Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

February 1, 2016

One foggy morning

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:17 pm

01-17-16 RSM fog_073943-01_TCGC_tree

Rancho Santa Margarita, California, January 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

When the coastal fog works it way up the canyon to my back yard, the ensuing mysterious vista recalls my initial photographic interest to investigate the natural landscape. To photography this intriguing landscape is way too tempting and I have learned not to fight the impulses. What has evolved has been for me to make the resulting image a little more ambiguous and I really do not care if the photograph has more urban elements than purely found in nature.

I find this type of photograph to be a lot more fun as a singular image, that is not one that is not currently involved in a book project, using a snap-shooter camera of our current generation: my Samsung S5 camera phone coupled with my favorite downloaded app, SnapSeed. Most of this image was created later the same morning in-camera and today I downloaded it to work it with a little Photoshop CC tweaking.

I created this image a couple of weeks ago, but I became caught up in my preparation to attend photo l.a. So this as been lurking on my phone for awhile, although I had immediately posted the Samsung version on Instagram and Facebook.

One other thing I have recently realized, I take the interesting & “fun” photographs now almost always with the camera-phone but then revert to the film or full-frame digital when working on my “serious” projects. At the moment, these are like two ships passing in the night. Nevertheless, while enjoying the Samsung/Snapseed results, this has brought me full circle as to why I enjoyed photography in the first place.

Last, my challenge for this photograph is to depict a mysterious place, clocked in the vail of the fog. Using the zone system frequently, I can become too easy lured into making sure that the dark’s are truly black, while the light’s are very white, e..g. a full scale image. With fog, a full scale image might just kill the effect I was looking for (pre-visualization); so then how black to make the dark’s and how to keep that glowing highlight? So for me, this results in a lower contrast image.

Still, I find it very tempting to try to bring up the contrast, thus the texture, of the bark of the foreground tree!


January 15, 2016

Self-Assignment – Lemons

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


Copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

Old saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Revised: when you grow lemons and they become a winter harvest, make photographs!

From time to time when given some props, I like to have some fun and see what I might be able to do with them. In this case our backyard lemon tree is of all things bearing some good fruit in January. Who knew? Credit the relatively mild SoCal weather I guess.

I had picked a few of the lemons to bring to a friend and decided I would first try an arrangement just to see what interesting composition I might be able to create. I also anticipated that I wanted to have the final results in black & white rather than color to make this self-assignment a little more intriguing.

First the setting; I have been interested in our translucent back-yard table top for a while, thus this appeared intriguing as a compositional element, so I cleared off the flower pots and starting arranging the lemons on top, the chairs underneath. Next, I re-arranged the lemons a couple of times in conjunction with a series of exposures until I had my final two color photographs, of which I think that this was the most interesting composition. I completed a black&white photo image conversion with Snapseed in the camera phone and then final tone adjustment tweaks after downloading in Photoshop CC. nice.

January 10, 2016

Surf erorison

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:11 pm


Torrey Pines Park, San Diego, CA copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

We really needed the recent rain here in Southern California, but regretfully what comes with the winter storms is the resulting beach erosion and the loss of a lot of sand.

January 1, 2016

2016 – Looking Ahead

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:30 pm


Untitled, copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

As I just posted, the beginning of the year is a time to reflect on the past and also to look forward for what might be. My first post was honking my horn for 2015, now I want to look at my goals for 2016.

I had two principal projects in 2015 and an artist book that needed a bit more reflection. I plan to work on all three of these which are at various phases of completion.

In Passing – Lest I Forget is an aftermath project that I actively worked on starting in 2006 and into 2012, then took some time to let the project cook, then I started back in earnest again at the end of last year. I have about 100 photographic images that I have culled from the past 9 years that I think will make a really nice photobook and will be the basis of an exhibition. So I have developed a project plan to finalize tweaking the images for a book dummy, obtain sponsorship’s and funding with a goal to have a Fall publication and release concurrent with at least one exhibition.

For my project Memory Pods, I am looking forward to the spring for the budding and blooming of my subjects for another intense season of photography. The one thing that I would like to do is invest in a prime macro lens for this project. I have bounced between a 100 mm f/1.8 L macro for the 5DMk3 or a 120mm CFi Makro lens for the Hasselblad, and currently I am  leaning towards the Hasselblad Makro lens. I have some expired 120 transparency film that I think will be ideal with the Hasselblad for this project; old, expired film investigating fading memories.

For my third project, which is my artist book Bluewater Shore, I want to use the newly acquired Micro/Makro lens mentioned above to re-photograph my family prints. I also have some very, very expired 120 black and white film for this project. I have a better idea now of how I want to design, print and bind this book. My goal is to prepare everything for publication in 2016, with a Spring 2017 publication date. My bigger priority for 2016 is to finish In Passing – Lest I Forget.

I also plan to keep an open eye and actively make some exhibition submissions in 2016, to try to participate in at least one if not two exhibitions.


2015 – the year that was

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 10:51 pm


Untitled, copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale

January 1st is a day to speculate about the future, while taking a moment to reflect on the past year. In this post, I will be looking back at this last year, thus honking my horn. But first and foremost, I am very happy for my health, my family and all of my friends.

