Highway to the danger zone

Recently I got an email from a reader who wondered how she could go about getting inside the fence on the field to photograph her nephew as he plays Little League baseball. I told her that as professional photographers we know the dangers of the game and are willing to risk them its a part of our job. We tend to have an agreement with teams and officials, sometimes unsaid, to be able to get out on the field and shoot.

Now, I know shooting through a chainlink fence can be annoying. Its diamond grid pattern can get in the way and it keeps you from getting closer to the action, but it’s there for a reason: safety.

In the past I have shot from inside the fence. When I started more than 30 years ago, the Stockton Ports minor league baseball team used to at Billy Hebert Field at Oak Park in Stockton. The longest lens I had was a 180mm which was way to short to shoot from outside the fence. The team allowed me to be on the field in foul territory to get my shots. I had to be aware and vigilant of the foul balls that might streaking my way. In my career I’ve had some close calls, but luckily, I’ve never been hit by a batted ball.

There are other hazards as well. Broken or thrown bats can fly from the hands of a batter and can cause serious injury. Overthrown balls missed by a first or third baseman can approach speeds at nearly those thrown by a pitcher. Finally, one can collide with a player running to catch a pop foul ball. You have to keep one eye on the action and another watching out for any hazard.

Eventually the Record acquired longer lenses. I now shoot with a 200-400mm zoom lens which allows me to be outside of the fence which is much safer. Still, one mustn’t let one’s guard down. I’ve seen a number of spectators injured by foul balls while sitting in the stands.

The fence can be mostly eliminated by using a telephoto lens and putting it right up to the chainlink. This makes it so out of focus that it renders the fence virtually invisible. Using a wide aperture minimizes the depth of field and enhances the effect.

At the Stockton Ballpark where the Ports now play, I often shoot from the stands through safety netting which surrounds the spectators in the infield area. The netting is like shooting through a fence. Beyond the infield the ballpark is surrounded by a low fence, about 4-feet tall, that you can shoot over. I also shoot from the dugout as well. It gets me closer to the action while affording me a decent amount of protection. Klein family Field where the Pacific Tigers play is set up similarly.

The various fields around the county where the high school teams play are all configured differently. Some have easy access while others its more difficult to get a good shot from a safe place.

Little league is obviously a much slower game than high school, college or the pros. But still, the ball can be hit hard and travel pretty fast. The teams and officials concerns are for the safety for everyone involved.

Also, there is the issue of other parents wanting to get photos of their own child who might wonder why can’t they be on the field too. The last thing the officials want would be several parents lining the field to get a picture. It would be untenable to have several people inside the fence.

If you have a DSLR, break down and get a telephoto lens ands shoot through the fence. It doesn’t have to be a professional model. Little League baseball tends to be played during the day in the bright sunlight, so you don’t need low-light capabilities and a consumer model in the 300-400 range will do. If you have a point-and-shoot or smartphone, those lenses are too short and getting inside the fence wouldn’t get you close enough anyway. That’s the time to sit back and just enjoy the game from the safety of the stands.

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Far and wide

When you purchased a DSLR camera, it usually comes with what’s know as a “kit” lens because it comes bundled as a part of a kit that probably includes things like a memory card, some filters, a spare battery and a camera bag. It tends to be a zoom lens that goes from a wide-angle to a mild telephoto. Most people think that a wide angle is only used for a overall scene and group shots and they don’t really realize how to use it to it’s full potential.

Often, people don’t think about including a foreground to their wide-angle shots. Adding an interesting foreground can turn a boring picture into something more compelling.

A prominent foreground can help lead the viewers into your photo by giving them a visual starting point, so to speak. It can be a splash of color or lines or patterns to draw their eyes in. You need to get close to what’s in the foreground to make it more eye-catching. You may have to bend over or kneel down to get close (I’ve even had to lie down on the ground at times) but the results can be worth it.

It helps to use as small an aperture as you can which will give you as much depth of field (what’s in focus from front to back) as possible. Using your camera in manual or aperture priority mode will allow you to choose the f/stop setting on the lens.

Using objects in the foreground to frame the scene is another way of using a wide-angle lens effectively. Placing a tree or a part of a tree in the foreground, not as the main subject of the picture, can help to center attention on what you want to showcase. The frame can be in or out of focus, elaborate or simple. It doesn’t matter because it’s not the main point of the photo. While you can also use this technique with almost any kind of lens, it tends to be most effective with a wide-angle.

