Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

August 13, 2017

Bluewater Shore – scaling up larger prints

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Big Raft, Bluewater Shore, 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Recently I have been evaluating the enlargement of photographic images from Bluewater Shore beyond the 15 x 15″ prints that I can make on my Epson 4800 printer. The idea was three-fold; what did this image look like in a larger size (kinda of obvious), if a larger print might be part of my justification to acquire a larger printer (if so, what size; 24″ wide or 44″ wide) and last, how might this image look on a luster paper versus a matte surface?

Marc, one of my friends from the local Photographers Exchange group, has an Epson Pro 9900 (44″ wide) and was willing to make a 22 x 22″ print of Big Raft (Bluewater Shore, above) for me on Epson Premium Baryta paper. It turns out I was also able to evaluate his use of an I-Mac work station versus my current PC equipment (a topic of another day).

The easy question was that a 22 x 22″ print is very impressive. The hard part has always been where to put a much larger printer (with stand) in my cramped second story studio. The 24″ wide printer would be problematic, but even more so with a 44″ wide. Marc has to use a part of his living room for his Epson Pro 9900 which is not going to fly with our family. So for the short term I will need to have others print larger prints when I need these.

The Epson Premium Baryta paper is nice and with it’s slightly warm white’s seems to works very well with the Big Raft image. We also printed a smaller 9-1/2 x 9-1/2″ print on the Epson Premium Luster 260 paper which has more sheen/gloss than the Baryta. The Baryta is similar to the old Kodabromide F enlarging paper’s surface which is more like a soft gloss. Nevertheless, both of these papers show all of the defects in my photographs to a greater degree than the matte paper (Hahnemuhle Photo Rag).

The “artistic” issue is the larger print. All of the small image defects that were evident in the original photograph that I had re-photographed are now very evident with some becoming visually distracting. For the smaller size images in the book (5 x 5″), these defects add to the charm and support the concept that these are found photographs. When the images are enlarged to 15 x 15″ on the matte paper, these defects still appear okay, but in the larger size, the defects are now larger and more visible and this appears further magnified by the luster type papers which does not hide anything.

I know part of my issue, as an old-school analog photographer in the west coast tradition, prints were not to have any defects and if found after the printing; spot them out! A very modern, but not a very contemporary, way of evaluating the print quality. Old photographs can/should appear old, but how “old”?

I am now pretty sure where this is going; I will add another Photoshop layer to selective spot/tweak the defects in the image that seem to bother me most and then print this again for a comparison to determine how the change appears. I had planned to bring the 22 x 22″ print with me to a potential gallery meeting but this will now need to be planned for the late Fall sometime.

Cheers

 

August 8, 2017

Beta Reader & Editor – The Indie Photobook Publishing Guide

Filed under: Books, Photography, Projects/Series, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:47 pm

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copyright Eanna de Freine (The Velvet Cell) 2017

One of my summer projects has been working with Eanna de Freine on the development of his Indie Photobook Publishing Guide as a beta reader, editor as well as providing a self-publishing Case Study (one of 10) for my Bluewater Shore artist books.

A number of friends have been suggesting that I write something similar to de Freine’s guide, but realizing the amount of time and effort to complete this task, it was much easier to help someone else do the heavy lifting of writing this.

As de Freine is Irish and living in Berlin, he has a strong European self-publishing perspective in conjunction with many of the other European editors (Clare Rowland, Tom Westbury, Euan Ross, Kalen Lee, Domenico Bruno Lobkowitz, David Flynn, Gabriele Harhoff and Uwe Bedenbecke). Thus one aspect that I provided was my experience of self-publishing in the U.S. (e.g. that in the U.S. we do not usual refer to page sizes as A2, or B1, but expressed by dimensions in inches, not centimeters) and having reviewed many of the books that he discussed in my role as the Editor of The PhotoBook Journal. As the Editor of TPBJ I also get to sometimes ask some probing questions of the various authors over the years when there was some information that I needed about the self-publishing process.

Likewise, it was also a great opportunity to discuss more of my background during the development and self-publishing of Pine Lake and Bluewater Shore as a Case Study. I am joining the self-publishing case studies by Rohan Hutchinson, Gabrielle Harhoff, Nuno Moreira, Sebastien Tixier, Dustin Shum, Christophe le Toquin, Matej Sitar, Sandra Koestler and Diane Vincent. I had previously reviewed both Matej Sitar and Diane Vincent’s self-published photobooks. A little more publicity for Bluewater Shore is always a nice dividend.

If you are interested in this FREE e-book (PDF), then follow this link: http://upvir.al/ref/D7856028/

I do have to warn you that to finish the download process for his PDF, you will need to email three friends with a link, which of course provides de Freine with some additional emails for his newsletter. There really is no Free lunch ;- )

Cheers!

