Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

December 28, 2015

Photographic Abstraction

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 6:36 pm


Untitled, copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Interestingly one of the aspects of painting that initially drew me in was the potential of a “realist” interpretation of a subject. Although my graphic drawings continued to explore that direct representational possibility, my paintings became more and more abstract. In effect, like those well before me, I came to concurrently understand both the limitations and the exciting possibilities of painting. Thus the eventual insight into the non-representational aspects of photography and my return to working with this medium.

Nevertheless even now as what I believe I photograph as a “straight” subject, it is possible to create photographs from things seen which appear very abstract. Thus I would node to the photographer Aaron Siskind as providing the underlying inspiration for the photograph above.

I think that his “straight” photography appears potentially more abstract due to my cropping and removing it from it’s environmental context. Like a painter, I did change the contrast and the tonal range in Photoshop to push the image closer to what I envisioned at the moment I photographed it.

This is a singular image in that I do not go looking for these ambiguous subjects as part of an on-going project (or at least not at the moment), but I enjoy working with these subjects when the serendipity occurs.


December 26, 2015

Christmas morning

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 7:39 pm


Christmas morning, 2015, copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of my many pleasures on Christmas day is being up before the kids, tuning on the Christmas tree lights and taking a few photographs of the tree and unopened presents in the calm before the bedlam.

Also a nice time to just sit, reflect and enjoy the twinkling of the lights as dawn starts to light up the day. Many things to be thankful for.

Who knows, this Christmas tree photograph might also be next year’s Christmas card photo…



December 20, 2015

2015 Christmas Card

Filed under: Photography, Picture Postcards, Projects/Series — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 6:15 pm

01-14-05 Winter Tree - LaHuette CH_0049_web

Untitled (La Heutte, Switzerland, 2005) copyright Douglas Stockdale

Since my family and I celebrate Christmas, one of my holiday traditions is to design, produce and address the Christmas Cards. And of course the center piece for the card is the Christmas photograph. It has been our practice to not include photographs of ourselves, but rather something that might appear celebratory and enjoyable (as my wife would say, “appropriate”).

Typically for us an appropriate photograph for the Christmas season would be a winter landscape. This is a bit odd in that in Southern California we do not have snow during the winter and in Israel where the original birth occurred, there is not any snow at this time of the year either. Perhaps this Christmas photographic subject is a tradition that is linked to our growing up in the MidWest when snow was definitely a frequent occurrence during this time of year. I do recall waking up on many a Christmas  morning to a fresh layer of snow over top the previous mushy snow.

I had anticipated that our late November trip to Denver Colorado would be a great time to make a Christmas photo, especially since there was a forecast for snow. Regretfully, although I did come away with some urban snowy landscape photographs, none of these were deemed “appropriate”. Thus I did a deep dive into my photographic files to find something a bit better suited.

I actually find myself looking for the photograph above, which I made while I was working on a project that frequently took me to Switzerland. At this time in 2005 I was just starting to experiment with digital photography and I was using a 4 Mp Canon G2, which looked and handled amazing like an old Leica camera. The hassles of film though customs and detectors was still a nagging issue, so I wanted to start exploring the digital capture alternatives (I was already scanning my 120 negatives).

I have good memories of these business trips; non-stop from LAX into Zurich, then from the airport taking the express train to Biel and from there, jumping on a local train to La Chaux-de-Fonds. What I quickly learned was that you can hop off the train at any station and in almost exactly one hour, the next train would stop and you could hop back on again. Thus my stop in La Heutte in January with a short, cold walk-about and noticing this singular tree in a snow covered field with the forest on the mountain behind it fading into the winter fog. At the time, I think I was using Photoshop CS and when returning home, I was less than thrilled with my RAW conversion, but this image still lingered as being a potential someday.

And so with Photoshop CC, the “someday” has successfully arrived. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 16, 2015

Grant funding a Photographic Project

Filed under: Art Market, In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:27 pm

A-41 Tattenhall England

Untitled (A-41, Tattenhall, England) copyright Douglas Stockdale

On my list of to-do’s is to find some funding to support the publication and exhibition of my project In Passing – Lest I Forget. Here in the US, there are a couple of avenues to journey down in order to obtain a grant (e.g. gift, not a loan) and at the highest level is government/Federal grants through one of the various agencies. What I have noted in the past is that most of the Fine Art grants are not available for individuals, but non-profit organizations and only then through a public entity, which in the Fine Arts are usually Museums and Universities.

I am also a bit of a contrarian and look at alternatives, such that I know that I am not well connected for the Fine Arts grants, but rather I am experienced in how to deal with Corporate world. Although I do not have any experience with writing and submitting Federal grants for Contemporary Photography (Art), I have been working with a small team submitting Small Business Innovation Research grants through the National Institute of Heath, and we have been recently awarded a grant to work on Stroke research. Nice.

Since the National Safety Council used on of my photographs for a safety program poster a couple of years ago, this has provided a clue for me to poke a couple of Federal and State safety agencies. Specifically, I checked out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and locally, the California Office of Traffic Safety. Yes, this is what I consider out-of-box thinking for funding this photographic project.

The bad news: looking at the government grant guidelines for both of these agencies confirms my initial concerns; I am not a non-profit organization (501c3) nor a “public entity”. Also it does not help that the window for the 2016 grants has already passed and the agencies are looking for 2017 grants. Thus a word to the wise; if you are thinking US Federal & State government grants, plan far ahead! Regretfully for me, I am looking for 2016 funding.

The good news: these government agencies provide large grants to public entities, who in turn have to spend it (pass-though) on their own programs. The trick is to find out which “public entity” has what programs which are possibly aligned with my vision and see if I can be included in their program spending. Knowing a bit about how large organizations budget spending, I have been successful in the past with getting alignment between a budget line item and their spending (investing) in supporting my projects. So I have some hope.

