Singular Images

January 5, 2013

Mystical sorting hat

Filed under: Ciociaria, Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Douglas Stockdale @ 8:15 pm


Untitled (Fiuggi Terme) copyright 2010 Douglas Stockdale

I had noted this table and cover on the grounds of a hotel in Fiuggi Terme during most of the Summer it was covered with green leaves and people were enjoying a conversation in the shade. Later in the Fall, the leaves were gone and so were the constant flow of guests, but what remained appeared more interesting. The tangle of bare limbs above the table were revealed and appeared to take on the look of an ancient cover. I could not help but think of the “sorting hat” in the Harry Potter series.

With some careful positioning, I was able to juxtaposition two of the lawn lights to appear to hove just above the table top in an attempt to imbue this with more mystical symbolism. This photograph did not appear to be a good fit for my Ciociaria photobook, but it still beckons me back for a second consideration.

Perhaps to afford a look into the future or the interpretation of dreams?

Nevertheless, I am not sure of the photographs eventual use but I am already considering the changes I may need to make to create a different image (I never have claimed to be a purist, as I am not a documentary reporter). I am thinking  to clone out the remaining while globes in the background, they create a visual distraction (eyes are drawn to the lightest parts of a photograph) and work against the illusion. Likewise there is a light colored structure in the background lurking above the plane of the table that needs to be either toned down or eliminated. Then I think my mystical sorting hat will be ready for prime time!!

Any dreams requiring interpretation?? Inquire within.


September 19, 2011

NoWhere Man – NoWhere near Chicago

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 8:36 pm

NoWhere Man near Chicago copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

A couple of weeks ago while I was passing through the Chicago area, I was inspired to work again on my NoWhere Man project.

May 22, 2011

Evolving Projects – Insomnia: Hotel Noir

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 9:40 pm

NwM in Transit copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

It is always interesting to me when random events collide, as though the almighty has a delicate hand in it.

For those who on occasion read this blog over the last four years will recall, on and off I have been working on a project titled Insomnia: Hotel Noir. I have thought the project complete, set up a separate blog delicated to this project, developed a book dummy and have advanced that to a Blurb printed version and subsequently have had a number of conversations with a bunch of book publishers. There has been interest, but no committment to take this project the next step, but some nice direct, as well as indirect, feedback.

So this is what I would call the advanced pasta test; I had cooked up this idea, threw it on the wall and it stuck. So I keep moving it ahead. Well then the book publishers threw the idea up on the wall, but it did not stick; something was wrong with the recipe or the cooking. Since I was not sure what to do with this project, it went dormant, as I sure have a bunch of other projects that I am excited about developing. So about a year ago, I came back to this project and after another interesting discussion with another book publisher I realized that there was one thing I needed to do to this project; delete the blue toning hue (which I now refer to as the “Blue Edition”) and return back to Black & White basics. In retrospect, the blue toning was an interesting idea, but too conceptual weak. Some guy named Picasso kinda has this blue period thing nailed pretty tight. It was the immediate blue toning that caught the immediate attention and sank the ship before it left the dock. Okay, that can be fixed, (deleting the various color layers for this hue in Photoshop) but it takes time, mean while I have other projects that are active.

Then I recently acquired Larry Sultan’s Katherine Avenue, which has become a retrospective book about Sultan, who recently passed away from cancer. Although Sultan developed a number of projects, he is known for three long duration projects; Pictures from Home, The Valley and Homeland. While working on a my notes for a discussion about this book on The PhotoBook, it dawned on me that I need to continue working on and finish my earlier Insomnia: Hotel Noir project. Not sure just what the exact emotional trigger was, but this book has re-energized this earlier project.

Perhaps without really understanding why, one of my in-process projects, NoWhereMan, was digging into the same emotional and conceptual space as Insomnia: Hotel Noir. From the get-go, NoWhereMan was going to be a project completed in color. I visualized it in color and intended to complete it with color photographs.

So with the aha! from Sultan’s book, starting to work on Insomnia: Hotel Noir again, I took off the conceptual blinders to NoWhereMan and tested a few images in Black & White. Hmmmm, seems to be working. Meanwhile, I also tested a number of the earlier Insomnia: Hotel Noir images in color; interesting but not the same emotional quality, as the color images were not passing my spaghetti test.

