Singular Images

January 25, 2019

Winter on Trabuco Flats

Filed under: Art, Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 10:48 pm

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Trabuco Flats, January, 2019 copyright Douglas Stockdale

An unanticipated visual change to Trabuco Flats that I have recently notices are the winter conditions. In southern California during the winter months we gave brief amounts of rain. Which in turn creates a new look to the otherwise monotone brown landscape; green grass! (yes, we do not usually get snow, which would be another alternative look)

This verdant color also creates a visual change to the Trabuco Flats landscape; rather than an overall flat brown color that visually has little depth, such as in this earlier post; things such as slight land depressions that might indicate a sunken shallow grave become much more visually apparent. Not that this is an old sunken shallow grave. Or at least the OC Sheriff’s office does not think so after checking it out.

This photograph is a quick study (i.e. mobile phone) that confirms that I need to quickly return while these conditions exist and work on the Trabuco Flats project again. Regretfully the one piece of equipment I felt that I needed for this project is a 50mm f/4 Distagon lens for my Hasselblad, which I had not budgeted until later this spring or summer. I am of the option that in order to obtain the picitorial framing I feel I need that this is the lens that would provide this viewpoint. So in the meantime I will shoot a roll of film with my 80mm f/2.8 lens with the Hassy to see if I can approximate this relatively wide angle view that I obtained with the Samsung S5.

The second aspect of this photograph that has me thinking is whether this image needs to be re-worked to make it appear more mysterious or does this straight (un-manipulated) photographic version work equally as well? The issue for me is that this summer I was really having difficulty with the visually flat monotone landscape images, thus leaning into other photographic processes to visually create what I was trying to convey. I think that this straight photograph looks pretty mysterious with the black rectangular hole looming in the foreground.

Fun stuff!

Cheers!

January 16, 2019

Winter Seascapes – January 2019

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 6:53 pm

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San Clement North Beach, January 2019 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Being an old school landscape photographer, I am probably also a bit of a romantic, thus I find that I cannot ignore a potential sublime landscape image when the opportunity arises. While dropping off Ella at the San Clemente train station (yes, the train station is literally right on the beach!), I could not help noting the lyrical storm cloud formation in the distance over the Pacific Ocean. Indeed heavy rain was looming in clear sight.

This storm also created some interesting shore break for the surf, thus I took a number of exposures trying to capture something interesting for the foreground to complete this composition. Since it was an early low light condition and using my mobile phone, there was a slight shutter delay, so I had to anticipate the rolling surf conditions. It did not help that with three small surf sets occurring that I was trying to capture something visually interesting with each one breaks. Just part of the fun playing with chance and serendipity.

So a modern seascape black and white image that I allowed to go full-frame that results from the Samsung S5 capture, versus cropping to a traditional 16×20 format.

I have included the color version below, cropped for Instagram (@douglasstockdale), that I posted earlier today. Slightly different visual effect, perhaps a bit more dramatic cloud and surf combination due to the tighter cropping. The color is a bit off due to the early morning lighting conditions with the pending storm. In Photoshop I found that I can color-correct these colors, but I rather enjoy this strange color combination. With this slightly greenish cast, it also appears to me to be a bit more eerie looking, so a small dash of mystery to change things up.

Cheers!

Doug

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December 13, 2018

Annual Christmas card rite – 2018

Filed under: Art, Photography, Picture Postcards — Tags: , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 9:45 pm

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Vail, Sandstone Creek, February 2018, copyright Douglas Stockdale

It is the time of year to send out the Holiday cards, which for us is a Merry Christmas (greeting) card that also includes the best wishes for the New Year. So spoiler alert, our photo this year is not the one above. Rather this photograph was cropped into a horizontal format, posted below, for the reasons I will soon reveal.

So as I posted last year and the year before as well as the year before that, we do not live where it snows, or at least not at our home. We can see it on the distant mountain tops, but Southern California near the beach is not known for its magnificent snow fall. Rain, yes, snow, no.

Thus it is my duty that when we go visit the snow for our annal ski trip, usually in Colorado, which has lots and lots of snow, I need to make the annual Christmas card photo for the following December. If I fail to find something, then I need to dig into my past ski photographs to find an alternative. Fortunately this past February the ski conditions were great and while I was out-and-about along my favorite creeks side, I created some photographs that had great potential. I will admit, these are not my project photographs, but more in line with a fun photo assignment to bring back the “Hallmark Christmas Card Photo”. Which means it should have some lyrical potential.

One troubling aspect of having heavy snow, which is really, really great for skiing, is that everything looks pretty stark and graphic: lots and lots of white with little bits of dark. So the challenge is to find a little bit of color that I can worked on later in the studio.

