Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

October 22, 2014

Black & White Photographic Challenge – Day 3



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.


10-14-07 I-15 frontage Rd Victorville_0847bw

November 3, 2013

Winter Field


Winter Field copyright Douglas Stockdale & text copyright Brooks Jensen, publisher of LensWork magazine

Published on the blog LensWork Daily Looking at Images by Brooks Jensen

This image comes from a portfolio that consists of photographs of roadside memorials and crosses, each a marker indicating a sad story. I love the way Stockdale has emphasized the emotion in this image by using so many compositional lines that are tilted. The cross itself is tilted, the shadow of the cross is tilted, there are tilted trees on the left side of the photograph that are leaning into the photograph. On the right hand edge of the photograph there is a vertical tree with a dominant branch that is leaning into the field and into the photograph. The weeds are tilted, the clouds are tilted, everything in this photograph is tilted giving us the emotional clue, the visual clue, of the impact that something is not right. In all of those tilted lines and tilted angles the things tell us that the emotional impact of this photograph is a little bit askew. That is to say, metaphorically speaking, the person whose story is represented by the cross has probably passed away prematurely. This was an accident; this wasn’t supposed to happen; this person is a relatively young person. (We can tell if we look at the details on the cross they were only 44 years old when that  accident took their life.) All of these tilted lines tend to give us that emotional feeling.

Another aspect of this photographic that contributes to that are the animal tracks on the left-hand side of the photograph. I have to admit, I didn’t see those animal tracks at first, and when I mentioned it to Douglas Stockdale in my interview with him he was not particularly conscious of them either. He knew they were there, but the importance of them in the photograph is so subtle. They are the traits of life no longer visible and that is the metaphor of the entire photograph – life no longer visible. And, of course, that same metaphor exists in the stalks of the winter weeds. All of this contributes to reinforcing the feeling that we get from the primary subject in the center of this photograph.

Brooks Jensen

Winter Field was one of the photographs published in LensWork (magazine) issue #74, January – February 2008 as part of my portfolio In Passing. Subsequently In Passing self-published 2008 as hardcover book with Blurb, now out of print.

Continuing to evaluate this photograph in a broader context as a part of my project Lest I Forget


March 27, 2012

National Safey Council – my road side memorial photograph

National Safety Council – photograph copyright 2012 Douglas Stockdale

The National Safety Council (USA) has incorporated one of the photographs from my project “Lest I Forget” into a monthly safety campaigns. Editorial freedom; they have grayed down the photograph to keep the emphasis on their text.

June 11, 2011

A day of working on my project In Passing

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:52 pm

Oregon route 30, copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

This was a mixed day working on my project In Passing; tweaking photographis, printing for my revised book dummy, which I now have all of the photographic prints in the straight black & white mode to start the sequencing and pairing design process.

I have also finished linking up all of my previous posts about In Passing and Bad Trip – Sad Trip (the original project title) on this blog to the In Passing Catagory on the side-bar as well as ensuring that the previous posts had tags assigned.

I have now converted my second edition Blurb version of In Passing to private and it is no longer for sale, thus the Blurb book is now a very slick book dummy. Photographs have the wrong hue, but hopefully it gets the intent across.

I have identified a couple of folks who I think I would like to approach to write an essay for the new book as well as a corporate sponsor to pitch this book to. So I think I need to lock down at least one assay in conjunction with the revised book dummy before I make my corporate funding pitch.

I am pretty sure who I can pitch the book to for publication and I may have the publishing agreement completed by the begining of September. So my intent would be for publication next Spring. hmmmm, might be do-able.

Best regards, Doug

June 10, 2011

Oregon – In Passing

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:13 am

Oregon – In Passing copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

This past weekend, we made a very long weekend out of it, driving up from Southern California to Portland. Enroute on Interstate-5, I made a mental note of the absence of roadside memorials in California and the plethora of them as we crossed the border into Oregon. Initially I intended to make note of them, but once I start making mental notes, I found myself actively composing and thinking of how the Oregon landscape is different from the previous work and yes, I start making images.

During this project, I have stopped to make detailed compositions and I have also made drive-by photographs, where the blur of the landscape creates images that are more akin to a transitory memory. On this trip, the most abstract image to date (below) is now so abstract that it loses most of the direct meaning, while simultaneously embodying the most interpretative narrative. So this image below has me on the fence. If I had any concerns about the validity of the image, that was dispelled when I returned home to find my copy of Susan Burnstine’s new book “Within Shadows”. The key difference is that Burnstine’s entire book is developed around similar images with the same consistent style, while I have just this one and it appears out of sorts with the others.

