Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

October 27, 2018

The path to Trabuco Flats

Filed under: Path to Somewhere, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:03 am

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Untitled, Trabuco Flats 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Although I am spending more time with working on “straight” photographs for my Trabuco Flats project I continue to experimental/play with some of the images. Not entirely giving up on how I might incorporate some of these abstract images into this project, but exactly how I do it is not something that I need to decide today.

The earlier feedback I received about these images related to a more purist issue with the non-traditional sky, something pretty evident in the photograph of this post. My take is rather than consider this landscape image from an emotional viewpoint, that all of the various marks and lines in the sky as representing angst and discord, the viewers were reacting from a traditional viewpoint that this did not look like a classic landscape. I will admit that this landscape image is non-traditional.

Thus as an experiment, I made some modification to the landscape that I subsequently published a few days ago, here. I modified the sky by cleaning up some of the radical marks and lines, still an overall abstract landscape, perhaps with what one would call the sky’s tonality was more homogenized and perhaps leaning into appealing like something more traditional.

All of the feedback is fine and interesting to consider. Nevertheless, what do I think of these potential changes to my images? As an artist I am creating somewhat radical landscape photographs that does not meet the norms. So the question is; do the changes being suggested improve my photographs or do the changes being suggested attempt to make my photographs conform to their expectations of what is acceptable?

I suspect that part of this conservative image advice is due to my audience; they do not experiment with images that often and for the most part chase the modernist landscapes imagery of Ansel Adams. I have shown some of this work to a group of abstract painters/artist, and they encouraged me to push the effects I am using even further. Such as bury the photographs I made for a couple of weeks out in the field and see what results.

And yes, I am also sensitive and aware of the comments that I need to be sure that I am not leaning on some image app trickery as a crutch to making “good” images.

So more experimentation as I play with my options.

Cheers!

October 25, 2018

Trabuco Flats – noir landscape – take two

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Untitled, Trabuco Flats, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

While working on my project Trabuco Flats, I have been doing a lot of experimenting with how I process the image. Such as this landscape photograph above, I posted an earlier color version that I had really tweaked the contents. In my last post on this project, I had also posted a black & white photograph that I had really played around with in an attempt to push the boundaries of what might be possible while still keeping within the scope of this project as I had conceptualized.

The underlying reason for this prior experimental/play series of images was a take on the idea that a mysterious narrative might work best with mysterious photographs. And I could modify the crap out of the image to make these appear really, really strange. All the while I did realize that even straight photographs, such as this one, could have some surreal qualities without any visual manipulations.

So it feels to me that I have successfully pushed my aesthetic boundaries for this project and perhaps time to pull back. Not that I could push the boundaries even farther, as I have just began to experiment with these photographs if you look at some of the wild artist projects of others such as incorporating multiple images, collage, painting the image, sanding the surface to name but a few. One could really, really destroy the basic concepts of what constitues a photograph.

To question what is a photograph is really not my goal for this project. I am interested in creating a mysterious narrative and just coming around to accepting the fact that I do not need to add anything to a photograph to make it more mysterious and surreal than it already is. That said, one aspect I think I still need to evaluate is whether the narrative works better with black & white images or color images, or maybe even a mash-up of the two.

As to this image; it is a landscape, inclusive of a dirt road that meanders up a small hill, with what appears as some structures hiding at the edges, while being ambiguous as to where it located exactly, (urban or rural, southwest America or midwest America) why is it there (what purpose does it serve) and who might use it? Are the long shadows foretelling of something ominous as these slightly overlap this road? Thus I think that this photograph, as it is, could create a slight sense of mystery. nice.

Fun stuff!

Cheers

 

October 22, 2018

Trabuco Flats – mystery noir?

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Mysterious Circumstance site 9, Trabuco Flats, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Another aspect of experimental/play with my Trabuco Flats project is creating a pure black and white version, that would of course be my noir (dark) version. Why not? Or maybe a slight color tint to a black & white?

So this long weekend while attending the John Divola presentation at the Medium Festival in San Diego, in between events I was experimenting with a black & white conversion of some of my earlier images. I am not sure how, or even IF, these black & white images will work within this project, but one of the fun aspects of my development process is to allow myself to play with these images.

There is no getting around that these are darker images, both literally and symbolically. Perhaps a bit moodier than my color versions while not any less surreal. I will admit that I have really been fighting with myself in going full black and white on this project, as I was fully expecting to stay in a full color mode. Even as I write this, I have another idea to try out, above, so it should be interesting to see what results as I further play around.

