Curse me for a novice

“Curse me for a novice” was, as any comic book geek like me would know, something that Dr. Strange would say in the comics. He would utter it when he made an easy mistake or forgot something simple in casting his magic spells, which was surprisingly quite often for someone billed as the Sorcerer Supreme. But it proves a point that even the best of us, no matter how skilled, can mess up at times. Even after 35 years as a working photographer, I had my own curse-me-for-a-novice moment recently.

On Sunday, March 31, my 21-year-old son Christopher and I took a trip up to Daffodil Hill near the Mother Lode town of Volcano for the attraction’s opening weekend. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and pleasant temperatures. Thousands upon thousands of the white or yellow blossoms dotted the 36-acre ranch. I took my camera out of my bag and realized that I had broken the 9th unofficial rule of photography: always have batteries. 

Technically, my camera had a battery, it was just dead. for I had forgotten to make sure that it was charged up before leaving the house. I had a second battery but it was sitting on a charger at home, about an hour and half away. 

There’s a trick that you can do if your battery goes dead while shooting and you don’t have a spare. Turn the camera off, take the battery out, then re-insert it. Sometimes there’s enough of a reserve charge to fire of a frame or two. I tried it, but the battery was so depleted that it didn’t work. So my camera became an expensive, 3-lb paperweight having on my shoulder.

Fortunately my son had is camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T6, and graciously let me use it. I worked as quickly as I could because I knew that he wanted to take pictures too, The Rebel is an excellent beginners camera but I’m used to a pro level machine, so I had to adjust to it. 

The Rebel is small, again, great for novices, but since I was the one who made the novice mistake, I had to get used to how it handled. It felt too small for my hands. My pinky finger hung off of it’s grip with nothing to hold onto. It’s smallness also translates to it’s weight. It weighs about 1-lb, lighter than the lenses I was using, which made it front-heavy. 

Canon must believe that most users of the Rebel will be using an automatic setting because changing exposure settings manually on it took more steps than on my camera. I had going the camera’s menu then press a button then turn a dial to change the aperture and then again for the shutter speeds, taking the camera from my eye each time. With my professional camera I had to do is to turn a dial for each never having look away from the viewfinder if I didn’t want to.

I got my photos and returned the camera to my son who was off taking pictures with his phone while I was shooting. That gave me the idea of taking some with my own phone. 

The curse of being a novice can also be a blessing, because if you want to improve your photos you should slow your process down and think more. Shooting with my son’s camera and then with my phone, made me slow down and consider my pictures carefully. I didn’t take as many photos as I normally would have but the ones I did take were all the better for it.

Posted in Equipment | Leave a comment

Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Coming into bloom

The coming of spring brings with it the blossoming of flowers which is the latest subject of the Readers Photo Challenge. Remember, this is a photography challenge, not just a one about flowers. Just because a flower is pretty, it doesn’t mean that it will automatically make a good picture. How you approach your subject will make the difference between a mediocre picture and a great one.

Wild radishes and wild mustard, which are often seen growing in wide swathes in open fields, tend to grow year-round. The mustard are bright yellow while the radishes are multi-colored in yellow, white and lilac. It’s a little early for many wildflowers but are likely to bloom within a few weeks.

The Mother Lode is a great place to find flowers. Poppies are just starting to spring up around near Jackson and Daffodil Hill near Volcano opened up this past weekend.

Wildflowers can be found in the Valley as well. The aforementioned wild radishes and mustard can be see just about anywhere there’s an open field. Other flowers such as fiddleneck, winter vetch and goldfields maybe a little harder to find at this time of year but should soon be blooming in noticeable numbers. There are a few places that are relatively close such as the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton that flowers can be found. You can also use take drive one of the county’s many rural roads to find them as well.

You needn’t confine yourself to wildflowers. Garden-grown or even store bought flowers are acceptable as well. Whichever you pick, always look for good light in which to photograph them in. With outdoors flowers, early morning or late afternoon light, with it’s warm tone and low angle, is the best. Try to avoid the mid-afternoon sun which tends to wash out the colors. With indoor blossoms look for some nice, soft window light.

