Time for a change


Hasselblad 503sx with 120mm Makro 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

So after 10 years, I have been thinking that it might be time for a make-over of my photo-blog! I am not sure just how I want this blog to look so I have been poking some different layout templates and accidentally clicked on the one you see today. Since this template is applied globally, not sure how my first posts will look like. Oh well, it’s a done deal now.

One thing about the current template is that the accompanying photograph is not that large, but from a quick scan of earlier posts, the images appear to be all sized similarly.  Which is probably a good thing.

I also need to think about what I want to keep on the sidebar, so I am guessing that will change as well, mostly getting condensed.

I am guessing that I will be trying out a few other template versions over the next couple of months, so perhaps some more changes yet to come.

So let me know what you think,





Selfie – Spring 2019


Selfie, Spring 2019 copyright Douglas Stockdale

For those who follow this photo-blog, you know that I lean into artist projects that explore the urban landscape, and more recently botanical subjects, as metaphors. Just not taking very many portraits. So posting this selfie is probably a bit of a departure; since I needed to update who I am as of late for my social media (Facebook in particular), I thought it might be interesting to post it here it here as well. so Tadaaaaaa!

My original color and then black & white versions of this selfie were pretty straight forward and so in thinking about how I am interpreting my botanical subjects (Memory Pods), I thought I might provide a similar treatment for this selfie. Okay, similar, but still different. It was an interesting to work with this portrait, a part of my experimental/play process.

I am not sure about you, but I like it. So I also updated my web site as well for my bio page. And while I was looking at my web-site, I noted that there were a few tweaks needed to update some other information. Done.

I also need to update my bio/head-shot for Los Angles Center of Photography (LACP) web-site as I am being scheduled to participate in their portfolio review program this summer. So another opportunity to use this selfie. Hopefully it does not scare folks off!

I have been told I have a Mona Lisa smile in this photo & others say it’s my mischievous look by those who know me a bit too well.



D-Day 75 years ago

Stockdale_O’Neil_Park_Mute posting_02-06-18_roll-1_746500002

O’Neil Park, sign (Gardening For Ordnance) copyright 2018 Douglas Stockdale

Today, June 6th, 2019 is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France during WWII that eventually lead to the end of that terrible war. Also a day to remember my father who took part of this event, who was part of the Second Army (Amour Division), and if I recall, he stated that he landed on D-Day plus 2 (the third day of the invasion). It was not something that he talked about, except I do remember him stating that there was a smell that day that he would never forget. Dad was born on June 1st, thus on this day in 1944, he had just turned 21 years old. Sobering thoughts. On a bit of lighter note, this is also the birthday of my son Chad.

This is a sober time to reflect on one of my current projects, Gardening For Ordnance, that essentially is an “Aftermath Project” resulting from WWII. We would not be living on a decommissioned WWII practice bombing range if it were not for this war. There would not be buried a few tons of Ordnance and Explosive Waste (OEW) just feet beyond my back fence if there had not been this epic conflict and the need to have a place for the Marine fly-boys to improve their skills bombing targets before being shipped off to the Pacific war theater.

Regretfully conflict always seems to just be lurking under the surface, unseen, while providing subtle signs to be observed if you are diligently watching. Therein lies the conceptual idea for my inspiration and why I am working on this project.

Rhiannon Adam as discussed in her recent interview in issue Professional Photography (#25) about her photographic project that investigates the environment issues related to Fracking in the UK, that by employing a disruptive aesthetic, she alludes to the potential threats of the practice on the landscape and lives of those pictured.

Likewise, my Gardening For Ordnance project is not meant to directly depict doom and gloom, but I hope alludes to the potential threats of the practice of conflict found on the landscape, even when that conflict was very distant. Conflict will have a lasting impact, thus one of the many reasons we need to remember the D-Day invasion.


Gardening (For Ordnance)


Gardening (Gardening For Ordnance) sometime in 2013, Douglas Stockdale

One of the interesting outcomes of preparing to make my recent Gardening For Ordnance publication submission is that I am gaining better clarity on the pre-visualization of the pending book (yes, there is always another book in my future).

It also became apparent that I have a bunch more color film negatives to scan (and maybe a few more images to photograph). One issue with external hard drive storage is when either the hard drive malfunctions or it is no longer compatible with the current computer. One really nice thing about film negatives; these are physically tangible items that are not impacted by shifting whims of technology. Such that I know that I had scanned some negatives back in 2008 and I am unable to find the digital files (some of which I know are “lost” on a malfunctioning external hard drive), but nevertheless I still have the negatives. Although it will be a pain to scan these negatives again the photographs are not lost on some fouled-up hard drive. Maybe another good reason to use film, eh?

