The flotsam of progress


“He’s mint in the box. Never been opened.”- Jesse from Toy Story 2

(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 30mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/11. ISO: 100)

My wife reorganized the pantry the other day and found this value pack of Kodak color film, still shrink-wrapped in plastic. I don’t even remember when I bought it. Most likely several years ago. The film’s probably still in fair shape. The rolls were stored in a relatively cool, stable temperatures, heat being the worst thing for film. The thing is, in this digital age, I don’t know when or if I’ll have a need to use any of it. I have no real need to shoot film, especially color film. Maybe if I hang onto it long enough it’ll become a museum piece. I hope Tod Ruhstaller (Haggin Museum director) can keep a spot open right between the buggy whips and 8-track tapes.

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Rain check


A student leaves as the sun tries to break through storm clouds at Chavez High School in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/16. ISO: 200)

“The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!” – From the musical Annie


A cyclist crosses a rain-slickened El Dorado Street near Janet Leigh Plaza in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

I have to admit, I’m getting a little tired of the rain. It’s been almost impossible to find any kind of enterprise feature photo that isn’t related to the wet stuff. There were a couple of times when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds only to be chased away by a series of storms over the last few weeks.


A rainbow appears over Chavez High School during a break in the storm in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

A rainbow even made a brief appearance. But mostly it’s been gray and wet. Even when the rain stopped, the overcast clouds made for drab, featureless skies.


A young cyclist is greeted by sunshine while riding around Victory Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/16. ISO: 200)


A construction worker is greeted by partly cloudy skies as he works as a part of a crew building the new Alex G. Spanos Elementary School on Hazelton Avenue and Califonia Street in  Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/16. ISO: 200)


It’s raining again now, but the sun came out yesterday and it was glorious. Ok, there were some clouds, but ol’ Sol beamed across the valley and made it feel like California again.

16-year-old Carl Moorman of Stockton takes advantage of the sunshine to practice his basketball skills at the court at Victory Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  80-200mm @ 155mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

Some people were even out an about in t-shirts and shorts. I know that there are storms yet to come and Spring is still a long ways off, but it was nice to have a short respite from Old Man Winter.

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White bird redux


Against cloudy skies, pigeons and seagulls perch on light standards on I and 9th Streets in downtown Modesto. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/5.6. ISO: 200)

YouTube can be pretty amazing. For my January 18 post, I wasn’t very hopeful on finding a video of It’s A Beautiful Day and their song White Bird. I thought the odds were pretty slim in finding one. They were a relatively minor band with one hit about 40 years ago, long before the music video era. But sure enough, there was a video of the band in concert. Truly remarkable!


But there is a flipside to that. In my search, I came across a video that is an example of how not to do a multimedia piece. The great music is coupled with visuals that are mind-numbingly boring. All it is, is a shot of a record spinning on a turntable, for the entire length of the song’s six+ minutes! Now, I’m not expert on multimedia, but you’ve gotta be kidding!

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Follow the light

(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/5 ISO: 200)

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.”  ~ Aaron Rose

Chavez High School wrestler Alicia Piona is ranked 4th statewide in the girls 98-lb weight class. My assignment was to take a simple mugshot of her for our athlete of the week column.


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/5 ISO: 200)

I wandered through the school’s gymnasium complex looking for the wrestling room. I passed a hallway with several narrow floor-to-ceiling windows. Wonderfully soft light blossomed into the corridor. I found the team which was practicing in a gym a few rooms away. The overhead florescent lighting there was harsh and unflattering. I took Piona into the hall and shot her there. It was like a mini, natural studio. Even the dark doors at the far end served as a neutral background.

It would have been easy just to get a shot of her in the gym. The athlete of the week pictures run small and on the inside pages of the sports section. But just a little more time and effort made for a nicer photo.

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A (non) fight night

“I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out.” – Rodney Dangerfield


Peder Skinner from Phoenix breaks away from Jon D’Aversa from Wheeling in the second period of the ECHL All-Star hockey game at the Stockton Arena.
(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  80-200mm @ 112mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

At some Thunder hockey games I’ve covered, some fans would hold up signs that say “I came to see Adam Huxley fight,” referring to the team’s pugnacious left winger. I never thought of myself as a big fan of the violence in the sport, but I recognize that fighting is part of the excitement of the game.


National player Ash Goldie from Victoria fires the puck past Ryan Gunderson from Trenton for their sixth goal in the second period of the ECHL All-Star hockey game at the Stockton Arena.  Goldie scored a hat trick in the third. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  80-200mm @ 112mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

When I shot the ECHL All-Star game game at the Stockton Arena, it seemed that there was something missing. The All-Star game comes at mid-season and I can understand that none of the players want to get hurt in a game that really doesn’t count for anything. To me, there seemed to be a lack of aggressiveness that’s a hallmark of the game. There was only one two-minute penalty in the entire game. Not only didn’t a single player get slammed into the boards the whole game, I didn’t see anyone even try. It didn’t even look like any harsh words were exchanged. I almost expected the players to say “please” and “thank you” or “excuse me.” The game was a defense-less goal-fest, with the National conference scoring ten goals to the American
conference’s seven.