For close-ups a macro lens is the best choice. Close-up filters which fit over the front of your camera’s lens is a cheaper alternative but usually at the cost of sharpness. The best way to use either one is to turn the autofocus off and move the camera (an/or yourself) in and out to focus. Other lenses can be effective as well. A telephoto can bring in things at a distance, a wide-angle can take in an overall scene. With a wide lens try focusing at it’s closest at, say, a field of flowers. Then you can get both close and wide in a single shot.

Flowers needn’t be the main focus of your photo. You can use them as a backdrop or prop in a portrait or wildlife photo. Speaking of wildlife. Look for insects or animals that can be an accent to your photo as they crawl on or amongst the flowers.

Whatever way you approach the subject, with whatever equipment you choose and wherever you find your flowers, make sure to take your time and think your photo out to let your talent blossom.

How to enter:


1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. Type in “Wildflowers” in the subject line

2. Photos have to be shot between April 2 and April 16.
3. The number of photos is limited to no more than 12 per person
4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of device you used and where it was taken (eg.: “John Doe of Stockton. Micke Grove Park, Lodi. iPhone6s”)

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos (eg.: Jane Doe, 15, walks near a patch of flowers at Daffodil Hill near the Mother Lode town of Volcano).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is April 16. The top examples will be published on Tuesday, April 23 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.

Posted in Close-up/Macro, Nature, Readers Photo Challenge | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Readers Photo Challenge: On cloud nine

The subject of the latest Readers Photo Challenge assignment “clouds” was a a popular one. Not only were there a large number of entrants but half were from people who hadn’t entered before.

Fortunately, there were many days that were cloudy within the shooting timeframe. Some sent in white clouds, others setting grey clouds and still others sent in orange clouds. One person shot a scene with fog, which is essentially Fog on the ground.

Anyway they saw they clouds, the readers kept their heads in the clouds, which for this challenge, was a good thing.
Forty readers sent in a whopping 185 photos. Here are some of the top picks.

_____________________________________

Matthew Baker of Stockton photographed his clouds from the Weight Mile Road railroad overpass in Stockton. He used a wide angle lens mounted on a Nikon D7500 DSLR to great effect in capturing several compositional elements in his photo. First, the overpass’s railing and walls recede off to a vanishing point in the distance. Secondly the sun creates a starburst as it peeks through an opening in the railing. The sun also casts an interesting pattern of shadows on the ground as it shines through the decorative railing. Lastly, the clouds that fill a blue sky to complete the photo.

_____________________________________

Teresa Mahnken of Morada photographed clouds over at the Wat Dhammararam Buddhist Temple in Stockton. The grounds of the temple are filled with giant statues depicting various stages of the Buddha’s life. Mahnken used a Samsung Galaxy 8 Samsung smartphone to photograph a smiling golden Buddha as white clouds billow against a blue sky behind it.

_____________________________________

One often things that to photograph a cloudy sky one has to get an overall, wide angle shot. But sometimes just getting a portion of the sky can be more effective. Janet Baniewich of Stockton used a Nikon D3300 DSLR camera to photograph a pair of palm trees in her yard against a backdrop of clouds. By using a telephoto lens she captured the trees with just a small part of the sky but came up with a more dramatic photo.

_____________________________________

Dave Skinner of Stockton found a sky full of less defined clouds but nonetheless impressive. Catching a sunrise at the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton with his Nikon D7100 DSLR camera, he photographed the clouds which were colored with the warm tones of the morning sun as a flock of geese flew by.

_____________________________________

Most people look skyward to find their clouds but Joseph Hey of Stockton found his picture in different direction. Using a Samsung Galaxy 7 smartphone Hey looked to the ground to find clouds reflected a puddle at Oak Grove Regional Park in Stockton.

_____________________________________

Marcia Thompson of Murphys captured the clouds during sunset over Pennsylvania Gulch bear where she works in Murphys. Thompson not only got the warm light of the sunset turning the clouds a nice golden color, but she also got a wolf-shaped weather vane of a nearby building baying at the sky.

