Everybody loves a parade


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm & 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/11. ISO: 200)

Everybody loves a parade, even the construction workers at the site of the new San Joaquin County administration building in downtown Stockton. As the Chinese and Vietnamese New Years parade passed the site on San Joaquin Street and Weber Avenue, some of the workers took time out of their Saturday shift to watch the spectacle march by.

Perhaps it was the chance to take in the cultural significance of the event or maybe it was an opportunity to listen to the brassy sounds of a marching band. Or maybe it was the Port City Roller Girls who were skating by in their short skirts and fishnet stockings.

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Pan-Asian.


5-year-old Emma Chi wears a lion costume while walking with the Brookside Elementary School entry in the 6th annual Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Parade in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm & 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)


Members of the Loong Mah Sing See group snake a dragon through the streets of downtown Stockton in the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Parade. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/8.0. ISO: 200)


Dressed in traditional Cambodian garb, Tiffany Choum waves from the United Cambodian Families float the annual Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Parade in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm & 200mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)


The Stockton Taiko Bukkyo play traditional Japanese taiko drums on their float in the annual Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Parade in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/8.0. ISO: 200)

Many Asian people celebrate the lunar new year and at this new year’s parade in downtown Stockton both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures were represented. But there were entries from the Cambodian and Japanese communities as well. Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in ht 1800s and celebrates New Year’s on January 1. The Cambodian new year is in April. Perhaps the celebration has become like St. Paddy’s day where they say everybody is Irish for a day. Maybe during the lunar new year, everyone is “Asian”.

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Princess power


3-year-old April Morales of Modesto wears a princess costume as she is escorted by her mother Ruth Hernandez, left, and father Abel Morales after they watched the Disney’s Princesses on Ice show at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 112mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

While driving through downtown Stockton the other day, I saw that an event must have just ended at
the Stockton Arena. Hundreds of people filled the sidewalks as they returned to their cars. A large percentage of those people were under four feet tall and wearing pink, yellow or blue dresses. I stopped and got out of the car and asked passersby by what was going on. The Disney Princesses on Ice show had just let out. Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, or Cinderella, hundreds of little girls were dressed as their favorite princess. I liked the expression on this little girl’s face as she walked with her parents. It looked like she was ready and determined to claim her inner princess.

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Baby blues

I’m sixty years of age. That’s 16 Celsius.” – George Carlin


Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @17mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

On February 29, Leap Day, Giovanna Garcia came into the world at 10:34 a.m.. At 6 pounds and 12 ounces and a length of 19 inches, she was born to Feliciano and Monica Garcia of Stockton at St. Joseph’s Hospital, their second child. Everyone wore smiles for the picture. Everyone except Giovanna. Perhaps she instinctively knew that, with Leap Year occurring once every 4 years, she won’t be officially a year old until 2012. She’ll have a plenty of company, though. St. Joe’s had six other babies that day.

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“To the last, I grapple with thee…" Herman Melville


Stagg’s Charlie Seang, left, grapples with Merced’s Ray Valenzuela in the 119-lb weight class of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South wrestling tournament held at McNair High Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/320 @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

One of my favorite sports to watch is wrestling. It’s not only a test of the athlete’s strength and stamina, but of their will and heart as well. I think the sport gets the short shrift in the TV-viewing arena. The only time you can really watch it is once every four years during the Olympics (sorry, the pseudo-sport of professional wrestling, a pet peeve of mine, doesn’t count). That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy shooting high school wrestling. I usually right down there on the mat with them and you can see the genuine dedication, concentration and power of each athlete close up.

This year, Stagg High’s Charlie Seang (above) will be competing in the 119-lb weight-class in the state tournament in Bakersfield. Seang is one of eight area qualifiers, but it’s the first time that a Stagg wrestler has made it to the state meet since 1999. The state tourney used to be in Stockton until it was moved down south in 2003. Bakersfield is a little too far away to justify the paper sending one of us to cover the event, which is too bad because it was fun to see how our local athletes fared against the best in the state. Even though we can’t be there, good luck to Sean and all the other local wrestlers competing in the tournament.

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“…Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

“…The sun’s still shining in the big blue sky
But it don’t mean nothing to me
Oh, let the rain come down
Let the wind blow through me
I’m living in an empty room
With all the windows smashed
And I’ve got so little left to lose
That it feels just like I’m walking on broken glass…”-Annie Lennox


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125 @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

The sun had just dipped below the western horizon as I left McNair High School after shooting the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South wrestling tournament in Stockton. It was starting to get dark as I walked to my car. I saw a glint of light on the ground about 10-15 yards away. Curious, I walked towards what looked like gleaming jewels. As I got closer, I saw that they were shards of glass left over from a broken window of a car that was long gone. The individual pieces of glass were reflecting the light of the fading sunset. They looked as if a portion of the sky opened up and dropped glistening stars upon the ground.


