Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

May 23, 2017

Artist versus Photographer

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Big Raft, Bluewater Shore, 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Recent events related to the self-publishing of my limited edition artist book Bluewater Shore now has me rethinking how I might describe myself: artist or photographer? Okay another option might be artist/photographer. I am probably thinking more about this whole classification subject because of my current reflection on the subject of “Branding” for my Marketing Your Photo Book workshop coming up at LACP in July.

So here’s whats been happening; I have been reaching out to some photographic friends and editorial acquaintances who helped me with the promotion of my earlier artist book Pine Lake to spread the word about Bluewater Shore. I did not anticipate all of the rejections based on the fact I am using family archive photographs as my source material versus the fact that I did not actually take the original photographs. I am not sure what has happened or shifted in the past four years, but it seems that a lot more photographic folks are being more discerning as to what constitutes a “photographic” book.

Their response is that Bluewater Shore is an artist book using vernacular photographs which I found to create my artwork versus being a “pure” photographic project in which I created (photographed) the original photographic source material similar to my book Ciociaria. Or maybe I have pitched my Bluewater Shore story incorrectly? Now that I take a closer look at these magazine and web-zines I see that artwork similar to what I created for Bluewater Shore is not being featured.

So maybe you are wondering; what’s the big deal? For me it might be that I have been envisioning myself as just a “photographer” when I made this declaration back in 2008. Realize that for about 15 years before that I was a painter so I thought that this was a big deal that I was dedicating myself to photography. I also did not think it was a big deal to create my two self-published books Pine Lake and Bluewater Shore since I was using photographic material. Wrong!

Turns out what I perceived I was doing is not matching up with the outside world’s perception. I think there was hints of this difference while I was talking with those who attended my exhibit space at Photo Independent for my launch of Bluewater Shore but at the time I was not picking up on it. Duh!

This takes me to the Stockdale Paradox (okay, this was from Admiral James Stockdale, un-related); which states “Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties” while at the same time “Confronting the most brutal facts of your current reality, what they might be“. So the brutal facts of my current reality is that I am deemed to be an artist and I am NOT a pure photographer. Which is probably good to know and understand.

I am not sure that this is a seismic shift of who/what I think I am; but what this does is better prepare me for where/who I make submissions of my work. I still feel that I am part of the pure photographic community since that is also the space I created both of my photo-investigations In Passing and Ciociaria. Nevertheless this means that I will go across those pure photographic borders when I am inspired to do so and I need to understand the implications when I do.

Another aspect of this is that curators, art directors and others like and actually are more comfortable with classifications. So am I an artist or an artist/photographer? I guess if I have to chose one it would appear that I am an artist and one who uses primarily photographic source material, mine as well as others. Done.

Maybe this is a seismic shift after all as I now need to look at all my photographic reference sites, e.g. LensCulture and here on Singular Images, and make some adjustment tweaks to my biography; artist, educator and mentor.

Cheers!

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 18, 2017

Life Guard Station #14 – San Clemente

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

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Life Guard Station #14, San Clemente, CA, May 2017, copyright Douglas Stockdale

The same day this month that I captured the gradations beach photo on San Clemente beach that I discussed here, I also photographed the adjacent Life Guard Station #14. In fact I believe that the earlier beach photograph was captured in front of this Guard station.

These are relatively two different photographic image treatments, although both share a similar frontal and formal framing. As the occasion was at dusk, the Life Guard Station was closed down for the evening, thus has a somber, if not lonely, air about it and the beach was without the throngs of beach-goers. But being a man-built structure this does hint at the surrounding beach-oriented culture.

I think the shallow dept of field places more emphasis on this structure rather than the breaking surf in the background. There is still enough environmental context provided while yet still being ambiguous (and hopefully a little mystery) to allow a viewer an opportunity to create their own stories and recall similar memories.

Btw, the subtle differences between the two modified images has me thinking about how I document events and the subsequent treatments applied to the images. Perhaps because I am doing some mentoring for other photographers now and I need to consider my own advice regarding how one creates their own “Brand”. So I suspect I will be writing more about that in the months to come.

Cheers!

May 17, 2017

Experiment-play – LA landscape

Filed under: Middle Ground, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:00 am

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Los Angeles, I-5 Freeway, March 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

While driving up the I-5 Freeway into Los Angeles earlier this year, I was again finding myself in the bump-to-bumper traffic grind common for this part of Southern California. So similar to my bumper-to-bumper photographs in my recent drives to San Diego, I used the opportunity that when I came to a complete stop to take a photo of the adjacent landscape. So the resulting urban landscape photographs are a combination of serendipity and chance, something that the Surrealist would appreciate.