I continued to work on two photographic projects, Memory Pods and In Passing – Lest I Forget, as well as being juried into a group photographic exhibition this summer at BC Gallery in Laguna Beach. I was asked to participate in FotoBookFestival (Kassel, Germany) earlier in the spring, nominating one of my favorite photobooks by Kate Nolan, which was published in 2014. I now have one of photographs on long-term display at the administration offices of the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), which was curated into OCCCA in 2014.

I am not actively seeking photographic assignments due to the demands of my current day-job in pharmaceutical development, thus I appreciated the opportunity to be the event photographer on two occasions for OCMA. These were fun and unlike the pressure of my early days photographing weddings.

As a photobook collector and reviewer, I added to my growing library and posted 41 photobook reviews on my blog The PhotoBook, which is now coming on a million reads since I started posting and currently has 18,000+ followers.

Infrastructure changes included a new web site and upgrade to PhotoShelter to leverage their great capabilities, upgrade PhotoShop to CC and acquired a Conon 5D Mark III camera body.

Although not spectacular year, it was all good and a very good year ;- )


December 26, 2015

Christmas morning

Filed under: Photography — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 7:39 pm


Christmas morning, 2015, copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of my many pleasures on Christmas day is being up before the kids, tuning on the Christmas tree lights and taking a few photographs of the tree and unopened presents in the calm before the bedlam.

Also a nice time to just sit, reflect and enjoy the twinkling of the lights as dawn starts to light up the day. Many things to be thankful for.

Who knows, this Christmas tree photograph might also be next year’s Christmas card photo…



December 20, 2015

2015 Christmas Card

Filed under: Photography, Picture Postcards, Projects/Series — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 6:15 pm

01-14-05 Winter Tree - LaHuette CH_0049_web

Untitled (La Heutte, Switzerland, 2005) copyright Douglas Stockdale

Since my family and I celebrate Christmas, one of my holiday traditions is to design, produce and address the Christmas Cards. And of course the center piece for the card is the Christmas photograph. It has been our practice to not include photographs of ourselves, but rather something that might appear celebratory and enjoyable (as my wife would say, “appropriate”).

Typically for us an appropriate photograph for the Christmas season would be a winter landscape. This is a bit odd in that in Southern California we do not have snow during the winter and in Israel where the original birth occurred, there is not any snow at this time of the year either. Perhaps this Christmas photographic subject is a tradition that is linked to our growing up in the MidWest when snow was definitely a frequent occurrence during this time of year. I do recall waking up on many a Christmas  morning to a fresh layer of snow over top the previous mushy snow.

I had anticipated that our late November trip to Denver Colorado would be a great time to make a Christmas photo, especially since there was a forecast for snow. Regretfully, although I did come away with some urban snowy landscape photographs, none of these were deemed “appropriate”. Thus I did a deep dive into my photographic files to find something a bit better suited.

I actually find myself looking for the photograph above, which I made while I was working on a project that frequently took me to Switzerland. At this time in 2005 I was just starting to experiment with digital photography and I was using a 4 Mp Canon G2, which looked and handled amazing like an old Leica camera. The hassles of film though customs and detectors was still a nagging issue, so I wanted to start exploring the digital capture alternatives (I was already scanning my 120 negatives).

I have good memories of these business trips; non-stop from LAX into Zurich, then from the airport taking the express train to Biel and from there, jumping on a local train to La Chaux-de-Fonds. What I quickly learned was that you can hop off the train at any station and in almost exactly one hour, the next train would stop and you could hop back on again. Thus my stop in La Heutte in January with a short, cold walk-about and noticing this singular tree in a snow covered field with the forest on the mountain behind it fading into the winter fog. At the time, I think I was using Photoshop CS and when returning home, I was less than thrilled with my RAW conversion, but this image still lingered as being a potential someday.

And so with Photoshop CC, the “someday” has successfully arrived. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 16, 2015

Grant funding a Photographic Project

Filed under: Art Market, In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:27 pm

A-41 Tattenhall England

Untitled (A-41, Tattenhall, England) copyright Douglas Stockdale

On my list of to-do’s is to find some funding to support the publication and exhibition of my project In Passing – Lest I Forget. Here in the US, there are a couple of avenues to journey down in order to obtain a grant (e.g. gift, not a loan) and at the highest level is government/Federal grants through one of the various agencies. What I have noted in the past is that most of the Fine Art grants are not available for individuals, but non-profit organizations and only then through a public entity, which in the Fine Arts are usually Museums and Universities.

I am also a bit of a contrarian and look at alternatives, such that I know that I am not well connected for the Fine Arts grants, but rather I am experienced in how to deal with Corporate world. Although I do not have any experience with writing and submitting Federal grants for Contemporary Photography (Art), I have been working with a small team submitting Small Business Innovation Research grants through the National Institute of Heath, and we have been recently awarded a grant to work on Stroke research. Nice.