So I am again off and running on my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. So I need to work on integrating the newer images with the old, visualize the book dummy, and determine which publisher I want to contact again, or add to the list, while concurrently finishing the book dummy to re-engage our conversations. nice.

I was be interested in reading about your thoughts on the lastest evolution of this project.

Best regards, Doug

Subsequent Note: I just added a new Catagories reference in the side panel of this blog to link up the past Insomnia: Hotel Noir posts. I will be adding this Catagories linkage to the past posts, which will probably take me about a week to complete.

March 23, 2011

Inspirational Muse is still alive – thank goodness

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 6:01 am

NWM Hanover copyright 2011 by Douglas Stockdale

I had lamented earlier this month about my inspirational muse and how this was something you really can’t manage, per se. I, you, we just need to allow a openess and listen quietly. As sometimes things occur for me, when I start to connect, it seems like many more ideas start rolling in.

Case in point, last month while in Madrid and Paris, I started thinking about a concept that was a somewhat related to my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. After it has passed the initial spaghetti test, I am a little more confident about blogging about it, tentatively titled NoWhere Man, of which the singular image above is now a part of. Especially since I keep working on the project.

Meanwhile two more project ideas have started to develop, one a little more conceptual, while the other is about a potential noir project in Southern California. nice.

Also this week, I mailed my CD of Ciociaria photographs to Marco, my publisher in Italy. And I just now remembered that I was going to include something else with that package. darn. Oh well. Next is to let Marco take the first look at the photographs and then schedule some time with the editor around one of my trips to Italy. Nice, this continues to move forward.

August 5, 2010

Singular Images – three years & counting

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Douglas Stockdale @ 4:31 am

Salon, Napa, copyright Douglas Stockdale

While in Euope and posting actively on this blog, realized that I have been writing and posting on Singular Images for over three years. I guess a couple of years ago, I would have been counting the days to make an anniversary post, but some things have changed since then. I don’t know that it is neccessary to dreg all of the changes up, but this blog has become one of a place for reflection. Why do that in public, I still don’t fully understand, but nevertheless I do.

At times recently I wonder if this blog will weither away and die an unknown death. Then something occurs and I am motivated again to post my thoughts or want to push a photograph or two onto the web and see how it looks. It is a place of solace during my international travel, that much I have begun to understand.

So a quick recap of things to come: I am re-working my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir (photograph with this post will potentially will be included), eliminating the blue tonality and darkening the mood. Since I have some additional insights on my trip to China, I will probably try to finish Wo Zhi Kan Kan. Now with the time I am spending in Europe, prodominately Italy and probably soon more time in France, I have a preliminary project in Italy that I working some kinks out and for France I have a project that I am now investigating there as well.

Best regards, Douglas

July 13, 2010

Working on the Insomnia project – again

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Douglas Stockdale @ 6:12 pm

Auberge noir, copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

After a relatively long spell, I am working on my Insomnia project again. Perhaps it is the influence of studying the photobooks of Mario Giacomelli and Kiyoshi Suzuki, but I find myself moving to a darker palate and contrasty images. You probably could question the relevance as these two photographers were actively photographing during the 1960 – 1980’s, but their earlier style feels relevant to this project.

Something I need to investigate, eh?

Best regards, Douglas

February 5, 2010

Insomnia project update

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Douglas Stockdale @ 3:08 am

Okay, this is putting a positive spin on reality; one of the up-sides of my intense travel schedule this past four months has been to allow myself some space between finishing my Insomnia: Hotel Noir book dummy last Fall and examining it again now. When I brought this dummy with me to Italy last month, I realized that I had not really looked at it for the last four months. So reading it again was refreshing, probably not unlike the late Gary Winogrand’s mantra of not wanting to look at his photographs for about a year after he made them, to gain some needed perspective.

Meanwhile, I have also completed another twenty photobook reviews during the interim, taking mental notes of what I appreciated and what was not working for me.  And so I realize that my concept for this project and printing it with a blue tonality is really rubbing me the wrong way. The use of the blue toning is making this project look too obvious, such that it seems that I am unsure of the underlying strength of the body of work, and appears that I am searching for a gimmick to help make it work. sigh. reality sucks.

So I will be working on this project again, another refinement.