Andrew Lawson 13, from Stockton, cheers for a goal by the National Conference in the first period of the ECHL All-Star hockey game at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  80-200mm @ 175mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/2.8 ISO: 200)

Maybe this is the way the game is supposed to be played, with skating and puck handling skills being showcased, but at the end of the night I realized that, even though he wasn’t on the All-Star team, I came to see Adam Huxley fight.

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March of the penguins


Travis Morin competes in the puck control relay part of the ECHL skills competition at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

For the ECHL All-Star Skills Competition on Tuesday, the plexiglas barriers along the sides of the arena were taken down for better viewing of the action and what’s more, the photographers were actually allowed onto the ice for the event. It was great! No more low-contrast and unsharp pictures because of the smudged and scuffed glass.

Photo by Craig Sanders (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 100mm. Exposure: 1/640 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 1250)

The problem was staying upright while walking on the ice. All of us without skates stepped gently on the slippery surface, skittering occasionally. We gingerly teetered around to get our shots, catching ourselves from time to time, preventing an embarrassing spill or two. It was sort of a photographic March of the Penguins. I adopted a shuffling waddle, not lifting my feet from the ice. I had some sporadic lurches and bobbles, but I achieved my night’s goal of not landing on my butt.

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Tote that bag, lift that barge


Thunder Booster Club members Karen Wilcoxen, left and Stephanie Chamberlain pick up the equipment bag of South Carolina Stingrays player Travis Morin, center, while picking him up at the Sacramento International Airport for the ECHL All-Star Game at Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/ 640)

On Monday, I shot some the ECHL stars arriving at the the Sacramento International Airport for Wednesday’s all-star game at the Stockton Arena. They were greeted by volunteers from the Thunder’s Booster Club. Club members told me that it was a tradition for the players not to carry their equipment bags once they touched down at the airport. So from the baggage carousel the volunteers lugged the large, bulky bags while the strapping young men walked behind. The equipment was then sent to the arena and the players were driven to their lodgings in Stockton. I don’t know who started the tradition, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t the people who had to carry the bags.

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Whatzit? A rough answer


(Camera: Nikon: D2X. Lens: Nikkor 105mm macro. Exposure: 1/60 @ f/16. ISO: 100)

The picture of odd, repetitive shapes is a detail of a rasp. It can be used to smooth and shape the rough edges of many woodworking projects. I actually shot it for a food-related Christmas gifts story. It’s supposed to be ideal for grating spices. Just don’t do it after making an end table.

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Whatzit?


(Camera: Nikon: D2X. Lens: Nikkor 105mm macro. Exposure: 1/60 @ f/16. ISO: 100)


In our busy lives we can miss a lot of the minutiae of what goes on around us. We view things in their entirety and may overlook the mysterious beauty of the tiny details of the commonplace. In that vein I’m starting an occasional feature
(or perhaps a one-time thing, depending on the response) called Whatzit? It will focus on close-ups of everyday items and you can write in to guess what they are.

This first item is something that’s rough around the edges but can help to smooth things out. Feel free to take a stab at it and leave a comment on what you think it might be and I’ll post it here. Otherwise, for the answer, tune in on Monday.

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White bird


As the suns sets in the west, a seagull takes flight near the water tower at the Port of Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/8000 sec., @ f/22. ISO: 200)

During this chilly time of year we confine ourselves in the warmth of our homes, cut off from the outside world. When the sun comes out on a cold, wintry day, it brings the promise of warmer days. I think of the mournful song White Bird, by the ’60s rock group It’s A Beautiful Day. It was the closest thing they had to a hit and it tells of a caged bird longing to fly free.

“White bird in a golden cage
On a winter’s day in the rain
White bird in a golden cage
Alone

The leaves blow cross the long black road
To the darkened sky in its rage
But the white bird just sits in her cage
Alone

White bird must fly or she will die

White bird dreams of the aspen trees
With their dying leaves turning gold
But the white bird just sits in her cage
Growing old

White bird must fly or she will die
White bird must fly or she will die

The sunsets come, the sunsets go
The clouds pile high, the air moves slow
And the young bird’s eyes do always know
She must fly, she must fly, she must fly

White bird in a golden cage
On a winter’s day in the rain
White bird in a golden cage
Alone?

White bird must fly or she will die
White bird must fly or she will die
White bird must fly or she will die?
White bird must fly?”

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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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