Walking were it might be “Hazardous”


Signage, Arroyo Trabuco trail, January* 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

While walking the Arroyo Trabuco trail I have noticed a number of really deteriorated signs with a wire mesh that appeared to have covered the missing signage. All of these were in really bad condition, thus I could only speculate what was there. This seemed to provide some visual opportunities to leverage these ambiguous situations to my own advantage.

Yesterday I noted one such sign lurking in the shadows of a couple of large bushes. After investigating I found that this posted sign was in the best condition of any of these, but still a very major challenge reading the extremely faded text. This is the first sign I have found where the wire mesh to protect the signage appears still in tact. I had hoped that my close-up and conversion to black & white in Photoshop might tease out the text a little better. Nope. Since this was photographed with my mobile phone, I will try again with the Canon 5DMk3 and when it’s fixed, I do plan to re-shoot this composition with the Hasselblad & color film.

In retrospect, my previous post of the UXO signage was perhaps a little too photo-documentary and did not garner much interest as a singular image. This photo may still work in the context of a book, so still in consideration.

Nevertheless, the resulting image is still great, I love that it has some slight hints as to the text while remaining very ambiguous, perhaps even a bit abstract. This potential image is diffidently on my list for Gardening for Ordnance project. I also think it is a great candidate for the 120mm Makro with the Hasselblad, so more about how that turns out for another day.

Btw, from what I could read: Keep Out Hazardous Area. Found adjacent to the Plano Trabuco Practice Bombing range (active: WWII and Korean War).

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* Limited time print offer: a 7 x 7″ black & white print is available for 24 hours after this post for a special price of $150 USD plus shipping. This print size regularly sells for $300 USD. Archival pigment print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Matte (305 gsm), paper size is 8-1/2 x 11″, Edition size of 10 and the print will be signed and numbered in pencil.




01-11-18 Warning_sign_KI6A7825_Gardening_for_Ordnance

UXO sign, Plano Trabuco Target Area, January 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

While on one of my morning walks, I came across a posted sign for UXO that I had not realized was on the Arroyo Trabuco trail. A nice bit of serendipity as photographing this walking project reminded me of another photo project; my Gardening for Ordnance that has been a little dormant for the past few years. One of those projects where I encountered some resistance to the project and had an irrational excuse that I did not have the right lens for the Hasselblad. sigh.

So seeing the signage, it re-engaged me and I realized today was an opportunity to photograph some alternative compositions. Since this was created with my 50mm on the 5DMk3, I quickly realized that my 80mm (normal) lens for the Hasselblad will do just fine. One of the compositions was in retrospect a little too tight and when I backed up to include the top of the hill in the background, a little too general. Cropping the big picture to exclude the sky and ridge appears just right. Also realize that photographing this in the morning with the sign back-lite was not want I like, but will need to return in the early afternoon with the sun shinning on the front of the sign. I also like the bigger aperture to throw the background slightly out of focus.

I think that I have the concept for the Gardening project pretty well nailed down so now it’s a matter of execution. My current thinking is that the Gardening book should be ready for publication in spring of 2019 next year, so I have time to work it while keeping focus on my current book dummy for Middle Ground.

Btw, if you cannot read the fine print, UXO is the military abbreviation (TLA) for Unexploded Ordnance, something you have to think about (or maybe NOT) when living on a WWII practice bombing range. Also becomes part of the backstory for Gardening for Ordnance. So more about this later in the year or you can read some of my earlier posts linked up on the side-bar for this project.


Chugging along


untitled (Kapalua, Maui) copyright 2013, Douglas Stockdale.

It seems like I have a bunch of balls in the air at the moment, nothing final to report, just that I am moving forward and hopefully making some progress.

My Gardening for Ordinance project is on a temporary hold while I gain some confidence in asking some folks to model for me, but I am getting some traction on this front. Trouble is that after my first attempt, my subject would not sign the model release. sigh. Nevertheless some good experience, but I’m going to work on some other projects before coming back to this.

SNAPs project is coming along and now looks like two artist book projects, first will be the smaller (less expensive) while sorting out the bigger project. For the first of the two, I am into the third book dummy, each one becoming more specific and detailed as to what the artist book will look like. Still not ready to commit to the purchase of the ISBN for the title, but I researched the title to know that it does not have an ISBN attached to this specific one yet, but at the moment as a placeholder, I am calling it a SNAPfolio.

