Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

April 7, 2018

Canon 24-105mm lens test revelation

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:30 pm

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detail (100% magnification), Canon 24-105mm L f/4 lens, at 105mm at f/9 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Last Friday I had found myself in the local Canon Service shop in Costa Mesa regarding some issues with the bottom left corner of my images and was informed that I need the flange back repaired for my 5D Mark 3. sigh. I picked up the “adjusted” body yesterday (Note: next to me was a guy with a sad face as he was just informed that his 5D Mark ? needed the same repair. He was also holding a big 300mm prime lens. Canon crappy camera design and construction strikes again) so this morning I decided to perform a quick camera check on my adjusted body, just to make sure everything is okay.

I mounted my 5DMk3 on a tripod and then set the aperture to f/9 to make sure that the lens was stopped down enough so that a narrow focus would not be an issue. My first test was my Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens; results exhibit nice sharpness edge to edge, image below. Appears my flange back adjustment is fine. Then being a curious cat, I then mounted what I suspect was the bad-boy lens that created the flange back to go out of alignment, my “heavy” 23 oz Canon 24-105mm L f/4 lens. Similar to the 50mm f/1.4, I set the f/9 for exposures for the 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm and 105mm focal length tests.

At the 24mm, 35mm and the 50mm focal lengths exposures, excellent edge to edge image sharpness (bottom, below). My surprise was the amount of  corner softness that occurred at 70mm (below) at 100% magnification, now more like “average/poor” and even more corner softness at the 105mm focal length (above) bordering on “poor/unacceptable”. I am guessing on first looking at the image below that these might all look acceptable, but when making 16×20″ prints or larger, the corner softness starts to become more noticeable.

I have had the Canon 24-105mm lens (purchased new) since I acquired my used Canon 5D in 2010. I had never tested this lens out since the initial images on my monitor appeared fine. I usually am composing with something in the 24 to 50mm focal length, so probably unknowingly I was in the sweet zone for this particular lens. On a couple of occasions I composed using a focal length between the 70 to 105mm range for some informal portraits, but now remember being a bit disappointed that the images appeared a bit soft. Since portraits are not my usual thing, I just kept moving on, also I did not think I would use a 100mm prime lens that much to make an investment.

Bummer about the Canon 24-105mm lens results. So this lens is now sitting on the storage shelf as I contemplate selling it, while the 50mm f/1.4 is on the 5DMk3 (camera on it’s back with the lens straight up, no off-center weight on the flange back). As potential replacements for the 24-105mm I am thinking of a lighter Canon 35mm f/2 (prime) lens and a Canon EF 100mm macro f/2.8 (prime) lens. I all ready have a Canon 17-40mm L lens (which I have not test yet, but think I will sometime soon) so I have the 24-35mm focal lengths covered. For the 100mm macro, I need to consider if I want the heavier L lens which now has the IS (Image Stabilization) feature, although only 1 oz difference in weight it’s not really much difference. The 100mm macro lens is close to the weight of the Canon 24-105mm lens, so I would need to be careful how I carry it when it’s mounted on the camera body, or just mount it when I need it.

No more trips back to Canon to repair the flange back again! I hope you enjoyed my morning in the back yard.

Cheers!

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full frame (above), 24-105mm lens at 105 mm focal length and f/9

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full frame (above), 24-105mm lens at 70mm focal length and f/9

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full frame (above), 24-105mm lens at 35mm focal length and f/9

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full frame (above), 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/9

January 31, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon this morning

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:14 pm

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Super Blue Blood Moon, January 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

So I set the alarm for this morning to see the lunar eclipse of the Blue moon that would create the Blood Moon this morning, then set up the tripod as I expected a longer exposure. A bit too long of an exposure as probably the professional night photographers could have warned me. Even in the relatively short exposure, probably 30 to 45 seconds, with the aperture wide open (f/4.0 for my 24-105mm lens), the moon is still moving too much. I suspect it is moving a bit faster as it nears the horizon that in the mid-sky, nevertheless I do not have a gyro for panning during my exposure, so I have to take my chances.

So what the heck, I was up, so some time for experimental/play with this unique natural occurrence. I did know from past experience that the auto exposure mode of my Canon 5DMk3 would not compensate for the very small moon even in spot meter mode. So my practice is to start the extended auto-exposure, then about 10 seconds in, use my hand to cover the front of the lens to block the available light for about 12 – 15 seconds of what amounts to a 30+ second duration. Alternatively, as in the photo above, I alternate the exposure and lens block in 5 second intervals which creates a series of multiple moons that appear as ghosts versus a weird stretched out of shape moon such as the photo below.

