Category Archives: Studio

Good enough to eat

During this time of the pandemic we’ve all spent more time at home and most of us have done more home cooking than we’re used to. Perhaps you’ve tried out new recipes and made new dishes that have been particularly tasty. Maybe you’ve tried to take pictures of your successes only to have them fall […]

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Learning light

I recently visited my old alma mater Sacramento City Photo department. About a year ago they completed a new facility that’s completely different from what I knew when I took photo classes decades ago. Instructor Paul Estabrook (who himself is also a graduate of the program) gave me the 5-cent tour. There was a large […]

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Asparagus apropos

I came up with this studio illustration for the cover of a special section on the Asparagus Festival in 2007. I shot a couple of different set ups. First was a just simple bunch of spears artfully bundled together. Then I decided on an even simpler arrangement. A single strand of asparagus held aloft elegantly […]

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House of glass

A few weeks ago a reader emailed me asking how to photograph jewelry and glassware. She wanted to record them for insurance purposes. Glass is one of the hardest things to photograph. Its shiny surface can pick up every little reflection. To make a proper photo of a glass item you have to take great […]

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Blast from the past: Playing chicken

Photoshop manipulation of news photos is strictly forbidden. But with photo illustrations, which are considered to be akin to drawings or paintings, more artistic license is allowed. They’re typically used in the features sections of papers (such as The LENS section in The Record). Such pictures should be always labeled “photo illustrations.” In January 2008 […]

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When I was a little kid, among my favorite toys to play with were the now-classic Army men. I loved those little green plastic figures posed in various combat positions. There were standing, kneeling and prone riflemen, grenade throwers, officers with their .45 sidearms and more. My favorite was the guy with the BAR (Browning […]

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Nifty fifty

The state of Alaska, Legos, Barbie, the laser and now the ubiquitous bubble wrap. All of them, like me, have turned 50 over the last year. OK, technically, I’m almost a year older than the last two, but I’ve still got a couple of months until I’m 51, so I’m calling it even. Camera: Nikon […]

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Word of mouth

Although I was committed to stay as long as it took to finish, I wasn’t sure how long the Help-Portrait event would all take. It was, after all, the very first time I had tried to organize anything like it. Stockton Shelter for the Homeless volunteer coordinator Katie Visser told me that there were 34 […]

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Letting go

Clifford Oto takes a picture at the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200. Photo by Claire Oto). Marisol Manzo with daughter Mylee Tillery, 3, at the Family Shelter (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. […]

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Why we take pictures

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55m @ 44mm. Exposure: 1/80 sec. @ f/2.8 w/flash. ISO: 100) At the Help-Portrait event a young woman helped bring home to me why we were there. Selena Fields stepped up before my camera, quiet, shy, unassuming. She seemed like someone that you wouldn’t notice if you passed them on […]

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