Virtual travelogue #3: San Diego – Down by the sea

San Diego is a costal town and offers great access to the sea and ocean wildlife.

(6/14/15) People play on the beach at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) People romp on the La Jolla Shores beach in San Diego. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD

(6/14/15) Seal lions come ashore at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) A tourist takes a picture of a sea lion at the water’s edge at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) Seal lions rest on a rock off shore at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) A tourist looks at sea lions at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) A tourist takes pictures of sea lions on a rocky outcropping at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/15/15) A pelican lands at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/15/15) Cormorants sit on a rocky outcropping at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/15/15) A cormorants sit in a tree at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) Fishermen cast their lines in from a rocky outcropping at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/15/15) A tourist pose for a picture in front of incoming waves on a rocky outcropping at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) A tourist pose for a picture in front of incoming waves on a rocky outcropping at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

(6/14/15) Tourists get a little too close to the waves on a rocky outcropping at La Jolla Cove in San Diego. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

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Virtual travelogue #2: The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is world famous and is a must-see attraction if you’re ever in the city. Here are just some of the animals that can be seen there.

(3/20/08) A Maylasian tiger looks up from eating in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) An African slender-snouted crocodile rests in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) Visitors watch a gorilla through a glass wall at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) A zebra rests in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) A southern gerenuk rests in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) A koala sleeps in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) A giant panda sleeps in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

(3/20/08) A snake-neck turtle comes up for air in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

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April 1st News: 2020 edition

Rogue Muppets invade town

A band of rogue Muppets escaped from Jim Henson Productions studios in Hollywood and wreaked havoc on surrounding neighborhoods on Wednesday. Several fluffy plush creatures, some as tall as 7 to 8 feet, overturned parked cars and smashed storefront windows. Many residents had to flee down city streets to escape the mayhem. Muppet handlers were eventually able to corral the felt creatures and transport them back to their studio. The Hollywood police believes that the incident started as a case of Muppet abuse and is investigating it as such.

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Delta offers levitation course.

San Joaquin Delta College will be offering a class in levitation starting in the fall. The introductory course will teach students minor levitation skills. “In this first class, students will learn to levitate from a few inches to about a foot off the ground” said Professor Jean Grey. “Eventually, we’ll have courses in telekinetically lifting other objects and advanced flying”

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Vape inventor doubles down on new device

Despite health officials cracking down on vaping, N. Hale, the inventor of the vape pen, doubled down and introduced his newest device: the vape cannon. The device can fill an entire room with the scented, smoke-like vapor within seconds. “Dozens of people now can enjoy vaping simultaneously” says Hale. “What could go wrong?”

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Parallel dimension as boring as ours

Scientists at Stanford have discovered and entered a parallel mirror dimension that is just as boring as our own. Physicist Cosmo Universe said that he opened up a gateway between universes with a particle accelerator.“ I was hoping to find an evil twin, you know, maybe with a goatee and an eyepatch, but he was just wearing the same boring lab coat and khakis as I was” said Universe.

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Nikon introduces “Tiger Roar” feature on newest cameras

Nikon announced that it’s newest flagship DSLR, the D6, will feature a “Tiger Roar” option. When enabled, instead of a normal clicky sound when the shutter button is pushed, the camera will emit the roar of a tiger. “We looked into the roars of other big cats, lions, cougars and jaguars, but the tiger exhibited the royal majesty that we wanted to represent our cameras” said Nikon spokesperson Ben Gal.

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That’s all from the 2020 edition of the April 1st News. Have a happy and pleasant April Fool’s Day.

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Virtual travelogue #1: San Diego – Part 1

With the current coronavirus stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders we’re all stuck at home so I’m starting a virtual travelogue. If we can’t travel, then we can at least look at pictures of them. First stop: San Diego.

(3/18/08) An aerial view of downtown San Diego.


(7/28/15) A sailboat cruises past the San Diego skyline in San Diego Harbor.


(7/28/15) Light from the setting sun shines on the homes on Mount Soledad in the La Jolla area of San Diego.