_____________________________________

Desiree Forsberg-Bogaard of Stockton, who is a teacher at Kohl Open School, managed to photographer her cloud photo on campus in Stockton. Between rain storms and classes, she used an Apple iPhone 6 plus to photograph the sun breaking through the clouds, it’s slight skimming off of the rain-soaked concrete of the school’s quad.

_____________________________________

Mike Ratekin of French Camp used an Apple Phone 7 Plus to photograph a tractor in a field near his home against sunset colored clouds. The pink clouds overhead compliment the red color of at the tractor in the foreground, visually connecting sky and ground in the photo.

_____________________________________

Michael Twitty of Lodi sedan Apple iPhone 6 to photograph clouds over the Japanese tea garden at Micke Grove Park in Lodi. He effectively used the trees in the foreground to frame the clouds.

_____________________________________

Carolyn Silva of Jackson used a Nikon D7500 DSLR camera to photograph the clouds at sunset near her home. She silhouetted a bare oak tree in the foreground against a band of clouds illuminated by the setting sun.

_____________________________________

All of the entries can be seen in a gallery at recordnet.com. A new challenge assignment will be issued on April 2.

Posted in Readers Photo Challenge, Weather | Tagged | Leave a comment

From chump to chimp

The term “chimping” is one that not all photographers may know but everyone does it, whether they admit it or not. First written about by USA Today photographer Bob Deutsch, it refers to the act of reviewing pictures on the camera’s monitor immediately after taking it.

Sports Illustrated photographer Robert Beck says that it isn’t chimping unless they make ape-like sounds while doing it, something like “ooh, ooh, ooh.” But most photographers considerate chimping with or without the sounds

In the beginning of digital photography chimping was pejorative term. For those who get up in the film era there was a certain artful skill that was somewhere in between talent and experience when a photographer would know that they had a great image the moment when they shot it. Chimping kind of felt a little like cheating. Some believed that it was a crutch for those lesser photographers. Well, let me tell you, everybody chimps. You chimp, I chimp, big name photographers chimp like any amateur with a point-and-shoot.

Chimping can be a great tool for photographers and not the crutch that some used to believe. What you don’t want to do is to chimp after every shot. You could be so busy looking at your display that you may miss something happening right in front of you.

The first thing I do when I get to an assignment is to get a quick shot and quickly review the image to determine the exposure for the scene. I won’t usually look at it again unless the lighting changes.

Sports is one those events that knowing when to chimp is crucial. I’ve seen too many photographers, too many times, miss a shot while chimping, myself included. But there are times when stopping to look at your monitor is OK. There are always breaks in the action, penalties, timeouts and breaks between periods, when there is time to chimp.

For me, when shooting a sporting event, the ability to identify an athlete is almost as important as the shot itself. After all, that caption in the newspaper doesn’t say “some guy carries the football, hits a homer or sinks a jump shot.” I have to get the names the players. So I’ll often chimp a shot to make sure I have a readable jersey number in the frame. If not then I’ll get a shot of the player and a clearly visible number. But I make sure the action is over and there is enough time for me to do it.

If you’re a portrait photographer you may want to show the image your model to help show them what they’re doing right or wrong in their posing and involve them in the picture taking process.

In landscape photography one usually has a lot of time and the scene doesn’t change very quickly so frequent chimping is acceptable. But if you’re a wedding photographer or shooting an event where you have to be on your toes, keep it to a minimum. You don’t want to miss the first kiss after the vows of the bouquet toss because you were looking at your monitor.

Instant gratification being what it is, the urge to chimp is sometimes undeniable, but the more experience you get as a photographer the less you’ll do it. When you do chimp, just make sure it’s the right time to do it.

Posted in Equipment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Head in the clouds

The newest Readers Photo Challenge assignment is “clouds.” Recent weather is such that makes this assignment timely and more clouds are in the forecast.

A cloudy sky is usually much more interesting to look at and photograph than a bland cloudless one. Puffy, white clouds lazily floating in the sky can may for pretty pictures and dark, threatening storm clouds can make very dramatic images.

