Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

May 24, 2016

Lest I Forget – New Direction

Filed under: In Passing, Lest I Forget, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:57 pm

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Tracks copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

Earlier this month I had a mini-exhibit at Photo Independent and subsequently posted that due to some really good feedback, that I was going to radically alter one of my in-process projects. So a little bit about that today, not that I have everything figured out, but that I have a new sense of direction.

First, the back story; I had been photographing roadside memorials for some time starting in late 2006, initially getting a portfolio of images (In Passing) published in LensWork magazine in 2008. I continued to work this project as black & white images of the memorials as an investigation into loss and remembrance. I had been thinking that I want’d this project wrapped up neat and tidy in a book.

Thus I was recently exchanging emails with Sara Terry who publishes the Aftermath Series and her annual book of War is Only Half the Story. There are a number of parallels with her Aftermath series about the consequences of war and my project, the consequences of a horrific accident. I also discussed with her that this year, it seemed like it was harder for her to get her annual funding through Kickstarter. Fortunately Sara was two tables down from me at Photo Independent so we had plenty of time to talk about her funding and exhibiting issues with her Aftermath series books and her advice about my In Passing – Lest I Forget project. It was no surprise that the aftermath photographs, although extremely socially relevant, are not images that sell or exhibit well.

Sara also pointed out that although the In Passing project was solid documentary work, the photographs were not “mine” in the same sens as my Memory Pods project. Meaning that my Memory Pods photographs had a uniqueness that was entirely due to how I created the photographs, which came from an inner desire to tell a specific story. She felt that I was not a documentary photographer per se, and that maybe I need to think about that the In Passing project was a developmental touch-stone and move on, unless I could make it mine.

Sara provided the necessary catalyst to see what was bothering me about trying to push the In Passing project forward, trying to incorporate additional images, while I was already working in a different way to photograph and narrate a project. Thus I am making a complete break from the In Passing project (black & white photographs of roadside memorials) to investigate other aspects of loss and remembrance, still using the working title of Lest I Forget.

A new image for this series is included with this post, above one version that incorporates some of the image manipulation aspects drawn from my Memory Pods project, while below is what I would call the hard-edge (relatively un-manipulated) version. I think that a consensus would say that the image below appears more contemporary, although the image above with the post-exposure manipulation would look almost identical if I had used my lens with a wide-open aperture.

The good news is that I do not need to decide which of the two versions I might use at this point, but consider both versions as I work on this project.

Cheers

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March 24, 2016

Revising my Photoshop workflow

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:42 pm

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Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, California, 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Late last year I moved from Photoshop CS3 to the Adobe Photoshop subscription CC (aka the 2015 version). A bit of new CC changes were in the way the RAW Browes/converter looked and functioned; a few of the controls were not so obvious to obtain the same actions in CC as I had become well accustomed to in CS3 (one of those nagging reasons I usually resist software upgrades).

One of my easy & quick investments to fix this issue was acquiring a copy of Martin Evening’s “Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers”, espcially since I was relatively happy with Evening’s CS3 version. So first thing I accomplished was how to make my CS3 workflow function with CC. And I was content for a while.

Now I am back into Evening’s book and realizing the greater functionality of the RAW converter to make even more corrections to my image prior to opening it in Photoshop. So even though I am not through reading the RAW section of his book (I am now into the fine tuning options), I wanted to check his recommended RAW workflow that might replace a bunch of what I was correcting/tweaking in Photoshop before.

I have two versions of one of my recent photographs from my In Passing – Lest I Forget project posted here. The version above is with Evening’s CC RAW workflow, and below is a version that I had developed last month with my old CS3 workflow. Even before printing these two versions I could see one big difference in the high contrast with my old CS3 workflow output, which required an adjustment layer to burn-in and try to control some of the highlights (and even then, not entirely successful). The CC image has a lower degree of contrast due to using the RAW contrast slider, which I adjusted the bulk of the data curve back towards center, reducing the overall contrast of the image. While still in RAW I adjusted the highlights and whites to control the very white and almost blown out plastic flowers on the memorial. On the CS3 image, I still have the whites of this same flower right at the edge of being blown out even after burning it in with an adjustment curve layer.