The resulting photographs from this day-shoot lay dormant, but I kept coming back to this photographic set as there was something there that retained my interest. Over this last weekend I found myself working on one of the photographs and the results are posted above. This photograph is in line with my idea of experiment-play in which I give myself a lot of freedom to visually experiment.

There is a bit of artistic manipulation of the image, but not too far visually off what might be possible with a long lens from a distance further back while using a wide open (shallow depth of field) aperture. So it’s kinda of “realistic” and might pass as a “straight” photograph. Nevertheless I posted this on Instagram and was somewhat impressed by the big response as measured by the amount of likes.

For me, I have moved beyond a straight document of the landscape to something more personal, perhaps a little more ambiguous, a touch of mystery and that has some metaphoric potential. As Sara Terry said about my Memory Pods project, I have made this subject my own. It has my imprint on it. (Okay, what does that mean? Good question as I am not sure yet, but this idea has my wheels turning)

So this has me thinking some more about my other freeway photographs that I have taken over the years in which I might want to reconsider what a straight or documentary style image should look like. Or perhaps better yet, what is my take on LA and how should I interpret this urban landscape?

Cheers!

 

 

May 16, 2017

Gradations – San Clemente Beach

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:08 am

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San Clemente Beach, May 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of the delightful aspects of picking Ella up at the San Clemente train station is that the station is directly adjacent to the Pacific ocean. We are talking about only a few yards. Thus I normally volunteer to pick her up and then I leave early enough to spend a little time on the beach in the late afternoon to absorb the sights, smells and sounds of the ocean. And on many occasions, take a beach photo, which I realize is an overworked genre of landscapes (seascapes), but nevertheless I find this subject intriguing.

On this occasion with some weather coming in, I realized that I was visually captivated by the various gradations created by the layers of cloud, sea and surf breaking on the shore. I have some versions in which there is a small surf break rolling in, but I found that I preferred this photograph with the flatter water while the wave was in the early stages of forming. I am always fascinated by the ensuing temporal patterns created on the beach as the ocean water recedes.

For this photograph I also desaturated the colors towards a monotone gray-blue palette as this seemed better suited to what I was feeling at the moment, probably a bit of departure from those who might amp up the color saturation for instances such as this.

I also notice that I have been accumulating a collection of these pensive seascapes, so I will see where my muse leads me this ;- )

Cheers!

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 13, 2017

Portfolio Reviewer – LACP EXPOSURE 2017

Filed under: Art Market, Photography — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:41 pm

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Gerhard Clausing’s portfolio, EXPOSURE 2016, copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

LACP (Los Angeles Center for Photography) has just announced the dates for EXPOSURE 2017, their three day portfolio review event. I am very honored to be among a diverse and broad group of portfolio reviewers again this year. Similar to last year, I will be providing portfolio reviews on Sunday, July 16th, from 9:30 to 5:00 pm at the dnj gallery in Bergamont Station, Santa Monica (CA).

These portfolio reviews are always great events to network and have your work seen and discussed. As a reviewer, I have found this to be a wonderful opportunity to hear and see photographic projects that are in the various stages of development. As a networking event, myself included, a chance to meet up with reviewers, make a stronger personal relationship and as importantly, network with fellow photographers in between sessions. As you might imagine, I am very intrigued with portfolio’s that are intended to become photographic books.

My friend Sarah Hadley will be providing a FREE LACP portfolio review prep talk on June 14th. So if you have not participated in a portfolio review before or it has been a while since you last participated and need a “rust remover”, a great discussion about what to do and as important, what not to do, for a portfolio review session. The review sessions are relatively brief, 20 minutes, and time flies by fast, so you want to make a lasting impression and being prepared with your portfolio, the “leave-behind” and a short rehearsal of your “elevator speech” will be well served.

I am looking forward to seeing you there!

Cheers

 

April 24, 2017

Two more photo book workshops with LACP

Filed under: Art Market, Books, Photography, Projects/Series, Workshops — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:33 pm

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Copyright 2016/7 Douglas Stockdale

Oh wow, as if things were not crazy enough last week trying to finish enough of the edition of Bluewater Shore for the book launch at Photo Independent that LACP came back at me to schedule another Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop for next Fall (see below) and follow up on my idea for a one-day book marketing workshop. More about the Photo Independent book launch in the next couple of days as I want to get word of the workshops out as there is a limited time discount available.

Thus I am very excited to announce that I will be providing two more photobook workshops in partnership with LACP (Los Angeles Center for Photography) at their Los Angeles facilities later this year. Both have a 20% early-bird sign up until May 26th.

Marketing Your Photo Book – This is a one-day workshop being held on Saturday, July 22nd. This workshop is is intended for photographers who are preparing to publish their work in book form, whether self-publishing or working with an established book publisher, and will provide creative and practical approaches to marketing their photo book.