At the beginning or the end of a day, clouds be imbued with the colors of a sunrise or sunset. Like tofu, which in and of itself doesn’t have much of its own flavor but picks up the tastiness of whatever it’s cooked with, clouds can help spread the color of a fiery sunrise/sunset.

Shooting clouds by themselves can be a bit boring no matter what they look like. Try adding something in the foreground, like a tree, mountain or person, to help give the clouds scale and context. Quite often there is an exposure differential between the clouds in the sky and something on the ground with the clouds being much brighter. The can be ameliorated by exposing for the clouds and just allowing what’s in the foreground to go dark and turn a silhouette. If you want some detail in the foreground you can use what’s called a fill-flash technique. By using a flash during a daylight exposure you can fill-in the shadows with light.

Don’t let inclement weather scare you away. Sometimes shooting in the rain can be the best times to shoot. Clouds swirling around in a storm can make for great photos. Make sure you can see individual or groupings of clouds and not just a featureless slate grey sky. I believe that to get the best weather photos you have to be out in it, not just shooting from inside a car or from a window. If you’re out in the elements you might want to think about protecting your camera. I’ve used re-sealable plastic bags (1-gallon sized) and garbage bags to cover my camera. Just pierce a hole in one end to poke the lens though and another in the other end to look through the viewfinder. Also carrying a towel to dry off the parts the do get wet is very helpful.

Weather-related assignments can be a hit or miss proposition. They can be hard to plan for because you never can be 100% sure on what you’re going to get. Fortunately, storms and clouds are forecasted for the next few weeks. Always have your camera near at hand and be ready to shoot when an opportunity arrises. Don’t put off shooting the clouds until another time because they might to be as good or they may even be gone the next day.

__________________________________________________

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. Type in “StormClouds” in the subject line.
2. Photos have to be shot between March 5 and March 19.
3. The number of photos is limited to no more than 12 per person
4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of device you used and where it was taken (eg.: “John Doe of Stockton. Micke Grove Park, Lodi. iPhone6s”)
5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos (eg.: Jane Doe, 15, walks his dog Fido under rainy skies at Grupe Park in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is  March 19. The top examples will be published on Tuesday, March 26 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.

Posted in Readers Photo Challenge, Weather | Tagged | Leave a comment

January 2019 Outtakes

Sorry for the late post but here are some of my favorite photos from January.

____________________________________________________

(01/02/19) A Stockton firefighter battles fires in 2 large dumpsters full of cardboard to be recycled at the Goodwill facility on Market and Grant streets in downtown Stockton.

____________________________________________________

(01/09/19) American Marital Arts Academy students Nikki Jones, left, and Mark Feaver take advantage of a break in the rainy weather to practice the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga on the basketball court at Nelson Park in Stockton.

____________________________________________________

(01/11/19) Delta College’s Dondre Gray, right, fights for a loose ball with America River College’s Parker Haven during a men’s basketball game at Delta’s Blanchard Gym in Stockton.

____________________________________________________

(01/17/19) Former Pacific basketball great Dell Demps, right, is hugged by former head coach Bob Thomason during a ceremony retiring Demps’ jersey at half time of Thursday’s game between UOP and the USF Dons at UOP’s Spanos Center in Stockton.

____________________________________________________

(01/19/19) Seth Peoples of Elk Grove, holds his 3-year-old daughter Brooke up to a telescope to get a view of waterfowl at the Ducks in Scopes event at the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton. The birding event, put on by the preserve and the Nature Conservancy, featured telescopes for viewing the wildlife and volunteers to answer questions.

____________________________________________________

(01/21/19) Stockton Heat’s Mike McMurtry, left, fights for the puck with Colorado Eagles’ Josh Dickinson during an AHL hockey game at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton.

____________________________________________________

(01/29/19) Taking advantage of the temperatures in the mid 60s Julze Mannon, top, and Aaron Guyton, both of Stockton, alternated jumping over one another as the other did a plank while doing a cardio work out at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton.

