Going 12 for ’13

The beginning of a new year is a time for looking forward but often it’s also time to look back at the previous year before moving ahead. At the end of every year for the past several, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite images. 52 of 2013’s images can be seen in a gallery at http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=SR&Date=20131216&Category=A_NEWS&ArtNo=121809998&Ref=PH&Presentation=desktop. I also have picked out my top 12 of the year. I know that 12 seems like an odd number. Most yearend lists are an even 10 or maybe even 5. My list is a favorite photo from each month of the year, January through December.


Jan. 29

In late January the Central California Traction Co. (CCT) cleaned up a homeless encampment where their short-line railroad tracks intersects with the Stockton Terminal & Eastern Railroad’s line near East Roosevelt Street in Stockton. Nearby homeowners had been complaining for years about the trash and human waste left by the squatters. Backed up by San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies a CCT crew rolled in a backhoe to collect the debris. Ordered to move, 48-year-old Ada Hensley had only a few minutes to relocate months, perhaps years, worth of accumulated belongings in a single shopping cart. She was only able to move a portion of her stuff about 30 yards away, not nearly far enough to be safe from collection and disposal. The sheriff’s deputies told her in firm but calm tones that she needed to pick hat was most important to her and leave the rest but she couldn’t decide and kept trying to move everything. As time ticked away Hensley became more panicked and distraught. After the deputies extended her deadline several times the crew could wait no longer and she was finally told her that she had to leave the area. Agitated and distressed, Hensley was only able to save a couple of shopping carts full of her things before moving on.

It had rained a few days before the clean-up and large puddles sat like ponds near the tracks. As Hensley pushed her shopping cart to mover her belongings she was reflected in their still waters as was the graffiti covering the wall of a nearby building. To me the jumble of spray paint epitomized the confusion and torment that must have been going through Hensley’s mind and the placid reflection in the water symbolized the peace that eluded her.

Feb. 6

I grew up in a small town and there you realize that everyone knows everyone else and what you do can have a great effect.

Angels Camp is a small town by nearly anyone’s reckoning, about 3,400 people. Its lone high school, Bret Harte High, is the central hub of the activity that goes on there. In Feb. Two of the schools students, Alex Marshall, 17, and his sister Macaila, 14, and their father Phillip, 54, were found dead in their Forest Meadows home. The elder Marshal apparently shot his children before turning the gun on himself in a murder-suicide.

A few days later the school and town held a candlelight vigil for Alex and Macalia. More than 500 people, classmates, teachers and community members, filled the quad for a emotional tribute to the popular siblings. They all shared their love for poplar brother and sister and consoled each other in their loss.


March 10.

Spring in California’s Central Valley brings sunny days and warmer temperatures and area residents take to the Delta’s thousand miles of waterways. Jet skiers often use the wake of larger boats as watery ramps to jump but when there are none they create their own waves.

When cruising through Lodi Lake Park I noticed Tanner Purdy of Lodi piloting his personal watercraft on the lake’s waters. He and another jet skier created their own waves by circling “donuts” across the water’s surface. They then rocketed off of the wakes launching themselves into the air. When they came down they would actually plunge below the surface. Then powering their way back up they would shoot back into the air in an explosion of water.


April 2

University of the Pacific student Brendon Nguyen of Palos Verdes Estates had a fellow student take his picture for invitations for his graduation in May. In front of the arched entry to UOP on Pacific Avenue in Stockton, Nguyen leapt up for the photo, his fist thrust skyward, in a jump for joy.
Being a father of a college student and knowing how much college costs, I guessing his parents were jumping for joy as well.


May 13

One of the things that a photographer wants to capture in a sports photo is conflict, getting opposing athletes going toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano. But there are some games where the participants rarely or never make contact (think volleyball, or tennis). Baseball is one of those sports. However there are times, a close play at one of the bases or home plate, when conflict can happen and sometimes in a visually dramatic fashion.
Lodi played Gregori at Tony Zupo Field in a Sac-Joaquin Section baseball playoff game. Lodi’s Brett Young took a run at third base from second. As he approached third he swung out wide and kicked up a cloud of dust as he slid in the dirt round the base. He reached out a hand to grab the base but was tagged by Gregori’s Dominic Carrillo for the out. The scene was backlit and Young cast a partial shadow on the dusty billow as he slid giving the photo an even more visual drama.


