True colors

“Blue
flower, red thorns! Blue flower, red thorns! Oh, this would be so much
easier if I wasn’t color-blind!” – Donkey from Shrek


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 120mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 160.)

In June of 2007 Kodak discontinued its 35mm color infrared films. It had some scientific and medical uses but many art photographers exploited its wild colors to create unearthly landscapes. Ektachrome Professional Infrared EIR film had deep color saturation and high contrast. Moreover, the colors were unpredictable and bizarre. Purple skies and magenta foliage were normal for the film.

I bring this up because the other day, while driving down Eight Mile Road in Stockton, I saw an unearthly scene of my own. An entire field of dead weeds spread out over at least 50 acres like a giant corduroy blanket. The plants were a unnatural, orange color, like something that would be right at home on Alpha Centauri or Betelgeuse. Newer weeds sporadically sprouted up with a natural green color, which only served to emphasize the uncanny hue of the rest of the field. I shot this digitally, with the camera on normal settings. No special film, or filters or Photoshop magic.

Too bad Kodak no longer makes the infrared film. Maybe it could’ve reversed the real colors and made this scene look normal.

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A reeally big shew

“If you do a good job for others, you heal yourself at the same time, because a dose of joy is a spiritual cure. It transcends all barriers.” – Ed Sullivan


(Camera Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @200. Exposure: 1/250 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

One of the TV programs that I watched while growing up was the Ed Sullivan Show. Started in 1955, it was famous for introducing performers like The Beatles and Elvis Presley (and more) to America.

(Camera Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @200. Exposure: 1/250 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

But some of my favorites were the smaller acts that Sullivan promoted. There were the dancing bears and trained dogs. Ventriloquist Senor Wences and pre-Muppet puppet Topo Gigio were also a treat. Then were the ones I like to watch, the jugglers. The Ed Sullivan Show ended in 1971, leaving no other national venue for such acts.

(Camera Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @180. Exposure: 1/250 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

At the Chinese Cultural Society of Stockton’s 30th annual Chinese New Years Festival at the Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium in downtown Stockton, I shot Keming Zhia, also known as the Happy Chef. His gimmick was juggling kitchenware and food. It seemed that the audience didn’t quite know what to make of him at first, giving him only a smattering of applause. When he balanced three eggs on a chopstick on the bridge of his nose, the crowd perked up. His big finale was reminiscent of Sullivan’s show. He spun 12 plates on long willowy sticks to the now enthusiastic crowd’s delight. It was fun to watch, reminding me of younger, more innocent days.

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Lower your expectations



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

From the looks of things, the state budget crisis might be worse than first thought. I hope this isn’t an example of one the CHP’s new chase vehicles.

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Lion share


Members of the Loong Mah Sing See group perform a liaon dance through the streets of downtown Stockton in the 6th annual Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Parade. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

The lion dance is the mainstay of Asian lunar new year celebrations. The dancers dress up in elaborately ornate costumes and leap and writhe to the sound of percussionists’ drums, cymbals and gongs to ward off bad luck.


11-year-old Shree Bhatesea of Modesto is pestered by a lion dancer while watching the 6th annual Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Parade in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

A part of their routine is to pester and tease some of the spectators, especially the younger ones. Some laugh and have fun. A few get scared. Others just are annoyed.

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What a difference a week makes


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/8.0. ISO: 200)


Two weekends, two parades. A week ago last Saturday, I shot the annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival parade. The weather was cold, windy and a bit wet. Although it only sprinkled, spectators brought their umbrellas to make sure that they were protected in case of sudden downpour.

This last weekend while covering the Chinese and Vietnamese New Years parade in downtown Stockton, the weather couldn’t have been more different. It was sunny and warm. Umbrellas were still the order of the day, but just for different reason.

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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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    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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