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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Playing chicken

“I love it when a plan comes together” Col. Hannibal Smith from The A-Team


(Camera: Nikon D2X: Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., f/16. ISO: 200)

Photo illustrations are basically illustrations done, well, photographically.
They’re used to represent a concept or idea. Because they’re illustrative rather than reportage, there’s more leeway on their manipulation than the normal news picture.

I had to come up with and idea for a picture for a food story on how to carve a chicken. I got some step-by-step photos of the carving which were informative, but bland. I wanted a little more pizzaz for the main shot that was to carry the LENS section front.

My concept was to show that the task may seem insurmountable for people who don’t know how to carve a chicken (like me). I thought of someone dissecting gigantic chicken, but with what? Ideas rolled through my brain. A big knife? A sword? A heavy duty job needs a heavy duty tool. A chainsaw!

Writer Robin Nichols purchased a rotisserie chicken from a local supermarket. Record managing editor Don Blount volunteered the use of a chainsaw. Photo editor Craig Sanders volunteered to stand in as the victim, er, subject.

First, I shot the chicken in studio with a simple one-light and reflector set up. Then I got a second shot of Craig with the saw, carefully trying to match the lighting between the two shots. I freely admit that I’m no Photoshop whiz. My skills are very basic. Lightening, darkening, burning and dodging and adjusting contrast is usually the most I do. I took me a little time, but just a little cut-and-pasting and presto-chango, an instant photo illustration.

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Gender gap


UOP students cheer on the men’s basketball team during a game against Cal Poly at the university’s Spanos Center in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 1250)

The UOP mens basketball was featured in a game against Cal Poly on ESPN2′s Big Monday show. Over 4,000 screaming fans watched Pacific take on the Mustangs (8-11, 3-4)  at Spanos Center in Stockton.


The Orange Army cheering section cheer for the Pacific men’s basketball team at Spanos Center in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 1000)

Due to the sports network’s presence coupled with the team’s season record (14-6, 5-2 Big West Conference), the crowd was probably twice the size of a normal game and the noise was deafening.  I had forgotten my earplugs and with the yelling fans, shouting cheerleaders and blaring band, my ears were ringing at the end of the night.

UOP’s Anthony Brown is closely guarded by Cal Poly’s Titus Shelton, left, and Dreshawn Vance. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 86mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 1250)

Even with all the hoopla, the Tigers lost to the Mustangs 69-64.


Only an handful of fans watch the UOP women’s basketball team take on cal Poly at Spanos center in Stockton.  (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/200 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Four days earlier UOP’s women’s team played Cal Poly as well and there couldn’t have been more of a difference. TV wasn’t there to cover the Pacific women (8-12, 3-4) who have been struggling to get it together this season. When I got to the game at near the starting time of 7:00 p.m., fans dotted the bleachers like stars on a cloudy night. There were perhaps 200 people in the stands, so few that I thought I had gotten the time wrong and arrived too early. But no, it seems only the dedicatedly faithful showed up to watch.


Cheerleaders try to get the fans to cheer during UOP women’s basketball game against Cal Poly at Spanos center in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/320 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 1250)

It was hard fought and well played, but you could almost hear the proverbial pin hit the floor. During a break, the cheerleaders took to the court. They held up signs for the fans to shout “Go” “Tigers”, only to be greeted by an embarrassing silence. At least I didn’t need any ear protection that night.

UOP’s Amy VanHollebeke struggles to get away from Cal Poly’s Tamara
Wells (20) and Rebecca Tratter (40) during a women’s basketball game at
Pacific’s Spanos Center in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/320 sec., f/2.8. ISO: 1250)

Without any hype, the UOP women won 89-88 in an overtime squeaker.

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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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    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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