Hot links


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

I’m on a well-deserved vacation this week, but you can get your new pix fix at the following links. I’ll be back on July 30. Enjoy!

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Leapin’ lizards!
Photographer/artist Kem McNair of New Smyrna Beach, Florida was at the right place at the right time. He caught an image of a shark leaping out of the water near surfers catching a wave. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

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Tall order
There have been times that I needed a little more altitude for some shots. A ladder or even a chair would have helped on many occasions just to get the right angle. But
you know what I really need? I need a weather balloon. A bunch of guys in Canada have taken getting a high angle to the extreme by using a weather balloon. I don’t think my bosses would approve if I did something like this with my (company-owned) camera.

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The natural world

National Geographic has some pretty cool pictures, as you might imagine. The magazine’s website has a Photo of the Day feature that showcases some of the great pictures taken on assignments for the magazine.

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Making a point
I saw this on the Reuters photo blog. The Olympics help to promote peace, cooperation and understanding between nations. One guy is going the extra mile to prove that point.

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Pull over! I said pull over!
The Boston Globe’s Big Picture feature on its website is great. You get to view in a larger format than most places on the Internet. I found these photos of Chinese security forces participating in an anti-terrorism exercise for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing. My favorite shot is the SWAT team on Segways. It looks like something out of a James Bond movie (or maybe an Austin Powers flick)

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The grass is always greener
This year’s Wimbledon Tennis Championships in England featured a unique art installation that used grass as a photographic medium. Artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey projected a black and white negative onto some grass in a darkened room using the chlorophyl in the grass to create the images rather than a silver emulsion. No digital special effects, just old-school photography applied in a new way for a cool, creative effect.

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Blast from the past: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water

(Camera: Nikon D1H. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/10. ISO: 200)

7/18/2004: The City of Stockton Recreation B Swim League is comprised of homeowners association pool teams and private membership clubs as well as the city-sponsored Blue Dolphins Swim Club. The majority of the team members, approximately 800 in all, are recreation level swimmers. The annual City Championship Meet is held at the end of the season (this year’s meet was held July 19-20, 2008 at St. Mary’s High School). In 2004, at the University of Pacific’s Kjeldsen Pool in Stockton, Matt Winston of Linden wore a shark-swim cap (complete with fin) during his heat off the 15-18 boys 100 breast stroke. Win or lose, Winston swam with style.

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Timing the light


Stockton Ports’ Jason Fernandez throws a pitch during a California League baseball game against the San Jose Giants at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

In photography, like many things in life, timing is everything.

There’s a certain moment during the Ports’ baseball games at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton, when the last bit of light from a golden sun can catch the pitcher before it sinks behind the press box and the luxury suites on the west end of the field. The standing pitcher is touched by an ever thinning sliver of light. Expose the picture for that ribbon of light and the player is illuminated while everything else that is in shadow goes dark. It only lasts for a few minutes and then it’s gone.

To get a shot of this light, timing is critical. The Ports’ games usually start at 7:05 p.m. and the field is mostly covered in sunlight. But during this time of year the evening light fades rapidly. Depending on how long the first inning lasts, the shadow begins to cover mound at around the start of the second inning. If it’s a quick, three-up and three-down first inning, then it may be too soon for the light to be just right. An extended inning could leave the pitcher in nothing but shadow. In either case, the exposure can be adjusted and a picture can be made, it just won’t have the same well-timed dramatic light.

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Alternate route


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/13 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 200)

I try not to take the same route coming from an assignment that I took going to it. It helps to increase the opportunity of finding an enterprise feature photo in between assignments.

Last week I had an early evening assignment at the Louis Park Softball complex in Stockton. From the office, it’s a quick trip via the freeway, taking about 5 minutes or so. Once I was done, I decided to take the surface streets back. It would easily triple my travel time, but it would also boost my chances of finding a picture.

Passing by Victory Park, I saw a large group of firefighters standing around near Station 6 as if waiting for something to happen. I stopped and asked what was going on. They were auxiliary firefighters, sort of a volunteer force called in when there’s a large disaster such as the Quail Lakes Fire in Stockton last month. They were at the station for a weekly training session. Each Wednesday they gather at a different station across the city.

