Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

November 25, 2015

Descanso memorial – Halloween

10-17-07_Halloween Costume - I-15 Frontage Road - Victorville - California 0845

Untitled (Halloween Costume, I-15 Frontage Road, Victorville, California) copyright Douglas Stockdale

While researching my In Passing – Lest I Forget project, I came across an interesting term; Descanso memorial. This is a Spanish derived word, literally meaning “to rest”. It originates from the old Spanish practice of marking the place where a coffin was placed the ground along the route to the cemetery, allowing the coffin bearers to rest. As the photographer Dave Nance states about the Descanso memorials, “The association thus created between the road, the interrupted journey, and death as a destination, eventually found expression in the practice of similarly marking the location of fatal accidents on the highway.”

Descanso now appears to also designate those memorials which are decorated for each of the holidays. Which is the case of the I-15 Frontage Road memorial that I photographed near Victorville, above. I had photographed this memorial about mid-October, just prior to Halloween. Not evident in the photograph is a bowl of candy nestled within the flower arrangement at the base of this memorial, along with a memorial plaque, which from the wording was probably placed there by the mother of the individual who died at this place.

Best regards

November 4, 2015

Juggling Photographic Projects – Just like Life

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:57 pm

Plastic Lei - Maui - Hawaii

Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, 2006 copyright Douglas Stockdale

So the issue with refocusing my earlier project is that this results in having two photographic projects in progress. My Ciociaria memory book is published, but I have not obtained any meaningful exhibitions of this body of work, thus if you take into account that I will be looking for exhibition venues for Ciociaria, that places three photographic projects on my plate. All of this in conjunction with the fact that I have a full time (non-photographic) day-job and a loving family to attend to. And lets not forget my photographic book reviews on The Photobook blog that I like to fit in. At times, it all feels complex, layered if not outright overwhelming.

This is where my day-job does help as a large portion of what I do entails all of the aspects of project management, which provides much needed experience to lean-into in order to keep on keeping-on. The skills of project management help me get organized and probably keeps me decently focused on what tasks needs to be accomplished next. The draw back is that getting “too” organized can creative limits, box me in, thus I try to stay “messy” organized, more of a loose project structure rather than try to have a rigidly defined project. Another way of saying that I try to be flexible; time, goals, tasks, relationships, etc. I need to allow some give and take and know my priorities, such as family comes first.

One key aspect of project management that has helped me is to set goals, both long term as well as short term. This helps me organize what tasks are needed and what time frame I would like to complete them in. Such as for each of my projects, one long term goal is have it published as a book, which for one project, this is complete. Nice. Another is that I would like to have one solo exhibition of each body of work, which is a goal that is in progress.

Meanwhile, I am reevaluating the photographs for In Passing, while still composing and developing my Memory Pods photographs. It has been a while since I examined all of the photographs that support the In Passing project, so I am giving them a fresh look and finding some pleasant surprises. I am not sure why I did not realize the potential for a number of these photographs, but nevertheless, I do now.

For Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, above, I have dramatically modified the cropping of the photograph; from a vertical image to a square image. Earlier if I had composed a subject to be contained within a photograph, I would do my best to keep it intact in the final version. Not so now. I realize that for this photograph the emotional aspect was preserved even if I lost the top portion of this memorial. This is one of the few photographs that include a vehicle, as I had accidentally made an exposure while a car ran through the composition, but I liked the ghostly (blurred) appearance. I then made another half dozen exposures with various vehicles moving through the frame until I obtained this exposure. Nice juxtaposition of the two key elements and creates just enough visual tension. And like many of the photographs that I am reworking for this project, I adjusted the overall nicer tonality, which I think is a nice improvement over my earlier version. Nice.


November 2, 2015

Refocusing a project

Morning Shadow - Central California

Morning Shadow, Denverton, California, 2007 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Following up on yesterday’s post perhaps a little more about how this project has come back full circle to a Black & White portfolio. As a project, this series of roadside memorials was starting to get a little traction in 2008 and I felt it had potential to go beyond the LensWork magazine publication as a photobook. The project at that time had a uniqueness, although  I did feel that the subject did not lend itself to posters (I did get this wrong) and something folks would want to hang in their living room. After a couple of rejected book submissions the project began to coast, as feeling a little defeated, I stopped making book submissions and became very introspective.

As a result, I “jumped the shark“, the t.v. slang for when there is a big change in a series plot, resulting in the audience losing interest and the series quickly tanks. I think that moving to color photographs and renaming the project did just that. I lost continuity with my audience. I did learn more about myself during this transition, such as photographing my Ciociaria project in color which resulted in the publication of a book. But in retrospect, I think that the In Passing project was visually stronger in Black & White.