Btw, Bluewater Shore, Pine Lake and related prints are still available, so email if you are interested in obtaining more information: doug@douglasstockdale.com

August 7, 2017

Solving “Crunchy” photographs

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 12:18 am

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Seaweed, San Clemente beach, June 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

A month ago I was discussing about my on-going summer beach series that I was posting on Instagram and when I was looking at the resulting print from this post, it appeared kind of “crunchy” (below). The foreground where the seaweed was has some odd halos and the I think the image was not smooth and continuous looking, especially as I was printing the image at 11 x 11″ and 15 x 15″.

In thinking about this I realized that on my monitor the photograph looked fine, but when I was saving it to a jpeg, I have a practice of adding one more un-sharpening to account for the softening by the jpeg conversion. Since this is a Samsung image, perhaps the last un-sharpening, which was not an issue for a Canon 5DMk3 image file, could be problematic for the these smaller files?

In returning to the original PS image and then repeating the steps to save the image as a jpeg but this time without sharpening & then subsequently reopening the file; presto! No crunchy image without halos! I had fallen victim to mindless file sharpening. So lessons learned (yes, also a re-do on some similar recent Samsung photo images)

Just to make sure you are not thinking that all of the visual changes between the two images is due to just not sharpening I also made some other image modifications. I decided that the soft blur effect in Snapseed for the photo below was also a bit over the top, as this was when I was still experimenting with this effect and I applying it a bit strong. Nevertheless I liked the softening effect of the pier to keep the viewer interacting with the seaweed and breaking surf. So for the image above, I added a slight Gaussian blur to the top third of the image to soften the pier. Last I reduced the overall contrast of the photograph while still attempting to keep a slight overcast appearance.

Cheers!

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May 19, 2017

Studio Lighting – Norman strobes

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:00 am

Norman Strobe set-up for book photography

Photo Book Photography; Norman strobe set-up, April 2017 Copyright Douglas Stockdale

In conjunction with The PhotoBook Journal, I received a donation of a very used Normal Strobe Lighting kit to improve my process of photographing book covers and interiors. The donation was made by Dual Graphics, the Brea, CA book printer who printed my recent artist book Bluewater Shore. (yes, and as a result, I am providing them with some shout-outs as a way of saying Thanks!). I received a Norman P2000 power pack, two Norman strobe heads and a pair of Bogen light stands.

To make this lighting set work I received some good advice from my studio photo-guy, Scott Mathews and I purchased a pair of light reflectors and a pair of wireless transmitters to trigger the lights (“Do NOT hook a digital camera up directly to these old power packs!“), as well as some advice on how to set the lights up for photographing flat reflective objects like books.

For those who follow this blog, you will recall a few days ago I discussed my new studio camera configuration to complement this studio set-up, below.

It has become quickly apparent to me that this lighting rig is a really big improvement in my book photography process. It is easy to set up and provides solid and consistent image results versus my prior make-do process. Mathews suggested that I use a sheet of white matte board to provide a “kick-in” fill light which is not in the photo above but has made a big difference in the book cover photos, see below, to almost eliminate any dark cast shadows made by lighting a book.

All of this lighting is to support The PhotoBook Journal as I do not see myself right now as a studio photographer as far as who I am as a photo/artist creative. I will admit that this studio lighting capability does open a potential new photographic option for me. So I will see what happens next as my process of experiment-fun does allow me to play with this as a possible option ;- )

Cheers!

Barbara_Peacock_Hometown_cover

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May 15, 2017

Canon not supporting original 5D camera

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:00 am

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Canon 5D body copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

Maybe I might not be the last person to find this out, but I now know that Canon Service is no longer providing support, either maintenance, repair or replacement parts, for the original 5D body.

I found this out last week when I drove over to Costa Mesa to the Southern California Canon Service center to have my Canon 5D body serviced. The back screen was not functioning properly as the after image capture in the display was posterized. I could see if the composition was correct, but could not tell if the exposure was correct by visual examination, as the histogram can only tell me so much.

The back screen has actually not working correctly over a year ago and one of the reasons that I finally made the investment in the Canon 5D Mark 3. Since I did not have the funds to fix the 5D back at that time so I just figured I would wait a little until I did. Apparently I waited a bit tooooo long. crap!

The good news is that when the shutter was not working well a couple of years before, I did take it into Canon service and they replaced the entire shutter system under warranty, which was very nice. So now I have a relatively new shutter but a piss-poor back monitor so this was not going to make it easy to sell or trade this 5D as its value was now about zero.

Okay, then the Aha!

