Readers Photo Challenge: Shooting from 3-point range

The first photo challenge assignment of 2020 is going to be a little different than what we’ve done before. It isn’t a specific thing, instead it’s a number: the number three.

The sculpture atop the Podesto Impact Teen Center casts a shadow that looks like the number “3” on El Dorado and Flora streets in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

One way is to photograph the actual number on a sign or billboard. There are plenty of signs on buildings or road signs where you can find numbers as well as letters. You can also try to find something that looks like the number 3. Several years ago I got a shot of the spiral sculpture atop of the Modesto Impact Teen Center as it cast a shadow that looked like a “3” on a nearby building in downtown Stockton.

Janine Jacinto, left, Lynn Taylor and Carmen Hoffman, all of Lodi, jog through Lodi Lake Park in Lodi. The three runners recently completed the Boston Marathon. Photographing them at an angle rather than straight on helps to bring them visually closer together for a tighter composition. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Lincoln athletes Rodney Jones, left, Quinn Cichocki and Cameron Crump signed letters of intent on signing day at the school’s gym in Stockton. Jones has signed to play football at UNLV, Crump signed with the Cal Poly SLO football program and Cichocki with Sacred Heart to play lacrosse. Photographing them at an angle rather than straight on helps to bring them visually closer together for a tighter composition. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Another approach is an image with 3 subjects. The natural impulse is to arrange the three subjects so that they’re lined up equally in the frame. But quite often that leads to a static and boring photo. You can emphasize one or two of the subjects by moving them forward in the frame or off to one side while having the others a little more in the background or to the other side of the frame.

A small flock of 3 geese glide across the water during sunset at Lodi Lake in Lodi. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

A sandhill crane flies in at the Phil and Marilyn Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve on Woodbridge Road west of Lodi and I-5. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD

You also have to make clear and unambiguous which 3 are your subjects. Say it’s birds. You may have a trio of geese in your photo but they are surrounded by other geese or species of fowl, they may be be hard to make out in the visual confusion. It’s best if you try to isolate your subjects to make them stand out.

Pacific fans cheer on the men’s water polo team during a game against Pepperdine at Kjeldsen Pool on the UOP campus in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

You can also use color to unify the three to make them stand out together. Think of the portrait photographers who have their subjects dress alike or in similar colors to help unify the photo.

Juliana Browning, left, pushes her 10-year-old daughter Alyssa Browning on her skates, center, who in turn pushes her 9-year-old step-sister Lucy Register riding a cart through Grupe Park in Stockton. The two girls were trying out their new Christmas presents with a little help from mom. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]
Transmission Reference: REC1801101835545348

Chef Rima Barkett, left, shows sous chef Leonel Castillo and executive assistant Nubia Vargas how to plate the first course of the Record’s From the Vine End of Harvest Winemaker Dinner at the Bella Vista Restaurant in downtown Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Stockton Diocese Bishop Myron Cotta, center, talks with Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones, left, and San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow before the start of the Blue Mass at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton honoring law enforcement and firefighters. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

There isn’t any specific subject that you have to pick. You can set up your scene or find one in a natural or urban setting. Your photo can be of people, animals, trees, etc., anything that strikes your fancy, just as long as there’s 3 of them.

Bob Nii of San Anselmo, center, hits from the 17th tee as golf mates Frank Yoneshige, left, and Norio Kawai look on at the Swenson Park Golf Course in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to The preferred format is jpeg. Type in “Three” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be taken between January 7 and January 21.

3. The number of photos is limited to no more than 12.

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. Victory Park, Thornton).

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, 18, walks her 3 dogs Fido, Spot and Arnold through Victory 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 January 21 The top examples will be published on January 28 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day at

Stockton Heat’s Eetu Tuulola, center, ekes between Tucson Roadrunners’ Kevin Hancock, left, and Hudson Fasching during an AHL game on the Heat’s “Stick It To Cancer” night at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. The Heat sported new purple jersey’s for the occasion. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

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