I made the recent submission with twenty photographs and now I that am focusing on the potential book I realize that I will need at least another twenty more scans to complete. At a minimum. I have created a new project page on my website for Gardening For Ordnance with the twenty photographs that are in the relative order of my developing book dummy. So I invite you to check that out.

Although the photographs have titles, not evident on the website are the related captions that I think really tie this project together. I have collecting a bunch of documents over the years that relate to the decommissioned World War II bombing range I live on. Thus I am working on the pairing of the photographs with a some-what related caption. For the photograph above I have a straw-man for the corresponding caption:

While numerous quantities of Ordnance and Explosive Waste (OEW) have been recovered over the years, there have been no reports of injuries or death. – Ordnance and Explosive Waste Archive Search Report for Plano Trabuco Target Area, October 1993, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

I belive the juxtaposition of the photograph with the caption creates the ensuing narrative that I envision. (How nice; no reports of injuries or death). Individually the caption and photography is probably insufficient, but collectively when all of the photographs and captions are experienced I think the underlying concept for this project will become evident. I hope!

Thus the editing of the next set of negatives to be scanned will be completed in conjunction with finding a corresponding potential caption.  Of course one design alternative is to have multiple photographs per caption, but at this stage, the more captions, the merrier. For me, perhaps a bit of overkill with one caption per photograph. It will be easier for me to back-off on the captions as the book design progresses as I continue to build the book dummy for this project.

This project seems to be really coming together (finally).


Gardening for Ordnance – still in process


Untitled, Gardening for Ordnance, copyright Douglas Stockdale

It has been almost a year since I last provided an update on my Gardening for Ordnance project, but rest assured, it is still in progress. Sometimes a project needs to rest and allow the brain to do its thing chugging along in the background.

I had recently been more engaged in a related project Trabuco Flats which I investigate the same urban landscape. Interestingly there are a number of overlapping aspects between these two projects, although I am thinking that one is more of a fictional story than other. I am using the expired 120 roll film for both projects, so there are some visual overlaps as well.

Nevertheless, I find that my interest in Trabuco Flats is receding at the moment while my interest in Gardening is increasing. First, I had been thinking about publishing a line of new photobooks and as I considered which of mine to include, I kept coming back to Gardening for Ordnance. Thus I created a couple different book dummy’s for this project; and I am seeing some potential. That book publishing project is temporarily on hold while focusing on the (re)launch of the contemporary photobook magazine PhotoBook Journal. You can only do so much!

Second I was asked to submit some images for an on-line exhibition that investigates the idea of ambiguity and the Gardening photographs, one of these is included with this post, came immediately to mind. Okay, something is going on with the mental resurgence of this project.

Now I have another exhibition to submit and the images all need to be analog (film) based, which rules out many of the Memory Pods and Trabuco Flats images. BUT the Gardening project is totally analog! Not that using film is necessary to create an interesting project but the process of using film does create some subtle differences. I am not here to argue or defend film versus digital because as an artist, I use both depending on what I am attempting to create.

Such that my very expired film does create some unintended visual results. And using it provides another visual metaphor for investigating old/aging memories. I think the last film batch I processed (for Memory Pods) kinda went off the color scale. Well these two rolls were expired in 1997 and who knows what kind of storage conditions these were kept in over the last 22 years since its expiration date (or even before). I just keep rolling the (film) dice.

I also started journaling about the non-visual aspects of this project and perhaps what is drawing me in, other than the weird thing that we have decided to live on a decommissioned WWII bombing range. I think it has a lot to do with what just might be lurking just under the surface and recalling an incident when I was still a young lad and having an unresolved lingering moment of terror. That event continued to haunt me for many years. Seems like I buried that for awhile and interesting in how it has resurfaced.

So probably time to re-visit the images, make some new prints, think about a larger book dummy in terms of the edit and sequence and then consider which images to submit. Wish me luck!


End of NYT Lens blog

Bluewarter Shore artist book

Bluewater Shore, cover, limited edition artist book, copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

I just noted the tweet by PDN that stated the New York Times is ceasing (aka go on “hiatus”) their photo blog Lens, which was started about 10 years ago. Perhaps the NYT wants to send out a trial balloon about stopping this blog to obtain the reader response to its pending demise; if there is sufficient demand it might stay.

