(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

“The guitar is a small orchestra. It is polyphonic. Every string is a different color, a different voice.” – Andres Segovia.
According to this quote by famed classical guitarist Andres Segovia, singer/songwriter Jackson Browne had equivalent of the New York Philharmonic with him despite being the only person on stage.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 125mm. Exposure: 1/15 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 3200)

Jackson Browne’s concert was a solo one. Just him and his music. There was a keyboard and 14 guitars (not including the one he started the concert with) on stage. I guess the money he saved on not paying for a band, went to his musical instrument budget.

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Tender is the night

(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

My formative teenaged years were spent in the 1970s. The decade has been reviled for the quality of its music (or lack thereof). True that, with disco being one of the worst art forms know to mankind. The simple beauty of Jackson Browne’s music was one shining note that transcended the commercialism of the dance music era. He didn’t have to rely on flashing lights or a driving back beat. He was a performer who had the talent that didn’t require a gimmick.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Jackson Browne played a solo acoustic concert at the Bob Hope Theatre in downtown Stockton on Thursday. No band or backup singers, no flashing colored lights, just a bunch of guitars, a piano, a microphone, a chair and him. He walked on stage to appreciative applause, his signature shoulder-length brown hair was lightened with strands of silver. He sported a grey beard, giving him a bit of a grizzled appearance. From the way he looked, one almost expected him to sing in disappointed, graveled-washed tones. But, while time had worn away his boyish looks, it hadn’t diminished his voice. It was as clear and moving as when he was a young man. Emotion and poetry glistened in his eyes as he sang. Though the youthful honesty of his voice still was intact, the delivery of his moving songs was tempered with a certain maturity and thoughtfulness that only age can bring.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 155mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

I could only stay and shoot for a couple of songs, which is par for the course at such concerts. As I drove back to the office I hummed some Jackson Browne’s tunes to myself. Not just the ones I heard him sing that night, but songs I remembered from my youth and would’ve like to have stayed and heard again.

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"I’m strong to the finich, ’cause I eats me spinach." – Popeye the Sailor

A pass slips through of the grasp of Stockton Lightning’s  Diamond Francies’ hands as Boise Burn’s Sanders covers him during the Lightning’s Arena2 Football home opener at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 80mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 2000)

“Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away” – Paul Simon

Lightning let one slip away. There, that’s my stab at headline writing. Ok, so it’s not my forte, I’ll leave that up to the copy editors, but at least it’s accurate and it goes along with the photo above.

Stockton Lightning’s Jason Hunt (58) and Michael Hooper (3) celebrate Hunt’s fumble recovery during a game against the Boise Burn. (Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 2000)

Stockton Lightning Arena2 Football fans cheer a touchdown during the team’s home opener. (Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @18mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/5 w/ Elinchrome strobes. ISO: 400)

Last Saturday night I shot the Stockton Lightning Arena2 Football home opener against the Boise Burn at the Stockton Arena. The Lightning were impressive in the first half. To the fans pleasure, they dominated the Burn (who comes up with some of these names?) in every way. The Lightning ran up a 30 point lead before Boise could score anything at all. I left around half time, thinking that they had it all wrapped up.

Stockton Lightning’s Peter Tuialuuluu is tackled by Boise’s Chris Bruhn (33) and TravisTofi (99) at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 102mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 2000)

I returned to the Record and I edited, captioned and toned my photos. By the time I handed assistant sports editor Sam Smith proofs of the game photos, the Lightning let their 30 point lead slip through their fingers and lost the game 51-42.

The Lightning isn’t the only Stockton team to squander big leads. It’s happened twice in a row in the Stockton Thunder’s ECHL hockey playoff with the Las Vegas Wranglers. Let’s hope that the Lightning tonight and the Thunder on Sunday will stock up on their spinach and find a way to stay strong to the finish.

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One or the other

“Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.” -  Groucho Marx

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/30sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

If your wife and your girlfriend came to watch you play, would you want them in the same room together?

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Give me that old time religion

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/40sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200)

I saw this on the back of a vehicle parked outside of the Stockton Arena for a Thunder Hockey game. Some fans treat their favorite sport like a religion with the star players being their prophets or even gods. I wonder what (Thunder left winger and team enforcer) Adam Huxley thinks about turning the other cheek?

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Hockey town

Stockton Thunder’s Stephane Goulet battles for the puck with Las Vegas Wrangler’s Ryan Donally during an ECHL playoff game at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6, w/ Elinchrome strobes. ISO 200.)

Three years ago, if anyone would have said that Stockton was a hockey town, I, along with almost everyone else in Stockton, would have said they were nuts. But that first year, fans came out in droves to watch the Stockton Thunder and remarkably they have kept on coming ever since. The team has led the ECHL in attendance in each of its first two seasons. Last season, the Thunder averaged 6,780 per game, and had three sellouts at the 10,000-seat Stockton Arena.

Stockton Thunder’s David Rohlfs, right, battles with Las Vegas Wrangler’s Bruce Mulherin against the boards during an ECHL playoff game at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/5, w/ Elinchrome strobes. ISO 200.)

Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’m still surprised at hockey’s popularity in Stockton. Black, White, Asian, Latino, the fans run the demographic gamut. The Thunder outsells the shorter-seasoned Stockton Lightning Arena2 Football team and the under appreciated MISL California Cougars indoor soccer squad, who both use the arena as well.

