San Clemente, CA 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale
So my latest experiment-fun that I have been playing around with is photographing the ocean, surf & sky when I happen to be driving near and subsequently posting on Instagram (@douglasstockdale) as my Weather & Surf Report. As you might imagine, we live close by and my daughter lives even closer, so this becomes a frequently opportunity, especially when I need to drop off someone at the San Clement train station which is just yards away from this ocean beach. I enjoy watching the surf, the smell of the salt air, and the various sounds of the surf and beach, but I was not really drawn to photograph it until recently. Not sure that I want to do a long exposure or in black & white, but perhaps documenting this natural landscape (while the local coastal train zooms by behind me) in color.
I have not been that consistent in my framing, but experimenting with options; leaning towards a lot more atmospheric sky than the ocean & beach.
See what develops, eh? Meantime, having some fun.
Bluewater Shore copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale
So if life is not crazy enough, I might be also looking to self-publish in 2017 my photobook Bluewater Shore, the second in my series of Holiday Snaps project (the first being Pine Lake). Honestly, this project took a little holiday when (1) it took a lot of energy to market and sell Pine Lake in 2014, (2) I did not have the investment funds to print it (even after I received a much better quote) and worse (3), I lost (okay it turns out I miss placed it) my completed book dummy for Bluewater Shore. After searching for this darn thing for almost six months I was feeling a bit deflated and although I had all of the pieces to build another dummy, I just did not feel like doing it.
Well that all changed yesterday, while looking for something else in back of my files I spied a little bit of baby blue; could it be?? Yep, there was my Bluewater Shore book dummy in the oddest of files.My bad. But finding this bookdummy was very, very nice!
So I have been back working on the digital files for the interior of this book today while confirming that the sequence that I developed two years ago still made sense. Yep, looking good! The nice thing about the conceptual intent for this narrative is that it is sequenced in a chronological order, much as you would go thru a roll of processed film after a holiday vacation, similar in narrative style of Pine Lake. Second, I now have the funds to go to print and complete that aspect. The limited edition is till going to be 100 copies, which I am still planning to hand bind and then personally inscribe each book. Since I do have all of the parts, maybe I can have this completed for the Spring book season, so stayed tuned if this artist book is of interest.
Oh, like Pine Lake, I am still thinking of adding a few little extras ;- )
Untitled (Middle Ground) copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
Something that has not really captured my attention for some time is working with video. I am of that generation in which movies were made with super-8mm film, a real bear to edit (actually had to physically splice the film together) and trying to add sound was an actual nightmare. To do movies right also meant investing in 16mm equipment, so still photograph made life so much easier. Even when I purchased the Canon 5DMk3, which has professional HD video capabilities, I did not even read the manual on how to use this feature until very recently (yes, like over this last New Years holiday while I was sicker than a dog).
So what prompted this wild & crazy idea? While photographing the Middle Ground project, I came up with the idea of doing a video of the same freeway urban landscape that I was looking at as I did the slow pokey drive in the bumper to bumper traffic. What might that urban landscape look like as a video, as I had no idea. The idea is that the video would complement an exhibition of the still photographs to provide another visual alternative to this same project. This is in addition to photographing this landscape project with my Hasselblad (still have not purchased the 50mm CF Distagon yet), which I wrote about here.
I knew that my daughter’s brother-in-law Cameron has a sound studio in Santa Ana, but I had not realized the amount of video that he has also worked with until we started talking about it over the holidays. The reason I even brought it up with him is that Kevin, a good friend of mine, has been playing piano for many, many years and while listening to his CD it occurred to me think that this might provide a nice background sound track to my video, which it turns out, Kevin was game for. So I was primarily asking Cameron about his ability to add this sound track to my video. No problem! I then received a interesting mini-lesson in video and what I could do with my 5DMk3, which then prompted me to want to actually read the manual ;- )
2016 was my year to try Instagram and 2017 may be my year to try video. Who knew?
untitled (Middle Ground), copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
While working on my current project, Middle Ground, I have thinking that I might want to consider using my Hasselblad and start shooting this with color film in 2017. The biggest issue is that I do not have an equivalent Hasselblad lens for the digital gear I am currently using. I have decided to work with a wide field of view for this project, selecting a 28mm focal length and field of view using my Canon 5DMk3 and the 24-105mm lens (a little scotch tape does a pretty good job of locking down the lens at the focal length that I want). Yes I could also purchase a 28mm prime lens for the Canon, but I am also a bit cheap and this works pretty well.