I just need to be careful that I don’t spend so much time playing around that I don’t actually complete this project. One aspect that should get me back on track is having my medium size printer working again. As I mentioned earlier, I had not realized how important a really good printer is to me and my artistic process. I also have a lead on a slightly newer version of this Epson printer, so that might be a slight change over the next month or so.

Meanwhile I want to develop and print a small portfolio of five of these black & white images at 16 x 20″ to evaluate. Then probably set these prints aside to study while working on other aspects of this project.

A new wrinkle is that I have started writing an outline (storyboard) to create a short story about this project. Sort of a concurrent process and maybe my finial visual project will be determined by my written narrative (or my narrative will follow my visual version). Interesting that I needed to quickly sketch out the entire storyboard in oder to figure out how to flesh out the details of my narrative, another kind of pre-visualization; where was my story line going??

Cheers!

Note: I updated this cover image later in the day for two reasons; first, somehow I screwed up saving the initial image and I was unable to rescue it, so I had to start over from scratch. Second, I was then able to incorporate my idea to include the original color image as a base image to create a slight color tint to the black & white image. I think it’s pretty subtle, so I need to study this effect for a little bit. Perhaps a bit of the best of both worlds.

October 19, 2018

More feedback on Trabuco Flats project

Filed under: Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:49 pm

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Landscape study, Trabuco Flats, copyright 2018 Douglas Stockdale

Last night I received a little more feedback that was a bit varied from my earlier showing, also a slight change in the participants. Since my printer was down due to a lack of ink, the only image I had for discussion was the Trabuco Flats landscape that I posted earlier this week. Lot more of a mixed reaction, nevertheless positive and supportive of my project intent.

Going into these print reviews I already know that my Trabuco Flats landscape images are way, way outside the norm of most of these modern rural landscape photographers. Nevertheless, it is a good opportunity to obtain a sense as to how these images read. There are also a few who do experiment with their image content.

I have modified this image above slightly to see how it might look taking some of their comments into consideration. I think that they would prefer a very straight image, but at the moment, I am still into my experiment/play mode for this project.

I also understand that modifying the images as I have is also outside most of the greater photographic “norm”. So always a risk that that these will not be well accepted, but at this point, I still want to investigate these images in the spirit of experimental/play.

What are your thoughts?

Cheers,

Doug

October 18, 2018

Evidence tape at Trabuco Flats

Filed under: Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:39 pm

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study, Mystery on Trabuco Flats 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of the aspects of this Mystery that I am exploring are the various alternatives to utilize in how I narrate this story. In one respect, this photograph is also a mash-up of the real and my imagination that results in something that might described as surreal.

The image above is a case in point; I had been contemplating the use of some “crime” tape in conjunction with some of the suspicious circumstances I had found earlier. I did one set of visual studies using a measuring tape to simulate the collection of evidence, but those images are still in evaluation.

Meanwhile during one of my daily walks I came across a small construction site that somebody had used some Caution tape to mark off part of the area. In the process they had utilized one of the adjacent trees as part of their boundary. The randomness of how it was wrapped around the tree appeared to resemble something abstract. One aspect that appealed to me is that it did not look as though I needed to make any modifications to the way the tape was used or how it was lying on the tree. Nice! Initially when I saw this arrangement the sky was still overcast, but on the return trip there was some breaking light that provided an interesting highlights within the composition, which is the image above. Extra Nice!

I quickly made a series of photographs intending to immediately come back with another camera to take advantage of this man-made urban still-life, but life intervened. It was a couple of days before I could return. The site was similar in appearance but not quite the same. Nevertheless, I could now visualize how this element might be something I include in my investigation.

When the new ink arrives for my printer next Monday, this will one of the images I want to print at 16 x 20″ to see how it holds up. This appears that it has some interesting potential. Meanwhile, I will be looking for a roll of yellow tape and it might be interesting to see what’s available on the web.

Cheers!

October 17, 2018

Landscape of Trabuco Flats

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:37 pm

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Untitled, Trabuco Flats 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

From time to time I am going to feature the evolving landscape of Trabuco Flats as I develop this book project. For most of my landscape photographs I pay close attention to any horizon lines as it seems that my photographs have a tendency to dip down just a tiny bit on the left side. I have been photographing like this for years, even when I know I might do it and try to pay close attention to the composition in the view-finder. It happens.