(6/14/15) Colorful curtains hang in a room of La Jolla Cove Suites in San Diego. Shot with an iPhone 5. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD
Transmission Reference: REC1605031320580701


6/13/15) The view out the window of the lobby at La Jolla Cove Suites in San Diego.


(9/26/13) Stairs at the San Diego Convention Center downtown San Diego.


(9/26/13) Petco Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres is located at 100 Park Blvd in downtown San Diego.


(3/20/18) The view out a window of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, located at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.


(3/20/18) The spiral staircase in the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, located at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.


(3/20/18) The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is located at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.


(3/20/18) A statue of California explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo stands at the Cabrillo National Monument across the bay from downtown San Diego.


(3/20/18) A squirrel sits on a bush on the bluffs at the Cabrillo Monument at Point Loma San Diego.

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Readers Photo Challenge assignment: On the Homefront

With state and local edicts of “stay-at-home” (or even for some counties the more strict “shelter-in-place”) in effect during this time of the COVID-19 virus, getting out to take pictures is more difficult than ever. I struggled to come up with a subject for the next challenge, then I remembered an assignment I had back when I was in school.

(3/22/20) Water drops cling to a emerald and gold euonymus bush in Clifford Oto’s backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

It was called “out your backdoor.” The task was to photograph something in your backyard. Now this may sound easy but there’s more to it than just stepping out into your yard, clicking a picture and then you’re done. Quite often people think, whether knowingly or unconsciously, that things that are faraway and/or exotic make better pictures than those that are closer to us and more familiar. Because we see things everyday we tend to dismiss them as too mundane or boring to be worthy of pictures.

(10/21/12) Rain drops cover a rose in Clifford Oto’s backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

However, a good photographer knows that it’s not the subject but rather one’s approach to that subject that makes the difference between a good or boring picture.

(3/22/20) Clifford Oto’s dog Maisie sits for a photo in their backyard. The fence and trunks of the bushes in the background are a bit distracting. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]


(3/22/20) By simply moving in closer the background distractions are eliminated. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Start with the basics. Get in close to your subjects. Fill the frame with them. Watch your backgrounds. If you’re taking a portrait, for instance, make sure that there isn’t a tree branch or
Sticking out of grandma’s ear.

(7/4/10) A mocking bird sits on the roof of a house behind Clifford Oto’s backyard.

Just because you have something interesting or beautiful in your backyard it doesn’t mean that you can’t make it look even better. The light outside changes during the day. Try going out in early the morning, midday and later in the afternoon and see how it affects your subject. You might even try taking a picture at night.

(3/22/20) Water drops cling to the blossoms of a redbud tree in the backyard of Clifford Oto’s home. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Try using different lenses or if you have a zoom lens, take pictures with with zoomed out to it’s widest setting and then zoom in for a more telephoto shot.

(6/17/09) A dove sits in a nest in Clifford Oto’s backyard.

Think beyond just the plants and landscaping in your yard. You can photograph the birds that invariably fly in and through your property. You can photograph your pets or do portraits of family members. Easter falls within the timeframe of the challenge. You can set up a backyard egg hunt and take pictures of your kids searching for the hidden treasures.

(11/22/13) A shaft of light illuminates a saltshaker in the kitchen of Clifford Oto’s home.

You can also shoot a still life. If you have a fruit tree (I have a lemon tree that has a lot of fruit that needs picking) then take some of its bounty and perhaps place in a bowl on a table. Add some flowers and arrange them artistically together, wait for some nice light and, voila! Instant still life.

(12/3/14) A rainbow graces the sky beyond an ornamental pear tree Clifford Oto’s front yard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

For this challenge it can be more than just the backyard. The front yard or even inside your home will also be fair game, but must be your own property, not someone else’s. So, good luck and may you find that home is truly where the heart is.

20121031 Rain drops cover a cape plumbago in Clifford Oto’s backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. The preferred format is jpeg. Type in “Backyard” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be taken between March 31 and April 14.

3. The number of photos is limited to 10.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, the kind of device you used and there the photo was taken (eg.: John Doe of Stockton, Canon Rebel T6i with 18-55mm lens. In my backyard).