So while hiking up the side of the creek I spied this little leafless bush poking out of the snow which had some potential. The resulting image was made with a (normal) 50mm f/1.4 lens on my 5DMk3 in conjunction with a tripod. The exposure was with the lens pretty wide open to allow the background to go slightly out of focus, but with enough definition to know that there is a creek back there and retain some foreground snow texture. I also like that this photograph has a hint of abstract qualities; the focused graphic lines of the branches in the foreground in conjunction with the softer lines and shapes in the background.

Why the vertical versus the horizontal format?  As you might suspect; which was the photograph format that was the best fit for the card template that I wanted to use? If I wanted one of these two alternatives of this photograph for an exhibition; I would probably go with the horizontal layout. I like the open view point of the horizontal composition and the horizontal framing feels just a bit too constricting in the way some of the outside branches are turncated. Nevertheless, the horizontal photograph looks great on the printed cards (by the way, I used Dual Graphics, Brea, CA to print these cards)

At the very bottom of this post is a photograph that I had in initially in mind for the card. A close second for this year.

Merry Christmas & the very best for the New Year!

Doug

Btw, if you enjoy these photographs and you would like to purchase a print, message me as to the sizes that are available or the size you would like to acquire.

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December 11, 2018

Trabuco Flats – still evolving

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 11:44 pm

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Trabuco Flats, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

After recently making the changes to move my website operations to SquareSpace, I have been taking some time away from working (photographing) my Trabuco Flats project. Some needed reflection time. When I find myself unsure of how a project should look (revisualization), I think it is best to slow down. I have been doing some journaling about this project and see how it reads. Fictional, semi-fictional or a bit documentary? At the moment, I am moving from the entirely fictional to more of the semi-fictional and not sure that this will become a documentary type narrative. Perhaps a bit like the Pine Lake and Bluewater Shore projects.

The photograph in this post was made earlier this year and I now think might become part of this project (from another project in the same vicinity). Interestingly I had photographed this same location earlier in the day without any shadows and then later when I observed the shadows, this aspect seemed to add another mysterious dimension to this composition. So I made another series of exposures and now happy that I did.

As you can see, this is a “straight” color image and in line with this earlier post about the use of straight black & white, color or highly manipulated images. I think I am getting a handle on how all of these different visual styles might mash-up in my book design which will support my narrative concept. Also means that I am getting closer to the book development phase of creating the first version of my book dummy (marquette).

I also need to get my printer fixed (again) as well as it’s time to upgrade my color management system. More about that shortly.

I just finished my end-of-the-year big task selecting the “Interesting Artist and Photo Books for 2018” for The PhotoBook Journal. The 12 books were just announced this past weekend, so I spent a bunch of the last couple of days promoting it on the various social media channels. Meanwhile we still need to continue reviewing photobooks. This year I have three more book reviewers joining the TPBJ, so a bit of my time coaching them on how we have been doing the book review process.

Meanwhile, it is time to enjoy the holidays and I will be discussing my Holiday Christmas card very soon.

Cheers!

October 17, 2018

Landscape of Trabuco Flats

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 6:37 pm

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Untitled, Trabuco Flats 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

From time to time I am going to feature the evolving landscape of Trabuco Flats as I develop this book project. For most of my landscape photographs I pay close attention to any horizon lines as it seems that my photographs have a tendency to dip down just a tiny bit on the left side. I have been photographing like this for years, even when I know I might do it and try to pay close attention to the composition in the view-finder. It happens.

So when you see a slightly tipsy image like this you can bet I was trying to photograph a road that is meandering up a hill, which is indeed the case. I think the dirt road does provide sufficient visual clues in addition to the downward slope of the hill. FYI, I have always been uncomfortable with these kinds of photos which could imply that I did not get the composition right. This time I am feeling pretty good about this image.

I also notice that my broader landscape images like this one seem to do better on my social media like Instagram and Facebook that some of my tighter studies, such as my nasty Sacred datura flower that I just posted on here. Which could mean that the folks who follow me really enjoy my landscapes much better than the other stuff, or perhaps my other stuff just sucks.

Epson 4800 printer update:

For those who also have been following my Epson 4800 printer issue, it appears that I may have solved the printing issue due in large part to my friends at the Photo Exchange and Barry, a technical printer sales guy at Samy’s Camera in Santa Ana. Appears that the printing issue appears to be related to some declining paper suction that was not holding the printing paper near the print head nozzles at the end of the printing process. The paper was too heavy for the suction to hold the paper in place, thus falling away from the print head. Since the 4800 does not have an adjustment to increase the suction (one can decrease the suction), the fix was a slight delay in the Paper Feed Adjustment setting. The following two prints after making this adjustment unloaded a bunch of old ink crap on my prints, but subsequently the entire image was printed. Amazing what might accumulate over 13 years!