There’s a common problem that people run into with a wide-angle lens. They want to photograph an overall scene but they also want to include a person in the picture. They have the person stand far into the scene to get them into the shot. They get the overall picture but it makes the person look tiny. What you need to do to is to stand where you need to get the wide shot but bring that person closer to the camera, say, around 5 to 6 feet away, which will make them more prominent in the photo. You can bring even closer. One doesn’t necessarily need to get your subjects’ feet in the photo, so you can get close enough to crop out their legs and feet and still get most of the background as well.

Many beginning photographers tend to think of telephoto lenses as being “powerful.” After all, they bring things that are faraway in close. But wide-angle lenses have a power all their own if you know how to use them to their best advantage.

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Readers Photo Challenge assignment: The call of nature

Spring is in full swing with warm weather and flowers blossoming which is the inspiration of the newest Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Nature.

It’s a broad subject encompassing landscapes, wildlife and more, so you can approach it several different ways.

 

Landscapes and seascapes tend to be shot with wide angle lenses, which is fine. They give an overall view of the scene but just remember to include a foreground which will help to lead the viewer’s eye into the photo. You can also try using a telephoto. Perhaps you won’t be able get an entire mountain range in your photo but you can a more detailed shot of a peak or two.

Animals are also good subjects for nature photos. In general, most photos of large wildlife require a telephoto lens. Many species of mammals, reptiles and birds can be skittish and you also don’t want to affect their behavior with your presence, so the only way to get a tight shot of them is through a long lens. The skills of a hunter, stealth, knowledge of your “prey” and most importantly patience, can be very helpful.

Photographing insects can also be a challenge. You have to think small when trying to capture bugs. Using a macro lens will help you get close up to the tiny critters. Try looking for them very early in the day when the cold of the morning will limit their mobility and make it easier for you to track them.

Speaking closeups, a macro lens are also good for photographing flowers as well as other details of the natural world. While overall photos of flowers are acceptable, getting as close as you can to the blossoms tends to make for better pictures.

As with almost any other pictures, time of day and lighting is important with nature photos. Early morning or late afternoon tend to be the best times. The light is warmer and comes in a more pleasing angles than the harsh straight overhead light of midday.

While your photos should be primarily of the natural world, that doesn’t mean that it has to be completely devoid of the presence of man. A small farm house or small rough-hewn fence in the distance can add just the right accent to an overall landscape scene. A person walking down a wooded path or on a scenic beach can add that same sort of accent as well.

We have some beautiful springtime weather in the forecast so get out there and answer the call of nature.

How to enter:

1. Email your entries to coto@recordnet.com. Type in “Nature” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between April 5 and April 19.

3. Entries are limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Victory Park, Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. Please include a description of what’s your photo. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos, and if they’re related to you. (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton, boats on the deep water channel bear Buckley Cove 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 Thursday, April 19. A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on April 26 at recordnet.com.

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Readers Photo Challenge: Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds, the subject of the latest challenge assignment, is a compositional tool that many learn when starting out in photography. It states that if you divide up the frame into equal thirds with imaginary lines vertically and horizontally, your main subject should be placed at one or more of the intersection of those lines. It helps one to put their subject off to one side or another or high or low in the frame to avoid the static dead center.

Sixty photos were sent in by 11 readers. Here are the top examples of the rule of thirds.

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Carolyn Silva of Jackson used a Nikon D7500 DSLR camera to photograph a male phainopepla, or silky flycatcher, staring out from the branches of a plum tree in her backyard. It’s is partially obscured by the branches but Sliva’s positioning of it in the upper right third of the frame helps to brings the viewer’s eye right to the mohawk-ruffed bird.

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Teresa Mahnken of Morada photographed a spectacular sunset along Flood Road in Linden. Cows graze in range land in the foreground and a lone windmill stands in the upper left third as an accent against dramatic clouds that are turned to orange and purple by the setting sun.