5. If there is a recognizable person or persons in the photo please identify them (name, age, hometown) and describe what is going on in the photo (eg.: “Jane Done, 9 and brother Jimmy Doe, 6 of Stockton, hunt for easter eggs in their backyard.”)

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

7. The deadline for submission is April 14. The top examples will be published on April 21 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day at recordnet.com.

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Readers Photo Challenge: Planting the seeds of creativity

The subject current Readers Photo Challenge assignment is “plants.” Those who participated were tasked in creatively photographing anything from lowly blades of grass to a stately redwood and everything in between. The best photos took advantage of light, composition and weather conditions to come up with their images. Thirty-two readers sent in 162 photos. Here are some of those top examples.

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Carolyn Silva of Jackson used a Nikon D7500 DSLR to photograph a cow eating in a field near her home.

Like most of the entrants Carolyn Silva of Jackson didn’t have to go far to get her plant picture. Behind her home, she used a Nikon D7500 DSLR camera to photograph a cow foraging in a field. A fog swirls around a hill beyond the bovine. Trees on the hillside peek through the veil of fog giving the images a feeling of beautiful enchantment and mystery.

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Cynthia Barker of Stockton used an Apple iPhone 8 Plus to photograph grapefruit that she picked from her yard.

Cynthia Barker of Stockton found her plant picture every closer. While washing dishes when she noticed the morning light falling though a window onto a bunch of grapefruit that she had picked from her garden sitting on her kitchen counter. That light combined with the random composition of the fruit that creates a still life setting worthy of a 17th century master.

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DaveSkinner of Stockton used a Nikon D7100 DSLR camera to photograph fallen leaves at the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton.

While most people concerned themselves with living plants, Dave Skinner of Stockton found his photo with the parts of plants that were no longer living. With his Nikon D7100 DSLR camera Skinner photographed fallen leaves at the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton. He found a large leave that was partially decomposed which stood out against other smaller, darker ones beneath it. He captured the beauty that can be found in decay and entropy.

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Bettina Engleman of Stockton used an Apple iPhone 11 to photograph poppies growing along March Lane and Brookside Road in Stockton.

Bettina Engleman of Stockton used an Apple iPhone 11 to photograph poppies growing along March Lane and Brookside Road in Stockton. She took advantage of a low angle that a phone camera’s small lens can allow and got in low and close below the flowers not only taking the flower but the cloudy sky in the background as well.

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Teresa Mahnken of Morada used a Nikon D7200 DSLR camera to photograph moss on some brick in her yard.

Teresa Mahnken of Morada used a Nikon D7200 DSLR camera to photograph moss growing on some bricks in her backyard. She took advantage of the late afternoon light. The light imbued the scene with a warm glow and lit upon the highlights in the raindrops that clung to the moss creating a miniature magical landscape.

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Jamie Flores of Stockton used a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera to photograph trees near the Stockton Golf and Country Club in Stockton.

Light is what makes Stocktonian Jamie Flores’ photo stand out. With a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera, Flores captured the golden rays from the setting sun saturating the trees along Atherton Cove near the Stockton deepwater channel with a warm glow all of which was reflected in the nearly still waters of the cove.

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Keith Barker of Stockton used an Apple iPhone to photograph Double Delight rose in his backyard.

Keith Barker of Stockton used an Apple iPhone to photograph Double Delight rose in his backyard. He got in close with the phone with it’s wide angle lens and not only a tight shot ozone rose but also was able to include other parts of the plant as well.

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We had a little rain during the challenge’s timeframe but that didn’t deter the following readers, in fact it enhanced their photos.

Kurt Gaetjen of Elk Grove used a Nikon D610 to photograph a daisy in his backyard.

Kurt Gaetjen of Elk Grove used a Nikon D610 DSLR camera to photograph a colorful daisy in his backyard. The nice, tight composition helps to emphasize the water drops on its petals.

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Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton used a Nikon D750 DSLR camera to photograph a lenten rose in her yard.

Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton used a Nikon D750 DSLR camera to photograph a lenten rose in her yard. The flower looks gracefully bent over from the weight of the raindrops that cover it.

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Erv Rifenburg of Lodi used a Nikon D7100 DSLR camera to photograph raindrop-covered blossoms on a nectarine tree in his yard.

Erv Rifenburg of Lodi used a Nikon D7100 DSLR camera to photograph blossoms on a nectarine tree in his yard. He popped off a flash to help fill in the shadows and separate the flowers from darker background. The raindrops clinging to the petals gives a feeling of spring freshness and vigor.

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All of the photos entered can be seen in an online gallery at recordnet.com. A new challenge assignment will be issued on March 31.

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More than just the camera

The Canon 80D DSLR camera with a 18-135mm Canon zoom lens. [COURTESY CANON]

Kevin Richtik, owner/operator of Caroline Photography in Stockton, posted a bit of a rant on social media a few weeks ago. In response to a Yahoo article with the headline “This Canon 80D DSLR camera will turn you into a pro photographer,” Richtik wrote: “Yahoo must subscribe to the ‘if I buy the same stethoscope as my doctor then I can become a doctor too’ theory. I agree it is a really good camera (I own one to use as a back up) but sadly buying one won’t make someone a professional.”

(12/7/13) Kevin Richtik, owner of Caroline’s Photography, takes a picture at the 5th annual Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless’ family shelter in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

I can understand Richtik’s complaint because it’s a pet peeve of mine as well. Quite often someone will see me carrying my camera with a big lens attached and say “I bet that camera takes great pictures.” The wrong thing to say to a pro photographer because it’s the person that takes the photo not the camera.

(12/6/10) Kevin Richtik, owner of the Stockton-based Caroline’s Photography, takes a picture during the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless’s family Shelter in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Like any other photographer worth their salt, Richtik gained his expertise through education, experience, talent and hard work. He graduated from the famed Brooks Institute of Photography in 1990. He then worked for other photographers including Caroline Beebe who hired him in 1997 and who’s business he took over when she retired in 2010. Needless to say that he’s earned his photographic chops.

(12/6/10) Daniel Hawthorne and his mother Chea Rodgers at the Help Portrait session held at the Stockton Family Shelter by Kevin Richtik.

I have used both Canon and Nikon products and I can say that both brands work and work well. What I can’t say is that one takes better pictures than the other. It depends on the user on how the pictures will turn out.

(12/6/10) Brittany Ware at the 2010 Help-Portrait event by Kevin Richtik.

Professional photographers buy professional-grade gear not because it’s labeled as such. Personally, I shoot tens of thousands of frames a year in every kind of weather condition, so I look for a camera that is durable and reliable. I need something that won’t break down on me in the middle of a shoot. Before getting or upgrading to fancier, more expensive gear, concentrate on improving your technical and creative skills. Learn the concepts of shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and how to use them in the service of your vision.

(12/6/10) Andy Bayaoa at the 2010 Help-Portrait event by Kevin Richtik

Instead of paying thousands of dollars in an upscale camera, that money may be better spent in taking a class or workshop. Even after you learned the technical side of photography you still need to learn how to be creative with those skills. And even after that you still need to know how work within a professional work context.

I worked with Richtik when he volunteered at a Help-Portrait event in 2010. It was amazing to watch him make a personal connection with each of his subjects and use that connection to create photos that went beyond just a mere representation of a person to pictures filled with life and personality.

2(12/6/10) Michelle Fehd, Jessica Easter, Aaliyah Easter, Rocshaun Easter and Ojamar Easter at the 2010 Help-Portrait event by Kevin Richtik.

The last line of the Yahoo article says: “If you want to upgrade your gear or want to start shooting professional-quality shots, say hello to your new baby.” The 80D is actually what is known as a “prosumer” model slotted somewhere between amateur and professional levels. Canon is partially right. You can take professional-style photos with it but, like with any other camera, only if you’re willing to take the time and effort to raise your skills to a professional level.

