Getting with the times


(Camera:Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/11 w/ flash. ISO: 200)

A few months ago I got this promotional mailer from Kodak for a free film give-away. I thought it was some kind of weird time-warp thing. Did it pass through a worm hole in space? Or maybe it was finally found behind some mail bin at the post office and finally sent on it’s way. Years ago I’d get these things whenever a company like Kodak, Fuji or Ilford would introduce their latest and greatest film. The flyer included a short questionnaire: “How many rolls of film do you use in a month?” Uh, none. “What percent of you images are captured on film?” That’d be zero. I let the mailer sit around past the questionnaire’s due date of May, 9th, but I sent it in anyway. It’s not like the film is flying off the shelves.


(Camera:Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/11 w/ flash. ISO: 200)

In the past the easiest and cheapest way to improve the quality of your pictures was to change the film you were using. Low-speed film tended to give the best color and finest grain. Higher speed film gave away some quality, but improved low-light shooting. There was a film for every need and occasion, from portraits to sports. Back then new camera models came out every four to five years.Today, to get better pictures you have to buy a whole new camera. Digital cameras have a turn around time of about every 18 months. But while the quality of digital images has caught up with film (in some cases surpasses it), there is still a wide gap in price.

(Camera:Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/8 w/ flash. ISO: 100)

A digital SLR camera is about 2-4 times more expensive than a comparable film set up. For example the top-of-the-line digital Nikon, the D3, is about $5,000. Its film counterpart, the Nikon F6, is about $1,900. Add to that the cost of computers and software, you can buy a lot of film and processing with the difference. Still, the convenience and ever improving quality of digital cameras cannot be denied. Add to that the new trend of still DSLR cameras that take video (The new Nikon D90 and Canon 5D Mk II, are the first), digital cameras are riding the crest of popularity while film cameras are the flotsam and jetsam of progress. They’re entering the 8-track-tapes/Betamax territory. For most photographers there’s no going back to film. It’s just going to cost a lot more money to produce our pictures.

Here’s a groovy little video for those who wax nostalgic for film:

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Army of one

11-year-old Angelina Vasquez of Manteca hugs a U.S. Army inflatable  soldier mascot at the Lathrop Days Harvest Festival held at the Del’Osso Family farms Pumpkin Maze in Lathrop. (Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/9. ISO: 200)

I wonder it this is what’s meant by those Army recruiting slogan of “An army of one”?

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Teamwork

For this story on harmonica soloist Robert Bonfiglio playing for kids at Banta Elementary School, we not only did a story for the paper and our online edition, but did an audio slide show as well. Reporter Jennifer Torres not only did her usual interview and took her notes, she recorded sound as well. I shot far more than just the few shots which would run in the space-limited newspaper. It didn’t stop there. When we got back to the office Jennifer edited the sound and online editor Brea Jones organized audio and photos into a slideshow and posted it on the web.

People often think that the work they do, especially if it’s a creative endeavor, is the result of a singular effort. For people who work in newspapers, like photographers, and reporters., it’s a different story. We take the pictures and write the stories, an important part of the process, but there are others who are just as vital to get the story to the readers. Copy editors proofread the text and check facts. Scanners tone and process the pictures to make them press ready. And then there are people who layout the paper to make sure everything is logically placed and readable. Whether in print or online it takes teamwork to get our stories to the readers.

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Links: Olympic efforts


A chain link fence around the soccer field at Delta College in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300, Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/16. ISO: 200)

World-class athletes

The Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China garnered a lot of media attention.  It produced a lot of record-breaking moments as well as memorable photos. Less well-covered was the Paralympics also held in Beijing about a month after the Olympics in August. The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has some wonderful and moving pictures of disabled athletes giving Olympic-level efforts in their respective events.

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Cameras galore

An entry posted on Pulitzer prize winning photographer Vincent LaForet’s blog about remote cameras at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, shows how many photographers covered the games.

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Vertigo

The New York Times web site has this cool interactive 360-degree panorama of the 10-meter board at the Water Cube swimming venue at the Beijing Olympics. With a click of a mouse you can move the camera in any direction and get a sense of what divers see when they’re about dive.

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Doc’s got game


Larry Meredith shows some moves to 5-year-old Jared Matz before playing a game at UOP’s Main Gym in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8 w/ flash. ISO: 400)

Larry Meredith could’ve spent his 80th birthday a number of different ways. He could have sat on his porch in rocking chair. He could have played canasta with friends. He could have fed the pigeons in the park. No, Meredith played basketball in a pick-up game at the University of the Pacific’s main gym in Stockton.


(Camera: Nikon: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Meredith, a former UOP professor of religious studies, plays hoops at the gym a couple of times a week. Before his birthday game started his fellow players gave him a bright orange t-shirt that read “Doc’s got game at 80″ on the front. On the back was ” Beware the hook and the elbow”, referring to his hook shot and his penchant for fouling.


