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 25, 2016

Revising Black and White Conversion workflow

Filed under: Lest I Forget, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:45 pm

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

In my last post discussing my evaluation of a new work flow for Photoshop CC, what was implied, but not really stated was that one of the key CC attributes under evaluation was the conversion of my color digital photographic files to Black and White images.

What had inspired my earlier change from Photoshop CS to CS3 was the addition of the Black and White Adjustment layer. Wow, was this every a great process improvement. Now with Photoshop CC comes the companion Adobe Bridge CC, which is the adobe RAW image processor. Bridge CC has incorporated an additional two color channels to further refine and tweak the color to black and white conversion. I am only amazed that Adobe was smart to include two additional color channels (Orange and Aqua) in Bridge CC, but did not think to add these two additional channels to the Photoshop Black & White Adjustment level. sigh.

Although I enjoy the further fine tuning that can be accomplished with Bridge CC during the RAW conversion, it does mean making a commitment to the Black and White adjustment settings before opening the file in Photoshop. As an adjustment layer in Photoshop it was easy to make some other changes to the image (such as a Curves Layer adjustment change) and then rethink my Black & White settings, followed by opening the Black & White adjustment layer and tweak the settings.

Martin Evening provides two options to make the Black and White conversion in RAW, one results in a Grayscale file (HSL/Grayscale RAW & Hue tab, click Convert to Grayscale, make adjustments and open file) and the other can opens as a RGB file (same HSL/Grayscale RAW panel, but select Saturation tab, move all of the sliders to -100 to entirely desaturate, then open the Luminance tab and make the adjustments to obtain your Black and White conversion, but then you can still return to the main RAW panel and make further adjustments with the Vibrance and Saturation sliders).

I tried both RAW conversion options, but I found that the direct to Grayscale seemed to work the best for me (at this time), which is the revised version of my image, above. For reference my first attempt with the RAW Black & White conversion is provided below, which is a just tad bit darker overall than I envisioned. Even so, it is not too far off the mark.

Now I think I okay to get back to working my new files for the In Passing – Lest I Forget project. Nevertheless, I still have a few new RAW tricks to iron out for the color photographs.

Cheers!

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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!

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

November 3, 2013

Winter Field

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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

Cheers!

April 23, 2012

Lest I Forget – Mission Viejo

I-5 Mission Viejo, CA photograph 2012 copyright Douglas Stockdale

A continuation of my investigation of memory and its preservation.

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.

March 18, 2012

Lest I Forget – Ferentino Italy

Ferentino, Italy copyright 2012 Douglas Stockdale

The attempt to preserve memories is more prevalent in Italy than I earlier thought. They can be very subtle and difficult to discern, but this one in Ferentino was very obvious.

February 25, 2012

Trubuco Canyon memorial

Trubuco Canyon, CA-241 copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

Ephemeral: transitory, lasting for only a short period of time and leaving no permanent trace

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