Equally nice is that I have a working fine art printer again, as my budget was very limited for the next few months to purchase a replacement printer. Yea!

While getting the printer working again, I also ran out of the Light Black ink. Oh well, but once the replacement ink arrives, I am back in the art business again.

Cheers!

 

 

October 15, 2018

Mystery on Trabuco Flats – Sacred datura – a dangerous flower & plant

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Sacred datura, Mystery on Trabuco Flats, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

For my project Mystery on Trabuco Flats, as well as another project Gardening for Ordnance, I have been photographing a local wild weed that blooms during the summer. The small vine-like bushes with their white flowers make for an interesting visual contrast in the wild park area; a bit of local beauty among the other not so pretty weeds and wild grass. I had assumed that this was another of the many none native plants that arrived in conjunction with the local urban sprawl.

For the Mystery on Trabuco Flats project I thought that this white flower appeared quite similar to a white Lilly that is sometime found in conjunction with funerals. Thus these flowers might create another metaphoric layer to this project, especially if the flower(s) was not in perfect condition but bug eaten, decaying and falling apart.

When a friend asked me if it was the Scared datura that I was photographing I did a quick check (as you might guess, I am NOT a botanist) to confirm that it indeed was the Scared datura (species: Datura wrighti) I was photographing. The morbid surprise was to find out that this is a poisonous perennial plant and ornamental flower native to the southwestern North America. Yikes!

Serendipitously I have been actually photographing something quite dangerous. This plant does not yell Danger, Danger! (Unlike the rattlesnake a few weeks ago). So this potential metaphoric flower appears to have more of a darker potential than I had ever envisioned. Very pretty, but also deadly. cool!

I suspect that photographs of this flower will also be a pretty subtle inclusion in my story, as I am assuming that very few are aware of the danger that this flower and plant present (as I understand, not to be eaten, not even a tiny little bit). Especially when I consider that I had no idea of its exsistance; never hearing of this flower and plant before. Which is unlike the various warnings for poison oak, the close relative to poison ivy, which is common to this southwestern region as well. In retrospect poison oak will make a bad intensely itchy rash, but I don’t think it will kill you. sigh.

At one point I thought that these strange flowers were actually too pretty for my dark story, but now very happy I persisted in this visual investigation. You never can tell what strange twists just might occur. wonderful!

And I was thinking that I might pick a few of these flowers to place into or adjacent to some of my suspicious sites. Yikes!! Now very happy I did not touch these flowers or plants.

So for my visual narrative will these flowers be potential clues to solve the mystery?

Cheers!

Doug

 

October 10, 2018

Mystery on Trabuco Flats – modifying the project name

Filed under: Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 10:40 pm

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Mystery on Trabuco Flats 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This past week I have slightly modified my current project name that I have in progress, from Mystery on the Plano Trabuco to Mystery on Trabuco Flats. Okay, so why?

Primary reason is that for my work of fiction I had been using the name of an actual place, Plano Trabuco; perhaps a road and school, but it’s known as someplace specific.  Not so good for my creative intentions.

So after a little research finding out that the the Spanish word “Plano” translates into the English word “Flat”, then making this plural, I was unable to find any place named Trabuco Flats. In fact I think it would make a nice name for either a bar or an interesting little eatery. hmmm.

So there there you have it. My fictional place for my (almost) fictional project, similar to my previous artist books Pine Lake and Bluewater Shore. nice.

Last weekend I did have a chance to show a few friends at Photo Independent my early stage book dummy for this project and I received some really great responses to both my mysterious images and my book concept. Likewise Chris Davies, the Director of my gallery, Fabrik Projects, came by and was extremely interested in this project and potential book concept. I always like it when folks from a gallery start wanting to know how soon this project will be finished. So overall some nice feedback, which keeps one’s energy up.

As to the image above; this may be a clue or it might be some evidence as to solving the mystery.

Cheers!

September 8, 2018

New project about found shallow grave sites

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OC county park, September 8 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I had stated in my Summer 2018 update earlier this week that I had found what the local OC Sheriff’s office is calling a “shallow grave” that falls under their category of “suspicious circumstances”. Although I am not a photo-journalist, I have now decided that perhaps this site and surrounding area might be a potential project, perhaps taking an inspiration cue from the artist books created by the Russian artist Julia Borissova, such her book Dimitry.