I suspect that the Lens blog readership has been in a state of steady decline since probably 2013/2014, as the case with most photo-blogs. The photo-blogging started to gain momentum in 2008/2009 about the time of the Facebook and before Instagram and other social media that can be consumed at a glance (or a swipe). Thus photo blogs, like this one, actually required the reader to engage with the written content; a bit out of vogue with the instant gratification crowd.

There announcement posted by PDN:

“Lens, the photo blog of The New York Times, will stop publishing at the end of May and go on a “hiatus” for an indefinite period. Meaghan Looram, director of photography at The Times, announced the news today in a note to staff. James Estrin, who has co-edited Lens with David Gonzalez, David Dunlap and Josh Haner, shared the note on social media.

Looram says in her staff note that the decade-old blog was founded during a “different era.” She explains, “Digital platforms were presenting new challenges to the industry, and Lens provided one of the few dedicated showcases for photography. But since then, the means of consuming photography have changed and expanded. We believe that this is the perfect time to take stock of and celebrate what Lens has achieved and to give serious thought to how to better position Lens for the future.”

She says the goal is to have Lens “evolve into an unrivaled source for those who want to read about and think about photography” and “We want to reach new readers.”

Though Looram described the change as a “hiatus,” she also struck a note of finality. She bid “a final nod” to the producers of caretakers of Lens. She also said, “There will be time to celebrate Lens and its wonderful run,” suggesting an ending more than a hiatus.

Since its founding, Lens has helped boost the careers of many emerging photographers and also highlighted forgotten or under-appreciate projects from throughout the history of photography. Lens is one of the few photo blogs to pay the photographers whose work it features. Looram also notes, “Lens took the lead in guiding the public conversation on the increasingly critical issues of diversity and representation with stories that showed how digital technology has empowered a new generation of photographers.”

The annual New York Portfolio Review, which Lens runs at the School of Journalism at the City University of New York, will continue, Looram says.”

My assessment is that the NYT is struggling in how to make the Lens blog more relevant (aka boost readership); hopefully they will figure it out.


Btw, honored that my artist book Bluewater Shore did receive a notice on the NYT Lens blog. nice. Oh, and there are only a few copies of this edition left, so message me if you are interested; doug@douglasstockdale.com

Mother’s Day

05-02-18 Neg2 24260002

Untitled, Memory Pods, copyright 2018 Douglas Stockdale

Coming up this weekend is Mother’s Day, which I believe originated in the United States by the greeting card companies about a hundred years ago. It is a wonderful opportunity to recognize and honor women, whether they are natural mothers, adopting mothers or pending motherhood. There are a group of women who have the heart break of not being able to be a mother who need to be honored as well. Of course the truth is that none of us would be here and reading this if we did not have someone who gave us birth! Thank them all!

For me thinking about my mom during this day is a memorial time as my mother passed away after battling Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Which is also the underlying reason for my Memory Pods project. Nevertheless, a day to treasure wonderful times and  memories.

I know as an artist that I can become fixated on a project and sometimes fail to see the greater potential for an artwork. Thus when I received an email blast from a local photo gallery extolling their collection of flower photographs as potential Mother’s Day gifts, it was a bit of a wake-up call regarding my Memory Pods project. To think beyond how I developed the images as to other ways these images might be read; my botanical portraits have the capability to connect with others on another level beyond my intentions.

Case in point; the photograph included above was created as part of the introduction to the emotional darker body of work of my project. As a stand alone photograph it has other potential readings beyond my concept. Perhaps it could be a lyrical Mother’s Day present? I know that the color palette of this photograph is one that my mom enjoyed as she leaned into pink, red and rosy blooming plants in her yard and some of the colors she deferred to when decorating her home (& my dad was a good sport about).

This revelation was the inspiration today to load up the Hassy with some more expired film (this time expired in 1997) and work on my project while the blooms of the Aloe Vera are in a very similar lyrical state as above. I think the expired film I used for the above image is almost as old. Now I need to head over now and get the film processed and scanned, but I will not have the results until later next week. That of course is the color film time-lag drawback; by the time the film is developed and available for review; the plant’s bloom will have already progressed into the next stage of seed and the opportunity has passed. Probably why this project is into its fifth year.

Thus if you think you would like to purchase a print of this image to give as a (late) Mother’s Day present, let me know; I bet your mother would probably love it!