Cabin fever


University of the Pacific students Joey Frantz, ,left, and Austin DeLong take advantage of the afternoon sun by playing some football at the university’s Knoles Lawn in Stockton with some fellow students. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200m. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8/ ISO: 200)

“I believe the stars keep shining all throught the night.
I believe if we just keep trying it will be alright.
I believe that someday we’re gonna find our way.
And I believe in a beautiful day…
…But not for me…”
- I Believe by Chris Isaak


16-year-old Lincoln High student Lulu Skafi, right, takes advantage of the sunny day to take a picture of her sister Shereen Skafi, 21, for a photo class project at Buckley Cove Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8/ ISO: 200)

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve a bit under the weather lately. It started out as a cold and morphed into an ear infection. What I hated about being sick these last few days is that the weather has been mostly pretty nice. Temperatures in the mid-60s and bright sunny days. People were out and about in the sunshine, walking their dogs, playing frisbee, out for a jog, but not for me. I lay on my couch hacking and coughing away. The worst part is that I knew there were pictures out there to be taken and I wasn’t taking them.


The setting sun throws shadows of nearby trees onto the back ot the Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 80m. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8/ ISO: 200)

I’m back at work again and the weather is cold, cloudy and wet again with the forecast calling for more of the same. Go figure.

Posted in Enterprise, Feature, Weather | Comments closed

The no-tripod tripod


(Camera: Nikon D2X: Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1 sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

I needed to get a simple exterior shot of the Empire Theater on the Miracle Mile along Pacific Avenue in Stockton. I decided on a night shot to jazz things up just bit. I wanted some long light streaks from the passing cars and that meant using a long exposure of at least a second or two.
I had tweaked my back earlier and wasn’t looking forward to lugging a heavy tripod around, so I went without one. There are a number of ways to steady a camera without a tripod. There are some limitations. It usually requires the use of both hands simultaneously. On longer exposures the camera can move due to a loss of concentration or even fatigue, but it can be done. Just find a stable, horizontal (or vertical as the case may be) surface and then press down on the camera so it doesn’t move and then push the button.


(Camera: Nikon D2X: Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure:1/8 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

I needed to find a place to put the camera. Kitty-corner from the theater was a storefront being remodeled. Plywood closed off the store about four feet back from the glassless display windows. I placed my camera on a horizontal bar of one of the window frames. I held it down securely and bracketed my shutter speeds between 1/8 to 2 seconds. I basically turned the building into my tripod. It worked just fine, it’s just wasn’t very portable.

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Cold as ice


Stockton Colts youth hockey players Johneric Villalobos, top, and Spencer Stoley battle for the puck during a practice at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X: Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 60 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 100)

Generations of kids have learned to skate and play hockey at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. It was old when I started at the Record over twenty years ago. The lighting there is horrible. If you want to stop the action without resorting to absurdly high ISOs, shooting with a flash is the only answer. It’s also really, really cold. Record sports columnist/reporter Lori Gilbert told me the temperature there is kept at about 28 degrees fahrenheit. That’s because the chiller’s so old, the only way to keep the ice frozen is to bring down the ambient temperature to below freezing. I recently shot a practice of the Stockton Colts youth hockey team at the Oak Park arena and set up remote strobes to illuminate the players. I was only able to shoot until the exposed flesh of my face and hands began to sting, then I had to get out of there.

Photo by Craig Sanders. (Camera: Nikon D300 Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 92mm. Exposure: 1/640 sec. @ f/3.2. ISO: 1250)

By contrast, The Stockton Arena is a well lit, almost cozy place to be. According to Chuck Kemp, the facility’s associate general manager, it’s kept between 65-68 degrees depending on the outside temperatures. I was out on the ice during the ECHL skill competition in shirt sleeves and felt very comfortable. The only time I felt the cold is when I knelt down to get a low angle and felt the frigidity of the ice through the knee of my pants.