The morning will be spent understanding your publishing objectives and how that translates to a marketing plan. This will include discussing the basic elements of a marketing plan; what is being published and sold, who might purchase it, where to sell it, how to price it and how and when to promote it. Issues to be discussed include; how soon to start working on a plan, book economics and buyers price points, buy or create a mailing list, selling self-published books, and do’s and don’ts of using social media and web sites. During the workshop, I am planning a series of breakout sessions to enable development of each person’s specific marketing plan for their book.

Introduction to Photo Book Design – This Fall (October 1 and 8th), I will be repeating my popular (in talking to folks at Photo Independent the workshop reviews coming back to LACP were very, very good!) two-day workshop that focuses on the development of each person’s book dummy for their personal photographic project and provides both creative and practical book design options.

After a morning of studying limited edition artists’ books, trade books and zines, the remainder of the first session will be spent understanding students’ publishing objectives and how that translates to a book object. This will include time discussing the elements of book design and the purpose of a book-dummy, concluding with a hands-on fabrication of a saddle-stitch dummy book/zine. The second session delves into the business elements of (self) publishing a book and photo book production. The remainder of the day students will continue working on the development of their dummy book as a collaborative project.

I hope you can join me as these are intense, yet fun, workshops.

The workshops are being held at the LACP facilities: 1515 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Let me know if you have any questions,

Cheers!

April 15, 2017

Introduction to Photo Book Design Workshop – final thoughts

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LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design Workshop, Douglas Stockdale with workshop members, photo by Nikki Washburn

Now that the LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop is complete,  a few closing thoughts. First, this was an intense workshop, a ton of information to pass along in conjunction with those attending heavily engaged in developing their rough book dummy. I will admit that there were a couple of items on the agenda that in retrospect that I did not dive into deep enough. Since I know that I will be leading this workshop again (see below), I am making some notes and slight adjustments to the outline.

It appears from the workshop feedback for my surprise limited edition hand made book that we self-published at the start of the workshop (members holding their editions, photo above), did have the impact that I had hoped for. Making this book energized the workshop as to the potential for self-publishing and took away some of the mystery of book publishing. Nice. Also raised the bar for producing this booklet in future workshop!

The one week break between the workshop sessions had a big impact on those attending to return home really dig into the development of their book dummies. The resulting dummies that were shared on the start of the second session were amazing and the energy each person brought back to the class was very contagious. The book dummy’s were as varied and diverse as those attending the workshop. The photographs below are of the participants who completed their rough book dummy, a big step forward for each.

By the way, did I mention that I was equally inspired to create my first dummy for my Middle Ground project? I brought it to the workshop and shared it with the group after everyone had an opportunity to have their dummy’s critiqued. I enjoyed my feedback as well and I will be posting more about this dummy and project in the weeks and months to come ;- )

Some really good news? I will be repeating this workshop with LACP next Fall, probably in early October and a second one-day LACP workshop is now in the works: Marketing Your Photobook. As advance notice the Marketing workshop is being planned for Saturday, July 22nd at the LACP facilities in Los Angeles and more information to follow soon!

Cheers

LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop144831-01_Gerhard_Clausing

LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop_144845-01_Safi_Shabaik

LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop_144902-01_Christine_Riedell

LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop_144916-01_Hannah_Kozak

LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop 144929-01_Tomas_Gasper

April 11, 2017

International Book Competition, Book Design Workshop & publishing a new book – oh my!

Marisa Caichioio - photobook competition judges Douglas Stockdale - Sarah Hadley - Chris Davies_1000px

Douglas Stockdale, Sarah Hadley & Chris Davies photo 2017 copyright by Marissa Caichiolo

It was starting to look like April was going to be a busy month, I just had no idea HOW busy.  I have already been one of the jurist for the International Photo Book Competition and I just published our results on The PhotoBook journal. The next phase  of this competition award is that I will be providing two curatorial talks during Photobook Independent in two weeks. The talks will not require as much planning as I did for the recent book workshop, which is okay, because I really need the time to prepare everything for the launch of Bluewater Shore. Meanwhile I have a couple more book reviews to complete for two of the winning photobooks, as I already had published two reviews of the books that selected for awards. I would like to complete these other two reviews before Photo Independent, adding to my work load. Like I said, April is turning into a very, very busy month ;- )

Right now I also need to get ready to go on-press at Dual Graphics (Brea) tomorrow for the printing of Bluewater Shore. I am expecting to finalize the exterior colors for the cover, go to print and then I will report about my experience about being on-press later this week. Cool! Then I need to update my earlier post about the ability to pre-order this book with an accurate image of the published book. Probably send out another round of newsletter updates on this photobook as well.

The Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop is now complete but a little more about this in the next couple of days.

Cheers!

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