Stockton Thunder’s Geoff Paukovich slams Las Vegas Wrangler’s Gerry Burke against the wall during an ECHL playoff game at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton.(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 170mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec. @ f/3.2. ISO 1600)

Although I still don’t know the intricacies of the game, I’m guessing at least some of hockey’s appeal comes from the contrast between the grace and brutality of the sport. At one moment it can be beautiful and elegant, almost ballet-like. In the next, it can be as savage as a cage fight. It’s easy to think of the typical fan being seduced by the latter, but I think most appreciate the complexities and subtleties of the game. I’ve not only seen them cheer for a good fight, but for a great defensive play, a skillful pass or an impressive bit of skating as well.

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"The world is but a canvas to the imagination." – Henry David Thoreau

“One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity…” – Edward de Bono

More than 1,300 artworks are on display in the longest-running student art competition in the U.S., 77th annual Robert T. McKee Student Art Contest and Exhibition at the Haggin Museum in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/100 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

I shot the 77th annual Robert T. McKee Student Art Contest and Exhibition at the Haggin Museum in Stockton. The longest-running art competition for students in the country, it boasts about 1,300 entries from students ranging from kindergarten to high school from around San Joaquin county.

I’ve shot the exhibition in the past and I’ve always been impressed at the amount of talent that the students possess. At the art show, I got a couple of overall shots of the exhibit and then close ups of some of the individual pieces. Some of the pieces are obviously the results of a class assignment, but others spring forth from the minds and creativity of the students.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 28mm. Exposure: 1/60 sec. @ f/4. ISO: 800)

I saw this striking portrait of a marine by 12th grader Cha Vong. I thought the realistic detail was stunning, but I also liked the unusual placement of the subject. It all gave the picture weight and impact.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 50mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come from the most innocuous places. After I shot the art exhibition, I was driving to an assignment when, on Hammer Lane near Montauban Avenue in Stockton, there, about 30 feet above, was the likely inspiration for Vong’s artwork. A marine recruitment billboard loomed overhead.

The photograph on the ad
had a uncanny resemblance
to Vong’s portrait. There were
some obvious differences,
the cropping for one, but
it had similar lighting and the
same steely stare, invoking a sense of  determination, patriotism and courage. To see Vong’s art and the other students’  creative work, the show will be at the  Haggin Museum in Stockton until  April  27.

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Go towards the light

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” – Francis Bacon, Sr.

The interior of the Stockton Arena set up for the Lightning Arena2 football. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/4 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

The lights at the Stockton Arena is the best in the county. Even though we use strobe lights that are mounted in the arena’s rafters to get even better exposures at lower ISOs, the game lights are pretty good themselves. The light is even and there’s a decent amount of it, that is, when they’re working.

The Stockton Lightning Arena2 football team practices at Oak Park in Stockton because of a lighting failure at the arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/13. ISO: 200)

I recently went to cover a Stockton Lightning Arena2 football practice at the Stockton Arena, only thing was there was no one there. I entered the arena and it was a darkened cavern. All the lights were off and the only illumination came from a loading dock door and a few corridors that had access to outside windows. I called the reporter who said something had happened to the lights rendering them temporarily inoperable and the team moved the practice to Oak Park in Stockton.

Stockton Lightning offensive lineman and former Tokay High standout Bryan Deemer goes through a drill during a practice at Oak Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 190mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/4. ISO: 200)

The Stockton Lightning Arena2 football team practices at Oak Park in Stockton because of a lighting failure at the arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/16. ISO: 200)

At the park the sun shone down on the players. There was far more of it than in the arena, even counting the strobes. And they didn’t have to worry about it not working.

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Tony Nevarez with the Manteca-based Pro-Painting, scrapes paint in preparation of painting the Samco Restaurant Supply building on Weber Avenue and Staniuslaus Street in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 125mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

One of the things photographers look for is texture. From the pebbled surface of a stucco wall or the wood-grained pattern of a fence post, texture can add visual interest to a photograph.

In downtown Stockton, I saw a crew preparing the Samco Restaurant Supply building for a new coat of paint. Workers scraped and sanded old paint off making the walls look like a relief map. The random texture contrasted against the rigid pattern of lines set into the wall.

The painters are finished now and the building has a new and bright coat of paint. It almost looks like a brand new building. It’s just not as interesting as when they were getting it ready.

Posted in Inspiriation, Photography, Techniques | Tagged | Comments closed

One small step for man…

(Camera: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8.0. ISO: 200)

“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” – e. e. cummings

(Camera: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 20mm. Exposure: 1/160 sec., @ f/8.0. ISO: 200)

I recently had an assignment to shoot a program that gave disadvantaged high school students experience in the ecology of the Delta. Teenagers from Jane Frederick Continuation High School were planting willows in a restored wetland habitat along Eight Mile Road just outside of Stockton.

(Camera: D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/11. ISO: 200)

The inundated field that was once rich Delta peat soil was the consistency of a muddy quagmire. Fortunately, the program organizers had some extra rubber boots on hand. Reporter Alex Breitler and I happily donned the galoshes and waded into the muck with the teens. As long as we kept moving, we were alright. Once we stopped, the ooze filled in around our feet and the suction locked us in place. There were several times that I nearly left a boot in my footsteps. I’m just glad I didn’t have to do it in my regular shoes, because if I did, they’d still be in that field.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Observation, The Delta | 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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