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Dave Skinner of Stockton used two compositional techniques in addition to the rule of thirds in his photo of Burns Tower at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. With a Nikon D5600 DSLR camera, Skinner placed the iconic Stockton landmark at the bottom left third of the frame. In the foreground he placed a large oak tree which created a bold diagonal in the picture. Lastly, 2 of the tree’s branches reach down and frame the tower, emphasizing it even more.

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Kurt Gatejen of Elk Grove also used a diagonal in addition to the rule of thirds. With a Nikon D7100 DSLR camera equipped with a 200-4500mm lens, he photographed a black-necked stilt wading in the waters of the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton. A stick in the water creates a diagonal that leads the viewers’ eye directly to the bird which is in the lower right third of the frame. In addition, the stick and it’s reflection echo the bend in the bird’s leg in this elegant, minimalist composition.

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Rick Wilmot of Lodi used a Canon 5d Mk III to photograph the buds on a climbing rose at his home. His composition is a classic example of the rule of thirds. He cropped the photo into a square composition ad placed the buds in the upper left third of the frame.

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Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton used a Nikon D500 DSLR camera to photograph a hibiscus flower while on vacation in Oahu, Hawaii. Shooting from the side rather than straight on, she placed the pistil and stamen of the blossom at the upper left third of her composition.

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Steven Rapaport of Stockton was also on vacation when he took his photograph of an Altamira Oriole in the Copan Ruins of Honduras with a Canon 5D Mk IV DSLR. While most of the bird is outside of the rule of thirds, it’s head almost at the upper right third of the photo.

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Mitch Bazzarre of Stockton used a Canon 6D to photograph the Tower Bridge in Sacramento at night. The support towers of the bridge are placed in the lower left and right and the upper right thirds of the photo.

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Andrea Semillo of Stockton used an Apple iPhone 6 to photograph her 4-year-old nephew Sam Rabanal in a vineyard off of Woodbridge Road in Lodi. Semillo placed Rabanal in the upper right third of the frame.

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Mike Ratekin of French Camp used a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera to photograph his granddaughter Josephine Ceja playing soccer in Manteca. Ceja occupies both the upper and lower right thirds of the frame.

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Don Sperry of Stockton used a Sony Alpha NEX-7 mirrorless digital camera to photograph an egret in Brookside Lake in Stockton. The bird, placed in the right third of the photo, stands out against the dark blue of the water while the reflection of overhead clouds are captured in ripples on the lakes surface.

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All of the photos are in a photo gallery at recordnet.com. A new challenge assignment will be issued on April 5.

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Serendipity times two

Last week I had an assignment in the foothill town of Valley Springs to photograph local historian and author Terry Beaudoin. He was to show me where thousands of olive trees planted in the area in the early 1900s that still live today. The forecast for the day was for rain. As I left Stockton the skies were cloudy but dry so I held out hope that I could avoid the rain.

 

I drove out through Highway 12 in Lodi. By the time I got to Lockeford, about 8 miles away, it was drizzling enough to use my wipers intermittently. In another 4 miles in Clements I had to put my wipers on full time. While it wasn’t a deluge, when I reached Valley Springs, it was coming down hard enough to give the area a very good soaking.

I met Beaudoin at the Starbucks in the Valley Oaks shopping center at Highway 12 and Highway 26. He bade me to follow him to get to the olive trees, which I did. Then something miraculous happened. The rain quickly petered out. By the time we got to the trees, which were a few miles outside of the town’s limits, it had stopped completely. Even the asphalt on the roads were dry.

Beaudoin took me to a high point where I could see an overall view of the small valley were the trees were. The clouds parted and the sun shone down. He regaled me on how Stockton pioneer Henry H. Moore planted more than 5,000 olive trees in the late 1800s on land he bought on the cheap. At some point, his business venture went belly up but the trees stayed.

Beaudoin said that olive trees are very hardy and can survive without any formal watering once established. An so the trees have been happily growing there for more than a century. When I was done, I headed back to Stockton via Highway 26. Though it didn’t rain, stormy clouds still swirled in the sky.

About halfway between Valley Springs and Linden I approached the intersection where Ospital Road splits north and Widmer Road heads south. I could see just beyond Ospital a lone oak tree standing against the dramatic clouds on a gently rising hill. There are times when a picturesque scene is missing a certain unexplainable something to make it perfect and this was one of them. Looking for something better, I turned south on Widmer. I drove for about a mile or two and found nothing so I turned back.

