Out with the old

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” – Bill Vaughn

Many people take time at the end of the year to look back over the previous 12 months before moving onto the new year. Almost invariably the review of the year ends up in some sort of list. While any number from 5 to 100 can be employed, the most popular is the top 10. Top 10 movie, songs, cars, etc., these lists abound.

My look back list is a little different. I compile 12 of my favorite photos of the year. “Why 12?” you may ask. No, it’s not a top 10 plus 2. The answer is pretty simple: one picture from each month. It’s an arbitrary list to be sure and far from perfect.

For instance, there were a few months where I had multiple shots that were better than some of the best pictures in other months. But it’s the criteria that I chose for this list so I limited myself to the best from each month. So here are my top 12 favorite photos from 2015.


January 14:

In 2014 Misty Holt-Singh was taken hostage in a botched bank robbery in Stockton. Holt-Singh and 2 of the robbers were killed in a hail of police gunfire. About 6 months later, Misty’s sister, Dawn Holt, campaigned for a bench to be placed as a memorial near the site of her sister’s death.

I photographed Dawn Holt cleaning up a roadside memorial at the site of the bench on Thornton Road and Otto drive in Stockton. The memorial was approved by the city and erected. It was Dawn Holt’s last act of devotion for her sister. Dawn died of cancer a few months later at the end of July.

February 8:

I was on my way back to Stockton on Highway 99 from an assignment in Lodi late in the day. It had been raining pretty hard that day but began clearing up just before sundown. The setting sun created a rainbow to the east. As the sun lowered in the sky, more and more of the rainbow disappeared with the waning light.

I hurriedly pulled off of the freeway at Eight Mile Road and headed eastward, looking for something to uses as a foreground accent to the rainbow. Finally reaching Alpine Road, I saw a red barn behind a long white fence that was perfect for the scene. I spotted a large puddle left by the rains in an orchard across the road. I used it to catch the reflection of the rainbow which only lasted a few more minutes before disappearing.

March 1:

I was driving through the University of the Pacific after covering a UOP softball game against Montana when I noticed small groups of people, 2 to 5 each, running through the campus. Which wasn’t too out of the ordinary except for the fact that they seemed to be dirty, well, dusty to be exact. They looked like they were coated in a thin patina of dust of varying colors.

I stopped and found out that about people (50 runners and 50 volunteers) were participating in the Phi Delta Chi pharmacy fraternity’s 3rd annual Color for Cures 5K run fundraiser for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Runners followed a course through the campus with people stationed every so often to throw colored cornstarch at them. At the end of the run a free-for-all was held between all the participants in a great rainbow-hued dust-off.

April 24:

I was looking for a wind photo on a blustery day when I spotted Rick Cooper at Victory Park in Stockton. What caught my eye was that he was a rather buff, macho-looking guy and he was trying to launch a small kids’ kite (ironically, he didn’t have any kids with him).

Then I noticed that the image on the kite was that of the Marvel super-strong character the Hulk which sort of matched Cooper’s physique. Though the winds were strong that day, they swirled around the park from different directions and the kite wouldn’t fly. But Cooper kept his calm and didn’t turn green with frustration.

May 22:

Sports photographers try to capture that perfect moment of action or at least as close to it as they can get. The favored St Mary’s was playing Tracy in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South final at UOP in Stockton. If St. Mary’s won the game they would go on to play the North final winners. If they lost they would get a second chance and play Tracy in another game immediately after the first.

In the opener Tracy built a built a big lead, scoring 8 runs in the first 3 innings. St. Mary’s fought it’s way back but Tracy managed to hold them off and win 9-7. After a short intermission they started the second game which was also another nail-biter. St. Mary’s managed to hold onto a 3-2 win.

My close-to-perfect shot came in the first game when Tracy’s Christian Rosette slid into home plate and knocked the ball out of St. Mary’s catcher Joey Cortopassi’s glove to score a run.

June 6:

Sometimes it’s fun to see the world of wonder through a child’s eyes. I captured the sense of awe on 6-year-old Chard Scott’s face as he whipped up a storm of soap bubbles at the Regional Transit District’s 50th anniversary celebration held at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton.


July 16:

A year later after she was killed in the previously mentioned botched bank robbery, a candlelight vigil for her was held for Misty Holt-Singh at the site of a memorial bench on Thornton Road and Otto Drive in Stockton that Misty’s sister Dawn Holt, lobbied for.

Dawn Holt, too sick with cancer, didn’t attend but her mother, Karen Farmer and Misty’s husband Paul Singh spoke of their memories of Misty to a group of family, friends and supporters at the vigil and to express their heartfelt thanks for everyone’s caring and support.

August 28:

The end of summer brings the start of a new school year and with it the beginning of prep football season. My first game was Lincoln at Stagg in Stockton. My favorite shot from that game (and also for the month) was Lincoln’s Isaiah Downes (left) breaking up a pass intended for Stagg’s Cutrell Haywood.

September 27:

On this day I went out to shoot a uncommon celestial event: A supermoon eclipse. A supermoon is when the moon is at its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. It appears slightly larger and brighter than a normal full moon. It’s very rare when it coincides with a lunar eclipse. The next one won’t be seen until 2033.

It was to appear early in the evening, just after sundown. I went out to the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton to try to catch a glimpse of it but the too-thick cloud cover blotted out any view of the moon. Sert Keo of Stockton was also there to view the eclipse as well and like me was thwarted by the clouds.

However, the setting sun turned those clouds into a beautiful fiery cloak across the sky. Keo stood up and took a picture of the sunset and I got a shot of him doing so. We both were a little disappointed that we didn’t see the supermoon eclipse but at least we didn’t leave empty handed.


October 8:

There are times when you run across something that’s just a little out of the ordinary. I saw Dennis and Doris Savage of Stockton walking through Louis Park in Stockton with what appeared to be a very large goose in their arms. Indeed it was their pet Toulouse goose Petey. The Savages take their 19-year-old water fowl on a twice-a-week walk to give him a little exercise but sometimes end up carrying him because he has callouses on his feet.

November 27:

A family that plays together…The day after Thanksgiving I saw Anthony Dal Porto of Petaluma playing soccer with his daughters at Grupe Park in Stockton. Dal Porto and his family were visiting relatives in Stockton when they took time out to get a little exercise.

His 6-year-old daughter Cecelia took shots on him while he defended the goal while carrying his 3-year-old daughter Gabriella on his shoulders. Dal Porto gets the super dad of the year award.


December 9.

You can see it from space! Every year James Galindo puts up what is arguably the best Christmas light display on a home in Stockton and perhaps San Joaquin County. Nearly every tree in his front yard is covered with what he estimates as around 400,000 brightly colored strands of lights. It’s an impressive sight and it should be. He starts putting them up in August!


It’s a daunting task to cull more than 1,100 assignments (both assigned and found pictures) down to a dozen individual images. So, in addition to these photos, I’ve also assembled with another yearend list. I picked 52 of my best photos from 2015 that are displayed in an online photo gallery at recordnet.com.

I chose 52 to represent each week of the year, but it too is a subjective list. Due to sick leave, and vacations, I didn’t actually work every week of the year. Perhaps some day there’ll be the perfect number for the perfect yearend list. Until then 12 and 52 will be the best numbers for me.

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