California Buckwheat, Plano Trabuco, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale
Have I ever stated that developing a new photobook is a messy process? I am sure I have, because it is.
I am still in the beginning states of this my new project Mystery on the Plano Trabuco, having just finishing the initial rough edit of the images (about 140 images culled out), while still doing some investigative work on the book design I have pre-visualized and concurrently developing my artist statement that I would hope elegantly describes my artistic intent.
My first rough edit is to select which images I think support my book’s intent and these have not had any image adjustments made yet. Now I have start the second phase of the rough edit by tweaking each if these photographs as to contrast, tonality, and image content by adding adjustment layers and image cropping. At this point I also am starting my printing process; smaller prints on 8-1/2 x 11″ for the book layout and sequencing and from lessons learned, also printing a 16 x 20″ image on a 17 x22″ sheet.
A case in point, for the image above, California Buckwheat, the image I posted on IG is brighter and reveals a lot of details in the shadows. After evaluating the initial printing, the image seemed too high key for my narrative, thus I added an adjustment layer and reduced the contrast and darkened the shadows to create what I think is a much moodier and somber appearing photograph that might be more in line with a mystery. Okay, maybe I am trying to create a mysterious photograph as well.
What I also check at this stage is the image layouts of the rough edit, which is surprising to me; as the 6:4 ratio of horizontal images to vertical images (square images are a much smaller minority and can work with all most any book layout). In past projects, I have created 80% or more horizontal images, such as Ciociaria and 100% horizontal for Middle Ground. I guess I was expecting a greater amount of horizontal images in how I was pre-visualizing the book design.
My advice in my workshops is to “listen” to your photographs as to what format your photobook might look like as to it’s layout. So this ratio of horizontal to vertical images invites maybe three book dummy layout options; a horizontal, a vertical and a square design to test these images. If I had 80% + horizontal or vertical photographs, then this might be more of a no-brainer. Another factor is a design element I have pre-visualized for this project that might lean into the layout and may also create the need to re-photograph some of the things I have found. Fun, fun, fun!