There have been calls for a new facility to replace the aging Oak Park facility. I know that it’s been a Stockton institution and the rink has been a place that is held in warm fondness in the hearts and souls of many Stocktonians. But if a new place is built, let’s hope that it will keep our bodies warm as well.

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One down…

(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 105mm macro. Exposure: 1/80 sec., @ f/10. ISO: 200)

“Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!


Joe Woods of Stockton fishes near the water’s edge of Smith Canal at American Legion Park Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!


Gabriella Cruz dances with her fellow members of the Los Danzantes Del Puerto ballet folklorico group during a practice at the Northeast Community Center in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 145mm. Exposure: 1/60sec., @ f/3.2. ISO: 200)

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”-  William Arthur Ward


Clouds pass by a oak tree on Sierra View Court near Bezley Road in Clements. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/20. ISO: 200)

Sharing, that’s what its been all about. When I’m out on assignment, I’m often asked about my job, how I get certain shots, who I’ve taken pictures of, what my favorite thing to shoot is, etc. I thought I could talk about all those things and more in a blog. On February 9, 2007, The Record graciously and eagerly allowed me a forum for my thoughts and pictures.


Steam rises from the 81 degree water as St. Mary’s High water polo player Kyle McDermott practices with his team at night at the school’s Cortopassi Aquatics Center in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/2.8 ISO: 800)

It’s hard to believe that its been a year since I made my first foray into the blogosphere. It’s been a fun and interesting journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed the entries I’ve posted as much as I have. Thank you for letting me share my photos, experiences and thoughts with you, and here’s to another year.

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Safe from sound

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence” -  Max Ehrman

(Camera: Nikon D2X: Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 80mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Thunder games can be loud and raucous events what with the screaming fans, blaring music and blasting air horns. I saw Eden Matelski of Stockton holding her 3-month-old daughter Sofia who was wearing some baby ear protection to keep her safe from the noise at the Stockton Thunder hockey game against the Bakersfield Condors at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. Matelski said that she and her husband brought their baby to the games not just because they didn’t want to miss the action, but the baby likes to watch too. I wonder if it’s because she wants to watch Adam Huxley fight?

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Sticking point


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/7.1. ISO: 200)

During a recent ECHL hockey game between the Stockton Thunder and the Bakersfield Condors at the Stockton Arena an unusual thing happened. Thunder left winger Andy Contois and Condor defenseman Reagan Leslie got tangled up in a play. That in itself is not unusual. With no love lost between the teams, the game was hard fought and very aggressively played. There was a lot of checking and slamming into the boards as well of “extra-curricular activities.”  In their battle for the puck, Contois knocked Leslie to the ice, again, the norm for a hockey game.


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/7.1. ISO: 200)

What was unexpected was that Contois’ stick got caught in the blade of Leslie’s left skate. They struggled to get it out while play continued. When they realized that what they were doing wasn’t working, they stopped working against each other and actually cooperated to get the stick free.

Posted in Sports, Thunder | Tagged | Comments closed

Paper chase


Voter Bill Aguilar of Stockton fills out his ballot at the polling place at Stockton Fire Station 10 on March Lane and Feather River Drive in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 400)

After the state of California decertified touchscreen voting systems, San Joaquin county went back to paper ballots for yesterday’s California primary election.


Election worker Maria Valdovinos runs ballots through a ballot counter at the Registrar of Voters Office in downtown Stockton.  (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 400)


Election workers Carol Reeves, left, and Shirley Griffith inspect ballots for rips, tears or write-ins at the Registrar of Voters Office in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Personally, I prefer voting on paper. I think it’s the ability to actually have something in hand that appeals to me. I like being given the ballot, filling in the scantron-like bubble and sticking it into the ballot box. There’s a visceral quality to the whole experience, a feeling of doing my civic duty and of accomplishment.