The evening sky turned orange as I got a shot of a firefighter manning a hose when the sun set behind the western tree line of the park. It may not work all the time, but when it does, varying my route helps me in looking for enterprise pictures.

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String man


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/16 w/ fill flash. ISO: 200)

Johnny Montoya of Stockton took advantage of the sunshine a few days ago by playing his guitar at McLeod Lake Park in downtown Stockton. As I walked up to him I could hear him playing the intro to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, which quickly morphed into a perfect rendition of Ritchie Valens’ version of “La Bamba”.

Montoya is a former professional musician who says. “I’m just doing my now thing” now. He then started a Blues riff and sang an impromptu tune about meeting a newsman in the park.

Montoya hopes his playing brings a little pleasure to other people in the park. “I’m just trying to make it a little bit better for everyone”, he says. I know he did for me.

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Dance, dance revolution


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200)

Last month during Smokey Robinson’s concert at the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton, the R&B legend was heralded on stage by two lovely dancers. They bopped and gyrated to his songs providing some visual movement to the show that Robinson himself lacked (he is 68 years old after all). They gave me the idea that maybe everybody should have a backup dancer or two to help them get out of some of life’s stickier situations.

Pulled over for a speeding? Perhaps a pair of jiggling dancers in the back seat may put enough of a smile on the officer’s face to let you off with just a warning.

Say you arrive at a posh gala event wearing the same outfit as an archrival. Boom-chaka, boom-chaka boom, the dancers come in doing the watusi or a samba by your side, and all eyes will be on you.

Just a few minutes before quitting time your boss comes in to tell you he wants you to work late. You have to get home to watch your kid’s ballet recital or soccer game. Distract your supervisor with the dancers doing some high-stepping, Rockette-type kicks, and you’re on your way home before he notices you’re gone.

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In good light


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor: 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

In 2005, The Record created the Charles Washington Award. It honors the high school senior student-athlete who best exhibits athletic and academic achievement, and community involvement. The award is named after a man who has been a pillar in the community. Charles Washington was the first black high school football coach in Northern California, guiding Edison High from 1965-83 and finishing with a 133-54-6 record and six league championships.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor: 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

This year, we wanted to do something a little more than simple mug shots for the finalists. I used a two-light set up to create some dramatic portraits of the scholar-athletes. A single Dyna-Lite strobe head with a blue gel pointed toward the background provided color to the photo and created silhouettes of the teens. With the second light, I wanted to illuminate just their faces without losing the shadowy outline effect.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor: 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

We didn’t have any attachments for our studio strobes to focus the light in such tight beams. I created what’s called a snoot out of an 11 x 14-inch piece of cardboard. I rolled it up into a cone and held it in place over the second strobe with a couple of rubber bands and paper clips. The opening at the small end of the cone was about an inch or so in diameter. It lit up their faces while leaving their bodies in darkness creating striking portraits of some exceptional athletes.

Posted in Portrait, Sports, Studio, Techniques | Tagged | Comments closed

Page 3 Girl


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 200)

When Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought Dow Jones and Company, ostensibly to get at the Wall Street Journal, it also purchased The Record. You see, Dow Jones owns the Journal and Ottaway Newspapers Inc. Ottaway in turn owns eight daily newspapers (and 15 weeklies) including The Record.

One of media mogul Murdoch’s “innovations” is the Page 3 Girl. Introduced in the Murdoch-owned British tabloid The Sun in the 1960s, it features a picture of a topless young woman on page 3 of the paper, hence the name. The circulation of The Sun is over 3 million.

Murdoch has a reputation for putting his two-cents worth in headlines and content in his media holdings. There may be changes at the Journal, but The Record is a pretty small fish in the News Corp. scheme of things, so tinkering is unlikely. This is probably as close as we’ll get to running a Page 3 Girl in the paper.