For the CC photograph as a printed image, the results appear quite nice. I like it.

So am I full convert to the new workflow; maybe. I have been making a lot of macro image adjustments with RAW before this while using CS3, so working in the RAW window is not entirely new. Nevertheless, I will work with Evening’s recommendations and after some evaluation, keep those that seem to be making life a little easier.

Now hopefully with these workflow changes I will not decide to go crazy and think that I now need to re-evaluate every RAW image I had every made. (I have done this before when I made the change from CS to CS3!)

Cheers!

01-08-16 Camino Capistrano San Juan Capistrano KI6A1318

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!

Cheers

December 9, 2015

Angel of Death – Surrealistic moment

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

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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.

Cheers

November 25, 2015

Descanso memorial – Halloween

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Untitled (Halloween Costume, I-15 Frontage Road, Victorville, California) copyright Douglas Stockdale

While researching my In Passing – Lest I Forget project, I came across an interesting term; Descanso memorial. This is a Spanish derived word, literally meaning “to rest”. It originates from the old Spanish practice of marking the place where a coffin was placed the ground along the route to the cemetery, allowing the coffin bearers to rest. As the photographer Dave Nance states about the Descanso memorials, “The association thus created between the road, the interrupted journey, and death as a destination, eventually found expression in the practice of similarly marking the location of fatal accidents on the highway.”

Descanso now appears to also designate those memorials which are decorated for each of the holidays. Which is the case of the I-15 Frontage Road memorial that I photographed near Victorville, above. I had photographed this memorial about mid-October, just prior to Halloween. Not evident in the photograph is a bowl of candy nestled within the flower arrangement at the base of this memorial, along with a memorial plaque, which from the wording was probably placed there by the mother of the individual who died at this place.

Best regards

November 4, 2015

Juggling Photographic Projects – Just like Life

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:57 pm

Plastic Lei - Maui - Hawaii

Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, 2006 copyright Douglas Stockdale

So the issue with refocusing my earlier project is that this results in having two photographic projects in progress. My Ciociaria memory book is published, but I have not obtained any meaningful exhibitions of this body of work, thus if you take into account that I will be looking for exhibition venues for Ciociaria, that places three photographic projects on my plate. All of this in conjunction with the fact that I have a full time (non-photographic) day-job and a loving family to attend to. And lets not forget my photographic book reviews on The Photobook blog that I like to fit in. At times, it all feels complex, layered if not outright overwhelming.

This is where my day-job does help as a large portion of what I do entails all of the aspects of project management, which provides much needed experience to lean-into in order to keep on keeping-on. The skills of project management help me get organized and probably keeps me decently focused on what tasks needs to be accomplished next. The draw back is that getting “too” organized can creative limits, box me in, thus I try to stay “messy” organized, more of a loose project structure rather than try to have a rigidly defined project. Another way of saying that I try to be flexible; time, goals, tasks, relationships, etc. I need to allow some give and take and know my priorities, such as family comes first.

One key aspect of project management that has helped me is to set goals, both long term as well as short term. This helps me organize what tasks are needed and what time frame I would like to complete them in. Such as for each of my projects, one long term goal is have it published as a book, which for one project, this is complete. Nice. Another is that I would like to have one solo exhibition of each body of work, which is a goal that is in progress.

Meanwhile, I am reevaluating the photographs for In Passing, while still composing and developing my Memory Pods photographs. It has been a while since I examined all of the photographs that support the In Passing project, so I am giving them a fresh look and finding some pleasant surprises. I am not sure why I did not realize the potential for a number of these photographs, but nevertheless, I do now.

For Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, above, I have dramatically modified the cropping of the photograph; from a vertical image to a square image. Earlier if I had composed a subject to be contained within a photograph, I would do my best to keep it intact in the final version. Not so now. I realize that for this photograph the emotional aspect was preserved even if I lost the top portion of this memorial. This is one of the few photographs that include a vehicle, as I had accidentally made an exposure while a car ran through the composition, but I liked the ghostly (blurred) appearance. I then made another half dozen exposures with various vehicles moving through the frame until I obtained this exposure. Nice juxtaposition of the two key elements and creates just enough visual tension. And like many of the photographs that I am reworking for this project, I adjusted the overall nicer tonality, which I think is a nice improvement over my earlier version. Nice.

