Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

October 20, 2015

Friday Night Lights

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 7:30 pm


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

Earlier I had posted about using my Canon XTi camera in conjunction the 70-200L f/4 lens for photographs of Zach playing flag football at night. I did not have my tripod with me, but I knew from prior experience that for hand holding exposures at night, even under some good field lights, I was not going to obtain sharp photographs. So when working with lemons, make lemonade!

I have a lot of experience with camera panning to capture the action under similar conditions which I think I put to some good use. Not a normal static football pose, but rather a dynamic clash of the titans. In this case, Zach was playing defense and I captured him in the midst of taking the opposing player off his feet.

For me, the resulting photograph borders on pure color abstraction, but retains enough content to provide sufficient context in conjunction with the caption. Nice, I’ll print this one for Zach.

Another night football game is fast approaching, so next time I will bring a slightly different combination; I will mount this same lens on my Canon 5DMk3 to see if the wider dynamic range will provide some more options. I am also going to bring my tripod, but keep the legs together similar and attempt to use it as if it was a mono-pod.


Btw, a technical note for those who are interested; 1/10th of a second, ISO 400 and aperture of f/4.0.

October 15, 2015

Bourbon Street – NoLa

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:27 pm


Untitled (Bourbon Street, New Orleans, October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

We attended a destination wedding in New Orleans, aka NoLa or The Big Easy, this past weekend. Our hotel was a couple of blocks off Bourbon Street, thus required a prerequisite evening walk-about. This is my version of what my experience of this place was like. As a friend stated, the longer you drink (yes, open containers as you cruise this entire area is absolutely okay) and crawl down this street at night, the fuzzier your vision and memory becomes.

My initial development of this photograph had placed the high lights up too bright. This is a typical exposure problem with most auto cameras for this type of high contrast lighting; the camera attempts to provide an average gray exposure, thus with the black night and bright lights, the high lights get blown out.

Bourbon street is a very festive place but with a darker undertone and a bit of a dinginess to it. Not as clean as the neon brightness you find in Las Vegas.


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 7, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 11:38 pm


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

One of those visual metaphors, which regretfully can border on becoming trite, that always seems to draw me in are pathways, both narrow and wide, although the narrow ones seem to get my attention more often. I think the narrow pathways (or at least they appear narrow) are more human in scale, personal, maybe even romantic, which are meant for a person to walk along. I especially enjoy photographing those pathways when the end is not in sight, implying a potential limitless walk. These photographs also investigate a journey, real or imagined, but to where? The more ambiguous the photograph I feel create even more narrative possibilities.


October 4, 2015

Lens test: 70-200mm on Canon XTi

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:48 pm


Untitled (Canyon crest home, San Clemente, CA 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Zach had a pending flag football night game and the following afternoon a swim meet this weekend and I had been thinking about the possibility of mounting my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L lens meant for my Canon 5D on my Canon XTi body. Used on my 5D at 200mm, this lens has an acceptable reach, but I’ve been curious about getting a bit “closer”. Thus mounted on my XTi (10 Mpx) with the smaller sensor, I picked up about another 40% in magnification, thus I had an equivalent of a 280mm lens. Seemed reasonable to me.

I had not played with this combination before as a telephoto image was not usually of much interest to me. But after looking at some of my sports images of Zach from last year, I felt it was time to try this combination out. And yes I did not want to purchase a fast 300mm for the 5D just for this occasion. I do crop my photographs and that could lead to potentially a similar image, but I felt it was better to get a higher resolution image before I started cropping. Second, the smaller sensor should be fine as for my personal family mementos, I usually do not print any larger than 8-1/2 x 11″.

So this back-yard landscape, above, was my initial image test with this combination at 200mm (280mm equivalent). The image is also slightly cropped after getting the horizon adjusted, so a good test image. Initially I was satisfied with this landscape when viewed in camera, thus I decided to use this camera/lens combination later that evening at the football game. Now looking at this landscape photograph after some PhotoShop tweaking, it confirms my suspicions that this camera/lens combination works decently together.

I knew going into the evening game that this had some limitations for a night sports event, e.g. the f 4.0 lens is pretty slow for this type of event photography, and the XTi did not have a lot of dynamic range for the sensor (e.g. push the ISO beyond 800 stats getting image distortion). Added to this I would be have to use hand-held exposures since I do not have a viable mono-pod for camera stability and support. Nevertheless, by carefully choosing to photograph at the right moment, this combination could obtain some interesting photographs of the action on the field.


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.


Flying by the seat of my pants


Untitled (Over Oz, Michigan, 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

I keep getting asked how I am able to create my interesting aerial landscapes that I share here, such as this one and the one I posted yesterday. So here is the story about how I photograph landscapes while flying by the seat of my pants, thus I guess you could describe this article as a mini-photo workshop.

Since I fly frequently on assignment, I fall into that category of being a frequent flyer (yep, over 2 million miles on just one airline, and yes, the airlines does keep track). The favorites seat for most frequent flyers is an aisle seat towards the front of the airplane. On the other hand, I also go for the front of the plane, but a window seat that will be facing North (e.g. on the left of the plane leaving southern California). Two reasons, I want to be in front of the wing to maximize an unobstructed visibility of the passing landscape and if you are facing South, you will deal with the effects of constant sunlight. Most aircraft have been around a while, which means scratched windows, both inside and out which creates issues with flare and terrible reflections.