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Readers Photo Challenge assignment:Plant-based pictures

With all the sunshine and warm weather we’ve been having lately it seems like an early spring has arrived, and so the the Readers Photo Challenge will take advantage of that. Plants will be the subjects of the next assignment. Anything from a lowly weed to a grand sequoia is fair game.

TOP: (1/24/18) Weeds grow from the cracks in the steps of Stockton City Hall in downtown Stockton. BOTTOM LEFT: (5/10/14) A bee crawls across an artichoke flower at the Boggs Tract Community Farm in Stockton. BOTTOM RIGHT: (10/21/19) Trembling aspen trees turn to their fall colors near Red Lake along Highway 88 the El Dorado National Forest in Alpine County. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

You can find subject matter almost anywhere, from out in nature to more urban city areas. Trees set against a warm sunset can be a good subject as is a houseplant next to a window with some nice soft light coming in. You can go where greenery is abundant or you look for your plant where things aren’t supposed to grow like a weed struggling it’s way out of a crack in the sidewalk.

TOP: (8/9/19) Wild sunflowers grow beneath cloudy skies in a field along Manthey Road near French Camp Road in French Camp. BOTTOM LEFT: (12/12/17) A fallen leaf is backlit from a low afternoon sun at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton. BOTTOM RIGHT: (12/14/18) Clouds tinged with the colors of sunset rise behind palm trees along the Joan Darrah Promenade in downtown Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Look for good lighting in your plant pictures. Try to avoid front lighting. It will wash out the colors and contrast in most situations giving your photo a bland look. Try light coming in from the side or even back. Most plants have parts that are very thin, like leaves and petals, which can be illuminated by light coming from behind. Also consider the time of day that you take your picture. Early morning or late afternoon/early evening have a nice warm tone and the light comes in at a pleasingly low angle.

TOP: (7/9/09) A monarch butterfly and a bumble bee look for nectar on a flower in the yard of Alicia Baylor’s home near Ione. BOTTOM LEFT: (4/10/12) Rain drops cling to a dandelion in Walnut Grove. BOTTOM RIGHT: (2/25/13) Sunlight lands on the peeling bark on a tree in Elk Grove. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Plants also lend themselves to closeup or macro photography. Try looking for insects crawling on a leaf or flower. The seeds of a dandelion, veins of a leaf or even the bark of a tree can look very interesting when shot in extreme closeup. Look for little details like that.

TOP: (8/10/11) Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center environmental associate Julia Stephens sits on a rock in a field of checker bloom growing near Barn Meadow. BOTTOM LEFT: (3/5/08) Grower Michael Fondse checks out blossom in an almond orchard on Carrolton Road in Ripon. BOTTOM RIGHT: (4/9/14) Breanna Meza sits with her dog Cookie in an orchard near her Modesto home. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

The plants don’t even have to be the main subject of your photos. You can use them as a foreground or background to add color or texture a portrait. You can also use a branch as a frame to help add emphasis to your subject. People an plants can be a good mix.

TOP: (12/20/11) A dew drop hangs on a grape vine in a foggy vineyard along Peltier Road and Rond Road in Thornton. BOTTOM LEFT: (4/25/14) A raindrop clings to a fiddleneck wildflower near the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Elk Grove. BOTTOM RIGHT: (11/24/15) Raindrops cling to a fallen ginko leaf during a rain shower in the Delta town of Walnut Grove. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

While the weather has been mostly sunny and dry, there’s a small chance that it might rain. Don’t let that deter you. In fact, rain can help enhance your plant pictures. Raindrops clinging to a branch, leaf or flower can help to add some visual zest to your shot. Even if it doesn’t rain, clouds can also help to add some visual interest to an otherwise boring sky.

TOP: (4/2/18) A red-winged blackbird perches on a sow thistle in a field of wild mustard on Sperry Road near Airport Way in Stockton. BOTTOM LEFT:(10/1/13) The branches of an oak tree hang over the waters edge of Lodi Lake in Lodi. BOTTOM RIGHT: (9/1/17) The sun is transformed into a glowing red orb by the smokey skies as it sets beyond an oak tree on Ronald McNair Way and West Lane in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Even though you might have a pretty flower or see an awesome scene I nature, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will automatically translate to a good picture. It’s how you approach taking the photo that will elevate it to plant perfection.