Cheers

November 2, 2015

Refocusing a project

Morning Shadow - Central California

Morning Shadow, Denverton, California, 2007 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Following up on yesterday’s post perhaps a little more about how this project has come back full circle to a Black & White portfolio. As a project, this series of roadside memorials was starting to get a little traction in 2008 and I felt it had potential to go beyond the LensWork magazine publication as a photobook. The project at that time had a uniqueness, although  I did feel that the subject did not lend itself to posters (I did get this wrong) and something folks would want to hang in their living room. After a couple of rejected book submissions the project began to coast, as feeling a little defeated, I stopped making book submissions and became very introspective.

As a result, I “jumped the shark“, the t.v. slang for when there is a big change in a series plot, resulting in the audience losing interest and the series quickly tanks. I think that moving to color photographs and renaming the project did just that. I lost continuity with my audience. I did learn more about myself during this transition, such as photographing my Ciociaria project in color which resulted in the publication of a book. But in retrospect, I think that the In Passing project was visually stronger in Black & White.

Now I am re-examining all of my original photographs and although I will develop these as Black & White images, I have found that my interpretation has become a bit more refined. Part of which is that I have learned more about how to convert a color digital file in Photoshop to Black & White.

As an example is this photograph, Morning Cross, Central California, I had used a lens polarizer for the original exposure, but regretfully that only effected part of the morning sky. This resulted in a dramatic darkening on the left side of the sky and fading to almost white on the right side of the print, which I had found visually distracting. Now with a Photoshop Black & White adjustment layer and playing with the two blue settings, I am able to create a more even sky tone across the horizon. I think the print/image retains more of the emotional impact that I had experienced and I am very happy to have revisited this image.

Cheers!

November 1, 2015

In Passing – Lest I Forget

Randy - Route 179 - Nevada

Randy, Route 179, Nevada, copyright Douglas Stockdale

Reading the recent October issue of PDN magazine, which is their annual photobook issue, I found myself thinking back to my real first photographic project, a series of roadside memorials. As a quick recap, it was a series that I became very fascinated by in late in 2006. This project gained real momentum in 2007, as I made note of each various roadside memorial we came across and I quickly tried to figure out when and how to photograph each one. This Black & White photographic project, In Passing, was subsequently published by LensWork magazine in their Jan/Feb 2008 #74 issue, then I self-published a hard cover photobook  of In Passing using Blurb (which was juried into a self-publishing photobook exhibition in Portland, OR) and one image, Winter Field, Route 30, Indiana was published in Brooks Jensen’s Looking at Images in 2014.

During the publications, I had read Nathalie Herschdorfer’s book Afterwards (Contemporary Photography Confronting the Past) and began rethinking my earlier decision to convert my photographs to Black & White and that using the original color could be relevant. Meanwhile I still found myself photographing road-side memorials, but now staying with Color, not transforming these photographs to Black & White images. Concurrent with the color decision I had also decided to rename the project to Lest I Forget.

So I am now back full circle, with the project again in Black & White. And reconciled that the project should have a combination name; In Passing – Lest I Forget.

In the next couple of weeks, I plan to write more about the continuing metamorphose of this photographic project.

Cheers!

October 22, 2014

Black & White Photographic Challenge – Day 3

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I-15 Frontage Rd, Victorville, CA 2007 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This is my day 3 photograph as a result of being nominated by Jeff Alu to participate in a Black & White Photographic challenge (aka BWC) on FaceBook. For more background on the BWC, see my previous post, here.

Yesterday, I posted a photograph that I had made in early 2007 at a time that I felt that I was in a state of transition. At this time I was becoming aware of the concepts of contemporary landscape photography and my interests were now to investigate the natural landscape with regard to metaphoric narratives. This photograph above was made as a result of that creative transition after I expanded my investigation to include the urban landscape.