So in the meantime, trying to find all of the materials to construct this SNAPfolio has been a lot of fun. It was like a memory of a child hood treasure hunt; instead of a gang of kids going door-to-door, more of an adult version in which I had my list and drove from store-to-store looking for something that resembled what I wanted. Resulted in some nice conversations with the folks at the stores as they listened to what I was looking for and they participated in finding the specific item or offering alternatives. It became somewhat collaborative in a sense.

As I have been creating this SNAPfolio, I keep adding more and more to it, so it is more and more of an art project that appears like an artist book. I borrowed a page from Raymond Meeks, so I have developed a hardcover casing to ship (and store) this project in. I now have a second generation prototype and it looks charming.

I am  borrowing a page from Pierre Bessard, my publishing friend in Paris, and will create this as limited edition of 100 copies. The trouble is that my printing and binding cost will not as low as Bessard’s, but no matter as that aspect is a lesser issue at the moment. Nevertheless, I have been seeking alternative sources to help reduce the costs of materials, so that has also been an interesting pursuit.

This project has also been taking time away from what I usually spend on my photobook narratives, so the postings to The PhotoBook have less frequent recently.

Looking back, the current route dose seem to be a little bit erratic and a zigzag path, but that’s the fun of being an artist versus a project manager; serendipity can play a bigger role in my life.

Oh, as to the photograph above with this post, it has no bearing on anything; I saw, I photographed and as it is not related to any project, it is a case of random “seeing”.  enjoy.


Pro scans while Gardening for Ordnance

04-30-13 neg 13 Pro-photo 91270009

Gardening for Ordnance Copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

Odd title for a post, but hopefully it will soon be self evident as to the reason for this narrative.

Perhaps until very recently, I have been doing my own film scans after processing. First, I have the film scanning equipment and second, I am cheap. Very cheap. Opps, I mean very frugal. Meanwhile, I realized that my scans of the various films were not always giving me what appears as the best starting material as it appeared that I was getting some kind of color drift in the process. I eventually changed my scanning process to first create a JEPG file, then in Photoshop open that scan file in RAW and make some of the color temperature and contrast adjustments before really working on the image. Much better.

I had also been advising a couple of folks that have been working in film that they might want to consider getting some film scans to work out some details in photoshop before making a print by a photo lab. So last week at my photo lab while getting the latest roll of film processed, I checked on their scanning prices, as I recall spending $45 for one high-resolution scan. I found out that they have incorporated a film scanner in line with their film processing and that for $5 I could obtain a low resolution film scan of each image at the time of processing. Wow, even for a cheap guy (frugal guy!), that sounded like a good deal. Especially when you consider their film scanner was some 50 times more expensive than mine. So I added the film scanning to the Fuji transparency film processing.

And so this is the results show. The photograph above is part of my ongoing photographic project Gardening for Ordinance. To save you some reading, the bottom line is that this looks great, and very little required by me opening the scan in Photoshop RAW to adjust color temperature and contrast range. What I don’t like is that they do an ever slight crop to eliminate the film edge, which I prefer to keep in at this stage of my evaluations.

First thing that I really like is the clean film scan, no spotting required. With my studio film scanning, I had all sorts of major dust to eliminate after scanning just to have a low res print to evaluate. I could probably not spend the time on spotting, but sometimes the stuff in the scan was a bit distracting, especially as I intended to print each image to obtain some project feedback. So with these scans, saving this time.

As to the batch scan process, I now have a low resolution scan to evaluate for each and every image of the film roll, no need to spend time on the light box trying to decide which transparency to scan. So that step is eliminated!

The low resolution film scan is a great size, providing a file size that is an 8 x 8″ image at 240 pixels/inch, which works fine for me as my evaluation prints are 5 x 5″ on 8-1/2 x 11″. Also a small enough file size that does not bog my old computer down to process each step and only slightly smaller than with my own scanning process, which I was scanning to a 10 x 10″ image at 300 pixels/inch.

Also what is nice is that as soon as I am back in the studio with the freshly processed film, I am ready to go. Just tuck the CD into the drive and open the folder up to decide what image to evaluate first. cool.