Now I am re-examining all of my original photographs and although I will develop these as Black & White images, I have found that my interpretation has become a bit more refined. Part of which is that I have learned more about how to convert a color digital file in Photoshop to Black & White.

As an example is this photograph, Morning Cross, Central California, I had used a lens polarizer for the original exposure, but regretfully that only effected part of the morning sky. This resulted in a dramatic darkening on the left side of the sky and fading to almost white on the right side of the print, which I had found visually distracting. Now with a Photoshop Black & White adjustment layer and playing with the two blue settings, I am able to create a more even sky tone across the horizon. I think the print/image retains more of the emotional impact that I had experienced and I am very happy to have revisited this image.


November 1, 2015

In Passing – Lest I Forget

Randy - Route 179 - Nevada

Randy, Route 179, Nevada, copyright Douglas Stockdale

Reading the recent October issue of PDN magazine, which is their annual photobook issue, I found myself thinking back to my real first photographic project, a series of roadside memorials. As a quick recap, it was a series that I became very fascinated by in late in 2006. This project gained real momentum in 2007, as I made note of each various roadside memorial we came across and I quickly tried to figure out when and how to photograph each one. This Black & White photographic project, In Passing, was subsequently published by LensWork magazine in their Jan/Feb 2008 #74 issue, then I self-published a hard cover photobook  of In Passing using Blurb (which was juried into a self-publishing photobook exhibition in Portland, OR) and one image, Winter Field, Route 30, Indiana was published in Brooks Jensen’s Looking at Images in 2014.

During the publications, I had read Nathalie Herschdorfer’s book Afterwards (Contemporary Photography Confronting the Past) and began rethinking my earlier decision to convert my photographs to Black & White and that using the original color could be relevant. Meanwhile I still found myself photographing road-side memorials, but now staying with Color, not transforming these photographs to Black & White images. Concurrent with the color decision I had also decided to rename the project to Lest I Forget.

So I am now back full circle, with the project again in Black & White. And reconciled that the project should have a combination name; In Passing – Lest I Forget.

In the next couple of weeks, I plan to write more about the continuing metamorphose of this photographic project.


October 8, 2015

Somewhere over Oz

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:57 pm


Untitled (Michigan, September 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

I was surprised at the end of my photographic tweaking as to how this photograph is pulling me in. To be honest, it was one of series of grab shots that I made on approach while landing at Detroit Metro airport. Having made this landing recently, I was getting prepared to photograph some industrial buildings that I knew were going to pop into sight shortly. So I was making some test exposures to make sure that I was not picking up any unwanted window reflections, so I quickly captured this and a couple other images to frame my final compositions. But then this image started to intrigue me, so I spent a little more time tweaking it. Surprise, a photograph that I am really enjoying.

I don’t usually make a lot of grand landscapes (which I consider this photograph to be in that category), but occasionally I will just to try different things. In some regards, I am suspecting that this photograph is a bit auto-biographical, as this small Midwest town or maybe even a village has some attributes of where I grew up, probably a three hour drive from this place. I am thinking of this photograph is capturing the essence of a “Midwest Anyplace”, a typical middle America town. A main drag coming into, through and then out of the town, which is lined with churches, storefronts and at least one gas station somewhere in the middle, with homes lining this street on both side at either end.

I just may trying to photograph something similar again on my next journey.


September 30, 2015

Snapseed grunge filter – its back!


Untitled (Evidence #Evidence 081940-02-01-01) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

One of my favorite photographic phone apps is Snapseed. Earlier this year I did one of my upgrades for the app, but then realized that the updated did not include the Grunge filter setting. Bummer. I enjoyed playing with the possibilities of this particular filter set as it allowed me to explore some options that were outside the box of “straight” photography. I could introduce some moodier effects that for me had possibilities to create interesting metaphors. Although sad that it was not updated, I pressed on. Just another bump in the road.

While investigating some Snapseed options for a couple of recent images that I realized that my little grunge filer was BACK! I have the phone set for this app to allow updates as available, thus I was not aware that a recent updated included bringing back this filter option. Nice.

I had been using the grunge filter extensively for my Memory Pod series to create some moody metaphors last year. Seeing that it was back, I had to pull up an image to see what little tweaks that had made to this filter set. Seems like it is almost identical to the previous, so not sure why it was not included with the earlier upgrade. Maybe they thought it was not that popular, so when I (and I hope some others) blogged about our disappointment with its disappearance, this may have got someone’s attention?