June 22

“You should’ve seen the other guy.” It’s a phrase often used by some to jokingly explain away noticeable bumps and bruises perhaps clumsily acquired.
In June I covered a mixed martial arts (MMA) event promoted by Lodi MMA fighter Nick Diaz at the Stockton Arena. In an undercard bout Aziz Rashid of Fresno battled Derek Brown of Antioch. MMA fights are brutal contests with a mix of kick boxing, wrestling and bare-knuckled brawling. It was a close bout with both fighters expending a great amount of effort and getting some good licks in. Then Rashid go the upper hand and administered some punishing blows to Brown. The ref separated the fighters and stopped the fight in Rashid’s favor. Rashid stood in a neutral corner, his stamina spent and covered in blood, but not his own. He was splattered with the punishment he inflicted on Brown. Standing there Rashid almost looked like the loser of the fight but, as they say, you should’ve seen the other guy.


July 29

Dictionary.dom defines the term bokeh as “a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.” Specifically it’s the out-of-focus highlights of a picture. Thought not the main focus they can be used as an attractive background four a main subject. It’s often effective during the holiday season due to the use of Christmas lights, but it can also be used during other times of the year as well.

I late July the late evening sun was setting beyond the Stockton Marina in downtown Stockton. A stand of star thistle grew in a nearby open lot. As the sun sank lower on the horizon position myself to get a photo of a thistle silhouetted against against it. In my first attempts I used a small aperture, which made the sun appear as relatively small dot in the sky, so small that the thistle blocked its view. Then I switched to a wider f-stop, which threw the sun out of focus due to the small depth of field, making it appear larger behind the thistle proving it’s okay to bokeh.


Aug. 6

Covering tragic, fatal events is part of the job in newspaper photography. In most cases we don’t show the bodies of the deceased in the paper, but we have to come up with ways to show what happened without being too graphic.

In August a motorcycle rider was struck and killed by a big rig when he attempted to pass the truck on the right side shoulder of the connecting ramp from northbound Highway 99 to west bound Highway 120 in Manteca. When I arrived on scene the CHP had blocked the ramp and was diverting traffic away. The rider’s body, covered in a white sheet, lay on the ground where he fell. Even covered a photo of the body isn’t something we would run in the paper. One of the rider’s boots, thrown off by the force of the collision, lay on the ground upright about 10 yards from the body. I used a forced perspective technique to place the boot close to the camera effectively blocking the view of the body as the CHP officers investigated the crash.


Sept. 15

Destiny Herrera, a 10-year-old with bone cancer, is a girl with compassion beyond her years. At her age you would think that it would be all about her but she is also concerned about others with her condition. In September she organized and held a balloon released to raise awareness on behalf of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. With her head, hairless from chemotherapy and wrapped in a black bandana, she was joined by family, friends and supporters all holding a bounty of gold and yellow balloons at Woodward Park in Manteca. They gathered around Destiny and in a single united motion released the balloons into the air. A stiff wind quickly lifted them skyward. Destiny smiled and for a brief moment stopped being a child with cancer and became just a happy kid with a balloon.


Oct. 3

On an afternoon in October a fire started at the Newark Recycling & Recovery plant in Stockton. Stacks of cardboard and paper fueled the 2-alarm blaze pushed by 30-mph winds. Thick smoke temporarily close Interstate 5 and flying embers spawned 2 other major fires and several smaller ones up to two miles away.

At times it seemed like the scene was like peering through the open gates of Hell. The wind whipped around the brimstone-like billows of smoke. The fire itself danced swirled as if it were alive. Embers scattered in the air like swarms of burning insects sent by Satan himself. Through it all squads of Stockton firefighters bravely entered the fray, at times dwarfed by the inferno around them. By the end of the day the blaze was contained, though it took a few days to finally completely douse the fire.


Nov. 24

The San Joaquin County Kennel Club held its annual dog show at the county fairgrounds in November. About 2,500 canines competed in the 4-day event. Each one of them were primped and preened by their owners, handlers and/or dog groomers. Some are pampered as much as any family member.

Oksana Fagenboym of San Ramon waited patiently with her 18-month-old standard poodle Valentine for the poodle competition to begin. Then just before handler Bill McFadden of Acampo whisked the dog into the show ring, Fagenboym bent down and gave Valentine a loving kiss.


Dec. 12.

“I want to see my house from space!” – Danny DeVito as Buddy Hall from “Deck The Halls” (2006)

For the past several years Jim Galindo has put up one of the more impressive display of Christmas lights in Stockton and San Joaquin County. This December I drove by to get a festive night shot of his home on Gibson Street in Stockton and actually got him putting up the last of the estimated 170,000 LED lights. I don’t know if you can see his house from space, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could.

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