During one of these alternating exposure series I had not anticipated a small plane flying into the frame, which was slightly concealed behind a palm leaf just prior to me making this exposure. So the serendipity of the light tracks toward the blood moon in conjunction with the multiple moon ghosts that are framed by the Southern California palms make a very delightful composition and worth the early morning rise.

Cheers!

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November 7, 2017

7 Day Black & White Challenge

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:04 pm

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Compass 2017 copy right Douglass Stockdale

A few days ago I was tagged for the 7 Day Black & White Challenge; Seven days. Black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Nominate someone.
I was nominated by Kellie Webb and over the seven days I am to nominate someone else to pass this along.

Since no explanation is required, then not much that I need to say. I sure have enough Black & White photographs to chose from, but I did see that this was an opportunity to experiment and work on something new (to me). So I investigated a couple of personal items to see what I might do with them that could be metaphoric, i.e. the use of the small compass above. Perhaps a little inspired by the arrival of Cig Harvey’s photobook “you an ORCHESTRA you a BOMB” for review, where she frequently isolates and zeros in on some personal objects. I also think of Keith Carter’s photographs, which he investigates similar ideas in Black & White, while Harvey utilizes Color photographs for her investigations.

A kind of fun little exercise and other than the photo of Cooper, bottom that was captured on Halloween, these were all made on the same day. Here are the remainder of my 7 day postings:

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November 1, 2017

Douglas Stockdale – Guide to Self-Publishing an Indie Artist Book

Filed under: Art Market, Books, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:37 pm

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Guide to Self-Publishing an Indie Artist Book 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

My self-published Guide was formally launched at the Medium Photo Festival in San Diego, CA last week end. A copy was provided for each person who registered for Medium, compliments of my book sponsor, Dual Graphics, the book printer located in Brea, CA. As a result, over half of the first edition is gone! Even signed a few of these during the Medium event over the weekend.

As I have been writing about this previously, the Guide is was meant to be a short and sweet yet very practical step-by-step to guide someone thru the complex self-publishing process of an artist book. It is ideal for someone who has a lot of illustrations; be that photographs, drawings, paintings, etc. This book is drawn from my various book design workshops, experience with working with my publisher for Ciociaria in Rome and the various photobook discussions with other photographers and artists I have had over the years as the Editor of The PhotoBook Journal. So far, the feedback has been really great.

I cover the five stages of self-publishing include: Book Pre-visualization, Marketing (market size & edition quantity), Book Development, Book Design options and finally Book Production and how these five stages are intertwined during the process. The book development chapter explores the process of developing an artist project with the intent of making a book as well as editing and sequencing the images using a book dummy.

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What I think is another interesting aspect of this Guide is the inclusion of three paper samples (Uncoated Italian paper, Gloss and Satin/Luster papers) which the same photograph is printed to help with understanding the implications of printing, paper and illustration interact. There are examples of both color and Black & White images, with the Black & White images printed with the Fultone (Duo-tone) Digital Lithographic Process, which at the moment is only being offered by Dual Graphics. You will not obtain these beautiful Black & White printed pages from Blurb!

What I find interesting and I think is visually apparent below is how the photographs look on the uncoated Italian paper, which is very similar to a matte inkjet paper, as compared to the adjacent gloss paper with regard to detail and contrast. Having these various papers in the Guide, one can actually feel the difference between these papers, a key aspect of a book object.

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One nice aspect of this Guide is allowing me to feature some of my photographs from my photobook Ciociaria, photo-documentary In Passing and my Foundations folio. I would have preferred to use some of the Black & White images from Bluewater Shore artist book but I had to defer to my publishing team (and sponsor) in a selection of photographs that exhibited a greater tonal scale. Especially since I still have a few of the Bluewater Shore edition available for sale.

So if you are interested in obtaining the Guide, these are available from me for $19.95 each plus shipping ($4.50 in the US; and $15.00 USD outside the US). Email me and as I utilized Paypal, thus credit cards are an option.

Cheers, Douglas

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October 25, 2017

Solving Crunchy photographs – part 2

Filed under: Middle Ground, Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:33 am

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San Diego, January 2017 (Middle Ground) copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

Back in early August, I was lamenting over some “crunchy” looking photographs and what I thought was the resolution to my problems. Now I am pretty sure I was not quite right, but nevertheless close since in fact I was very much over-sharpening my JPEG capture images. So here is how I came to find out out what the real problem was.