So bottom line, I like it, and this lab processing option only adds about $0.50 per image, which I think is a pretty good deal for all of the upsides. So this is now my new photo lab film process.


Adjusting to the Fujichrome change

04-17-13 RSM neg 14-15 v2

copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

With the demise of Kodak 120 Ektachrome, I have made the required change to the 120 Fujichrome, in my case the Fujichrome Provia 100F, considered a Super Fine Grain film. This also means that I might need to make some changes in my overall workflow, including the film scanning on the Nikon 8000 in conjunction with the Photoshop toolbox.

So far, I will have to say that I am impressed with this film. At the advice of John at my photo-lab, I did not change my image capturing processes. Ever hour or so (more often in the early morning and late afternoon), I do an exposure check with a Kodak gray card and my spot meter. At the moment for this film, I am using an Exposure Index (EI) that is the same as the manufacturers 100 ASA in conjunction with the labs standard E-6 film processing.

First indications are that the Fuji film appears more color saturated and the blues of the sky appear more as I remember them. In retrospect, the Ektachrome (E100, daylight transparency) seemed almost desaturated and I continually had issues with the colors of the sky.

Additionally, the scans of the Fujichrome film with my Nikon film scanner appear to require less correction and a lot closer to what I remember than the Ektachrome scans (maybe I have a Fujichrome memory??). I will not go as far as to say that the Japanese film and scanner companies are in cohorts together, but it does appear that the film scanner seems to be better calibrated for the Fujichrome film and not as well for the Kodak films (scanning both color negatives and transparencies).

So at the moment, I am enjoying the film change and having no regrets.

As to this photograph, I created this just before I was the bunny hero last week, as a part of my investigation project “Gardening for Ordinance”. I think that this bush is in the midst of its Spring bloom, but regretfully I do not recall seeing it until now. Another one of the beneficial aspects of working on conceptual projects like this is that it does increase my awareness of those things around me. Very cool. As to the composition, in the view finder the sky was not evident in the upper left corner when I made this composition. I had purposely tried to fill the top of the frame with this flaming bush. In retrospect, I think that this bit of sky adds some mystery and creates a more interesting photograph. So at the moment, a keeper.


Missing palm

05-10-08 TCGC neg 1-2 lr-1x scan n cropped

copyright 2008 Douglas Stockdale.

Late February I was working on the scanned image of the palm that I photographed as a part of a new project. In a post about this image, I had concluded that I needed to photograph this composition again in the early afternoon sunlight. Which I thought today was a good day to do just that. I had four exposures left on the roll of film in my camera back, which I suspected would be just the right quantity to complete this composition and then head over to the photo lab for processing.

When I arrived at the location, something looked very odd as I was having difficulty getting my bearing when it dawned on me what the issue was. Somebody had cut this palm down! All there remained was a flat stump at ground level. Egads, there went that idea. Of course I have no clue as to when this event occurred as my original exposure was in 2008. What’s that old saying about you can’t go home again?

So in the meanwhile, this image above may be included within the current project, as it ties to the concept that I am exploring. This photographic also highlights my current issue with film scanning, as the color shifts are proving difficult to correct.


Photographing with a purpose

05-10-08 TCGC neg 1-2 lr-1x scan n cropped

Copyright 2008 Douglas Stockdale

I have been looking at the photographs that I made in 2008 for my project Places in Between, which in retrospect was not all that well thought out. It was part of SoFoBoMo, so I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to photograph, but the concept was not as well-defined. Thus like the Cheshire Cat admonished Alice, if you do not know where you want to go, any pathway (photograph) will do.

Nevertheless, this composition is actually well in line with my current project requirements, except now I understand what kind of light I want. In this case above I made the image during a dull overcast sky, but I now want this specific image made in glorious sunshine, which thankfully here in Southern California is rather common. This location is not far, either a long walk or a very short drive away. I have been monitoring the sunlight to anticipate photographing a similar composition, which appears that I need to work on it in the afternoon. I have not been there recently, so I am not sure if the background flowers are blooming  (but yet to decide if this makes a difference). Also, may not have the flying flag in the background of the composition either as the photograph above was made just before the 4th of July.

So a nice study that I can now refine during the next set of exposures.