As to this image for my Evidence series, I had initially envisioned that like the popular TV series CSI, that I would use straight photographs that were similar to CSI evidence; literal, objective and appear like facts. The evidence would be laid out and the reader could complete their own investigation and draw their own conclusions. I have my own version of what the evidence points to.


March 18, 2015

Budding Memory Pods

Filed under: Memory pods, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:36 am


Untitled (budding memory pods) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Earlier this week I had posted that I was finding myself being drawn back into my Memory Pods project. The photograph I posted was pretty close to a straight documentary image (which in retrospect is pretty boring at that). I was interested investigating the start of the whole memory pod evolution; the budding of the plant as the flower stems start rising above the plant.

Meanwhile, I have am also exploring some alternative ways to visualize this project, such as this photograph above, made the following day as the one in the earlier post. What a difference, eh?

I also found myself last year working these two visually different alternatives, “straight” and “interpretative” as I am just not sure where I will end up and maybe even have a mash-up of the two options. I will have to say, of the two images that I have recently posted, this is the one that has captured my interest. I tweaked the overall color slightly from a slightly greenish cast to incorporate more blue after posting this photograph earlier on Facebook.

Tonight I printed it to see what it looks like as an object on paper framed by a white four-ply white matte. Nice. Later this week I will be attending an annual print exchange meeting with some photo friends and I think that this will be my print that I will bring for the group.

For the reminder of the week, it will be sitting on my work table.


March 13, 2015

Budding Aloe Verde

120 03-13-15_Memory_Pods_3246_11x14_budding

Untitled (#120 Memory Pods) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Last year I found myself photographing of all things, plants. Not a genre that that I have been drawn to before, but while messing around with the macro focusing capabilities of my Samsung 4, I started to investigate some aloe vera plants that had gone to seed in my back yard. On reflection, I realized the conceptual possibilities to explore memory and its preservation. Memory Pods turned into a very addicting project and really consumed me for about two and half months. I did not complete very many photobook reviews during this time, nor work any of my other projects and stopped work on my self published limited edition photobook BlueWater Shore, the follow on book to Pine Lake.

I also spent a ton of time editing, tweaking and working the resulting Memory Pod photographs last Summer and into the Fall. I sensed some gaps in the project, so I have decided that I would resume this project again this year and take a couple of photographs of the flowers before the seed pods began to form. To facilitate this project I will also investigate the use of a 120mm Makro lens for my Hasselblad in conjunction with color negative film. Now a buddy of mine is going to lend me his 120mm Makro and if this lens works out, I will probably be on the hunt to purchase a used one in excellent condition this summer.

Meanwhile, this small group of plants are rapidly sending out shoots (yes, nice and warm here in Southern California, Spring has indeed sprung) and I am not due to obtain the 120mm Makro until late next week. So with opportunities quickly developing I will make due with the DSLR on work on some ideas.

Yep, more to come….


January 19, 2015

Picture Postcards


Untitled (MingXinPian #0984) copyright Douglas Stockdale

This is a long term and a slowly developing project that I have worked on intermittently these past years. For this photograph I am investigating a feeling about a state of decline or decay.

I recently had an opportunity to show this photographic print in conjunction with five similar photographs to a group of photographers. Of the five, this image seemed to evoke the strongest response consistent with my objective.


December 22, 2014

Elizabeth Avedon’s Best Photography Books for 2014 – and I am on it!


Pine Lake, copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale

As a book artist and photobook specialist, this is the time of year that I provide kudo’s to all of the photographers, photobook designers, photobook publishers and the book artists who use photography as a part of their creative medium. This year I was asked by Manik Katyal, the Editor/Publisher of Emaho magazine to provide five photobook titles for the Emaho annual list of Best Photobook lists. So since getting my list down to just five, I needed to again published my own Interesting Photobooks of 2014 on my other blog, The Photobook.

What came as a very pleasant surprise is when the amazing NYC book designer Elizabeth Avedon (yes, a familiar last name to those following photography over the years) selected Pine Lake as one of her Best Photography Books of 2014. A total surprise as this is a very limited edition artist book (edition of 25 plus 2 A/P’s) and thus I am assuming not many have actually held or seen.

What a sweet ending to the year and which reminds me that I need to get my butte back into gear and finish my next limited edition book Bluewater Shore, the second of the three photo-narratives plan for this series.




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