Swallows Day Parade – Another series in the making?


Two Little Gunslingers, San Juan Capistrano, March 2009 photography copyright of Douglas Stockdale

Sometimes it seems that when I start thinking about taking photographs, I start thinking about them in the context of creating a series. Which was the case today at the annual San Juan Capistrano Swallows Day Parade. This was the second year that we attended, as my granddaughter/son-in-law are in the parade with the Indian Princesses and their famous spinning canoes. And this is one of the largest non-motorized parades in the U.S., don’t ya know? (Also means lots of horses and the stuff they sometime leave behind).

So this year, I have been writing notes as to what the parade symbolizes to me and others. So it was a series of thoughts; fun, festive, holiday, party, celebration, cowboys and horses, excitement. I thought, is there a Robert Frank moment here? Well, not for me. And I started thinking about how I felt at parades like this while I was growing up. So with all that in mind, I just started taking photographs.

At some point, these two little “gunslingers” moved forward to the edge of the parade to the side of me.  So I stepped back and behind them and then dropped down to frame them with the horse riders. I just knew that I had to compose this from their perspective. To try to incorporate their awe of seeing cowboys ridng real horses.

Initially I created this photograph in color, but the color of riders clothing in the background was too distracting. Thus I went to a black & white adjustment layer to tweak the relative contrast and tonal seperations, and then added a hue/saturation adjustment layer to provide a slightly warm tone.

I think I had a two-gun rig at this same age,  I can now remember the white pearl handles along with a fresh roll of caps, my cowboy boots, white cowboy hat and all of the other cowboy trimmings, including a western shirt with pearl covered snaps. My dad had tooled a western belt with I thought had real silver tips. Wonderful memories.

So the start of another series, which is to be continued next year, at the same place. Next year, I hoped to be a little better prepared as to what I want to accomplish.

Best regards, Doug

4 thoughts on “Swallows Day Parade – Another series in the making?

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  1. Bravo.

    I have had similar thoughts about the Bear Valley Springs 4th of July celebration. We got a glimpse of it last year and I had been thinking about it for the last few weeks. I wish I could get off to half as good a start as you have here. Moreover, as colorful and as much fun as the event here is, I am not apt to see two perfectly wonderful cowboys such as these guys. I certainly look forward to seeing this series.

  2. I like your idea of thinking in terms of series of photographs. I am finding myself doing the same thing … or at least sets of photos. But I’m not sure why.

    Perhaps sets of photograph visually reveal the underlying concepts or artistic intuition which unify the individual images?

    It is worth noting that “series” implies that order is important … am I right?

    At that age I had a similar cowboy outfit, and would only answer to the name “Roy” for Roy Rogers.

    Wayne Phillips
    Boulder, Colorado

  3. You raise a good question about the implied meaning of a series. I think that the word “photo series” is used in the broader sense, similar to photographic sets or photographic projects; a group of photographs that you have determined have a thread of commonality to them. The group or series of photographs provide a greater breath and meaning than would a singular photograph.

    Although sometime there is an important order to them, such as the photographic book by Bertrand Flueret “Landmasses and Railways”

  4. I guess I’ve taken too many math classes. :-) I think of a series as ordered, as in a series of numbers. Of course a series can be random. Sometimes we default to chronology for order. I often think I should spend more time ordering my pictures.

    But we usually see photographs in some order. I thought I was aware of some thoughtful ordering in some of your series, such as “In Passing,” which I think is simply sublime.

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