____________________________________________________

(01/30/19) Lodi Garden Club member Janet Hauser of Lodi uncovers a large concrete “L” in a flower bed while volunteering her time to clean up 2 wildflower gardens at Lodi Lake in Lodi. Members of the club already clean up the area at the entrance to the park, as well as The Rose Garden at Micke Grove and around Hutchins Street Square. Hauser volunteered to clean up and reseed the flower beds.

 

(01/30/19) Lodi goalkeeper Julian Lopez, bottom makes a a save while Tokay attacker Jordan Baumback, left, and Lodi defender Brendon Duran leap over him during a Tri-City Athletic League soccer game at Tokay in Lodi.

 

 

(01/30/19) Lodi’s Edgar Lopez, left, and Tokay’s Eduardo Guillen fight for a header during a Tri-City Athletic League soccer game at Tokay in Lodi.

Posted in Month in review, Outtakes | Leave a comment

Readers Photo Challenge: Seeing red

The subject of the latest Readers Photo Challenge assignment as the color red. Red is a bold and bright color. Most people sent in photos of things that were fire-engine or stop-sign red. A few others found shades that were more subtle and nuanced. Whatever way they approached the subject, this assignment got them seeing red.

Twenty readers sent in 84 photos. Here are the top picks.

_____________________________________

Jonathan Wong of Elk Grove followed one of the first rules of portraiture: give your model something to do. On a wet and grey day, he photographed 17-year-old Justine Mar with a Canon 80D DSLR camera at the Laguna Town Hall in Elk Grove. Wong had Mar leap into the air while holding a red umbrella. The resulting photo, with her bright smile and scarlet umbrella as she kicks up her heels, gives color and life to an otherwise drab day.

_____________________________________

Red is the color of heat and that was Stocktonian Matt Baker’s take on the assignment. Using a Nikon D7500 DSLR camera, he photographed docent Elton Carnes in the blacksmith shop at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Park in Lodi. Carnes worked making items for the museum’s gift shop. The red hot fire stands out against the surrounding blue-black coals and metal that have yet to heat up.

_____________________________________

A bright color like red can be used as a compositional element. Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton, who’s attending the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana, used to great effect in her wintry picture. With a Nikon D500 DSLR camera she photographed a skier making his way up to the ski lift for another run.The photo, which is basically a landscape and is, for all intents and purposes, a colorless one, with dark – almost black – trees covered with white snow. The the skier is only a very tiny a part of it but stands out because of his bright red coat. You can even make out his even tinier red ski boots.

_____________________________________

Hernando Haddaway of Stockton took a night shot for his entry. He photographed a Mexican restaurant on Wilson Way in Stockton. With a a Fuji X-Pro2 digital mirrorless camera he captured the red light of a neon Dos Equis sign in one of the windows. I liked how he also managed to include the spill over of red light onto the sidewalk and roof overhang in the image.

_____________________________________

Carolyn Silva of Jackson took a picture of a red fence in her neighborhood. A climbing grape vine, which has long lost its leaves to fall, weaves itself onto the fence like a spider’s web. The fence’s rigid uniformity and bright red color stand out against the drab vine. Using a fill-flash technique on her Nikon D7500 DSLR camera, she illuminated the fence to help her match the brightness clouds in the background to even out the exposure between the two.

_____________________________________

Teresa Mahnken of Morada found a more understated shade of red in her photo. A mated pair of red-red-shouldered hawks have been flying around her neighborhood for about a week. With her Nikon D3300 DSLR camera equipped with a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens, she photographed one of them soaring overhead. The raptor’s feathers are more of a rust color than a bright red, but still, it was enough to make it stand out against the blue sky.

_____________________________________

How do you make an all-black dog fit into the “red” challenge? Why put a red hat on him, of course. Steven Rapaport of Stockton put a red baseball cap on his 7-month-old Labrador puppy Teddy as he took a nap on his couched then photographed him with his Canon G7x Mk II digital point-and-shoot camera.

