Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

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 14, 2015

Captions for the Aftermath Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 9:44 pm

A-1 Colloferro Italy

Untitled (A-1, Colloferro, Italy 2012) copyright Douglas Stockdale

It seems to me that I have an easier time determining what I want the resulting photograph to look like than what do I want to have as a title (caption) for it. Such is the chaos of the creative process.

For the In Passing – Lest I Forget project titles I think that I have been all over the map, literally, with ideas and options. I really would like a unique title for each photograph that will allow one image not to be confused with another. Not so easy in the case when there may be a series of un-named aftermath memorials along the same stretch of highway. Initially when this project was published in LensWork  magazine I had provided titles that were a bit descriptive, such as “Five Crosses” or “Heart Broken Fence”.

So over time I have been trying to wrestle this title issue to the mat for this project, which has appearances of being a documentary project while I want to try to avoid the potential sensationalism of the subject matter. So I am now deferring for the titles to the name of the adjacent roadway that the memorial adores in conjunction with the proximity of a city and the state (for the international memorials, also include the country). Such as the photograph above, which was found on the A-1 southbound from Rome and situated near the city of Colloferro.

For other photographs where these may have some overlap due to the close proximity on the same roadway, I will include a first name of person who is associated with the memorial in parens following the location title. I am still not sure what I am going to do when I have a tighter composition of a memorial (similar to a “portrait”) and a broader and more inclusive landscape of the same memorial, as I now thinking of paring the images of these two viewpoints across the gutter from each other.

For image titles, I think I am getting closer!

Cheers

December 10, 2015

Photoshop CC – Creative Cloud

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:16 pm

11-27-15 Denver Snow Flurries 5_204410-02_Stockdale

Untitled (Denver, Snow Flurries #4, 2015) Copyright Douglas Stockdale

I have been using Photoshop CS3 since it was published by Adobe and I have not had the desire or compunction to make an upgrade until just recently. Sometimes when the features of the various software do not change dramatically and you are comfortable with where everything is and how it operations, maybe a good thing not to change, eh? For me, the upgrade from CS to CS3 was to obtain the much improved black & white conversion layer tool.

So reading the various reports and reviews of the Photoshop upgrades since CS3, I did not have a strong desire that I was missing something critical. As a still photographer and not an illustrator or 3D artist, the Photoshop tools I utilize are fairly straight forward (by my reckoning).

Also, I was still trying to figure out if Adobe’s new software subscription pricing was viable; cost of ownership and potentially a continuous series of software updates pushed on me to contend with. My IT cousin told me that his company had made the switch to the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) subscription program as they figured it was equally or more cost effective that individual licenses. I could download to two computers with one Photoshop CC subscription, which is the number of computers I am running, the cost of the subscription would have a payback of four plus years, which by that time, I would need to purchase another update. So I jumped that hurdle.

The real reason I acquired the Photoshop CC was purchasing a Canon 5D MarkIII (5DMk3) camera and the CS3 RAW converter was not compatible with the 5DMk3 RAW files; I needed to upgrade my Browser to at least CS6. And shooting JPEG with the 5DMk3 and not RAW is to only tap into half of the image capture potential; 8 mg/8 bit files with JPEG versus 22 mg/14 bit with RAW.

BUT I need to update my desktop computer, thus I only downloaded the Photoshop CC to my portable, so I am still running CS3 on one machine.
So this image above that I made in Denver over the last Thanksgiving weekend was my first confirmation of the backwards compatibility of the Photoshop CC. I did the major tweaks in CC on my portable, then transferred the PS file to the CS3 machine to open for proof printing on my Epson 4800. Nice, it works.

I am still getting adjusted to the Photoshop CC interface and found one change that I have yet to figure out, but otherwise the transition is pretty seamless. Whenever I purchase a Photoshop upgrade, I will also purchase at least one reference book on how  to use the software, usually deferring to a title that includes Photoshop for Photographers, such as Martin Evening’s series (I have his CS3 edition).

Btw, I think I was able to capture the essence of the snow flurries in the photograph above. I had to use a Curve adjustment level to bring up the values, while managing the contrast, of the swirling snow in the night sky. Does appear cold and kinda of nasty (which it was), eh?

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 16, 2015

Paris on my mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 9:17 pm

04-29-07_Laguna Beach - California_3214

Untitled (Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach 2007) copyright Douglas Stockdale

With the recent events occurring over the weekend in Paris, I am feeling pretty sad for those families whose lives have been dramatically altered. The acts of terrorism attempts to undermine and destabilize  the social fabric, bur only if we let it. I continually remind myself that this is a small disruptive minority, a flawed mentality which seems to have existed since the recorded history of mankind.

This is a city I have enjoyed working in and as well as visiting. This event will not deter my return.

November 11, 2015

Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 6400

Filed under: Uncategorized — Doug Stockdale @ 4:17 pm

11-07-15 Zach Karate tournament K16A0738

Untitled (Zach Karate tournament 11/7/15) copyright Douglas Stockdale

One thing that has intrigued me about the Canon 5D Mark III, which is one of the reasons I decided to purchase this versus the 5DS, was the higher ISO capabilities of the sensor. For my older 5D, I found the images became noisy (“snow”) for me even at an ISO 800, which limited the shutter speed for occasions like Zach’s recent karate tournament.

So at this karate tournament last weekend I had the pleasure to check out the 5D Mark III pushing the ISO to 6400, still well within in the theoretical maximum ISO 25,000. With my f/4 lens, I was still able to obtain a 1/160th of a second inside the gym with lens wide open at f/4, which is not too bad. The image holds together well, no real perceivable noise and I probably could have ramped up the ISO even a bit more. Fun.

I like the dynamics of this image with the combat of the two boys while being framed by a couple of other contestants in the foreground, the intensity of the judge’s expression and mom is on left edge and appears to be just a little bit anxious. Regretfully Zach was eliminate by one of his buddy’s in the following match-up (after Zach won this match).

Cheers!

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!

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