times, not. It has taken me a little longer to better understand my own photograph, eh?
I made this observation during one of my frequent trips. A common perspective for those on flights. I am intrigued in this variant of portraiture and I have been making a series of these passenger portraits as a possible part of my Instant Nomad series.
Untitled (Orange County to Atlanta, March 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale
Untitled (Hunt Valley, Maryland, March 2014) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale
Late last month I posted an urban landscape photograph made from this same vantage point. These two photographs have a very different appearance that might be best explained that they originated from two different digital capture systems.
The photograph above is from my Canon 5D, which has a full frame sensor, 12 m-px, in conjunction with a Canon L lens, while the earlier one from a Samsung 4, a much smaller sensor although similar size 13 m-px file. Both images were adjusted with the PhotoShop RAW convertor and then in Photoshop. Both images are my interpretation of the what the digital file can offer, although in retrospect, the Samsung image appears colder while the image above is warmer. I could re-work the earlier image (adjusting the color temperature in RAW conversion) to appear similar similar in warmth to this one, but not sure I want to.
What’s include within the frame also differs, perhaps with the earlier photograph having a bit more chaos evident due to the tighter framing, as well as one is more panoramic while the other is a traditional 35mm format. Neither probably fits the Ansel Adams landscape formula, as in other photographs of mine, as some modernistic critic recently pointed out, I don’t include a clearly defined subject.
Interesting that as singular images, both might be acceptable as individual photographs. I think both look relatively realistic and plausible as to what was before the camera lens. In reality, neither are a entirely truthful. For now, one aspect I am interested in is which one helps me to investigate what it means for me to be a nomadic person.
I am also looking at these photograph’s as to how I might describe the urban landscape.
untitled (Ranch Santa Margarita, CA 04-03-14) copyright Douglas Stockdale
Always amazed as one one thing seems to lead into another. I have been a fan of Bill Jacobson’s photographs and I curated his photobook A Series of Human Decisions into the recent 10×10 American Photobooks exhibition in Tokyo last year. Prior to this book, Jacobson has completed a series of somewhat related photographs since 1987 but noted for the fact that the photographs were purposefully out of focus, see image from his earlier book Photographs.
So while having dinner at a local pizza pub, I decided to photograph a person sitting at the adjacent bar. When I went to zoom in with my Samsung camera on a tighter composition, the magnification in conjunction with the low light was a challenge to the camera-phone and while it was just trying to auto-focus, I made the exposure above. A Jacobson moment.
An impressionist and ambiguous image, with shapes, color and mass that hint at something that seems tangible. Subsequently I have found it hard to duplicate. Much easier to obtain the same effect with a manual focus camera.
Bill Jacobson Photographs copyright 2005 published by Hatje Cantz