Also, I now need to think smaller and look for local county or city government grants that might still be out there, although I think the window for 2016 might already be shrinking.

So my oars are not out of the water on grants, just rowing in a different direction!


December 14, 2015

Captions for the Aftermath Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 9:44 pm

A-1 Colloferro Italy

Untitled (A-1, Colloferro, Italy 2012) copyright Douglas Stockdale

It seems to me that I have an easier time determining what I want the resulting photograph to look like than what do I want to have as a title (caption) for it. Such is the chaos of the creative process.

For the In Passing – Lest I Forget project titles I think that I have been all over the map, literally, with ideas and options. I really would like a unique title for each photograph that will allow one image not to be confused with another. Not so easy in the case when there may be a series of un-named aftermath memorials along the same stretch of highway. Initially when this project was published in LensWork  magazine I had provided titles that were a bit descriptive, such as “Five Crosses” or “Heart Broken Fence”.

So over time I have been trying to wrestle this title issue to the mat for this project, which has appearances of being a documentary project while I want to try to avoid the potential sensationalism of the subject matter. So I am now deferring for the titles to the name of the adjacent roadway that the memorial adores in conjunction with the proximity of a city and the state (for the international memorials, also include the country). Such as the photograph above, which was found on the A-1 southbound from Rome and situated near the city of Colloferro.

For other photographs where these may have some overlap due to the close proximity on the same roadway, I will include a first name of person who is associated with the memorial in parens following the location title. I am still not sure what I am going to do when I have a tighter composition of a memorial (similar to a “portrait”) and a broader and more inclusive landscape of the same memorial, as I now thinking of paring the images of these two viewpoints across the gutter from each other.

For image titles, I think I am getting closer!


December 10, 2015

Photoshop CC – Creative Cloud

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:16 pm

11-27-15 Denver Snow Flurries 5_204410-02_Stockdale

Untitled (Denver, Snow Flurries #4, 2015) Copyright Douglas Stockdale

I have been using Photoshop CS3 since it was published by Adobe and I have not had the desire or compunction to make an upgrade until just recently. Sometimes when the features of the various software do not change dramatically and you are comfortable with where everything is and how it operations, maybe a good thing not to change, eh? For me, the upgrade from CS to CS3 was to obtain the much improved black & white conversion layer tool.

So reading the various reports and reviews of the Photoshop upgrades since CS3, I did not have a strong desire that I was missing something critical. As a still photographer and not an illustrator or 3D artist, the Photoshop tools I utilize are fairly straight forward (by my reckoning).

Also, I was still trying to figure out if Adobe’s new software subscription pricing was viable; cost of ownership and potentially a continuous series of software updates pushed on me to contend with. My IT cousin told me that his company had made the switch to the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) subscription program as they figured it was equally or more cost effective that individual licenses. I could download to two computers with one Photoshop CC subscription, which is the number of computers I am running, the cost of the subscription would have a payback of four plus years, which by that time, I would need to purchase another update. So I jumped that hurdle.

The real reason I acquired the Photoshop CC was purchasing a Canon 5D MarkIII (5DMk3) camera and the CS3 RAW converter was not compatible with the 5DMk3 RAW files; I needed to upgrade my Browser to at least CS6. And shooting JPEG with the 5DMk3 and not RAW is to only tap into half of the image capture potential; 8 mg/8 bit files with JPEG versus 22 mg/14 bit with RAW.

BUT I need to update my desktop computer, thus I only downloaded the Photoshop CC to my portable, so I am still running CS3 on one machine.
So this image above that I made in Denver over the last Thanksgiving weekend was my first confirmation of the backwards compatibility of the Photoshop CC. I did the major tweaks in CC on my portable, then transferred the PS file to the CS3 machine to open for proof printing on my Epson 4800. Nice, it works.

I am still getting adjusted to the Photoshop CC interface and found one change that I have yet to figure out, but otherwise the transition is pretty seamless. Whenever I purchase a Photoshop upgrade, I will also purchase at least one reference book on how  to use the software, usually deferring to a title that includes Photoshop for Photographers, such as Martin Evening’s series (I have his CS3 edition).

Btw, I think I was able to capture the essence of the snow flurries in the photograph above. I had to use a Curve adjustment level to bring up the values, while managing the contrast, of the swirling snow in the night sky. Does appear cold and kinda of nasty (which it was), eh?


December 9, 2015

Angel of Death – Surrealistic moment

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:31 am

11-28-15 Denver Colorado KI6A0994

untitled (Colfax Street, Denver, CO) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

While I was working on my project In Passing – Lest I Forget while in Denver over the Thanksgiving weekend, a Surrealist moment occurred for me.

Having known of the Henri Cartier-Bresson’s practice of composing a potential image and waiting for someone or something to happen, I had not realized the Surrealistic theory behind it until recently. I had an opportunity earlier this year to review Clement Cheroux’s biography of Henri Cartier-BressonHere and Now (published by Thames & Hudson) which connected the dots for me. In the photograph above, I was following the surrealistic theory of Andre Breton’s called Fixed-Explosive, which denotes the state of something simultaneously in motion and at rest. Henri Cartier-Bresson felt that this was one of the surrealist concepts that uniquely energized  his compositions and characterizes many of his famous photographs.

For me, I was not intending to create a surrealist photograph, but had set up the camera and tripod to document this small roadside memorial. Then I noted this guy in the dark hoodie approaching and I could not resist making one more exposure as he walked towards the memorial. That the man is dressed entirely in black, the hoodie is concealing his face and he has his hands in his pocket makes him anonymous and creates a mysterious image.

I do not think that this photograph will be in my final project as all of my other photographs are devoid of people. Nevertheless I find this photograph very interesting.


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