Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

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!

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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!

December 16, 2016

Early bird discount for photobook workshop ends this Saturday

Filed under: Art, Art Market, Books, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:24 pm

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LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design, photo Douglas Stockdale

The early-bird registration discount of 20% for my Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop that I will be leading next April over two weekends will be ending midnight this Saturday, December 17th. This creative workshop is sponsored by Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP).  So if you plan to be in the Southern California area (aka best-coast), time to check this workshop out and take advantage of this discount.

Could even be a wonderful Christmas present for someone special ;- )

Cheers!

 

December 12, 2016

Living Santa Fe (variation on Todd Hido creativity lesson)

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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.

Cheers

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December 3, 2016

Jason Fulford & Gregory Halpern – The Photographer’s Playbook

Filed under: Art Market, Books, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:44 pm

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Copyright 2014 Jason Fulford & Gregory Halpern published by Aperture

While in Santa Fe and visiting the photo-eye book store, I had an opportunity to get a copy of Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern’s book The Photographer’s Playbook. The subtitle reveals the essentials of this book; 307 (photographic) Assignments and Ideas, which are distilled from 307 photographers, curators, photographic academia and workshop leaders, including Aline Smithson, Mark Steinmetz, Jim Goldberg, Stephen Shore, John Gossage and many more. From my perspective, this book draws heavily on a few photographic academia programs for BFA and MFA photographic programs.

It appears that the book is focused on young and inexperienced photographers who are searching for the reason to be a fine art photographer (as part of a BFA/MFA program) or for a photographer who is stuck in a dry spell as to how to find conceptual ideas to development next. If you have the technical side of photography down then working through a bunch of these assignments could provide you with an equivalent BFA/MFA education as to the conceptual projects you work on. What may be missing is the group critiques offered in the academic programs and instructors that might challenge you (alternatively a best friend that can continue to say “No, try again, dig deeper”). So find a small group photographic/artist peers that you can count on to be candid and talk/show the work/assignments, a group who can say “Very cool, I see where you are going, keep at it, dig deeper”

To be candid, there are some ideas within this book that are similar to other ideas I have developed over the years to help me consider photographic options and move my concepts forward. I will continue to write about some of them, such as my post earlier this morning about experiment-play (games), a frequent idea (27 different variations) that is recommended in this book. In my case, experiment-play was what I was doing that led me to my Memory Pods project that I have been working on for just about three years now. Recently, experiment-play is what inspired me to start the Middle Ground (aka Life in the Slow Lane) project earlier this year.

To be fully transparent, as a portfolio reviewer for LensCulture, we also provide some resource recommendations as part of the portfolio review and this book is one that I recommend to photographers who have a photo technique but appear to looking for a project to apply their process.

Cheers!

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