12 from 18

For the past several years, I have compiled a top 12 list of my favorite pictures from the the year. Why 12 and not 10? This list is a little different because I pick one favorite from each month, thus 12.

Every list is imperfect and arbitrary. With a top 10, a list may not always reflect one’s efforts for the whole year as it’s possible that a majority of the photos could weighted from a certain quarter, month or even week of the year.

I also do a yearend slideshow featuring 52 photos from the year. Why 52? I chose that number because there are 52 weeks in the year, though, because of vacations and such, I don’t work every week. But it shows more of how my work progress throughout the year.

However, while 52 is a good number for a slideshow, it’s far too large for an easily read list. A top 12, one from each month, is much more digestible and shows my work throughout the year.

So, without further ado, my top 12 from 2018.

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January ended with a celestial event in the sky: A super blood moon. While it sounds rather ominous the event is rather benign. The “super” part refers to when a full moon is at it’s closest in its slightly elliptical orbit to the Earth and the “blood” describes the deep red-orange color the moon turns at the height of a lunar eclipse.

The 2 coincided in the wee hours of January 31. It was a foggy morning and I took a chance, hoping it would clear.
I drove out to the Cosumnes River Preserve near Thornton for the rural darkness would. After waiting alone in the preserve’s parking lot a while the fog did clear enough to reveal the blood moon. I thought to myself that the scene needed something or someone in the foreground. Almost as soon as I had the thought, a car pulled up a 2 people got out. Siblings Angela and Samuel Tsubera, like me, wanted to see the eclipse. They stood in the dark stillness and watched as they became a part of my photo.

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On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others.

On February 28, students from the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Venture Academy participated in a walkout around the school’s campus at the San Joaquin County Office of Education in Stockton in support of the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to protest gun violence.

The students ended their walkout in a large athletic field. The formed a large circle, grasped each other’s hands and held a moment of silence. I focused on a pair of students’ hands with the rest of the circle in the background which symbolized the unity they shared with their fellow students in Florida.

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March 15 brought the installation of Stockton Catholic Diocese Bishop Myron Cotta who replaced the retiring Bishop Stephen Blaire. The ceremony was held at St. Stanislaus Church in Modesto and was full of pomp and circumstance one would expect of such an occasion. At the end, the newly consecrated bishop made his way out of the large, modern church, waving to the people along the way.

Outside, Cotta remained to greet well-wishers. People shook hands and hugged him. While I was taking pictures of this informal, post-ceremony scene, Myrna Taa of Modesto took a selfie with Cotta, making him not only a man of God, but of the people as well.

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I started with more than 1,600 favorite photos for the year and to get them down to 52, one has to be brutal in editing. It was just a luck of the draw that April’s top pick didn’t make the 52 of my yearend slideshow.

On April 29 I was looking for photos along Dad’s Point in Stockton. The point is a long finger of land that separates the boat launch ramp at Louis Park from the deep water channel across from the Port of Stockton. I didn’t see anything on my walk out to the end of the point, but on my way back I noticed something unusual.

Monrovia-flagged cargo ship Ken Giant was moored at the port’s Rough and Ready Island. At the rear of the craft, on it’s rudder they was partial exposed above the water, lay a sea lion sunning itself. I didn’t noticed it at first because it’s brown color nearly blended in with the rust color paint of the ship’s hull.

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May 20 brought the Calaveras County fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee which is always a great event to shoot and always produces fun images. And this year was no different. My favorite from the frog jumps and the month was a shot of Aurora Lewis with the VG Frogs team jumping her frog, Bubba Lewis in the international Frog Jump finals. Aurora is bent over with a scowl on her face as she yells at Bubba, trying to get him to jump. Bubba, for his part, is in mid-leap as he starts togged airborne.

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On June 21, Weston Ranch librarian Jackie Rea came up with a novel idea to get people into her branch of the library system. In June, She combine the latest craze of paint parties with the popularity of late PBS painting show host Bob Ross. In the library’s community room, she held a painting session where participants got to follow along with a video of Ross painting. In the spirit of things she wore a t-shirt with Ross’ likeness on it and sported a wig that was similar to his signature afro.

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July is typically one of the hottest months of the year in the Central Valley. The Pixie Woods children’s amusement park installed an interactive fountain for the kids to play and cool off in several years ago and is a popular attraction on a hot day. On July 12, I shot 8-year-old Malachi Brown of Stockton as he enjoyed being blasted by jets of water at the park for some cooling fun.

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On August 19 a water main broke under Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard between Harrison and Lincoln streets in south Stockton flooding portions of each street. When I arrived on the scenes 2 California Water workers were in a water-filled hole that their crew dug with a backhoe. Water was still pouring from the pipe and they were standing in a chest-high pool of it. While trying to stem the breach, one of them would dive under for several seconds with only the soles of his work boots visible. While it was wet, miserable work, I guessing that they were thankful that the break happened during the heat of August rather than in a frigid December.

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On September 22 I covered an event for the first time. The annual CoyoteFest is held in the Mother Lode town of Coulterville. The quaint festival features folk/country music , a parade and, what I was most interested in, the “coyote howl.”

The howl is a contest where humans give their best impression of the wild canine that’s the festival’s namesake.
Individuals went first. All gave impressive performances. Then came the group howl. At one point Morgan Dalke, 10, Alexandria Rivette, 8, and Anna Botani, 8, stepped up to the microphone held by emcee Leslie Farrow. The discordant harmonics of the 3 girls was ear-piercing, much like dogs howling to a fire siren, causing a stunned look on Farrow’s face.

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About a week before Halloween, the University of the Pacific held it’s annual Safe Trick or Treat event on October 24. Thousands of children and their families swarm the Stockton campus and were given treats by the faculty and students. This year, I took a sweet photo of 7-year-old Ben Blicharz of Lockeford, dressed as Batman, giving his 4-year-old sister Ivy a bite of some of his candy as they and their mother took a break from trick or treating.

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Sometimes getting a picture requires the patience of a fisherman. You need to cast your line and hope for a bite. On November 26, I saw and egret sitting on a dock across Smith Canal in Stockton. I got out of my car, put a telephoto lens on my camera and waited for it to do something.

The bird stood still and silently as it peered into the water for a tasty fish to swim by. After several false starts, the egret dove into the water, wings spread wide. I caught it just reflected in the water before it broke the surface. Just as fast as it dove in, the bird leapt back onto its perch. I didn’t see a fish in its beak so I’m guessing it was unsuccessful but it didn’t matter to me because I was.

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December brings the annual Christmas light display at the home of Jim Galindo on Gibson Street in Stockton. The thousands of lights are community show-stopper. He actually starts putting up the lights that are mostly on the trees in his front yard, in August. On December 12, his family gathered at the house for the first official lighting. This year, I caught Galindo’s 7-year-old granddaughter Alivia Mitchell admiring the lights of the tree with the wonder only a child can bring.

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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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