Meanwhile, rather than outright deleting the Blue Edition dummy off of Blurb while I reconfigure this project, I am just going to not make it publicly available anymore. In the past, I would just delete the Blurb book and that would be it. This time, I am going to try a slightly different tack, but I need to pull the details together first.

Best regards, Douglas

July 6, 2009

Blurb Published – Insomnia: Hotel Noir

Filed under: Books, Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 4:49 pm


Insomnia: Hotel Noir copyright 2009 by Douglas Stockdale

I just announced on my Insomnia: Hotel Noir blog that I published the book with Blurb over the weekend. nice.

And this morning I received back some nice comments from David Maisel regarding my review of his book, Libraries of Dust, which I just published on The PhotoBook. That is my 49th photobook review that I have published on that blog. I am now working on my 50th (small milestone) photobook, Candida Hoefer’s Libraries.

Good start after a nice 4th of July holiday; we grilled some brats, a little cold beer and a wonderful sunny, but not too humid and hot, weekend. really nice.

Best regards, Doug

June 30, 2009

Insomnia – Blurb book almost complete

Filed under: Books, Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 11:29 pm


SideGate from the series Insomnia: Hotel Noir

It looks like I should be able to make the July 15th deadline for my Blurb book submission, as I just loaded this photograph, SideGate, as a full bleed image into my Booksmart page.

That leaves just one more photograph to go, and I have already completed most of the fine tune tweaking for it. And I just may have to let the photobook reviews drift a little bit, having just published Roger Ballen’s Boarding House on The PhotoBook. Next photobook review in line is David Maisel’s Library of Dust.

So now I need to get into the final editing in preparation of uploading it to Blurb. Also thinking that Insomnia will be available on the Blurb bookstore both as softcover and hardcover in the large 11 x 13″ size. At this point, it is probably getting to  where I need to convert the reporting of this project to the blog that I set up for Insomnia, at

Now, I set this book specific blog up, trying to follow my own advice on what to do in order to promote your own book. So I will soon seems what happens, eh?

Okay, then what do I write about here? Probably the other odds and ends stuff that comes up, and guess what? Once I complete this project, clear the decks, it is time to start working on my next project!

Wish I knew which one that will be…..but I still have a couple of weeks, eh?

Best regards, Doug

May 11, 2009

Insomnia – Ten images still to go

Filed under: Insomnia: Hotel Noir, Photography — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 6:55 am


Expressway Room from the project Insomnia; Hotel Noir photograph copyright 2009 Douglas Stockdale

Seems like I figure out one image for my project Insomnia and I end up needing to change two others. But I am slowly making some headway and almost down to single digits for the remaining images. And in the process, two images that I thought would be inside the book have now found them selves as the front cover (above) and back cover.

I have been more concerned about the front cover than the back cover, as I want to lead into this book with a strong image, but I had not guessed that this was going to be the image. In fact what had bugged me for a while is that I have not been sure which photograph I would use for the front cover. Unlike In Passing, which was evident from almost day one which would be the front cover image, I just had no doubts at all. This time with Insomnia, I did not have a photograph that shouted to me; chose me, chose me!

Meanwhile, for The Photo Book I just published my book review of Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison’s counterpoint and I am in the middle of my write-up for Zoe Strauss’s America, with Hiroshi Watanabe’s Findings waiting in the wings. That is a diverse set of photobooks.  Even a nice note from Hiroshi about the book review blog when I was arranging with him for some images to use with my review.

When I purchased the book 50 Photographers, I remembered that when writing about the pending Swann Auction, I have always been interested in the photographs of Ed Ruscha, a Southern CA artist. So what did I find and include with my other recent purchase, but a Steidl book, Ed Ruscha, Photographer. Bad habit, bad habit.

My book review backlog is now getting a little larger, but the nice thing is, my reviews only need to get published when I am good and ready to share my thoughts. It is not like I have a Friday deadline.

Best regards, Doug

BTW the image above was one that I made entirely in the camera, taking advantage of the window reflections in conjunction with the landscape outside the window. I just had to play with the lights inside the room to find the right balance of light to capture both enough inside and outside the room. The “instant” feedback of the digital camera is the 21st century version of the Polaroid, as I have no idea how close I would have been if I had been using the Hasselblad with film. Even if I had used my spot meter and the full zone system exposure analysis.

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