Since the National Safety Council used on of my photographs for a safety program poster a couple of years ago, this has provided a clue for me to poke a couple of Federal and State safety agencies. Specifically, I checked out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and locally, the California Office of Traffic Safety. Yes, this is what I consider out-of-box thinking for funding this photographic project.

The bad news: looking at the government grant guidelines for both of these agencies confirms my initial concerns; I am not a non-profit organization (501c3) nor a “public entity”. Also it does not help that the window for the 2016 grants has already passed and the agencies are looking for 2017 grants. Thus a word to the wise; if you are thinking US Federal & State government grants, plan far ahead! Regretfully for me, I am looking for 2016 funding.

The good news: these government agencies provide large grants to public entities, who in turn have to spend it (pass-though) on their own programs. The trick is to find out which “public entity” has what programs which are possibly aligned with my vision and see if I can be included in their program spending. Knowing a bit about how large organizations budget spending, I have been successful in the past with getting alignment between a budget line item and their spending (investing) in supporting my projects. So I have some hope.

Also, I now need to think smaller and look for local county or city government grants that might still be out there, although I think the window for 2016 might already be shrinking.

So my oars are not out of the water on grants, just rowing in a different direction!


December 10, 2015

Photoshop CC – Creative Cloud

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:16 pm

11-27-15 Denver Snow Flurries 5_204410-02_Stockdale

Untitled (Denver, Snow Flurries #4, 2015) Copyright Douglas Stockdale

I have been using Photoshop CS3 since it was published by Adobe and I have not had the desire or compunction to make an upgrade until just recently. Sometimes when the features of the various software do not change dramatically and you are comfortable with where everything is and how it operations, maybe a good thing not to change, eh? For me, the upgrade from CS to CS3 was to obtain the much improved black & white conversion layer tool.

So reading the various reports and reviews of the Photoshop upgrades since CS3, I did not have a strong desire that I was missing something critical. As a still photographer and not an illustrator or 3D artist, the Photoshop tools I utilize are fairly straight forward (by my reckoning).

Also, I was still trying to figure out if Adobe’s new software subscription pricing was viable; cost of ownership and potentially a continuous series of software updates pushed on me to contend with. My IT cousin told me that his company had made the switch to the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) subscription program as they figured it was equally or more cost effective that individual licenses. I could download to two computers with one Photoshop CC subscription, which is the number of computers I am running, the cost of the subscription would have a payback of four plus years, which by that time, I would need to purchase another update. So I jumped that hurdle.

The real reason I acquired the Photoshop CC was purchasing a Canon 5D MarkIII (5DMk3) camera and the CS3 RAW converter was not compatible with the 5DMk3 RAW files; I needed to upgrade my Browser to at least CS6. And shooting JPEG with the 5DMk3 and not RAW is to only tap into half of the image capture potential; 8 mg/8 bit files with JPEG versus 22 mg/14 bit with RAW.

BUT I need to update my desktop computer, thus I only downloaded the Photoshop CC to my portable, so I am still running CS3 on one machine.
So this image above that I made in Denver over the last Thanksgiving weekend was my first confirmation of the backwards compatibility of the Photoshop CC. I did the major tweaks in CC on my portable, then transferred the PS file to the CS3 machine to open for proof printing on my Epson 4800. Nice, it works.

I am still getting adjusted to the Photoshop CC interface and found one change that I have yet to figure out, but otherwise the transition is pretty seamless. Whenever I purchase a Photoshop upgrade, I will also purchase at least one reference book on how  to use the software, usually deferring to a title that includes Photoshop for Photographers, such as Martin Evening’s series (I have his CS3 edition).

Btw, I think I was able to capture the essence of the snow flurries in the photograph above. I had to use a Curve adjustment level to bring up the values, while managing the contrast, of the swirling snow in the night sky. Does appear cold and kinda of nasty (which it was), eh?


December 9, 2015

Angel of Death – Surrealistic moment

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:31 am

11-28-15 Denver Colorado KI6A0994

untitled (Colfax Street, Denver, CO) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

While I was working on my project In Passing – Lest I Forget while in Denver over the Thanksgiving weekend, a Surrealist moment occurred for me.

Having known of the Henri Cartier-Bresson’s practice of composing a potential image and waiting for someone or something to happen, I had not realized the Surrealistic theory behind it until recently. I had an opportunity earlier this year to review Clement Cheroux’s biography of Henri Cartier-BressonHere and Now (published by Thames & Hudson) which connected the dots for me. In the photograph above, I was following the surrealistic theory of Andre Breton’s called Fixed-Explosive, which denotes the state of something simultaneously in motion and at rest. Henri Cartier-Bresson felt that this was one of the surrealist concepts that uniquely energized  his compositions and characterizes many of his famous photographs.

For me, I was not intending to create a surrealist photograph, but had set up the camera and tripod to document this small roadside memorial. Then I noted this guy in the dark hoodie approaching and I could not resist making one more exposure as he walked towards the memorial. That the man is dressed entirely in black, the hoodie is concealing his face and he has his hands in his pocket makes him anonymous and creates a mysterious image.

I do not think that this photograph will be in my final project as all of my other photographs are devoid of people. Nevertheless I find this photograph very interesting.


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