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How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. The preferred format is jpeg. Type in “Plants” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be taken between March 3 and March 17.

3. The number of photos is limited to 10.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, the kind of device you used and there the photo was taken (eg.: John Doe of Stockton, Canon Rebel T6i with 18-55mm lens. Oak Park, Stockton).

5. If there is a recognizable person or persons in the photo please identify them (name, age, hometown) and describe what is going on in the photo (eg.: “Jane Doe of Stockton, 18, walks under a canopy of trees at Oak 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 17. The top examples will be published on March 24 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day at recordnet.com.

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Readers Photo Challenge: Pets: Our friends, our family

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ― Anatole France

Pets are the subjects of the latest Readers Photo Challenge. The animals that share our lives are more than just our pets. We feed and house them and in return they give us unconditional love and companionship. Twenty-two readers sent in a total of 88 photos of how our pets are an important part of our lives. Here are some of the best examples.

Bonnie Sugawara of Stockton used a Motorola Moto X smartphone to photograph the shop cat Cookie at her place of work, Global Auto Parts in Stockton.

There is a type of portraiture called the “environmental portrait.” If features the subject in surroundings that are familiar or relevant to them. It could be at their job, or home or a favorite spot in nature. This type of portrait has usually applied to people but Bonnie Sugawara of Stockton applied it to her pet. She used a Motorola Moto X smartphone to photograph her shop cat Cookie at her place of business, Global Auto Parts in Stockton. Cookie stood atop the cash register as if waiting for the next customer. The cat’s surroundings, the parts shelf in the background and knickknacks on the wall, give a feeling of a homey mom-and-pop small business where the pets are part of the staff.

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Cynthia Barker of Stockton used an Apple iPhone 8 Plus to photograph her cat Nu Blue held in her husband Keith barker’s hands at their home in Stockton.

The bond of love and trust between owner can be seen in Stocktonian Christa Barker’s photo of her husband Keith and one of their many cats. Christa used an Apple iPhone 8 to photogaph Nu Blu, a grey tabby, sleeping peacefully as he’s cradled in Keith’s Barker’s hands. One can almost hear the feline’s purring as soft window light gently pours into their living room.

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Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton used a Nikon D750 DSLR camera to photograph her sister Mandy and her dog, a vizsla named Rizzie.

The bond between pet and owner can also be seen in Sydney Spurgeon’s photo. The Stockton-native sent in a photo of her sister Mandy hugging her 5-year-old Hungarian Vizsla named Rizzie. Mandy lives in Denver but Sydney was dog-sitting Rizzie in Stockton while Mandy looked for a new job. Mandy came home to visit and Sydney caught this touching moment of reunion between owner and pet.

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Steven Rapaport of Stockton used a Canon 5D Mark IV to photograph his black Labrador retriever Teddy running to play catch at his home.

There’s one trick in portraiture that many portrait photographers know: have your subject do something. It’s a way to get a natural and candid shot of them. The idea is to get them interested in something other than the camera to allow them to be more relaxed. Steven Rapaport of Stockton did this with his 20-month-old Labrador retriever Teddy. Rapaport caught teddy as he chased a toy thrown by his wife Linda in their backyard. With a Canon EOS 5D Mk IV DSLR camera he captured the dog’s muscles taut and ready to pounce and its eyes with a laser-beam focus on its prize.

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Jessica Flores of Stockton used a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera to photograph her 8-month-old English Cream Golden Retriever Bodie at her home.

Time of day is crucial to any photo especially a portrait. Stocktonian Jessica Flores’s photo is a simple one of her 8-month-old English cream golden retriever Bodie. He’s just sitting on the grass in the backyard but what elevates this photo is when it was taken. The late afternoon/early evening sun gives Bodie’s white fur a nice, slightly golden tone giving the dog a warm and inviting look.

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Teresa Mahnken of Morada used a Samsung Galaxy 8 to photographer her cat Mushu at her home.

