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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May 4, 2016

Silvershotz magazine features Pine Lake

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Pine Lake, self-published artist book, copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

I am really stoked and honored to announce that my artist book Pine Lake was just featured in SilverShotz magazine; Volume 10, Edition 8 (May 2016). The Silvershotz article includes the background for my semi-fictional story about an American summer rite of passage: a guy’s get-away fishing trip and has eight photographs that include the cover(s) and some of the interior pages. Really nice.

One more copy of this limited edition found a wonderful home during Photobook Independent this last weekend, so just a couple more of these artist books remain available.

The recent attention on this artist book is inspiring me to finish Bluewater Shore, which I had a work-print portfolio with me at Photobook Independent to share and discuss. This pending artist book generated some really good feedback.

Cheers!

April 17, 2016

Instagram learning curve

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:05 pm

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3rd Street LA Art district 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I stated at the beginning of this year that I am now posting on Instagram (@douglasstockdale), so I am new to this platform. I have been getting a few (very few) pointers from my daughter, but I figure if I look and play, I should get this figured out.

I was not expecting a ton of folks looking at my photographs and becoming a “follower”, nevertheless I feel like I was moving at a glacial pace. So my aha! moment yesterday was when my daughter posted a photograph with a bunch of hashtags. Duh. Okay, so I am old.

So I began to poke around Instagram this morning, as I thought hashtags were a Twitter thing. I was so wrong. So now I know and I imagine most of you already knew and now you are wondering what kinda of stone age guy I am. So I will tell you; old enough to process my analog black & white film!

The good news is that I have not posted that many photos on Instagram, so it should be relatively easy to edit in a few hashtags for each photo, which I started this morning. Now of course is the hashtag choice issue; which ones to link up to with each photo? If its not one thing, its another.

As to this photograph above made earlier this month, I noted the juxtaposition of the real bike with the background wall art while I was up in LA during the photobook judging for Photo Book Independent. By tightly framing the two, I think the resulting image creates a nice metaphor about the dreamlike experience of biking, even in the urban city. I guess you could also see this as a different narrative after noticing that the bike is chained down (restrained) and that the owner also took the bike seat with him to further deter a bike thief. As a result that this image could have alternative readings is very appealing to me.

Okay, back to working on my print portfolio for Photo Independent, which is quickly approaching!

Cheers!

 

April 15, 2016

Photo Independent – Print Portfolio progress

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Memory Pods, copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

An update on my progress to prepare for Photo Independent regarding my print portfolio(s) as previous discussed. First, the idea that I had to quickly prepare a print portfolio for Photo Independent was quickly stressing me out. Needing to quickly select the prints (yikes, which ones out of the project?), then matte and prepare the prints, and ensure that I had all of the outer bags to protect the sold prints was just a little too much on short notice. Yes it could not be done as I have jumped through these types of hoops in the past, but did I really need to?

I think its about expectations; if you are at an art fair then you should have prints for sale. Well honestly I do have some items for sale; a trade edition of Ciociaria, two limited editions of this book, my hand-made artist book Pine Lake, some out-of-print copies of LensWork #74 that feature my In Passing project and probably my Foundations mini-portfolio. So I think I am going to take an alternative pathway for my prints that will work best for me; bringing a print portfolio or two of work-in-progress and ask for feedback. This could be a win-win opportunity for me.

So at the moment, the first work-in-progress print portfolio will be my Memory Pods project. I have not been posting much of my photographs for this project created with the larger format Canon 5D equipment. Thus this photograph will be new. I have also been working on the artist statement for this project, which I will print and have available at Photo Independent to provide to those who have an interest in this project. I am also planning to have an interest list to capture names and emails of those who are interested in this project for follow up as the project comes closer to publication and exhibition. And of course I will need to update my web site with the images in the portfolio, which I will announce here when I have completed it.

Cool, I am doing much better already! And a back-up supply of pigment ink for the Epson printer just arrived so I feel energized to dig in and start printing. This is going to be fun!

Cheers!

April 7, 2016

Exhibiting at Photo Independent

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Memory Pods 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I have just been notified that I am accepted into Photo Independent at the end of this month. I was anticipating that I would be included in the Photobook Independent, but I was just notified that I can also have a print portfolio in addition to my photobooks. Yikes, I was not prepared for that wrinkle. The event in LA (Raleigh Studios in Hollywood) is at the end of this month April 29 – May 1, 2016, so although I do not have much time to prepare, I will make the most of this opportunity.

As to which photobooks to bring and sell, that is the easy part. For the print portfolio; which one? I will have a limited space to display, so from past experience, far better to focus on one portfolio than try to show a little bit of everything. What I did learn in the past is to hold in reserve at least one smaller (both size of prints and quantity of prints) portfolio that might come up in discussion.

I have been looking to publish my project In Passing – Lest I Forget, but I am not sure that this is the right audience. So I am thinking that this will be my portfolio that will in reserve. As to the display portfolio, I am leaning towards my Memory Pods project. I really don’t have much time to fret over this as I need to start printing for the portfolio this weekend.

Such problems to have, eh?

Cheers!

 

April 5, 2016

Urban Tree – Spring

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:30 pm

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Urban Tree, Spring 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Perhaps like Edward Steichen in his later years, I find myself photographing a backyard tree, as I had posted earlier here. Perhaps this could develop into a photographic project, but for now, I am content to think of this as a pleasant on-going series.

Cheers

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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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!

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January 15, 2016

Self-Assignment – Lemons

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

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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

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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!

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