But I sense that I am back in the mode of working actively on this project again, so I will see what else develops, as I may end up with a whole collection of similar abstract images. So as a result, I now have added Oregon to the places that I found these memorials and next maybe what I find will on my trip to North Carolina later this month.

Best regards, Doug

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

April 15, 2009

In Passing – Re-emerging traces

Filed under: Books, In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:21 am


Re-emerging Traces (from the photo project In Passing) copyright 2009 Douglas Stockdale

So I ought to be working on my series Insomnia, eh?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been continuing to work on the thorny problem of 1) selling my self-published books, 2) the high cost of the Blurb published books if I publish something really nice, 3) the even higher priced Blurb books because of item 2 the 4) potentially limited distribution channels because of items 2 and 3.  Sheeese, what’s a guy gonna do, eh?

So in the middle of this, I did get into a email discussion with Melanie McWhorter at photo-eye book store (Santa Fe) during a segway with another issue I was researching. So we traded a bunch of stuff about this whole cost/price issue with self-published POD books.  I was trying to get my arms around all of these issues, but something that might work to all of our benefits.

Meanwhile I have been reading some earlier photo-eye magazine articles about publishing a book that Amanda Keller-Konya had reminded me of. And I think that I found some clues for what I might be able to do with this issue.

First, folks are not compelled to buy a book immediately if it seems that it will be available forever, as they will buy the book “later” when they can afford it. So the first thing that I need to do for my hardcover In Passing is announce a cut-off of when the book will no longer be available, much like the traditional publishers do with their editions. What I am puzzling over is what is that cut-off number, but at the moment, I am thinking that I will take the hardcover out of circulation when I sell 100 of them.

Second is the option of selling a Limited Edition of the book with a Limited Edition print. Per the photo-eye articles, one nice option is to offer a unique print that is part of the project, but NOT in the book. Hmmmm, I was not sure that I had such a photograph, since I had really edited the book down to the core images.  So then I thought that  I  would  photograph another roadside memorial or re-photograph the place where a memorial once was, but now is gone. So it occurred to me, I did notice that where one of the local roadside memorials had been removed, but there now appeared to be something small lurking on the same site recently.

Okay, I was back working on In Passing again. So I headed back onto the 241 tollroad on a somewhat cloudy day. And sure enough, there were now traces of a very small memorial now re-emerging where the larger memorial had been. In a way, no real surprise.  What I have learned a while back is that some folks are persistent when it comes to these.

But one of my worst fears occurred while photographing this, as it is on the side of a busy state tollroad. Nope not an accident, but the Highway Patrol. Ya see, stopping on a tollroad that happens to be a CA state route is not necessarily legal when it comes to taking photographs. Sorry, but I can not lie about my car breaking down. Especially when I have my camera up on a tripod, as that would be really foolish. BUT what I did quickly find out in the ensuing discussion, was this officer was the second person at the scene of this accident and knew what happened. Turns out he was a good guy, and essentially gave me more information on what happened here as well as where there were a few more of these memorials in the area. cool.

Bottom line, the driver of an on-coming car feel asleep, drove over the medium directly into the car of the woman who was approaching from the other direction and killing her instantly. She was a grandmother who was unknowningly driving around the bend of the tollroad into an instant disaster. very sad.

I had not initially noticed the unique cloud formation, but as I was working the composition, I had decided to include more of the distant landscape. That is when I realized that if I moved my camera I could compose the image with this cloud sort of radiating from the bush, which was just above where the new sea shells were laying on the ground. (that is what sorta got me into trouble, in as I had to walk out into the tollroad just a weee bit. sigh)

So now I have this wonderful additional photograph for the Limited Edition book.  And in retrospect, this final composition (and final exposure before I got busted) provided a similar visual and emotional effect as the image that is on my book cover. very nice.

As to the Limited Edition book/print, I am considering just 10 each along with an artist proof or two. When I discussed this with Melanie, I found that photo-eye is also very excited about both the book and especially my Limited Edition idea, as she immediately sent me their book selling agreement. We have not finalized the price yet for the Limited Edition, but I need to work back from what my expenses are and the percentage commission that goes to photo-eye. But they do not want to commit yet for the entire Edition, so I will also be selling a few of these myself.  So please let me know if you are interested.