Cats were worshipped as divine being in ancient Egypt and were associated with witches and the supernatural during the Middle Ages. Teresa Mahnken of Morada used a Samsung Galaxy 8 to photographer her cat Mushu at her home. It’s wide eyes and narrow pupils combined with the image’s conversation to black and white, make the cat look mysterious and otherworldly.

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Summer Hollingsworth of Stockton used a Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime smartphone to photograph her cat Freddy at her home.

Stocktonian Summer Hollingsworth’s used a Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime smartphone to photograph her cat Freddy. She captured the feline’s peaceful slumber like many parents take pictures of their infants as they lay sleeping in their cribs.

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An online gallery of all the photos can be seen at recordnet.com. A new challenge will be issued on March 3.

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Going beyond the technical

Many novice photographers may think that learning how to use their cameras is the be all and end all of photography. While mastering shutter speeds, f/stops and ISO is important, it’s just beginning of the process, not the end. Each genre of photography has its own characteristics to master. Having skills in one area may or may not necessarily translate to another.

TOP:(4/6/19) Delta College’s Dario Gomez, right, is tagged out by Folsom Lake College catcher Garrett Kellogg-Clarke art home plate during a baseball game at Delta’s Cecchetti Field in Stockton. BOTTOM LEFT: (2/234/18) Sierra’s Clara von Arnim, left, fights for the ball with Manteca’s Mia Watson during a girls soccer playoff game at Sierra. BOTTOM RIGHT: (1/23/20) Pacific’s Broc Finstuen, right, tries to steal the ball away from BYU’s Zac Seljaas during a WCC mens basketball game at UOP’s Spanos Center in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Sports photographers tend to be a breed unto themselves. In some ways they have to be as adept at what they do as the athletes are at their respective sports. A sports shooter has to be able to track and focus on a moving subject, often with other athletes in the way. They have to convey the intensity of the action of the field or court and capture just the right facial expressions to show that the athlete is making a supreme effort. The best sports photographers know the intricacies of the sports they cover so that they know where to stand or what play may happen to get the best photos. To top it off they have to identify who’s in the picture and provide caption information.

TOP: (12/1/13) Professional photographer Kristen Elardo makes her subject, 2-year-old Jackson Hetrick, feel comfortable with her camera during a session at the West 12 Ranch in Lodi. [BOTTOM LEFT: (5/6/16) McNair senior Gaby De Silva, left, sits with her mother Jhnaira “Jenny” Da Silva at their home in Stockton. Gabby is the first in her family to attend college. BOTTOM RIGHT: (6/26/08) Weston Ranch High School tennis player Fay Saepharn is a Charles Washington Award finalist. [CLIFFORDOTO/THE RECORD]

Portrait photographers do more than take pictures of people. They have to be experts at lighting and posing their subjects to make them look their best naturally without making them look stiff or uncomfortable. But more so than that, the best ones are people persons. From simple headshots to more involved environmental portraits They are able to make their subjects feel at ease by making a connection with them on a personal level. And often they only have a few minutes to do it in.

TOP: (10/23/19) Sandhill cranes share a flooded field with other waterfowl along Desmond Road in the Cosumnes River preserve near Thornton. BOTTOM LEFT: (11/5/11) Snow covers the ground and trees outside of Dardanelle along Highway 108 in the Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County. BOTTOM RIGHT: (10/21/19) Trembling aspen trees turn to their fall colors near Red Lake along Highway 88 the El Dorado National Forest in Alpine County. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Landscape/wildlife photographers have an affinity for nature, but it’s more than taking a picture of a bucolic scene. They have to know what time of day or even time of year is best to get the right light for their shots. Sometimes they may have to go back to a spot repeatedly to get just the right weather conditions. They have to know when and where a certain type of animal or bird may show up and how to photograph them without scaring them off.

There are more type of photograph that you can go into. From architectural to fashion to weddings and more, each has their own aspects to them. While proficiency in learning the technical aspects of your camera and photography is essential to advance your abilities, it’s only a jumping off point for specializing in any field of photography

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