Yeehaw!


Greg Garcia of Half Moon Bay, left, and Mindy Konradi of Manteca with the Mounted Shooters of America rides by Anatoliy Gvozadovskiy, parking valet for the Sheraton Stockton Hotel, to lead a group of riders to kick off a press conference announcing the coming of Stockton Rodeo this Fall at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: NIkkor 70-200mm @ 110mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/ 5.6. ISO : 250)

As press conferences go, the announcement of the upcoming Stockton Rodeo at the Stockton Arena was better than most. Things literally started with a bang. To kick things off, a group of about six riders on horseback galloped in front of the arena lead by two gun-firing members of the Mounted Shooters of America. You’d think several gunshots going off in succession in the middle of town would raise some curiosity, but no one called the police. Such is life is Stockton, I guess.


T.C Thorntenson of Cave Creek, AZ, watches a video presentation during a press conference announcing the coming of Stockton Rodeo this Fall at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: NIkkor 70-200mm @ 70mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/ 8. ISO : 800)

Then we all went inside where things started off with a slide show – usually the kiss of death at these kinds of events. But with all cowboy hats in the room, I was able to use the iconic image to shoot the show.


Bryan J. Bjork, director of the Stockton Rodeo Association, speaks at a a press conference announcing the coming of Stockton Rodeo this Fall at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: NIkkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/160th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO : 800)

City and arena officials got up to speak, then it was all the Bryan J. Bjork show. The director of the Stockton Rodeo Association and promoter of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) sanctioned event, was a loquacious speaker. He gave a quick history on how the event came to fruition and talked about what will happen over the eight days of the Fall event. He then thanked everyone involved, city officials, sponsors and supporters, some more than once.


Stockton Sports Commission director Don Miller, left, Stockton mayor Ed Chavez wear cowboy hats given to them by Stockton Rodeo Association director Bryan Bjork at a press conference announcing the coming of Stockton Rodeo this Fall at the Stockton Arena. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: NIkkor 70-200mm @ 150mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 640)

At the end Bjork gave cowboy hats to mayor Edward Chavez, Stockton Sports Commission director Don Miller and Stockton Arena Director of marketing and sales Alan Fleming. They’re three guys who have no cowboy aspirations, but helped make the rodeo a reality. I guess, for Bjork, everyone was a cowboy for a day.

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Here comes trouble

2-year-old Austin Wilson listens to the Afternaps band during a weekly kids music event held by the group at the Blackwater Cafe in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 100mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

“Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.” – Traditional nursery rhyme

You’ve been warned in advance. Way in advance.

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Hidden talents

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 45mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

When I arrived at the Blackwater Cafe in Stockton to shoot the Afternaps children’s music program, I was surprised to see a co-worker sitting up on the stage with the rest of the musicians. Record information systems guy extrodinaire Greg Severi is one of the go-to guys for computer or networking problems at work. But with the band he played the mandolin, ukulele, guitar and musical saw. Now, along with any computer questions, I can ask him about music, or maybe how to build a deck.

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Barney need not apply


6-year-old Sander Lagaay dances to the music of the Afternaps band during a weekly kids music event held by the group at the Blackwater Cafe in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/50th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)


The Blackwater Cafe in Stockton is known for hosting eclectic styles of entertainment and is the hip place to be for teens and young adults who are into folk and indie music. For about an hour every Wednesday afternoon, the music takes an even younger turn.


Greg Severi, left, Erin Skelton and Chris Pocoroba perform as the Afternaps band during a weekly kids music event held by the group at the Blackwater Cafe in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

The musical group called the Afternaps performs a weekly mini concert for toddlers and their parents in a acoustic folk style. Their music was enjoyed by all, including me. What I liked about it was that the music wasn’t dumbed down for the kids. No simple-minded songs of Barney or the saccharine upbeat tunes of the Wiggles.


Erin Skelton, lead singer with the Afternaps band leads children in the hokey pokey during a weekly kids music event held by the group at the Blackwater Cafe in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

The Afternaps played some traditional kids tunes like the Hokey Pokey, Happy and you know it and Raffi’s Baby Beluga. But also they performed You are my sunshine, I wish I was a Wuzza (a crowd favorite) and even a version of Bob Dylan’s Wagon Wheel. An original song by band members Greg Severi and Erin Skelton, Freeze Dance, had everyone on their feet and dancing.