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Baby, it’s cold inside


Employee Francisco Beltran drives the zamboni as he resurfaces the ice at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60 @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)


Young skaters wait and watch as employee Francisco Beltran drives the zamboni as he resurfaces the ice at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

Being the Zamboni driver at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton is one the coolest jobs around, literally. Employee Francisco Beltran drives the machine to resurface the ice 4-8 times a day, depending on how much use it gets.


Looking to beat the heat, youngsters take to the ice after the zamboni finished cleaning the rink at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125 @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 34mm. Exposure: 1/125 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

A thermometer inside the rink reads 28 degrees fahrenheit, about 80 degrees less than the outside temperature. While people who work outdoors are sweating and drinking copious amounts of water to stave off heat stroke, Beltran cooly pilots the his machine with the demeanor of Santa out for a leisurely sleigh ride.

Tony Foo of Stockton, helps his 5-year-old son Aiden learn to skate at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 155mm. Exposure: 1/125 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)


Novice skater Jada De La Rosa, 9, clings to the wall at the Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60 @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

The arena has its “Half Off Hundreds” deal. For every day the the mercury climbs above 100 degrees, skaters get admission and skate rentals for $5.00. With the hot weather and low prices, the arena is a popular place to go to have fun and keep cool at the same time. Novice and first-time skaters fill the rink, some holding onto the wall for dear life. With the added traffic on the ice, the zamboni has been getting a workout these past few days. But I don’t think Beltran is complaining much.

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Baby, it’s hot outside


Mick Murphy works under the hot sun as a part of a crew from Stockton Fence replacing the chain link fencing around the baseball fields at Stribley Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/22 w/fill-flash. ISO: 200)

The saying goes: “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”, but its been hot, really hot, these past few days. Record setting-temperatures have been well into the 100′s. While some people have no choice but to labor under the sizzling sun, others have sought refuge from the heat.


9-year-old Cassidy Ruiz of Stockton cools off from the heat by zipping down one of the watersldies at the Gora Aquatic Center in Galt. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)


5-year-old Zak Ali of Lodi cools off from the heat in the spray of a fountain at the Gora Aquatic Center in Galt. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/2000th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

Water has been the mode of choice of most people to cool off. Anywhere they can stick at least their feet into the wet stuff, people gather. There used to be a couple of waterslides in the county, but Golfland in Stockton is now a strip mall and the famous Manteca Waterslides at the Oakwood Resort were demolished to make way for new homes. The closest on now are two small (but still fun) slides at the Gora Aquatic Park in Galt (technically in Sacramento County, but still fairly close).


2-year-old Jaidan Sullivan, left, and 17-month-old Zachary Rosado, both of Mountain House cool off in the fountain at Central  Community Park in Mountain House. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

10-year-old Julian Vasquez of Tracy cools off in the fountain at Central  Community Park in Mountain House. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/9. ISO: 200)

The latest craze are interactive fountains. From Stockton to Ripon to the newest one in Mountain House, these fountains feature squirting jets of water for those seeking relief, young and old, to play in. I have to admit, when shooting one of these parks on a hot day, I have the urge to step into and cool off in the waters dancing before me.


Erika Barcus, 5, cools off her father Doug Barcus of Lodi, as he sits in a lawn chair in the water on the beach area of Lodi Lake in Lodi. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 500mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/9. ISO: 320)


11-year-old Lilly Palacio, left, and 10-year-old Alexander Rodriguez cool off with a garden hose while playing on Occidental Drive near Shimizu Drive in  Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 26mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/9 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 200)

Other people find simpler ways to keep cool. Finding a lake or river or even a simple garden hose helps one beat the heat with a minimal impact on your pocketbook.


2-year-olds Lance Drost of Ripon, left, and Ella VanderMeulen of Escalon, cool off by playing in the interactive fountain at the Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Christian Rodriguez of Stockton cools off in the interactive fountain at the Lincoln Village West Beach Club in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 200)

From the looks of things so far, whatever means people choose to keep cool, it looks like they’re going to used it a lot this Summer. To paraphrase President Harry S Truman: If you can’t stand the heat, get into some water.

Posted in Enterprise, Feature, Weather | 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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