I was about to turn onto Highway 26 to head back to the office when I saw that something special. A lone cow was climbing up the hill towards the tree. I quickly crossed the intersection and parked on then shoulder of Ospital Road. I waited until the bovine reached the top of the hill and captured it and the tree against a backdrop of churning storm clouds.

It’s been said that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. So twice in one day serendipity graced me with the good fortune to keep me dry and find a a great picture.

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Outtakes: February 2018

“February is merely as long as needed to pass the time until March.” – J.R. Stockton

Apologies for the late post but here are my 10 favorite previously unposted photos from February.

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2/9/18:

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2/13/18:

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2/15/18:

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2/19/18:

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2/20/18:

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2/23/18:

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2/28/28:

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Throwback Thursday: Women’s day

Today is International Women’s Day. Here are some recent photos of women and girls from the recent past.

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(1/2/02) Instructor Kim Alxeander leads a group in a work out at the Jazzercise Center on Grand Canal Blvd. in Stockton.

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(2/3/02) UOP’s Estee Okumura runs into UC Berkley’s Courtney Scott at home plate during the Tigers’ softball home opener at Simoni Filed on the UOP campus

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(2/26/02) Rachel Moore of Lodi helps her 3-year-old son Alonzo with batting as her husband Tim throws the ball during an outing at Lodi Lake Park in Lodi.

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(7/26/09) New York Athletic Club’s Emily Feher blocks a shot during the USA Water Polo Women’s Open Championship game against Stanford Red at UOP’s Kjeldsen Pool in Stockton.

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(12/20/09) Emiko Harner, left, and Cristen Cademartori participate in a class at the Bikram Yoga Studio in Stockton.

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(11/13/11) Members of the Fresno-based Nkanjhmoob International dance group rehearse a Hmong dance at the annual Hmong New Year Celebration at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton put on by the Lao Family Community of Stockton.

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(2/16/13) Umpire Theresa Zumsteg of Modesto calls a safe call while participating in the Greater San Joaquin Umpires Association’s umpiring clinic at the Louis Park softball complex in Stockton.

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(2/27/14) Pacific Pep Band saxophonist Kelsey Rees plays with her face painted in the UOP colors of orange and black during a men’s basketball game against Gonzaga at UOP’s Spanos Center in Stockton.

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(1/20/15) Sarah Kuo plays bass with the latest iteration of the Brubeck Institute Quintet as they rehearse at Burns Tower on the UOP campus in Stockton.

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(1/21/15) Bree Ruonavaara holds her 12-week-old daughter Irieona Touh as they take in some afternoon sun on the balcony of their apartment on El Monte Street and Pershing Avenue in Stockton.

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(2/6/15) 4-year-old Amaiyah Pizano protects herself from the rain with a binder held over her hear as her mother, San Joaquin Delta College student Liz Lomas, carries her across the Delta campus in Stockton.

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(2/12/15) Doneishia Ligon, left, Rosalita Limas and Khamvilay Saradeth were a part of the hundreds of county workers participate in the kick off of the Wellness Walk Path, part of county’s new Employee Wellness Program, through downtown Stockton.

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(7/25/15) Omega White of Stockton shades herself with a parasol while listening to saxophonist Shawn Raiford perform at the Stockton Marina Jazz Festival held in the courtyard of the the Waterfront Towers in downtown Stockton.

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(10/16/15) University of the Pacific student Gina Myers carefully balances on a slackline set up between two trees on Hand Lawn as she practices her tightrope walking skills on the UOP campus in Stockton.

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(10/30/15) Stockton Police officer Pilar Battaglini, front, leads a flash mob dance put on by the police in front of Barnes and Noble in the Weberstown Mall in Stockton in conjunction with a book fair to raise money for a new juvenile hall.

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(3/20/16) Michelle Ruiz-Esparza blows on a conch shell during a performance of the Kalpulli Ketzoatl Ehecatl dance group at Draw It Out’s An Afternoon of Music and Dance event at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton.

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(3/20/16) Emmalee Yang with the Nkauj Hmoob Pacific dance group performs a Hmong dance at Draw It Out’s AN Afternoon of Music and Dance event at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton.

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(6/7/16) Assembly woman Susan Eggman Talamantes greet supporters  at the county Democratic Party’s election party at Valley Brew in Stockton.