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/60 @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

As I got closer still, the angle of light changed relative to my position and the sparkling points of lights all but disappeared. The darkly tinted glass looked like charcoal with just a few embers still burning. To recreate the original angle of light, I placed my camera on the ground next to the glass and shot with the sunset in the background and re-ignited the coals to turn them into shimmering diamonds again.

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Size matters


For some photographers with deep pockets (and strong backs) size matters. This behemoth is made by the Sigma Corporation (that’s full sized DSLR camera attached to the end). It’s a 200mm-500mm f/2.8 super telephoto zoom and weighs about 16 kg or roughly 34 lbs. It’s 28.6 inches long and has a front element diameter of 9.3 inches. It even has its own dedicated rechargeable battery to power its massive focusing and aperture mechanisms. Sigma hasn’t released a dollar amount for the leviathan, but it’s been rumored to be in the $10,000-$12,000 range.

As big as the Sigma is, it’s just a popgun compared to the Howitzer that is the Canon 1200mm 5.6. Built from 1993 to 2005, the aptly named Canon is about 34 inches long, has a diameter of 8.9 inches and weighs over 36 pounds. It’s no longer in production and it’s said that there are fewer 20 in existence, but you can still buy a used one at B&H Photo for a cool $99,000. That’s right, ninety-nine grand for a used one.

(Here’s an update: B&H is selling the Sigma lens for double the first estimated price. $24,000 is quite a bit more than first reported, but still a lot less than the Canon.)

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Idle time

“The hardest work is to go idle.”  – Yiddish proverb

I hate being idle during an assignment. Sometimes I get a little antsy, feeling like I should be doing something. The other day I had a few minutes of down time when shooting the City Four-Ball golf tournament held at the Reserve at Spanos Park golf course in Stockton. It took a little time for my guide Tim to grab a golf cart and track down the leaders of the tourney on the course. As I waited at the front of the clubhouse, I noticed a couple of potted camellias. I remembered an assignment way back from one of my beginning photo classes. It entailed taking a subject then lighting it from the front, side and back.


(Camera: NIkon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Front lighting can evenly illuminate your subject, but it tends to flat and, in most cases, pretty boring.

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(Camera: NIkon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Side lighting can give your subject more of a 3-D look and can enhance it’s texture.

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(Camera: NIkon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

While you have to watch out for lens flare (light that refracts in the lens which can cause tiny circular highlights or wash out the whole scene), backlighting can be bold and dramatic.
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The lessons we learn when we were younger can stay with us. We can use them on big important jobs, or just to pass the time.

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Come out fighting

“Don’t give us none of your aggravation
We had it with your discipline
Saturday night’s alright for fighting
Get a little action in” - Saturday’s Alright (For Fighting) by Elton John and Bernie Taupin


Stockton Thunder’s Spencer Carbery, left, fights with Utah Grizzlies’ Travis Rycroft during an ECHL hockey game at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

Fights break out in every sport where there’s head to head competition and physical contact. In sports like basketball, football and soccer they occasionally occur. And the referees step in as quickly as possible to break them up and then assess penalties.

In hockey it’s a different story. The refs will step in if they see trouble brewing, but once a fight gets started their attitude is: “just jet ‘em.” Once the gloves and sticks are thrown down, a brawl is inevitable. The combatants dance around, grab each other’s jerseys and start punching away. The referees only step in when the skaters fall to the ice. Then they smother the players to stop any further blows from being thrown. From there the offenders are sent off their respective penalty boxes to serve out their two minutes.

During one game a fight went on so long that the players involved got tired. With each blow that was thrown, they grew more and more fatigued. Soon they were holding each other up by clutching onto each others shirts. At the end, I could see them give pleading glances to the refs to stop the fight. The officials mercifully stepped in and sent the players to the penalty box.

Thunder forward Adam Huxley is the team’s brawler. The fans almost expect to see him fight. There are no fewer than 14 videos of him fighting on YouTube. Here’s one of them:

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Horse sense


The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse rides down Main Street in the annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival parade  in downtown Ripon. (Camera: NIkon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

I was a band geek when I was in high school. While marching in parades, we were supposed to play and step off in a straight line, regardless of whatever might be in our path (though I was never that disciplined-I always swerved). I quickly learned that the last place you want to be is behind the equestrian entries. Nothing against the horses, but when they have to do their business, there’s no stopping them.


(Camera: NIkon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 185mm. Exposure: 1/250 @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

At some parades, there’s some guy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow following the horses. The Ripon Almond Blossom Festival parade was definitely a small town affair, but to the city’s credit they had a street sweeper to take care of the equine entries’ business ends.

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    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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