So when you see a slightly tipsy image like this you can bet I was trying to photograph a road that is meandering up a hill, which is indeed the case. I think the dirt road does provide sufficient visual clues in addition to the downward slope of the hill. FYI, I have always been uncomfortable with these kinds of photos which could imply that I did not get the composition right. This time I am feeling pretty good about this image.

I also notice that my broader landscape images like this one seem to do better on my social media like Instagram and Facebook that some of my tighter studies, such as my nasty Sacred datura flower that I just posted on here. Which could mean that the folks who follow me really enjoy my landscapes much better than the other stuff, or perhaps my other stuff just sucks.

Epson 4800 printer update:

For those who also have been following my Epson 4800 printer issue, it appears that I may have solved the printing issue due in large part to my friends at the Photo Exchange and Barry, a technical printer sales guy at Samy’s Camera in Santa Ana. Appears that the printing issue appears to be related to some declining paper suction that was not holding the printing paper near the print head nozzles at the end of the printing process. The paper was too heavy for the suction to hold the paper in place, thus falling away from the print head. Since the 4800 does not have an adjustment to increase the suction (one can decrease the suction), the fix was a slight delay in the Paper Feed Adjustment setting. The following two prints after making this adjustment unloaded a bunch of old ink crap on my prints, but subsequently the entire image was printed. Amazing what might accumulate over 13 years!

Equally nice is that I have a working fine art printer again, as my budget was very limited for the next few months to purchase a replacement printer. Yea!

While getting the printer working again, I also ran out of the Light Black ink. Oh well, but once the replacement ink arrives, I am back in the art business again.

Cheers!

 

 

October 15, 2018

Mystery on Trabuco Flats – Sacred datura – a dangerous flower & plant

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Sacred datura, Mystery on Trabuco Flats, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

For my project Mystery on Trabuco Flats, as well as another project Gardening for Ordnance, I have been photographing a local wild weed that blooms during the summer. The small vine-like bushes with their white flowers make for an interesting visual contrast in the wild park area; a bit of local beauty among the other not so pretty weeds and wild grass. I had assumed that this was another of the many none native plants that arrived in conjunction with the local urban sprawl.

For the Mystery on Trabuco Flats project I thought that this white flower appeared quite similar to a white Lilly that is sometime found in conjunction with funerals. Thus these flowers might create another metaphoric layer to this project, especially if the flower(s) was not in perfect condition but bug eaten, decaying and falling apart.

When a friend asked me if it was the Scared datura that I was photographing I did a quick check (as you might guess, I am NOT a botanist) to confirm that it indeed was the Scared datura (species: Datura wrighti) I was photographing. The morbid surprise was to find out that this is a poisonous perennial plant and ornamental flower native to the southwestern North America. Yikes!

Serendipitously I have been actually photographing something quite dangerous. This plant does not yell Danger, Danger! (Unlike the rattlesnake a few weeks ago). So this potential metaphoric flower appears to have more of a darker potential than I had ever envisioned. Very pretty, but also deadly. cool!

I suspect that photographs of this flower will also be a pretty subtle inclusion in my story, as I am assuming that very few are aware of the danger that this flower and plant present (as I understand, not to be eaten, not even a tiny little bit). Especially when I consider that I had no idea of its exsistance; never hearing of this flower and plant before. Which is unlike the various warnings for poison oak, the close relative to poison ivy, which is common to this southwestern region as well. In retrospect poison oak will make a bad intensely itchy rash, but I don’t think it will kill you. sigh.

At one point I thought that these strange flowers were actually too pretty for my dark story, but now very happy I persisted in this visual investigation. You never can tell what strange twists just might occur. wonderful!

And I was thinking that I might pick a few of these flowers to place into or adjacent to some of my suspicious sites. Yikes!! Now very happy I did not touch these flowers or plants.

So for my visual narrative will these flowers be potential clues to solve the mystery?

Cheers!

Doug

 

September 21, 2018

Mystery on the Plano Trabuco – initial feedback

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:23 pm

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Untitled, Mystery on the Plano Trabuco, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of the nice aspects of belonging to a small photographic group that meets monthly is the opportunity to show recent work in order to obtain some feedback. Which is what I did last night with a mini-exhibit of five 16 x 20″ prints from my new project Mystery on the Plano Trabuco. Top line: very encouraging!

Having only started to develop the photographs for this project within the last couple of weeks, I have been using a couple of different options to create my mysterious images.  Thus I wanted to see what these photographs might look like in a mini-exhibition format and to get some reaction to the project and work.