Thus the start of a new project, with the working title Mystery on the Plano Trabuco. So more about this project and potential artist book shortly. Meanwhile, some new events have changed things a bit about this site.

So yesterday I checked with the OC Sheriff’s office and found out that they were not going to investigate what I had found any further. Being the curious type, I went back to this shallow grave this morning to see what might be have occurred there. Hmmmm. No digging or other others probing of this site. So while there, I might take a few more photographs for my new project.

So while walking around to create a large environmental context for this site, I found a SECOND site of what appears just like the first; another old, collapsed shallow grave. YIKES!!

I could not believe its. Another one! Looking like I was going to be making another call to the OC Sheriff. Then I stated thinking, if two, maybe more?? So I started a very wide criss-cross walking pattern over this field. With the early morning light and the long shadows, I discovered another FOUR. WTF! Now SIX of these.

Diffidently need to call the OC Sheriff’s again. Wow, wow, wow.

So I made another call to the OC Sheriff and they wanted to see these additional sites, so another walk in the field to show the officers what I had found. They really only wanted to see two more to confirm there are multiple sites in this field. They also shared that they have already had the cadaver dogs run this field and did not get any “hits”. So appears that this is curious, but that the OC Sheriff’s are probably not going to do anything further, even with the fact there are six of these suspicious old collapsed shallow gave sites. Btw, what I also realized after the fact; the third of these sites I showed the officers was NOT one I found earlier today, so that takes it up to SEVEN of these sites in this field. Wow! And the Sheriff’s office does not appear that they are going to do anything further. hmmmmm.

Okay, that really confirms for me that there is a Mystery on the Plano Trabuco!

May 26, 2018

America Memorial Day

Filed under: Art Market, Middle Ground, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 6:25 pm

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America, (Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra), 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Here in the United States we are celebrating Memorial Day over this long three day weekend, a wonderful event for many reasons. As a kid it meant that we were going to be out of school shortly and the summer vacation was about to go into full swing. Also meant that the winter weather was gone, flowers were blooming, and it was going to get hot along with the evening swarm of mosquito, the nastiest of little flying biting insects.

As a child I had learned that this weekend was also about honoring those who served in the military, but as my dad and all of his brothers had survived WWII, understanding the underlying sacrifice was really lost on me then. Later when the Vietnam war was upon me and high school friends had gone to serve and then some did not come back, I really came to understood the full impact of what military service was about.

I have also come to celebrate this weekend in a much broader sense; a weekend to remember all of those who served as well as those others who have now passed through this life and a growing appreciation of all those still living among us.

Thus I felt very honored when my gallery used the above photograph, America, from my Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra project, as a memorial day weekend celebration announcement. In the context of Memorial Day I think that this photograph is a contemporary urban man-built landscape that metaphorically reflects on the current issues facing America. As our national anthem states That our Flag was still there, this photography visually signifies to me that we will get through this current political mess as individuals attempt to create barriers, impediments and divisions. That there is still hope for our country.

Cheers,

Doug

Photographic prints; 40 x 50″ (42 x 52″), 30 x 40″ (32 x 42″) , 22 x 28″ (24 x 30″), 16 x 20″ (17x 22″) available from Fabrik Projects, Los Angeles.

 

May 2, 2018

Pre-press for Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra today

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Pre-press, light table, Dual Graphics 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Things are moving at a crazy speed and seems like I am juggling chain saws.

This morning I was at Dual Graphics, the SoCal book printer that I am working with for the printing, trimming and folding of my artist book Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra. We are at the hard-proof step as part of the pre-press process and now the interior pages and covers have been on press for a short run and my evaluation.

It was apparent immediately to me that the blacks needed to be punched; too much details revealed in the shadows, thus losing some of the moodiness that I want these photographs to have. I brought with me a set of match-prints off my Epson printer and left these with the pre-press manager to provide more guidance. He did not see any issues with adjusting the printing plates and laying the ink to provide a close match.

He then headed out with these match prints to start this printing job. My book printing will not actually be run until later tonight and into the weekend, but I did not see any reason to be on-press with the printer. I spent enough time this morning with both the pre-press guy who does the shop floor color management and the printing  production manager. They get it.

We folded one of the hard proofs to verify the width of the book’s spine was appropriate and the cover appears to need no further changes; looking good!

Now I am back in the studio binding the three hard proofs, which will become Trial Proofs (T/P), in as the color is not spot on and being adjusted for the press run. Nevertheless, these T/Ps can be used as display copies at the Fabrik Projects gallery for the exhibition opening this Saturday to continue taking book orders. Btw, did I mention that my artist book is now available for pre-order??

Okay, now back into the studio to glue and bind some leporello books.

Cheers!

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