The creative corollary is that if you like to deal with the effects of sun as part of your image development process, then go for it and select the South facing window seats; I for the most part, don’t. Another reason to choose a South facing window is if you have a late afternoon flight and you think you might catch an aerial sunset, which at times can be very striking. But then I am not usually chasing sunsets.

As a last alternative, I may have to end up with a window seat at the back of the plane. If the plane engines are configured on the wing, then I try to get as far back in the plane as possible, as the hot engine exhaust can create a soft blur in the resulting photographs (optical diffraction caused by the hot rapidly moving air). Again, the corollary is that this optical effect can be used to creative purposes, but I prefer to get as straight of an image as I can, then work my creative options post-production in PhotoShop. I find it much easier to add a layer to an image and if I decide the effect does not work for me, to then delete the layer and start over again.

As to when to photograph, I think that there are three basic flying conditions; take-off, in-flight and approach on landing. For me, the best of these three conditions are the approach for landing as I am more interested today in the middle landscape, and not as much with the high altitude (30,000 ft plus) broad landscape. On approach, the aircraft will slow down to perhaps 150 mph, rather than the 350 mph plus while cruising. Unlike the take off which can be a rapid climb, the approach is a slow decline lining up with the runway, taking upwards of ten minutes or more in duration, which creates a lot of photographic opportunities. My other trick is to try to look far enough ahead to determine what might come into view by peeking out the window in front of my window, if I can. Even at 150 mph, the composition opportunities are rapidly fleeting.

One of the nice aspects of digital capture is to do a quick sanity check to see if you are picking up any unwanted reflections in the image, as the angle you photograph out the window can pick up some subtle’s that might not be evident in the viewfinder. Not unusual to find my hand or interior of the aircraft being picked up on the interior window reflection if not careful. Basic rule of thumb is to place the front of the lens flush on the window, because as soon as you start to tilt the lens down, the higher the probability you will pick up some window reflections. Since I usually do aim the camera down to capture the passing landscape, I complete a quick check on what angle I can use without picking up unwanted reflections. Always some compromises.

My last piece of advice is to have your camera ready after boarding, not in a never-ready case or in a backpack, as the images are literally fleeting and there is not much time to react to what is rapidly unfolding outside the window. Thus I like to take at least one or two images while the plane is still docked and starting to move out on the tarmac. It gets the creative juices flowing.


October 2, 2015

Serious fun

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:38 am


Untitled (Dallas, TX 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

I think that for me, it helps from time to time to just have fun. Sometimes messing around leads to an interesting project, as it allows my right brain to do what it does best; lurk, watch, listen, dream, free associate, and allow creativity to creep into my life.

So at the moment, my fun stuff revolves around using my SnapSeed app on my Samsung phone/camera. Yesterday I posted about finding the Grunge filter back in my basket of play options. One of the things that I liked about using the Grunge filter was how it allow the focus to move about, but it also introduces some textures and colors that I may not want to use. Especially when I want the image to look a “little” less manipulated. So on my recent assignment trip to Detroit (with a change of planes midway in Dallas), I started playing with some in-flight photographs using the SnapSeed Focus filter option in conjunction with my usual bag of tricks.

I think of this as a post-exposure LensBaby. Really tough to figure out where and how you want to tweak a LensBaby exposure when you are hurling along at 250 mph plus. And no going back to say: Oh Golly I need to bracket this exposure or maybe if I adjusted this and that for my composition. Just grab the image as life literally flies by. Thus, first things first; capture the image’s image as best I can, then while in flight on the next leg, proceed to tweak and play with the image.

This photograph might work with one of my lingering projects that investigates my personal travel and related to a project about identity. Plus, as a singular photograph, I find it to be an interesting graphic image. The lines, patterns and positive/negative spaces creates an interesting movement to this. The graphic aspect in mind helped guide my decisions as I tweaked this image. Enjoy!


October 1, 2015

OCMA update

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:16 pm


Untitled (OCMA administration office, Newport Beach, CA 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Last weekend was interesting time for me at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA). First, the Deputy Director had selected one of my photographs to hang in the administration space, which I dropped off in the morning. This is the second opportunity to have my work hang on a semi-permanent basis here, earlier a selection of 4 of my landscape black and white photographs were here for about a year. This time a photograph from my Ciociaria photobook project was selected and best part was this photograph was already framed, as it was curated into an exhibition last year at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA).

After dropping off the photograph, I was then the event photographer for a “Family Fun Day” that the museum was hosting for the day in conjunction with their exhibition for Young Chinese Artists. It was a walk about while I captured candid’s of the families as they interacted with the various craft booths that the museum had arranged. Since I had to immediately leave town for an assignment, I am just now going through the first edit of the photographs that I captured. So wait to see what “develops”. One thing that we did come to terms on is that I retain the copyright on all of the photographs and they get some first time rights. So I will see how this aspect evolves.


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