One update from the previous post is that I made a series of book dummy’s to evaluate how the images might work in this book design concept and it appears to me that I need to lean into a horizontal book design. To that end, all five images I exhibited, including the photograph above, were in a horizontal format.

It was interesting to me to be able to have these photographs under the exhibition lights and step back to visually assess the impact for myself in conjunction with the groups comments. I try to listen to the overall evaluation and not necessarily on the merits of the individual photograph at this stage of a project development. Perhaps unlike a MFA critique, the folks do not drill down on the pros and cons of each image in the context of my artistic intent, but if I listen carefully I can obtain an overall sense if the images are getting the emotional traction I am trying to establish. Which I think I did, as there were comments as to the mysterious nature of the images, the underlying emotional darkness and how some of the images gave folks the “creeps”. Nice.

Unlike some presidential folks in the WH, I will admit that there were photographs that both direct hits and other images that did not connect as well, if at all. The image above did resonate with the group as it was frequently singled out for comments. So two of the five photographs that did not work for them (or me in this context), one of which looked really awful, and for these two, I am going back to the drawing board; I will start over in how I manipulate these two image files.

In addition everyone was very pretty positive about this project and the manner I was choosing to develop the images. That or perhaps they are getting used to the wild and crazy book/project ideas I continue to bring to these group critiques. They also offered some great comments as to how the overall body of worked together, or how certain images did or did not look consistent or not in sync with my concept. And of course a few questions were made in an attempt to try to solve the Mystery. Wonderful feedback and a fun discussion.

I highly recommend that you find a small group of creative artist that you can share your work with and expect some candor in their evaluations and comments. I have found that this is a really nice reality check while developing a project or body of work.

So I guess that’s five steps forward and two steps back. Which is just fine for me! I consider this a really nice start for this project.

Cheers!

Doug

P.S. At the moment the photographs are sized at 16 x 20″ on 17 x 22″ paper and one of the members of this group, Marc Plouffe, provides professional printing services, so we are going to collaborate on how some of these images might look up-sized. First step is to evaluate a 22 x 28″ image printed on 24 x 30″ paper. So no statement as to sizes, editions and pricing of the project photographs at this time, but hopefully figure this out soon.

September 17, 2018

Mystery on the Plano Trabuco – rough edit in progress

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 7:28 pm

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California Buckwheat, Plano Trabuco, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Have I ever stated that developing a new photobook is a messy process? I am sure I have, because it is.

I am still in the beginning states of this my new project Mystery on the Plano Trabuco, having just finishing the initial rough edit of the images (about 140 images culled out), while still doing some investigative work on the book design I have pre-visualized and concurrently developing my artist statement that I would hope elegantly describes my artistic intent.

My first rough edit is to select which images I think support my book’s intent and these have not had any image adjustments made yet. Now I have start the second phase of the rough edit by tweaking each if these photographs as to contrast, tonality, and image content by adding adjustment layers and image cropping. At this point I also am starting my printing process; smaller prints on 8-1/2 x 11″ for the book layout and sequencing and from lessons learned, also printing a 16 x 20″ image on a 17 x22″ sheet.

A case in point, for the image above, California Buckwheat, the image I posted on IG is brighter and reveals a lot of details in the shadows. After evaluating the initial printing, the image seemed too high key for my narrative, thus I added an adjustment layer and reduced the contrast and darkened the shadows to create what I think is a much moodier and somber appearing photograph that might be more in line with a mystery. Okay, maybe I am trying to create a mysterious photograph as well.

What I also check at this stage is the image layouts of the rough edit, which is surprising to me; as the 6:4 ratio of horizontal images to vertical images (square images are a much smaller minority and can work with all most any book layout). In past projects, I have created 80% or more horizontal images, such as Ciociaria and 100% horizontal for Middle Ground. I guess I was expecting a greater amount of horizontal images in how I was pre-visualizing the book design.

My advice in my workshops is to “listen” to your photographs as to what format your photobook might look like as to it’s layout. So this ratio of horizontal to vertical images invites maybe three book dummy layout options; a horizontal, a vertical and a square design to test these images. If I had 80% + horizontal or vertical photographs, then this might be more of a no-brainer. Another factor is a design element I have pre-visualized for this project that might lean into the layout and may also create the need to re-photograph some of the things I have found. Fun, fun, fun!

Cheers

Doug

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