The closest thing for the Hasselblad is the 50mm f/4 Distagon lens and using a 1.6 factor, this lens can provide about a 31mm equivalent field of view to my 5DMk3/24-105mm. So I taped the 24-105mm lens at what is about 31mm tested it on a drive to San Diego. Part of the drive I also locked (taped) the the lens at 35mm to compare (the 60mm Distagon is about 38mm field of view equivalent). The 31mm was not too bad, but the 35mm started to tighten the pictorial framing of what I want to capture a little too much, thus confirming that an investment in a Hasselblad 50mm Distagon should work. It would be nice to borrow a 50mm Distagon to try out, but my buddies near-by do not have this lens to lend. darn.
Since I will be acquiring a used lens, which of the four different 50mm Distagon models to look for? I think that the CF will do the trick for me, a bit newer and better (lens coating) than the original C model and as I am not focusing close-up the later FLE (Floating lens element) model is probably not necessary (and save me some extra bucks as well).
So the lens hunt is now on!
Living Santa Fe portfolio 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
As I wrote earlier about our recent Thanksgiving in Santa Fe, we had rented a house for this long weekend that exhibited all of the Santa Fe charm you could wish for. I found myself photographing this home’s interior and exterior landscape and on return, created this mini-portfolio.
This is also a variation of one of creative photographic idea generators found in The Photographer’s Playbook as explained by Todd Hido, sub-titled Exposure Yourself (pg 149). Essentially exposure yourself to a different environment by going for at least two nights to someplace you normally don’t go. Leave yourself open to spontaneity; no plans to meet anyone or anything set in stone, perhaps with the exception of when and how you are going to return home. And need to take lots and lots of pictures of whatever grabs your interest. In this case while we walking Santa Fe, I also focused on the home we were staying at (very different from Southern California) as representative of how one might live in Santa Fe.
Having read many times how other photographers strongly suggest photographing things at home and that you really don’t have to go far to find a subject, I think that this creativity exercise might help one re-see their own environment. By exposing yourself to a different place, this might refresh your vision for a place where you might have taken too much for granted. For the cheap version of this creativity exercise; ask a neighbor who lives down the street that you do not know very well if you could document their house over the next couple of weeks.
2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
One of the nice aspects of Santa Fe, New Mexico is the relatively small and centralized layout of this early Western town.It is quaint, very picturesque, great food and now has a zillion art galleries, including a couple of photographic galleries; photo-eye and Verve (which regretfully in closing in February 2017) and the photo-eye book store. Also ideal for staying in a place in or adjacent to town (we did a rental house over this past Thanksgiving weekend) and then walking everywhere you want or need; day or night.
This little trip also falls into one of creative photographic idea generators found in The Photographer’s Playbook as explained by Todd Hido, sub-titled Exposure Yourself (pg 149). Essentially exposure yourself to a different environment by going for at least two nights to someplace you normally don’t go (this is our first visit to Sante Fe). Leave yourself open to spontaneity; no plans to meet anyone or anything set in stone (okay, I knew that at some point I was going to the photo-eye bookstore), perhaps with the exception of when and how you are going to return home. And need to take lots and lots of pictures of whatever grabs your interest. This method of Expose Yourself has worked for many photographers over the years to either change things up or reconfirm what they enjoy working on (yes, various aspects of the urban & built landscape continue to interest me).
This creative process is also integral with my experiment-fun methodology; all the photographs in the mini-portfolio are hand-held using my Samsung camera phone, then processed with Snapseed for immediate uploading on Instagram (@douglasstockdale). The mini-portfolio below has now been additionally tweaked with Photoshop now that I am back to my home-studio. Although I know I need to make multiple exposures for my night images to try & ensure I did not have a shaky image, the night photographs did not necessarily turn out as well as expected. Still, in keeping with my game plan, I had a lot of fun.
By the way, no accident that I included the Clafoutis Bakery in this mini-portfolio; an excellent french breakfast & pastries, which is a nice change from the spicy New Mexican foods of Santa Fe.
Btw, this is a re-post of a previous post because I really goofed it up the first time (that’s another story). Sorry about that!