_____________________________________

Carrie Walker used an Apple iPad to photograph the bright neon marquee at the Bob Hope Theater which stood out against the black night in downtown Stockton.

_____________________________________

All of the entries can bee seen in an online gallery at recordnet.com. A new assignment will be issued on March 5.

You can contact photographer Clifford Oto at (209) 546-8263 or coto@recordnet.com.

Posted in Color, Column, Equipment, Readers Photo Challenge | Tagged | Leave a comment

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy

On occasion I’ll run across an article that’s titled something like “mistakes that every beginning photographer should avoid.” I’m a firm believer of learning through doing and it seems to me that if you avoid a mistake, then you’re missing an opportunity to learn something.

It’s not that you shouldn’t be aware of the pitfalls you may encounter but learning through “aversion therapy” can be very effective. For example, I shoot several assignments a day, each can have very different lighting conditions. There have been times in the past where I’ve forgotten to change my ISO settings (light sensitivity) from one assignment to another resulting in grossly over-or underexposed photos. Now, I make sure to set the ISO on my camera to what I might expect on the next assignment.

When I was a photo student while on a field trip to Yosemite. I climbed up the trail from Lower Yosemite falls to the upper falls, a distance of about 3.5 miles and a rise in elevation of about 2,5600 feet. I would stop every so often to take a picture and then move on. About 3/4ths of the way up, dusty and tired, I looked down at the film counter on the camera (yes, this was back in the stone age of film). It read 34 exposures but I thought I put in a 24-exposure roll. I fired off another frame and turned the advance lever. The rewind knob didn’t move as it should have if there was film in the camera. I spun the know and it turned freely. I opened up the camera and, sure enough, I had forgotten to load the camera with film. After that I developed nervous tic of tugging on the knob to make sure that there was always tension on it signifying that there was film in the camera.

A 300mm f/2.8 lens is a big, heavy piece of equipment. So much so, that it has it’s own tripod mount and carrying strap. Years ago, I was carrying one by the strap over my shoulder and the strap came undone. The expensive lens plummeted straight to the floor. It was only by the luck of the photo gods that is was able to catch it by the end of the 1/2-inch wide strap just inches before it hit the floor. After that I made sure that all the big lenses I used and their straps tightly secured.

There have been many times where I didn’t have the right equipment for the job like not having a long/short enough lens for a certain situation. I’ve left my flash in the car or back in the office for the sake of lightening my load only to find that I needed it after I got to my assignment.

These are just a few of the mistakes I’ve made over the years. You’re going to make mistakes, a lot of them. Sometimes you make the same ones more than once. But it’s all a part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Learn from them. If your pictures from an event are too dark or too light. Try to think about what you did and correct your mistake the next time similar situation happens.

If you find that your subject is too small in the picture, next time get in closer. If your access is blocked by someone stating in front of you, try to figure out how to get around them without being obtrusive. If the background in your photos are cluttered and distracting, next time look for a different, cleaner background or new angle to take the picture from.

As Miss Frizzle from the children’s educational tv show The Magic School Bus would say: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.”

Posted in Assignment | Tagged | Leave a comment

A super eclipse and hollandaise sauce

On Sunday, January 20, a super blood wolf moon eclipse graced the skies over North America and much of the rest of the world as well. The “super” refers to a full moon when it’s closest to the Earth in it’s slightly elliptical orbit. “Blood” specifies the red color that the moon turns during an eclipse. “Wolf” is a Native American term for the first full moon of the year. While it’s not an uncommon occurrence, I have photos of one that occurred in about a year ago, it doesn’t happen everyday.

I was looking forward to photographing this year’s event. The Stockton Astronomical Society had planned a viewing party at the Oak Grove Regional park in Stockton and I figured I could shoot it from there. I could get some relatively close shots and perhaps get some pictures with people in it too.

The very first phases of eclipse was to begin about 7:30 p.m. with the moon slipping totally into the earth’s shadow at about 8:40 p.m. and then ending at about 11:30 p.m. The only thing that could put a damper on the whole thing was the weather.

