Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

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.


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.


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.


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!


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!).


October 24, 2015

Friday Night Lights – Flag girl

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:10 pm

10-23-15_Ella_flag_girl_KI6A0570_San Clemente

Untitled (Ella, San Clemente, October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

This is the third in my series discussing my Friday Night Lights photographic adventures. As I stated in my last post, I made a camera change for last night’s flag football game. Still the same relatively slow zoom lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L lens, but now mounted on my Canon 5D MkIII in conjunction with my tripod being used similar to a monopod (tripod legs still folded together).

My very willing model, Ella, was not as much of a challenge to photograph compared to the action on the field, as she provides a best case evaluation of the camera/lens combination in this lighting condition. I waited until darkness, thus only illuminated by the lights on the field and without any fill-in flash to evaluate how my Canon MkIII sensor might perform with the ISO ramped up. I had the camera set to full auto with highest resolution JPEG capture, which the camera defaulted to a moderate ISO 1600 to obtain a 1/60th second exposure at a fully open lens aperture of f/4.0. I had composed this photo with lens set at 70mm, thus a decent pairing with the 1/60th shutter speed, especially in conjunction with the tri(mono)-pod.

I think that this photo passes night photography muster; the original JPEG file has plenty of sharp detail and the sky has only a tab bit of noise. This camera/lens combination is a much better choice compared using the smaller sensor of the Canon XTi.

Btw, Ella did a mighty fine job cheering her little brother’s team on to victory last night.


October 8, 2015

Somewhere over Oz

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:57 pm


Untitled (Michigan, September 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

I was surprised at the end of my photographic tweaking as to how this photograph is pulling me in. To be honest, it was one of series of grab shots that I made on approach while landing at Detroit Metro airport. Having made this landing recently, I was getting prepared to photograph some industrial buildings that I knew were going to pop into sight shortly. So I was making some test exposures to make sure that I was not picking up any unwanted window reflections, so I quickly captured this and a couple other images to frame my final compositions. But then this image started to intrigue me, so I spent a little more time tweaking it. Surprise, a photograph that I am really enjoying.

I don’t usually make a lot of grand landscapes (which I consider this photograph to be in that category), but occasionally I will just to try different things. In some regards, I am suspecting that this photograph is a bit auto-biographical, as this small Midwest town or maybe even a village has some attributes of where I grew up, probably a three hour drive from this place. I am thinking of this photograph is capturing the essence of a “Midwest Anyplace”, a typical middle America town. A main drag coming into, through and then out of the town, which is lined with churches, storefronts and at least one gas station somewhere in the middle, with homes lining this street on both side at either end.

I just may trying to photograph something similar again on my next journey.


Starting line

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:17 pm


Untitled (DTW, Michigan, 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

This is a follow on post from yesterday, as that photograph and this one were made within a minute of each other. The overall appearance may differ as I tweaked each image as a singular image. These two were not meant to be shown together to investigate a particular place, but rather as I am interested more in attempting to establish a mood as food for thought. As a result, I pushed the ambiguity envelop, but not so abstract that it might not visual create associations.

In post production of this photograph as I developed this image (it is still a bit of a work in progress), it struck me that this appeared to look like a starting line. I also like that it does not lead out on a straight line, but a route that has some twists and turns, much like life. Nice. It has potential to become a lead-in photograph to one of my photo projects that I have in development.


October 3, 2015

Paris – the party Seine

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:45 pm

The Party Seine_6988_Paris_Stockdale

Untitled (the party Seine, Paris, 2010) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

In 2010 I had an opportunity to be in Paris during the summer and found a rite of summer (or anytime that is warm enough) that is frequently celebrated in this city; partying along the banks of the river Seine, thus the punster title of the photograph.

We had just completed a Seine river cruise in the later afternoon, but turned dark on our journey back. During our short tourist cruise, all along the banks of the river was a continuous party in progress; couples, small groups, big groups, usually toasting us with their glasses of wine. Really fun as everyone was really enjoying the balmy night and each others company.

As we walked the along the banks of the Seine after the cruise, I noted this one region across the river with a fun group and an interesting illumination of the party in progress. Unfortunately I did not have my tripod. Fortunately there was a waist high wall at this same location which did duty as my impromptu tripod. I also figured that I would not be lucky with only one exposure, so I continued to photography from this location for the next couple of minutes and was rewarded with this composition. With some careful cropping and tweaking in PhotoShop, I created a really great memory for me.

This image was just selected today by the Duncan Miller Gallery for their YourDailyPhotograph, so it’s available for a short time for a nice price from their gallery. So maybe some lucky person will have this print as part of their collection as a surrogate memory for a similar occasion.


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