The Walking Santa Fe mini-portfolio
Untitled (September 12, 2016 Portra 160 Negative #8) 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
I just finished scanning this negative from my Memory Pods project. For this photograph, my subject is just barely out of focus. I have determined that this negative in conjunction with two others from this same studio session might create an interesting triptych, a progression of the same subject slowly going out of focus with this image the third of the three. I am currently scanning the #9 negative, which has one of the extended tips in focus, then when that is complete, I will load #10 into the scanner which will have a bit more in focus.
Pre-visualizing this project as a published book, I would anticipate that this three image progression would be ideally suited to a gate-fold. One image, probably the one with the most focused memory pod, would be on the outside and as the gate-fold is opened, the reader would see the progression of the subject fading away with the two remaining photographs.
Second, this studio session was the result of wanting to create an analog/film version of my earlier digital image titled “Ghost“. I know that I can not exactly duplicate this earlier photograph as the actual dried stem was discarded a couple of years ago. So I am attempting to obtain the similar emotional image that I was initially drawn into investigating.
One thing I have to admit; previously I mostly scanned black&white negatives or color transparencies, thus still a little getting used to scanning and subsequently processing the color negatives.
Untitled (Memory Pods project) copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
Cooking on the Nikon film scanner is negative #12 from my September 4th studio session working on my Memory Pods project. Hasselblad & 150 mm f/4 lens with two 21mm extension tubes, Kodak Portra 160 with an E.I. of 80, normal film processing.
Scan is taking a little longer as I did remember to scan at a 14 bit size (think I forgot for the last scan). Scan is at super fine: 16 times sampling for each scan pass.
The dried and slumping Memory pods are out of focus while the jumble and tangled elements are just in focus. This image kept coming to me while on vacation last week, thus the first of the new batch on the scanner now that we are back.
Next is the extensive spotting of the scan file, then all of the usual magic.
Untitled (Life in the Slow Lane) copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
So a good friend tells me that since I am trying to make lemonade from lemons and my photographs are created when the car comes to a complete stand still in traffic, then really I have a “lemonade stand”. sigh.
I continue to think about some of the elements that I photograph while working on this project; that when the traffic stops and where I come to halt is very arbitrary, there is a big element of chance as to what the landscape exists beside me is at that given moment. What is in the foreground; the debris, vegetation and condition of the meridian is the first layer of the photograph. The next layer is the passing cars in the opposite lane, which are not in bumper to bumper traffic. Then if visible beyond the meridian is an open landscape of trees, vegetation, hills, and man-made structures. So now what are the potential metaphors for these photographs?
It is also interesting to me that this is another project that is evolving from my playing around with the mobile phone. I think that I allow myself a sense of experimentation and trying to have fun when I use the mobile camera phone. So I hope to keep that playfulness going; an endless series of singular images and open ended investigations.
Life in the slow lane, Southern California, copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
Yes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
So this may or may not develop into a full project, but at the moment I am reacting to this current experience. I have an assignment in San Diego that frequently has allowed me to drive down the I-5 freeway in the morning and become entangled in what is called the north county bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Prior to this, for the same assignment, I was driving up the I-5 and 101 freeway into and through Los Angles, and experiencing a similar bumper-to-bumper traffic stall, just that the view while stopped on the freeway was different. Exactly; this crappy drive was a like some really sour lemons!
Initially, it was pleasant time to listen to the XM tunes, but then I started noticing things while stopped in traffic that I had not notices blasting through the same area at 65 miles per hour. Similar to my In Passing and Lest I Forget projects, what we miss while hurling along through life. So I started taking some photographs with my mobile phone/Samsung and found that these were kinda of interesting images. Then I started posting them on Instagram and surprise, others thought these photographs were kinda of interesting too.
So now I am evaluating the potential of using film with this project and the first step for me was evaluating a larger image and determining what lens I might want to use. I locked down my Canon zoom lens at 28mm which provides a wide view similar to that of the Samsung and would look similar to the 50mm f/4 Ziess lens on the Hasselblad. Since I would have very little time to grab a photograph with the Hasselbald when I had a random stop, I would need to prefocus and set up the exposure ahead of time, then play it by ear. So that is what I tried to simulate and similar to the Samsung photographs, I find these kinda of interesting.
Issue to resolve; driving south in the morning means looking directly into the rising sun and dealing with some mega-backlight conditions (see the lens flare in the first image below). Then driving back home in the afternoon, the same back-light conditions reversed. So I could fight that or work with it, again try to make some lemonade. Either way, I will be driving down to San Diego for a while so I am trying to figure out how to make the best of this without going nuts, which is my life in the slow lane.