(Camera: Nikon: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)


(Camera: Nikon: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 19mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8 w/ flash. ISO: 400)

Meredith must have been 25-30 years older than the median age of the rest of the players on the court. He ran up and down the court like a much younger man. He dribbled, passed and shot. I got tired just watching him play.


(Camera: Nikon: D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 102mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8 w/ flash. ISO: 400)

Although his shooting percentage wasn’t the greatest (neither was anyone else’s), Meredith did manage to score several baskets during the session. His colleagues were right on the mark with the t-shirt, because at 80, Doc’s still got game.

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Thirty days has September

“Try to remember the kind of September,
When life was slow and oh so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September,
When grass was green and grain was yellow.” Try to Remember - Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt from The Fantasticks

September is when high school football begins in earnest. Brash bands, cheering fans and the sound of helmet-to-hemet hits ring into the warm nights. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the 9th month.

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9/1/08:

David Muhammad of Stockton holds his 4-month-old son Jabril at the Black Family Day celebration at the Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 70-200mm @ 160mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

Stockton Ports’ Frank Martinez reaches out to beat Visalia’s Oaks first baseman Mike Mee’s tag in a pick off attempt during a California League baseball game at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200)

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9/2/08:

Inspiration speaker Nick Vujcic, who was born without arms or legs and has only a vestigial foot, speaks to students during an assembly at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

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9/3/08:

As Benito “Grandpa” Vega, Sr. of Stockton, practices handball, his dog Negra, a labrador/pit bull-mix, leaps after the ball in an attempt to catch it at the handball courts at Stribley Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

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9/11/08:

Harmoncia player Robert Bonfiglio plays for students at Banta elementary School, in Banta. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

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9/12/08:

The Chavez High’s DeMarieya Nelson outruns Elk Grove High’s Jesse Feliciano during a varsity football game at Chavez High School in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

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9/19/08:

West High students Brett Steele, left, Jesse Manio and Jeffrey Williams, painted in their school colors, run onto the field at the start of a game against Oakdale at West High in Tracy. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/8 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 400)

West’s Dexter Alcala finds some open field during a varsity football game against Oakdale at West High in Tracy. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000)

West High cheerleaders perform a routine during a game against Oakdale at West in Tracy. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/8 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 400)

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9/26/08:

Stagg’s Shaquille Senegal tackle’s Lodi’s Alex Santiago during a varsity football game at the Chavez High School stadium in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

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The round-headed kid


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/800th sec. @ f/ 8. ISO: 200)

The other day I shot my daughter’s rec league soccer game. It was an early morning game and I usually wear a big hat to shade myself from the sun. The sun was at my back and I looked down and saw my shadow. To me, it looked like Jack from the Jack in the Box commercials (sans pointy clown hat). That’s OK, but I’m more of a Burger King guy myself.

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Writing on the…ground


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 32mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

Waiting to meet some subjects for an assignment, I stood on he corner
of San Joaquin and Main Streets in downtown Stockton. I noticed what
looked like golden letters on the ground. As a 2007 public art
installation, Berkeley artist Dan Snyder placed several whimsical brass
inlays in the sidewalks around the downtown area.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200

At first glance, I thought the images I saw on the ground were those of
Snyder’s. However, upon closer examination I saw that they were
actually from the Bank of Stockton’s corner window just a few feet
away. The afternoon sun reflected the letters of the glided window sign
in reverse onto the sidewalk.

Posted in Enterprise, Observation | Tagged | Comments closed

Slipping the surly bonds of Earth

…Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew…”
– excerpt from High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 24mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/8 w/ flash. ISO: 400)

It looks like this Oakdale cheerleader has achieved escape velocity at the hands of her teammates and is headed for orbit during a varsity football game at West High in Tracy
.

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Brutality and grace


West’s Michael Thornton is tackled by Oakdale’s Vince Helms, left, and
Donnell Young during a varsity football game at West High in Tracy.
(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor D300. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8.
ISO: 1000)

Football is a brutal sport. Players run head-on (“with
controlled-abandoned” as one of my old coaches used to say) into each
other to deliver bone-crunching blows . The pads and helmets can absorb
some of the punishment, but the game still can be a savage sport. As
violent as football can be, every once in a while there can be glimmers
of gracefulness.


West High’s Dexter Alcala is tackled by Oakdale’ s Vince Helms during a
game at West in Tracy. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor D300.
Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1250)

Some running backs perform like freight trains, running like
juggernauts against the defense.  Others can display a gazelle-like
finesse as they try to evade their pursuers. They can leap and spin
with the grace of a gymnast.

West’s Chris Durante, right, breaks up a pass intended for Oakdale’s
Nicky Batteate during a varsity football game at West High in Tracy.
(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor D300. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/4.
ISO: 2000)

Defensive backs and wide receivers can perform ballet-like leaps as
they strain for a high pass. They can catch a bobbling ball like a
street-performing juggler.

While the violence of football cannot be denied, the grace of the sport can be appreciated as well.

Posted in High Schools, Sports | Tagged , , | Comments closed
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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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