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(7/17/16) Anastasia Pivovarova hits a backhand during a match against Alison Van Uytvanck in the USTA Stockton Challenger women’s tennis tournament final at the University of the Pacific’s Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center in Stockton.

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(8/10/16) 2-year-old chihuahua Sam balances on the shoulder of his owner Sabrina Price as she waits to pick up her granddaughter from her first day of school at Acacia Elementary School in Stockton.

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(8/20/16) Shaunte Neely of Vallejo dressed as X-Men superhero Storm at Stocktoncon at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton.

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(9/3/16) Karena Bradshaw performs a praise dance at the 7th annual Stockton Spirit Festival held at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton.

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(9/10/16) University of the Pacific’s Katrin Gotterba cheers a point scored by her team during a match against Oregon State in the Community Classic volleyball tournament at UOP’s Spanos Center in Stockton.

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(9/15/16) Singer Sara Estrella performs during the Lodi Musicians Showcase at the annual Grape Festival in Lodi.

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(9/26/16) San Joaquin Delta College student Aidee Hernandez of Stockton takes refuge from the sun under 2 trees while working on a landscape painting for a beginning painting class on the Delta campus in Stockton.

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(10/5/16) Lodi’s Paige Ward, left, Weston Ranch’s Felicity Pitts, Franklin’s Tatiana Ugale and Jelani Williford and Tokay’s Samantha Patton are female players from area prep football teams.

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(11/14/16) Bear Creek student Abigail Maina uses surveying equipment at the Non-traditional Employment for Women event at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. Nearly 200 girls from Tracy, Stockton, Lodi and Calaveras participated in the day-long event.

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(11/21/16) Volunteers hand out Thanksgiving food donations at the Emergency Food Bank in Stockton.

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(12/16/16) Christmas lights are reflected in the window of Paulette Daniel’s car as she looks at the impressive holiday display at the home of Jim Galindo at 122. E. Gibson Street in Stockton.

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(3/17/17) Winnie Williams of Sacamento takes a selfie in front a field of daffodils on the opening day of Daffodil Hill near the Mother Lode town of Volcano in Amador County.

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(4/16/17) Michelle Herrera is moved by the spirit of the Lord at the Stockton Citywide Easter Sunrise Celebration at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton.

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(6/25/17) Mya Fairbanks of Lodi takes advantage of the mild weather to get some exercise with a jump rope workout at Lodi Lake Park in Lodi

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(8/24/17) Cindy Johnston and her pet chihuahua Cookie play the accordion for passersby at the Throwback Thursday along Pacific Avenue on the Miracle Mile between Harding Way and Castle Street in Stockton.

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(10/8/17) Nora Duffy plays the congas in a weekly drum circle with a group of other percussionists  at DeCarli Waterfront Square in downtown Stockton.

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(12/2/17) Photographer Meghan Camino takes a picture at the Help-Portrait free picture event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless in Stockton.

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(12/26/17) Cherina Williams of Oakland has fun tubing down a snow hill at the Dell’Osso Holiday on the Farm in Lathrop.

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(1/10/18) Juliana Browning, left, pushes her 10-year-old daughter Alyssa Browning on her skates, center, who in turn pushes her 9-year-old step-sister Lucy Register riding a cart through Grupe Park in Stockton.

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(1/14/18) Cozetta Esater sings the gospel song “Precious Lord”at the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance at the Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium in downtown Stockton.

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(1/21/18) Soprano Jessica Siena sings the aria from the 4th movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 in G major in a performance with Pacific Symphony Orchestra musicians paired with about 40 select high school students in a concert at the Faye Spanos Concert Hall on the UOP campus in Stockton.

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(1/26/18) Mary Riordon, left, and Amanda Chang with the Silicon Valley Curling Club sweep the ice ahead of a moving stone to reduce friction to help its accuracy and distance during a game in the Stockton-based Granite Curling Club of California’s curling tournament at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton.

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Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Three is the magic number

The subject of the newest Readers Photo Challenge is the rule of thirds. It is a compositional rule of thumb of sorts. If you divide the camera’s frame into thirds with imaginary lines, both horizontally and vertically, where those lines intersect are what is know as points of interest. Placing your subject at or near one or more of those points will help draw the eye of the viewer to that point. It is more interesting than placing your subject boringly at the center of the frame.