While comparing some prints recently with some other photographers, I noted that some of the prints were looking a lot sharper in detail for one photographer than I recalled seeing in the past. Especially when I had some images that were a bit mushy and my sharpening process was not doing the trick. We then proceeded to get into a long discussion about the merits of sharpening with a high-pass filter versus using the more traditional unsharp mask to sharpen (the latter my defacto image sharpening method). So while subsequently investigating the high-pass filter, found out that this is highly recommended for out-put sharpening. Neat, something to experiment with.

But that came with a note that using the unsharp mask was like using a dull edge knife to cut steak. hmmmmm. So I decided to look for recommendations for image capture sharpening to compensate for the slight image degradation by the aliasing filer in front of the camera’s sensor. Like I said, until now, my defacto for many, many years was the unsharp mask as a layer to provide the first sharpening action. So while reading all of this stuff, there was this other note, that for JPEG capture, not only do you lose a lot of image information as compared to raw, JPEG also does an image sharpening process.

What? Had I just overlooked this aspect of JPEG for this many years?? I suspect so, as I now find other references to the fact that shooting in JPEG for image capture will also provide sharper images that already compensates for the aliasing filer. In other words, for a JPEG image, I do not need to start my image processing with adding a layer to sharpen the image and in fact that process will start me down the road to over-sharpen the image towards crunchiness.

So I have gone back to inspect a bunch of recent JPEG capture images to evaluate with and without the initial capture sharpening. It appears that I have been doing myself a little injustice with adding that initial unsharp mask layer for JPEG images. The good news is that by eliminating that duplicate background layer for the unsharp mask will make my images files a lot smaller and image processing a bit faster. Nice!

So a reminder: don’t capture sharpen those JPEG images. For raw capture image, that’s going to be another discussion as I have learned some things here as well.

Note: the image above is from my project Middle Ground and is a JPEG (capture) image that I just processed without resorting to an initial capture sharpening process of an unsharp mask layer. I think it looks pretty good ;- )

Cheers!

 

October 22, 2017

How-to Photo Book donation

Filed under: Art Market, Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:15 pm

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Technical Photo Book Donation, copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

I am running out of library space, plain and simple. My shelves are over-run and it is time to make some decisions as to what is going to go versus stay. Thus the low-hanging fruit to dispose of are all of my out-of-date how-to and technical photo books.

My first decision was to donate or attempt to sell these beauties. A quick check on Ebay confirmed my suspicions; these are probably worth a buck a piece, at best. The second part of the equation was the amount of time it would take to prepare these for sale, then administrate the sale if it occurred, all the while paying the various fees to Ebay, etc for the pleasure of this task VERSUS spending that same amount of time on one of my many artistic projects.

One nice thing about being in Southern California, there are plenty of City Colleges (two-year schools), Art Schools, Universities with an art emphasis that include photography all within an hours drive or two. These books are not destined for the college library, but for a photo department’s internal resource center. I had considered the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), a arts emphasis high school were my granddaughter attends, but their photo department is really focused on film & video, not still photography.

I also am interested in aligning with a two or four year college that in addition to providing instruction on photograph, both commercial and fine art, also includes analog film and has a darkroom. Even though this book donation is more focused on digital, I have a few other books and various art/photo magazines in the wings.

Thus I am going to meet up with Jason Reimer next Saturday at the Medium Festival in San Diego and donate the books above for the San Diego City College (SDCC) photo department. At the moment I am also evaluating Orange Coast College which has a pretty good photographic program and extensive analog photograph teaching. Another alternative is Long Beach City College where I provided a couple of one-day workshops.

I am also interested to find out which of these has a book design and development course or program, which so far I don’t find on their program lists. That may take me to Otis College of Art & Design in LA.

Cheers!

September 22, 2017

Book commission – editing in progress

Filed under: Art Market, Books, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:36 pm

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Book commission, edits 2017 Douglas Stockdale

A couple of days ago I blogged about the working on the text formatting process for this book commission. In the meantime Craig and I worked out a text layout design and a method to work together on how to complete this aspect of the book.

While working on the rough edit of the text and in order to provide myself with a little breathing room while trying to solve some concerns I have about the flow of the narrative, I have started some editing of the text. Yes, the infamous red-lines! One aspect of doing the red-line edits is it provides a bit more clarity for this section, in this case the Introduction, while giving me some ideas of how to resolve where I had a bit of writers block.

The other aspect of starting the red-line edits is realizing that it is also time to bring someone on board as a final editor of this heavy text project. Thus my buddy Gerry Clausing, who besides being the Associate Editor for The PhotoBook Journal is now the Editor for the SoCal PhotoExchange, has agreed to help me out as a text editor. I hope to have something for him to start with by the middle of next week. I need to progress beyond a rough edit of this writing so that I do not drive him crazy.