In very early 2007 I initiated my first contemporary landscape project, In Passing (B&W version) to investigate memory, in this case I began photographing the impromptu memorials created by family and friends for someone who had passed as a result of a tragic accident. Initially I was using a documentary approach to capture these memorials as examples of folk art. As the project continued, I realized that I was in fact investigating the concept of memory and how these families and friends were attempting to preserve their own memories by building these testimonials. Much later, I was to see these memorials as a possible metaphors for those individuals who have deminita or Alzheimer’s disease; physically present, but due to their fading memories, only a living shell and a living reminder of the past.

I found this memorial off the I-15 freeway, an apparent accident that had occurred on the Frontage Road. From the wording on the hand-made plaque that was in the foreground of the bouquet of artificial flower’s, I suspect that this was built by the young man’s family as the wording was by his mother. Over the months I came to understand that the cross was decorated for each season, this one for Halloween. The monument resembled someone in a Halloween costume, maybe his costume as a youth, and nestled within the artificial flowers was a trick-or-treat basket filled with candy. Extremely touching.

My attempt was to place this memorial within the larger landscape and also explored (below) an even wider perspective and narrative about this seemingly barren and poignant place.

Subsequently this image was published in LensWork magazine, issue #74, January/February 2008, one of 22 photographs as a featured portfolio. This was a pretty awesome artistic validation! I subsequently self-published a large format photobook of In Pasing thru Blurb in a small edition (about 13 copies),which is now out of print.

The B&W photographer that I nominated for day 3 is Vicki Topaz.

Cheers!

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December 9, 2013

Book Fair participation

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Me (photo by Wendy Hicks) at Duncan Miller gallery, Santa Monica, CA

Yesterday afternoon was a fun and interesting event being a participant at the Duncan Miller gallery Photo Art Book Fair held in Santa Monica. Actually my first time as a “exhibitor”, so thought I would share a little bit about this experience.

First, the gallery space was about the size of my living room/dining room combination, with great lighting. Although with the exhibition tables ringing the two exhibition rooms, that meant that we had to stand directly in the spot lights. That was initially a little uncomfortable,  but after removing my jacket, I was comfortable enough.

Sarah Hadley on behalf of the gallery had provided a list of things to bring and what to expect, but in retrospect, it was missing a few items. I have purposefully not made any business cards, which I was only asked twice, but not having a business card at this event was a mistake that I will shortly correct.

Take-a-ways, promotional cards, brochures, etc was not on Hadley’s list, but this is something you need to include on your check list (now mine) if you are going to participate in similar events. Lots of folks walking by and you are not going to get their card to follow up, so give them something to remember you by. There were 26 of us exhibiting, so thinking that you will be remembered a couple of months after the event is expecting too much.

This was a great experience for me to directly interact with photobook  and photography collectors as they spent time with my work. My book Ciociaria was an easy read for attendees compared to the Pine Lake artist book. Ciociaria is a contemporary and traditional published photobook which can be picked up and viewed at leisure. Pine Lake on the other hand as lots of layers and parts, not really meant for a quick read, thus not well suited for a line of attendees who are waiting their turn. Nevertheless, Pine Lake continued to receive high praises for creativity and originality as everyone who spent a little time with it remarked they had not recalled seeing anything similar. Very cool!

Since I wanted to cover a gamut of options (a range of book prices aka price points), I also brought copies of LensWork #74 in which my portfolio for In Passing was featured. And I brought one of my Foundations portfolio editions, a retrospective collection of my early black & white landscape photographs that I completed in the 1980’s.

And of course, there were a bunch of friends coming by, such as Ann Mitchell, Jim McKinnis and Sarah Lee as well as a bunch of my co-conspirators (oops; co-exhibitors) that included Renee Jacobs with her partner Wendy Hicks, Sara Jane Boyers and Kathleen Laria McLauglin.

Cheers!

Renee Jacobs holding her recently published Paris (discreetly concealing the cover’s ta-tas) while I hold Pine Lake. By chance (yeah, after a week of planning) we had adjacent exhibition tables.

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Kathleen Laria McLauglin, author of “Color of Hay“, which I reviewed on The Photobook last year.

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Ann Mitchell, both of our portfolios were published in LensWork issue #74

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Sarah Hadley, exhibition coordinator extraordinaire, also Executive Director of Filter Festival

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