Now I have to figure out an elegant way to package this Limited Edition book + print, but also keep it affordable, so probably no clam shell or anything really fancy.

And also decide on the presentation of the Limited Edition book versus the trade/Blurb. I have a choice of two different hard covers, the regular hardcover with dust jacket, which provides a very glossy and nice cover photograph or the ImageWrap, which is somewhere between a matte and luster cover. And to keep the trade/Blurb book with the 100 paper or go the 80, and use the 100 only for the Limited Edition. I am thinking the more expensive and nicer 100 lb paper for the Limited Edition.

If I can decrease my costs for the trade/Blurb, I can also make it more affordable and lower the price. So I will take a couple of days to muttle that over. Meanwhile, if you want to purchase the trade/Blurb book (here) with the ImageWrap cover and 100 paper, you now have a chance to do that before I make the changes.  Sort of a heads up for my fans, eh??

Best regards, Douglas

BTW, no ticket;- )

April 2, 2009

In Passing – available at 23 Sandy Gallery


I am very pleased to announce that my hardcover book In Passing will continue to be available at the 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR. This is the first gallery bookstore that one of my books is available at. nice.

So now I need to add this information to my web site and figure how to continue to promote the books availability at the 23 Sandy gallery. Yep, this post is the first step, eh?

On a photographic book related note, while preparing for my workshop in Portland, I had stumbled upon a trivia “fact”, that the best price point for a hardcover photographic fine-art book was under $50, especially for the big box bookstores and but I forgot to bookmark that article or print it off. So now I am trying to find that or another “photo book industry” rule of thumb regarding the pricing and buying of hardbound fine-art photograpahic books.

Also seems that for the Photo+Bookexhibition in Portland, the vast majority of the 40+ books that were sold were under that $50 benchmark. hmmmm

So, any help on this one?

Best regards, Doug

February 4, 2009

In Passing – juried into Photo+Book

Filed under: Books, In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:14 pm


Last night I received the nice news that the second edition of my book In Passingwas juried into the Photo+Book exhibition at the 23 Sandy Galleryin Portland, OR. The exhibition will run the month of March, which coincides with my book making workshop at the 23 Sandy Gallery in mid-March.

Okay, coincidence that my book was juried in at the same time that I am teaching a workshop at the gallery, a fair question considering my recent review of the Humble Arts book on The Photo Book. The jurist was Christopher Rauschenberg, and not affiliated with the gallery. Christopher is also a wonderful photographer, co-founder of Photolucida and co-founder of his own gallery in Portland, Blue Sky Gallery. So if the book did not have merit, I trust that Christopher would not have juried it in.

Second, I think that the second edition looks damn good, within the boundaries and limitations of print on demand publishing. And I can honestly say, that I doubt that my first version of In Passing would have been juried in, which is why I did the complete design make over for the second edition.

So I think that this is pretty nice for the efforts that I placed into this series and the resulting book. very nice.

Best regards, Doug

December 29, 2008

In Passing – Blurb 2nd Edition Tweaks

Filed under: Books, In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:12 am

After I had recevied my first copy of the Second Edition In Passing, I realized that I had missed a formatting mistake on one page. So then I had to decide, do I want to correct the mistake and reload it back up to Blurb which will result in getting a new locator number or not.

I am probably the only person who is going to notice the subtle error, which is having a page number on the same page as the image, while all of the other image pages do not have the page number. Pro and con, pro and con.

Then I decided that one of the really fine aspects of the whole print on demand thing is so that you can quickly make changes if you missed something. And not have to live with 1,000 copies of my mistake.

So I made the correction to the page. And then I went through my first copy, now a proof copy or artist proof (A/P) and decided if there were any other tweaks that I would like to make. So I did; I down sized the photographic titles from a 16 pt font to a 12 point font and I increased the font size of the book title on the spine.

So I deleted the first production proof  of the Second Edtion off Blurb and uploaded the final version. And I was immeadately assigned a new locator number for the book. darn.

And I had a chance to air my issues with the folks at Blurb regarding that fact that in doing this (making corrections and reloading the file), I lost any potential links due to the new locator number that was assigned for my second edition changes. I would like the option that if after reviewing the first printed book, you can make some changes and reload the book file and use the same book locator number.

And so now on to other things….

Best regards, Doug

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