Meanwhile I have another buddy, Scott Mathews, working in his studio on the various options for the photograph to use for the book’s cover image. More about that shortly.

So far, so good!

Cheers,

Doug

 

 

September 20, 2017

Commission book dummy phase 3

Filed under: Art Market, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:20 pm

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Commission book dummy, text layout alternatives, 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

At the end of last week I posted about having a better defined book dummy; a straw man for the amount of pages I might need and well into the process of using post-it notes to signify what attributes of this book commission were going to end up where in the book.

I also stated that I was writing like a wild man and I was pretty sure that no-one was going to be impressed by a photograph of my keyboard (if someone is, let me know!). Nevertheless, what I am writing at some point needs to land inside the book. So last night I met up with Craig Evans, a layout designer, who is going to convert my writing using InDesign into what will eventually become the printed page. So first thing this morning I received a PDF of 30 pages of writing in a potential text layout for this book. Concurrently I had used MS Publisher to create a test page with the two-column layout we had discussed and I had envisioned for this book. I needed to have an idea of what my word-count was going to be per page which would then help me know a little more about the page-count should be.

So in the photo above are the two pages side-by-side within the book dummy of these two versions, each with a slightly different size and style of font, as well as a slight difference in header and paragraph spacing. I suspect we are going to dicker over the text layout so more. Nevertheless, we agree on many of the layout aspects, but when printing a book, it is all in the details.

Meanwhile, I am back to writing the rough edit once again.

Interestingly I have the photographs that I am going to use in my notes and we are also discussing the size, location and what paper we are going to print these on. More on that probably next week as we are really flying towards the publication deadline. Yikes.

Cheers,

Doug

September 14, 2017

Commission Book dummy phase 2

Filed under: Art Market, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:45 pm

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Commission book dummy, saddle stitch 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

For those who have been following me on the development of this book commission, it has been a crazy week. I am now back to developing the book dummy. Last Friday I mocked-up a potential book dummy to the proper book trim size using some stationary that I had cut to size which I was holding together with some large paper clips.

Over the weekend I was able to order some some semi-gloss printing paper (80# White Recycled Velvet), cut to the book’s trim size (still 9-3/4″ x 7″H) bound with a basic saddle stitch to hold it together. I also had a similar printing paper, but using the cover stock version (slightly thicker) to simulate the potentials book’s stiff-cover.

As a straw-man for the book’s interior, I had it constructed from 10 sheets to provide 40 pages (4 pages per each sheet) plus covers. Since I have a long-reach stapler, I can add or subtract pages from the dummy as I progress.

I already realize that I will need pagination, so I penned the page numbers onto each page. I am also thinking that I will mix the printing papers for this and use both a glossy and a luster paper stock for the photography and probably this 80# recycled Velvet for much of the text, so I have started adding sticky notes as to where the different papers will be used.

The form of this book is starting to quickly take shape and line-up a little closer to my pre-visualization of this book.

Concurrently, I am writing like a wild man the text for this book. Pretty sure you do not want to see a photograph of my keyboard!

Cheers!

Doug

September 13, 2017

Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop – class work-book edits

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Introduction to Photo Book Design, self-published 2017, Douglas Stockdale

In preparation for the next two-day workshop  Introduction to Photo Book Design that I will be leading for LACP, I am in the process of making the edits to my first self-published work-book that I use for this workshop. This will soon become the Second Edition of this work-book, while the First Edition is now in the hands of the hands of the first workshop participants from earlier this year.

As in past workshops I lead not only do those attending learn something as I do as well as what is working and what is not for the group. There are a lot of changes to consider as the whole book publishing market and process is constantly evolving. That in conjunction with the feedback I received on the workshop expectations. Thus as my workshop needs updating and it’s necessary to make some tweaks in my course outline work-book.

My process for making changes is to use sticky-notes as to what I need to edit as illustrated above. This may appear like a massive change, but it is essentially tweaking some fine points. Expand that, deleted this, modify how I discuss this aspect and add this into the mix.

The work-book will be assembled and bound on the beginning of the first day of the workshop by those attending to help illustrate how easy it can be to self-publish a book. There is no question that photobooks can become very complex works of art as a book-object, but the underlying concept is pretty straight forward. Part of how I try to create some fun into this intense and practical workshop.

So come join me!

The workshop is being held at the LACP facilities: 1515 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Let me know if you have any questions

Cheers,

Doug

P.S. Other self-serving stuff that I need to keep repeating: I still have a few copies of the Bluewater Shore edition that are available (and another book review for Bluewater Shore that will be posted soon). So email me (doug@douglasstockdale.com) if you are interested in more information. Note Pine Lake is no longer available.

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