Twelve from 17

In addition of producing a yearend slideshow of my top 52 favorite photos from 2017, I also made a list of my top 12 pictures. Why 12? One for each month of the year but unlike the slideshow, each of the top 12 represents an actual month.


 January 11:

I was driving down La Jolla Drive in Stockton when I turned onto Mission Road. There in the middle of the street sat a Stockton Police Ford Explorer just idling. Peering around the large vehicle I saw street basketball hoop and a pickup game being played. Officer Manuel Ortiz, one of several strategic community officers with the department tasked with outreach within the neighborhoods of Stockton, had seen twin 13-year-old brothers Nickolas and Pete Regohos shooting hoops in front of their home and decided to join in. Ortiz’s partner move the cruiser over to the curb and I was able to get by, but not before I was able to get a shot of their impromptu game.


 February 24:

Every February the Sac-Joaquin Section Boys Masters Wrestling tournament is held at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. Athletes from all over Northern California compete to be the best in their weight classes. Due to the nature of the tourney, its often difficult to get to local competitors in the same bout but I managed to get Edison’s Muhammad Lateef and Manteca’s Tyler Welch in the 152-lb class. The tension in their muscles and faces show the extreme effort and the high level at which the competition is held.


 March 9:

 In a Big 8 baseball game between Delta College and  American River College at Delta’s Ceccetti Field in Stockton, a fly ball was hit in the no-man’s land of short center field. Delta College outfield Braeden Oki rushed forward as infielder Jack Walsh scrambled back in an attempt to save the rapidly falling ball. They both missed the impossible catch but I managed to freeze their supreme effort to save a dying quail.


 April 16:

 The Stockton citywide Easter sunrise service is held annual at the Weber Point event Center in downtown Stockton. As Pastor Christian Simas of Reality Stockton gave the sermon near the end of this year’s event, the morning sun broke through the trees at the eastern edge of the park. The golden sunlight was cast on the inside of the park’s shade structure highlighting the arg cross set up on the stage at the event.


 May 25:

 I was set to go home at the end of the day when a call came over the police scanner about a fire at a business in the 2100 block of east Weber Avenue in Stockton at about 5:15 p.m. Upon arriving on scene I was witness to a conflagration of Biblical proportions. A warehouse and had full of wooden pallets had caught fire was was burning out of control. The scene was chaotic. The blaze threaten not only homes across the street but more than a block away as well. I ran down an alley to get to the other side of the fire with smoke and embers swirling around me. A woman was trying and a police officer was trying to breakdown a wooden gate to get to her pets. In just a few seconds the flames grew too intense and to officer had to pull the panicked woman to safety. I saw the eaves of one house catch fire and told a nearby firefighter. He replied that there were 5 other houses just like that. I was able to get far enough back to get an overall extent of the fire. Flames leapt close to 50 feet in the air and a plume of black smoke was reportedly seen as far away as Lodi. In the end the warehouse and 5 homes were destroyed by the fire.


 June 11:

AgFest was created in 2014 for 4-H and FFA kids to show their livestock after the San Joaquin County Fair took a 2-year hiatus. Even when the fair returned in 2016, AgFest continued as a parallel but separate entity. At this year’s event I photographed 16-year-olds Jo Reich and Jessica Harlan with the Ripon FFA  as they used Reich’s pig “Kalani” as a pillow while resting in the livestock barns at the fairgrounds in Stockton.


 July 22:

 For me the opportunities to for a creative photo while shooting a motorsports event are few far between. Locally races are run on ovals where racers drive counter-clockwise making left turn after left turn. As bad as it sounds, the only thing that breaks up the monotony is the occasional crash. I was in the infield while shooting the Stockton Half-Mile motorcycle races in the late afternoon at the Stockton Dirt Track at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton. The sun was setting as a rider dove deeply into turn 4. Light clouds graced the heavens as the sun created a halo around the rider’s head as he past in front of it and was silhouetted against a still blue sky.


 August 25:

At the start of the school year the University of Pacific holds its Weekend of Welcome for incoming freshmen and transfer students. A series of events are held to help them get to know the school as well as their fellow students. The first of them is a 5-K color run. Students run through scours across the campus in Stockton all the while being showered with colored powder reminiscent of the Indian festival of Holi. I captured upperclassman Anthony Maximov as he nailed new student Cassandra Gaal with a handful of the powder. Welcome to Pacific.


 September 28:

 In this day and age of video games and and cellphone SnapChats its refreshing to see kids enjoying the simple pleasure of life. I photographed 9-year-old Jacob Bonilla, left, sat on a skateboard while holding onto his twin brother Peyton’s hoodie which was tied to his backpack as he pulled his brother along on his scooter down Brookside Road near March Lane in Stockton on their way home after school.


 October 16:

In October I visited the Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve near Woodbridge to photograph the birds as the flew in for the evening. When I got there were several people already there with cameras and binoculars. I went over to a knoll under a tree on the west side of the viewing area where about 4 or 5 people with cameras equipped with big lenses were there taking pictures. I took a few shots of the birds wading in a flooded field like the rest of them but I wanted something different so I started to move to the east end of the viewing area where no other photographers were. One of the other photographers quipped: “all done, eh?” I told him that I was just moving to the other side. Once away from the tree which blocked the sky I could see that the sun was setting in the west. I waited as the sun sank lower in the sky and became a glowing orange orb. A pair of sandhills graceful glided past the sun and I knew I got a shot that no one else did that evening.


 November 12: 

Lincoln Center in Stockton kicked off the holiday season with its annual Holiday Open House. Set up in an unused store, decorated Christmas trees led the path to Santa who sat for photos with children and their folks. Nine-year-old Gracie Hernandez’s 11-month-old German shepherd Granger decided to get into the act by trying to jump into Santa’s lap while Gracie sat with him for a photo.


 December 12:

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  • Blog Author

    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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