The forecast for that Sunday was rain and clouds which did not bode well for the viewing. As the forecast predicted, Sunday morning was greeted with grey, drizzly skies. Maybe it’ll clear up, I thought, and I kept my fingers crossed. Throughout the day I busied myself with errands and other tasks, occasionally checking the weather. 7:30 p.m. rolled around with the skies and visibility still poor. It’s then I gave up hope.

I realized that I was so wrapped up in hoping for the eclipse, that I forgot to make dinner for my wife, son and I. It took me a while but I started cooking. I figured on salmon with rice and broccoli with a hollandaise sauce, which I had never made before. I found a recipe online. Hollandaise is fairly simple with just a few ingredients but it takes a lot to attention with constant stirring over low heat.

I finally got dinner on the table at about 9:00 p.m. The hollandaise was a bit runny but tasted fine. We were all just a few bites into the meal when I happed to turn and lookout the window. I saw a star in the darkened sky.

I jumped up from the table and out the kitchen door into the backyard. A large hole in the clouds had opened up. It took a few seconds but I spotted the pale red orb that the moon had become.

I excitedly ran back into the house proclaiming the eclipsed had arrived. I thought about hopping into the car and driving to Oak Grove Park but I figured that it would take too long to get there. Also, there was no guarantee that the clouds would be clear there for the astronomical society would be there. I gathered up my camera and tripod and decided to shoot from the backyard.

I set up my equipment and started shooting. My son also wanted to shots of the moon and was a few steps behind me. I helped him set up his camera and tripod.

It was still cold and bit windy and I was wearing a t-shirt, jeans and slippers. I went back inside to put some warmer clothes on. When I got back out the clouds had moved back in and the moon was gone. I asked my son which way were the clouds moving. He indicated from the north to south. I scrambled through the house to the front, which was north, and looked up. I could see another clear patch traveling towards us. I made my way through the house to the backyard and once again the skies cleared. We were able to get more shots before the clouds covered up for good.

The whole thing lasted no more than a half-hour. We sat down to finish our dinner which was now cold but at least we got some shots of the eclipse and the hollandaise was no longer runny.

Posted in Astronomy, Night | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Red letter days

We’ve done the colors blue and green as subjects for the Readers Photo Challenge and the latest assignment will be another color: Red.

Recently, social media was all atwitter (no pun intended) over the red coat that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wore after the meeting that she and Senator Chuck Shumer had with President Trump. They are shown in a photo leaving the White House with Pelosi buttoning up the coat. Aside from the context of the story, would there have been such a buzz over the picture if her coat was a different color, such as grey, brown or black like the one that Shumer wore? Perhaps not.

Red is a very intense color. It has many different meanings. It’s the color of danger and warning, think firetrucks, stop signs and stop lights. It’s the color of love and passion as exemplified in roses and Valentine’s Day hearts. It’s the color of power and speed. Why else would it be the go-to color for Ferrari? The red in our flag stands for valor and courage.

You can use red as an accent color to help bring the viewers’ eyes to your subject. Having a person wear a red shirt, jacket or hat against a neutral or drab background can make them stand out.

Conversely, in a scene of mostly red, having someone wear a neutral or complementary color, can also bring attention to them.

Red can be found in nature. There are trees, bushes and flowers there red. It can be found in fruit and veggies such as tomatoes and strawberries. The sky can turn red when deep in the throes of a sunset.

Shooters of the old slide film Kodachrome used to live for the color red which the film used to vividly reproduce. Red is an vibrant, eye-catching color and can add that special something to your photos. The limits are only your own imagination.

How to enter:
1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. Type in “Red” in the subject line.
2. Photos have to be shot between February 5 and February 19.
3. The number of photos is limited to no more than 12 per person
4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of device you used and where it was taken (eg.: “John Doe of Stockton. Micke Grove Park, Lodi. iPhone6s”)

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos (eg.: Jane Doe, 6, plays on the playground equipment at Victory Park in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is February 19. The top examples will be published on Tuesday, February 26 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.

Posted in Color, Column, Readers Photo Challenge | Tagged | Leave a comment
  • Categories

  • Archives