As I said, the rule is more of a guideline. I find that subjects of most of my own photos fall somewhere outside of those points. But the rule of thirds is a good technique to know and practice as a starting point from which to explore your own compositional style.

The rule of thirds tends to work well when you have minimalist scene with a strong subject, such as a full moon in the sky or a lone person walking on an empty beach. Conversely, it can also help to make your subject more prominent in a busy scene.

Some cameras can have the option of a rule of thirds grid in the viewfinder or on the monitor if you want to be exact, but you don’t have to be precise as long as you get close.

There are other compositional techniques such as leading lines, diagonals and symmetry, among others. But the rule of thirds is usually one of the first that one learns.

Once mastered, or at least practiced, you’ll find that applying the rule of thirds automatically, almost without thinking. They you’’l see that 3 is truly a magic number.

How to enter:

1. Email your entries to coto@recordnet.com. Type in “Thirds” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between March 8 and March 22.

3. Entries are limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Victory Park, Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos, and if they’re related to you. (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton plays in the grass 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 Thursday, March 22. A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on March 29 at recordnet.com.

 

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Readers Photo Challenge: True blues

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleonora Duse

The subject of the latest Readers Photo Challenge assignment was the color blue. Some readers used the color as the main ingredient in their photo while others used it as just an accent. Either way, they showed that having the blues is something to be happy about. There was a bumper crop of entries. Twenty-one readers sent in 118 photos. Here are some to the top picks.

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It’s natural to think that the color of water is blue, but it’s essentially a colorless liquid. It gains color from what’s in it or the environment around it. The water in Lodi resident Holly Stone’s pool isn’t blue but it’s bottom is. She used an Apple iPhone 7 to photograph a blossom from a fortnight lily floating in her pool. The grainy blue bottom of the pool combined with ripples on the surface of the water makes it look like the flower is on some sort of blue sand.

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Some entries used blue just as an incidental accent to their photos. Teresa Mahnken of Morada used a Samsung Galaxy 8 smartphone to photograph her sister Sheri Keane releasing a lantern at the Lantern Festival in Phoenix, Arizona. Thousands of floating paper lanterns, rising aloft by the heat of candles suspended within them, look like a sea of stars against an inky black sky. Kean’s pale blue sweater serves as a cool counterpoint to warm glow of the lanterns.

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Lillian McDonell of Stockton was a passenger in her car on I-580 east of Livermore. With her Apple iPhone 6, she was taking a picture of a blue semi tractor-trailer rig in her car’s side mirror. The another semi, also blue, passed them up. That truck mostly fills McDonell’s photo. Its color, as well as its shadow, bathes her car, it side reflected in the mirror along with the truck behind, with a blue hue.

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Stocktonian Dave Skinner’s photo is a study in contrasts. On Valentine’s Day he photographed the awning at the Sizzler restaurant on Hammer Lane in Stockton. Skinner usually likes to shoot landscape sunrises with a Nikon DSLR camera, this entry was a sunset in an urban setting shot with a Samsung Galaxy 7S smartphone. Gentle clouds peacefully float horizontally until their abruptly interrupted by the hard edges and angles of the awning at the right edge of the frame. The sky’s subtle blue color contrasts with the bright and bold yellow and red of the awning.

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Steven Rapaport of Stockton swims almost daily at the In-Shape Marina Health Club in Stockton. On February 14 he photographed the pool before an early morning swim. The pools surface reflected the blue in the sky. The lane dividers and lines on the bottom of the pool head towards a vanishing point on the horizon and visually leads to the clouds tinged with the morning sunrise and the blue of the sky.

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Carrie Walker of Stockton used an Apple iPad to photograph her 2-week-old nephew Jax Walker at her home. She capture the baby as he slept peacefully wrapped in a blue and white blanket while sucking on a blue pacifier.

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Former Record publisher Roger Coover sent in a photo of Lake Tahoe on a windy day. The blue waters of the lake are turned into ocean-like surf by the strong gusts as they pound against a pine tree lined shore.

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Kurt Gatejen of Elk Grove used a Nikon D7100 DSLR camera to photograph a large flock of snow geese taking off at the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Elk Grove. The white birds with lack wingtips fill the frame like a feathered mosaic against pale blue sky and clouds.

