Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

January 15, 2016

Self-Assignment – Lemons

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:44 pm

01-13-16_Lemons_094251-04

Copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

Old saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Revised: when you grow lemons and they become a winter harvest, make photographs!

From time to time when given some props, I like to have some fun and see what I might be able to do with them. In this case our backyard lemon tree is of all things bearing some good fruit in January. Who knew? Credit the relatively mild SoCal weather I guess.

I had picked a few of the lemons to bring to a friend and decided I would first try an arrangement just to see what interesting composition I might be able to create. I also anticipated that I wanted to have the final results in black & white rather than color to make this self-assignment a little more intriguing.

First the setting; I have been interested in our translucent back-yard table top for a while, thus this appeared intriguing as a compositional element, so I cleared off the flower pots and starting arranging the lemons on top, the chairs underneath. Next, I re-arranged the lemons a couple of times in conjunction with a series of exposures until I had my final two color photographs, of which I think that this was the most interesting composition. I completed a black&white photo image conversion with Snapseed in the camera phone and then final tone adjustment tweaks after downloading in Photoshop CC. nice.

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!

Cheers

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.

Cheers

November 25, 2015

Descanso memorial – Halloween

10-17-07_Halloween Costume - I-15 Frontage Road - Victorville - California 0845

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 30, 2015

Friday Night Lights – action on the field

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:35 pm

10-23-15 Zach flag football game KI6A0563_San Clemente

Untitled (Zach, San Clemente, CA) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale

For last Friday’s touch football game, as I posted here, I made the switch up to the the larger Canon 5D MarkIII (Mk3), which has a image sensor with a very wide ISO capability in conjunction with using a trip-pod. Btw, since I had acquired the Mk3 just recently, I had to make a choice between this and the Canon 5DS with its 50 Mp sensor, but due to the limited ISO capabilities of the 5DS (to get all of those megapixels on a chip, there was a large reduction in the size of the individual sensors with a corresponding limitation on their light tolerance), I choose the Mk3 for it’s robustness in general use. The user reports on the Canon 5DS pointed to limited night time use because if the ISO was bumped up past 800, the dark’s in the image would start to get increasing noisy.  If I were evaluating studio work in conjunction with a tripod and cable release, I might have chosen differently.

The faster shutter speed of 1/60th of a second (ISO 3200) with the Mk3 versus the slower 1/10th of a second with the XTi was enough to make a difference in stopping the action under the field lights. The smaller Canon XTi sensor had the advantage to extend the reach of my short telephoto, but the higher quality image with the Canon Mk3 allowed tighter cropping and I accomplished essentially the same effect. If I wanted to create a more abstract image with blurr like I was obtaining with the XTi, I only needed to modify the Mk3 exposure settings.

Although the photograph above is just a tad bit soft, it is a nice candid portrait of Zach coming off the field. A trade off of youthful enthusiasm for sharpness which probably required a more static pose. I might just push up the ISO a tad bit more to increase the shutter speed another notch or two.

Well, it’s Friday again, so you probably know what combination I am bringing to the game tonight. Go Zach!

Cheers!

10-23-15_Zach_being_double_teamed_KI6A0582_San Clemente

October 25, 2015

Getting back on track

Filed under: Instant Nomad, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:50 pm

10-11-15_Garden_District_NoLa_153321-02-01_St_Charles_trolley way

Untitled (Garden District, St Charles trolley way, New Orleans, LA October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Today I seem to have a case of the blase, so I feel a off. Usually one good cure (for me) is to jump back in the fray. Thus a great reason to finish the development of this image above I made earlier this month in New Orleans. We had taken the St Charles trolley line out to the Garden district to investigate a cemetery and to just poke around. After lunch and waiting for the arrival of the trolley to go back into the city, I played with some possible compositions, while thinking ahead about my Instant Nomad project. I was also considering the use of the lens blur app at the time I made this photograph, so this is one version that I developed. I may tweak the lens blur a bit to bring into focus a little more of the trolley post that is in the middle area near the palm tree.

I am already feeling a bit better as a result and back on track (yep, pun intended!).

Cheers!

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