Parking spot


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

“Politics ain’t worrying this country one-tenth as much as where to find a parking space” – Will Rogers

I guess this is one way of getting out of paying for parking. On the up side, there’s a free space open on California Street near Lafayette Street in downtown Stockton.

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A room with a view

“Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea” – Lord Alfred Tennyson


The moon rises behind palm fronds in San Diego.  (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/18. ISO: 200)

With no mountains or hills to get in the way, sunsets on the coast can last a little bit longer than those farther inland. That means you can squeeze out every last bit of light before the sun sinks completely below the horizon.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 19mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

Our hotel, Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn, was located on Shelter Island in San Diego. Not so much an island, but rather a narrow peninsula that juts a short way out onto San Diego Bay. We had a great view of the the Pacific Ocean to the south, Point Loma peninsula to the west and the North Island Naval Air Station and downtown San Diego to the east.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Twilight ebbed in like the tide on our first evening in San Diego and the very last bits of a flame-colored sunset kissed the windows of downtown’s high rise buildings.

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Seeing the light(house)

“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own”.  – Ben Sweetland


A statue stands at the Cabrillo National Monument across the bay from downtown San Diego. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

The Cabrillo National Monument occupies 160 natural acres at the tip of Point Loma peninsula, just west of San Diego. It was an unscheduled stop we managed to squeeze in on our whirlwind vacation. The park commemorates the landing in 1542 of Portuguese navigator/explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who was the first European to set foot on the west coast of the continent, claiming his discovery for Mexico.


A squirrel sits in a bush at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)


California Encelia bloom at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/60sec., @ f/22. ISO: 200)

The park is an island of wildlife just a few miles just outside of the city of 1.2 million. Thousands of bright yellow California encelia blossoms covered the bluffs that separate the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay.


The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is located at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.  (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/125sec., @ f/22. ISO: 200)

The view out a window of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, located at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.  (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/16. ISO: 200)


The spiral staircase in the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, located at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.  (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 25mm. Exposure: 1/30sec., @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

Also a part of the park is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Built in 1855, the historic lighthouse welcomed ships into San Diego Bay for 36 years. Ironically, it’s placement atop the 422 tall bluffs, was it’s weakness. During periods of heavy fog or low clouds, the light that shone from the beacon could not be seen by sailors enshrouded by the mist at sea level. A new light station was built in 1891, about 100 yards away closer to the bottom of the hill.

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Beauty sleep


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/320 sec., @ f/5.0. ISO: 200)

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.” -  W. C. Fields

Before we roamed the San Diego Zoo on foot, we took a 35-minute bus tour though the park. It allowed us to decide which exhibits that interested us the most and what we would go back for a better look. The bus stopped at the spotted hyena enclosure but the animals were sleeping towards the back. Behind us a couple rudely shouted to wake the hyenas up so that they could take a picture of them.

I can understand the couple’s point of view. Like us, they probably traveled a long way to visit the zoo and, again like us, might have had just limited amount of time to experience the place. But some animals are nocturnal or just sleep a lot. For instance, A lot of the big cats hunt at night and at the very popular panda exhibit, the pandas were all asleep, as were the Australian koalas who slumber 22 hours a day.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 195mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

The animals in the zoo are there in part for are benefit to be sure. We go to see what they look like and how they behave. But they live by their own biological clocks that may or may not coincide with our own. Maybe it’s my photojournalistic background, but I wouldn’t think of waking the animals up to change the situation.

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Ulterior motive, part 2: Jungle fever


Visitors watch a gorilla through a glass wall at the San Diego Zoo. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 135mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/4. ISO: 200)

If we could talk to the animals, just imagine it
Chatting to a chimp in chimpanzee
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting to a cheetah
What a neat achievement that would be.


A southern gerenuk sits in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages
Maybe take an animal degree.
We’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,
Alligator, guinea pig, and flea.


A zebra rests in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

We would converse in polar bear and python,
And we could curse in fluent kangaroo.
If people asked us, can you speak in rhinoceros,
We’d say, “Of courserous, can’t you?”


An African slender-snouted crocodile rests in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/80 sec., @ f/5.6 ISO: 200) (0325Sleep_001)

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages
Think of all the things we could discuss
If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals,
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,
And they could squeak and squawk and speak and talk to us. – If I could talk to the animals from Dr. Doolittle- Music / Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse

A snake-neck turtle comes up for air in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 125mm. Exposure: 1/60 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Another attraction we planned into our vacation was the San Diego Zoo. It’s a world class facility housing animals of almost every shape and size from all over the globe. Who doesn’t remember Joan Embery (at least any “who” about my age), goodwill ambassador from the zoo, bringing exotic animals to the Tonight Show for host Johnny Carson to be goofy with? It was an amazing place that took us all day to tour, and we still didn’t see everything. Despite trying to plot out the quickest, most time efficient route, we wore out a good amount of shoe leather walking the zoo grounds.


A Maylasian tiger looks up from eating in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

Located in the city’s Balboa Park, the zoo sits on about 100 acres and has about 800 species. By comparison, the San Francisco Zoo is also on approximately 100 acres in Golden Gate Park, but has only about 250 species. A little closer to home, the Sacramento Zoo in William Land Park, has about 130 species on 14 acres. Closer still is the 51-year-old Micke Grove Zoo near Lodi. Although a nice and interesting place to visit, boasting nearly 100 species, it’s roughly the size of San Diego’s welcome mat.

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ATM Ahoy!

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

The ATM kiosks were decorated in various themes at Legoland. This one was for the park’s Pirate Shores attraction. I’m not so certain that a pirate ATM is such a good idea. I made sure I counted my cash after using it.

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A condo made of stone-a


Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/5. ISO: 200)

Seen on the walls of Legoland’s Lost Kingdom Adventure ride, the true secret of how the Great Pyramids were built.

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No privacy


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/3.5. ISO: 200)


New York’s Grand Central Station is actually a cutaway in the Legoland interpretation of Manhattan. This gives a view of the interior of the world’s largest train station. People can see a subway train actually run under the terminal.  The main concourse is the centerpiece of the building but other smaller room are featured as well. In the subway level of the building, a Lego mugger using a banana to hold up a hapless mark. Nearby, a man in a public bathroom is answering the call of nature. I guess everything is on display in Legoland.

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Viva Las Vegas

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/3.5. ISO: 200)

Does what happens in Vegas, really stay in Vegas? In the Las Vegas section of Legoland’s Miniland USA, I saw a newly married Lego couple leaving a wedding chapel. I wonder if they were made from off-the-shelf parts or did they have to special-order them?

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Hear ye, hear ye


“Do you think that when they asked George Washington for ID that he just whipped out a quarter?” – Stephen Wright



(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

One of the fun things about the Legoland are some the whimsical details in the Miniland scale models. Hours and hours are put into designing the mini replicas and even more are put into assembling the literally millions of little bricks. I would imagine that the engineers and work people would need to blow off a little steam now and again.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

For instance, the Lego Mount Rushmore looks incredibly realistic, but upon closer examination, a work crew of little figures are cleaning out George Washington’s left ear with a giant Q-tip. I wonder what Lego earwax looks like?

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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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