Precinct workers Esther Kreth, left, Ruth Gritz and Inez Schamber watch as voter Debra Lynn Botto signs the register at the polling place in Gritz’s garage on Center Street in Stockton.  (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/4. ISO: 200)

I also like going to my polling place and chatting with the precinct workers. One year, after working late, I hurried to vote just a few minutes before 8:00 p.m.. I was the very last person to cast my ballot in my precinct. Voting gives me a sense of community, of a shared experience with my fellow citizens no matter how they or I voted.

Posted in General news | Tagged | Comments closed

Peak action

Peak action is a term that news and sports photographers use when shooting sports photos. Think of the action as being a wave with its peak at the crest. It’s something that takes practice and experience to time it just right.

Here’s a sequence of photos involving Manteca’s Courtney Freeman, left, and Sonora’s Hanah Blume from a single play during a recent girls varsity basketball game at Manteca.

(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 92mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/3.2. ISO: 500)

7:37.09 p.m.: The play starts. Usable in a pinch, but all the elements are too far a part for a good action photo. Consider it the building of the wave.

_______________________________

7:37.10 p.m.: This is the apex of the action. Facial expressions, the leaping into the air, the effort expended. Everything comes together in this frame.

_______________________________


7:37.10 p.m.: This one’s pretty close. The energy of the photo is good, but the players are on the floor now and the player behind is distracting. This is the start of the downside of the wave.

_______________________________

7:37.11 p.m.: It’s pretty much over now. Like the first shot, it’s usable, it’s just not peak action.

_______________________________

It only takes a second or two (or even a fraction of second for college and pro level sports) at most. And it just that amount of time that can make a difference between a great shot and one that’s so-so.

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

Light wine


Empty wine glasses sit in a table in the media room at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium trade show at the Sacramento convention Center in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/8. ISO: 200)

“Wine is bottled poetry.” – Robert Louis Stevenson


Jon Fredrikson with Gomberg, Fredrikson and Associates speaks at press conference at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium trade show at the Sacramento convention Center in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 135mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., f/3.2. ISO: 400)

I covered a press conference held at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento. The trade show was held in the large windowless main hall at the Sacramento Convention Center. The presser took place in the media room on third floor where wine industry experts talked about stuff that was way beyond me. I got my obligatory shots of the conference and then turned my attention elsewhere.


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/60 sec., f/3.2. ISO: 200)

Some soft indirect light wafted in through a bank of windows on one side of the room. Used and unused wine glasses sat on a table near those windows.



(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 175mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/3.2. ISO: 200)

The beautiful light turned them into crystalline jewels and the repetitive pattern of their placement made them look like an M.C. Escher lithograph. For me it was certainly more picturesque that the press conference across the room.

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Non-intoxicating


Tom Talarito with the Beaverton, OR-based Labelone Connect, right, shows off some of his company’s wares to Burke Grantham of San Francisco at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium trade show at the Sacramento convention Center in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/100 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 800)

I’m not a wine drinker, so when I was assigned to cover the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento, it held no special interest for me.


Thousands of people gather at the Wine and Grape Symposium trades show at the Sacramento convention Center in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 800)

The event is one of the country’s largest trade show for the wine industry. Thousands of people flocked to the Sacramento Convention Center to check out the latest and greatest innovations in the business. It mostly covered the technical side of things.

A grape harvester on display at the Stockton-based Holt of California booth at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium trade show at the Sacramento convention Center in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/20 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 400)

There businesses that dealt with bottles, labels and corks. There was equipment that picked grapes, washed barrels and filtered the wine. And then there some machines that I had no idea what they were.


Chris Tynan of Napa looks at wine bottles at the Demptos Glass booth at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium trade show at the Sacramento convention Center in downtown Sacramento.  (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  80-200mm @ 112mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Surprisingly, there was very little in the way of wine tasting. I saw several groups representing for various wineries and vineyards. But none of them served any wine. There was some tasting to be had in the media room, away from the main floor. When I was there, journalists covering the event got to taste the finest from the Calaveras Wine Association. Maybe it was to give the reporters a sample of the industry’s wares or maybe it was to influence their questions.

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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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