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Rick Wilmot of Lodi used a Canon EOS 7D Mk II to photograph an apricot tree just starting to bloom in his backyard. The red of the buds and the white of the lone blossom stands out against a deep blue sky.

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Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton used a Nikon D500 DSLR camera to photograph a sunset on the deep water channel in Stockton. She captured the golden glow after the sun sank below the horizon. Above that, the sky turns to a pale blue and proceeds to change to a deep indigo the higher in the frame it goes. To finish it off Spurgeon positioned a tree in the foreground as a silhouetted frame to the scene.

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Oran Schwinn of Stockton used a Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera to photograph a his Siamese fighting fish “Triton’ in a fish bowl at his home. Schwinn captured the pale yet iridescent fish’s scales and large circular highlight in the background created by the bowl’s curvature.

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Mike Ratekin of French Camp used a Canon 5D Mk III to photograph his granddaughter Josephine Ceja playing a youth soccer game in Ceres with the blue of her and her teammates uniforms providing the primary color in the shot.

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A photo gallery of all the pictures sent it is at recordnet.com. A new Readers Photo Challenge assignment will be issued on March 8.

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

The frustrating nomenclature of photography

Photography has its own jargon and some of the terms can be obscure and confusing, which may be why some people find photography challenging to learn and even off putting.

I recently watched a video in which husband-wife photography team Tony and Chelsea Northrup take common photography terminology to task (https://fstoppers.com/humor/are-common-photography-terms-dated-and-stupid-218633). In the video, the Northrups suggest that the terms, some of which date back to nearly the beginning of photography, are not only archaic but confusing as well.

F/stops are a logarithmic doubling or halving of the lens aperture. The Northups say that the term “stop”, the setting from one aperture opening to the next, is confusing. My guess is that it probably stems from the lens indents which marked the settings. When turning the aperture ring there would be a definite click and the ring would stop at each click. Apertures on modern lenses are now controlled from digital displays on the camera, no clicking or stopping involved. I think a more accurate term would be “step” to represent from one full setting to another.

Related to the “stop” is the actual f/stop scale which is counterintuitive. The smaller numbers (f/2.8, f/4, etc) represent the larger aperture openings, while the larger numbers (f/16, f/22. etc.) correspond to the smaller openings.

Lenses that allow more light through or films that are more sensitive to light are called “fast,” which is ambiguous at best. The Northrups suggest that a better word would be “bright.”

Focal length refers to lens size but not very accurately. While a 300mm lens is longer than a 24mm one, both can be physically longer or shorter than their actual numbers. They actually refer to the angle of view that each lens provides. Depending on the imaging device, 2 lenses of different focal lengths can have the same angle of view. But the Northups didn’t offer an alternative for the term.

ISO refers to the light sensitivity of your camera (or film). It stands for the International Organization of Standardization, so really the acronym should be IOS, but there is a further twist. The organization picked ISO because they reasoned that the acronym would be different in different languages so they actually picked the word “iso,” which is Greek for “equal.”

They also take to task “depth of field.” It’s the distance, from front to rear, that’s in focus in the photo. The Northrups suggest that “depth of sharpness” is a more accurate, less confusing term. I think “depth of focus” can also serve the same purpose.

While I agreed with most of the Northrups’ complaints, there were a couple where I differed from them.

They proposed that “exposure time” replace the term shutter speed. I don’t think that’s necessary, the original seems to be pretty self explanatory (the speed at which the shutter falls) but how we refer to it can change. For a faster shutter we often say “raise your shutter speed” which sounds like you’re actually adding more time but in reality it means you’re using a setting that’s smaller fraction of time. I think describing shutter speeds as shorter or longer would be more accurate.

The Northrups don’t like the term “exposure triangle” for the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. They believe that it doesn’t take into account the fact that you can add light via a flash. But I think the triangle is a simple and accurate way to represent the link between the 3 factors.

All of theses terms are ingrained in photography and have endured for more than 150 years. But it is now the digital age and photography and the desire to learn more about it has become much more widespread, so perhaps over time people will come to change and accept a more clear and understandable terminology.

Posted in Equipment | Tagged | Leave a comment
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    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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