For my Norman strobe lighting kit, the Canon 5D system needs to have the camera set to Manual and then dial in the lens aperture and shutter speeds. Once I had the right exposure combination for my studio to photograph the books, the exposure was essentially locked in (1/125th of a second at f/16). I did not really need to check the camera’s back monitor any longer. Sort of reminds me of the old 35mm film days; shoot with confidence and find out later if there are any issues. The good news is that the time and distance to check my studio results is measured in minutes and feet. The alternative is to hook up a USB between the camera and a computer as a tethered system, but I did not want to hassle with the required cable, plus I do not have a great place to set up the computer (right now).

The second part of this is to add on a dedicated lens to the 5D body, which I have been experimenting with various focal lengths to photograph book interiors for the past couple of months. I had come to the conclusion that a 50mm lens on the full frame 5D would work fine; thus I acquired the Canon 50mm f 1.4 lens to complete this studio set-up and I did a quick test with it yesterday after purchasing the lens. This is the set up below, with the PocketWizard PlusX in place to trigger the strobes, on top of my Norman P2000 power pack. I also went the little extra with the Canon lens hood as the knock-offs from China are dirt cheap, but do not come with the matte interior lining to deaden any potential reflections.

So now I looking forward to the next set of books to photograph for The PhotoBook Journal. I will probably have this camera & lens working in the studio for the next set of reviews by the end of the month. And I found a great use for the 5D body and what I might call a win-win for me.

Cheers!

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May 14, 2017

Canon 50 mm f1.4 lens check

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 8:00 am

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Santa Ana, CA, May 13 copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

This is not meant in any means to be a technical review of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens that I just purchased, but in the immortal words of the late Garry Winogrand, I want to see what this looks like.

This is essentially the first exposure I made after walking out of Samy’s Camera in Santa Ana, a full frame capture on my Canon 5DMk3. I am planning to dedicate this lens on my Canon 5D for my studio work re-photographing photo books for The PhotoBook Journal. More about why this is occurring in a pending post. BUT, I may just tuck this little lens in my little camera bag when I take some road trips, or if I want to go low-key/light-weight, replace the 24-105mm zoom altogether ;- )

Right now, I want to see this full frame image after processing with PhotoShop in a lower resolution (72dpi) JPEG on my monitor, since the images I make with this are essentially destined for viewing in this format on the net. I first did a check of the image’s outer edges and corners since that is where lens usually start to fail in image quality. My assessment: looking good, this appears to be a keeper and no need to make a return trip back to Samy’s Camera.

And no, I am not thinking about another photo project involving Southern California food trailers, but it is nevertheless an interesting idea. I must admit, while walking out of the store and trying to decide what to quickly photograph, this red foodie trailer quickly caught my eye. So a little bit of formal composition and the photo was captured.

After working with a zoom lens for so long, using a fixed focal length (e.g. prime) lens was a mental rust remover; if I wanted to tighten up this composition and stay full frame, I actually needed to move my feet. Back in the day, when one bought a 35mm film camera, it usually came outfitted with a 50mm lens, such that my Canon Ft-QL had a 50mm f/1.8 lens, same for my upgrade to the Canon Ae-1.

Cheers!

April 4, 2017

Photo Book Design Workshop – Limited Edition Book!

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Introduction to Photo Book Design book 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Last Saturday on the first day of my Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop with LACP, I finally had an opportunity to make my surprise reveal; as part of the saddle stitch binding demonstration, each person in the workshop completed a limited edition, hand-made book (aka artist book) which was also their course outline! I had printed all of the covers and interior pages, then showed the class how to slightly score the cover with a bone-folder to ensure a clean fold, then fold and order the interior pages (3 sheets), and finally each one completed the saddle stitch binding with the long reach stapler of their own edition copy. Perfect!

I had been working on this book idea for the workshop since the Christmas break and thought that if each person were to leave with a limited edition book, it should be pretty cool workshop take-away as well as under score the point that creating limited edition books can be fun. So every couple of weeks I would advance this book concept; designing the covers, what I wanted for the Colophon in the inside back cover, developing the course outline which would become the text for the interior, the sequencing of the workshop, thus the sequencing of the pages and corresponding text. With some additional feedback from a couple of those who had signed up, I realized that I needed to refocus the key objective of the workshop which resulted in a new sequence of the course outline.

I wanted the resulting book to have stiff covers, so I printed the covers on double-sided Epson Presentation Matte photo paper (8-1/2 x 11″, subsequently folded once) using my Epson 4800 for the exterior which had one photographic image (aka plate) and then the interior text was printed on my Epson Workforce (WF-7620), a desktop printer/copier that I use for printing documents. For the interior text block, I used some #20 Staples copier paper (8-1/2 x 11″, subsequently folded once), also printed on the Epson Workforce desktop printer.

The text layout was created using MS Publisher (2013) and the two-page column template. This template design keep the resulting gutter clear of text after folding the sheets to create the pages of this book.

As a part of the workshop discussion about book dummy development, I also shared the various book dummy stages that I used to develop this book; hand-written text, pages taped together, and versions up to the polished printed dummy that I used to write the notes for how I needed to re-sequence the book after changing my objectives for the workshop.

Colophon: hand made photobook, edition of 12, this being the first edition, copyright 2017. Stiff cover book with 12 pages, size 5-1/2″ x 8″, design & printed by me, assembly and binding by the workshop class.

So tell me, how cool is that!

Cheers!

 

March 27, 2017

Networking: MailChimp

Filed under: Art Market, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:44 pm

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Copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

A couple of years ago I thought that I should try to establish a formal networking newsletter to update friends, family, photographers and gallery owners as to my recent accomplishments and news. So I signed up for the free version of MailChimp. Regretfully perhaps I was not in the best state of mind at the time in trying to figure out MailChimp, which did not go so well. So I put this wonderful idea on the back burner for awhile.

A month ago I decided to look at MailChimp again. This time; read some of the tutorials. Duh! Or maybe MailChimp has improved it’s interface, either way, I found it much easier to figure out and I starting working on the back structure; creating some mailing lists. My first mailing list was for my very tolerant photographic friends, the Photographers Exchange (PX), who join me for the monthly meetings at the IFAC. They have become used to my wild and crazy ideas, so I figured that they would provide some honest feedback to my first photo-newsletter (none of them do this sort of thing). My ultimate goal was to figure out the MailChimp process for a newsletter for my other blog-magazine The PhotoBook. Anyhow, the first PX newsletter went out last month and I received a couple of nice comments, better yet, no one took me off their email list!

So at the moment I have developed four audiences/four mailing lists; each one has a repetitively unique interest in my photographic endeavors: Friends and Family (mostly non-photographic buy wishing me well and sometimes a strong interest in my photography), PX (they know most of what I am doing photographically anyhow, but it does not hurt to remind them, yuk, yuk), Photographers (who are like minded and might be interested in my exhibitions and workshops, but also includes gallery owners) & PhotoBook (photographers I have published, those interested in photobooks, bookstores & photobook publishers).

The first photo-newsletter to the PX used a “photo” template, but I quickly realized that I do not like the black background of this template; too severe. Then I stated using the white backgrounds, which works better for me. It took a little bit to adjust to using the MailChimp templates, but I figured that it’s similar to learning how to post to a blog, you just gotta jump in and start using it. I am expecting each newsletter will get better.

And perhaps just in time, I wanted to spread the news about being featured in Lenscratch (first Photography newsletter) and then a reminder about the start of my Intro to Photo Book Design workshop with LACP (first PhotoBook newsletter). And soon, publication of Bluewater Shore, as I just received the first set of PDFs for the initial design from the printer. nice.

From what I hear from other photographers, MailChimp is the way to go. At this point; so far so good and I am a happy camper with MailChimp.

If you would like to be on one of my newsletters, send me a request at doug@douglasstockdale.com

January 11, 2017

Saddle Stitch Fastener – Workshop demo

Filed under: Books, Photography, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:05 pm

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Saddle Stitch Fastener copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

I have bought one new item for 2017 (and I am still looking for that used 50mm CF Distagon for the Hasselblad), which is pictured above, what is called a Saddle Stitch Fastener, or a stapler on steroids. I will be using this book binder for my LACP Introduction to Book Design workshop later this spring to demo how to make a saddle stitch binding for a small book. The saddle stitch binding is one of the two book binding methods I will be demonstrating during the workshop.

This binder is stated to handle up to 20 sheets, so I would consider this lightweight equipment, which is a good start for my publishing company. It is an idea method to create a simple book dummy to work on the sequencing and pairing of the images for a book. This is also a popular way to create a small edition book, as I have a bunch of intriguing photobooks in my library that are bound together with saddle stitch binding, such as those by the New Zealand photographer Harvey Benge.

I also have an great idea on how I will be making a small limited edition book with the class during  the workshop as a fun start and will become a unique class takeaway. I have already completed the book dummy for it and I need to work-up the interior text, probably about 12 interior pages in all. I will print the stiffcover with my Epson printer using a double-sided Epson matte photo paper and print the interior sheets with my desktop letter printer. I think it will be an interesting surprise for those attending on the first day of the workshop.

And I may be making a few other small edition books as a result. Lots of possibilities!

Cheers!

January 7, 2017

New Adventure for 2017: Video

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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?

Cheers!

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