3-year-old Alma Wariso sings along with the Afternaps band during a weekly kids music event held by the group at the Blackwater Cafe in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 80mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

It was just good music performed well. The tunes were upbeat and fun for the children but enjoyable for the adults as well. Kids and parents clapped, danced and sang along with the band. The band just asked for a $2 donation per person. Pretty reasonable, I thought, for an hour of fun and a broadening of musical tastes beyond fuzzy purple dinosaurs.

Posted in Children, Feature, Music | Tagged , | Comments closed

The nose knows


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

According to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s Dogs: Wolf, Myth, Hero & Friend website, dogs have an amazing sense of smell. Among its evolutionary purposes, the dogs use smell to greet and identify each other. That’s why humans invented the handshake and the drivers license.

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Dog days


Hound-mix Didley, left, and boxer Boomer, both 3, romp at the new Barkleyville Dog Park on Feather River Drive in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 190mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

The Barkleyville Dog Park opened last weekend on Feather River Drive in Stockton, and if you’re of the canine persuasion, it’s a pretty cool place to be. There are two large grassy areas for big and small dogs to romp around in and make new friends. Plastic bag dispensers are available for those necessary cleanups, and there is even a sculpture of giant dog collars for kids (or so-inclined dogs) to climb on.


Michelle Mazza-Isaacson leads her 2-year-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever Bellini through the agility course at the new Barkleyville Dog Park on Feather River Drive in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)


Cocker spaniel Sidney, 2, left, meets bulldog Saga Jane at the new Barkleyville Dog Park on Feather River Drive in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

There’s even an agility course for those dogs (and owners). Dogs can climb up and down ramps, jump through hoops and hop over hurdles.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 135mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)


Although some may be better at it than others.

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Resistance is futile

The deadline for hands-free phone usage while driving is July 1 and I got a new Bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone. I don’t wear it all the time because it doesn’t fit right, it’s uncomfortable and a pet peeve of mine is when one is worn as a fashion accessory. I think it’s just weird when people wear them just because, to me, the earpieces make them look a little like the Borg from Star Trek. I usually just keep it in my shirt pocket until I need to use it.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/2 sec. @ f/8 with Dyna-Lite strobes. ISO: 200)

I drove home after work one night, every four or five seconds, out of the corner of my eye I would see a brief, dim pulse of light. Although the was faint and only lasted just a fraction of a second, it seemed to fill the lower half the cabin. At first I thought it was the street lights, winking into the car as I drove past. But it continued even when I got out onto the freeway outside of the city limits. It drove me crazy.  I searched the car to see where it was coming from, weaving down the road as I looked. Then I thought maybe this was some sort of symptom of middle age that no one tells you about.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/2 sec. @ f/8 with Dyna-Lite strobes. ISO: 200)

When I got home, safe but frustrated, I took the earpiece and set it on a table. That’s when I saw that a little blue light on it pulsed for a fraction of a second. I counted to four and it blinked on again. The light was shining through the fabric of my shirt pocket, briefly lighting up the inside of the darkened car. Looks like I’ll just have to wear the earpiece all the time like a lot of other people. Like the Borg say: “Resistance is futile.”

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It’s a guy thing


Bruce Capelle fires up a gas-powered blender to make some margaitas at Oak Grove Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 640)

I walked by a group of guys hanging out at the back of a pickup truck in the parking lot of Oak Park in Stockton. At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Then I saw what looked like a pair of odd looking leafblowers sitting on the truck’s tailgate. I asked the men what the devices were. They said that the machines were gas-powered blenders. Yes, gas-powered. Echoes of comedian Tim Allen’s catch phrase, “More Power”, rang in my head.

The men were plumbers employed on the St. Joseph’s Hospital expansion project. Due to limited parking at the job site, the workers leave their vehicles at the park and are shuttled to and from the hospital. Occasionally, after work they hang out at the park and have a little tailgate party.


Bruce Capelle, and Ernie Hamlet fire up a pair of  gas-powered blenders to make some margaritas at Oak Grove Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 640)

Bruce Capelle, and Ernie Hamlet filled their blenders with ice and a margarita mix and pulled their respective starting cords, just like starting a lawn mower or weed whacker. They throttled up the little engines as if the two were racing dirt bikes. The blenders whined and buzzed like a swarm of angry bees on steroids. It was all over quickly with the high-revving noise only lasting about 5-10 seconds. After the acrid smell of unburned gas and exhaust cleared, the drinks were ready and it was time for some post-work relaxation.

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Come what May

“The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.” -   Edwin Way Teale

The saying goes: “April showers bring May flowers.” We may have had lower than average rainfall in April, I had a bumper crop of pictures in May.

From the police officers memorial to the Sac-Joaquin section track meet to a campaign stop by Republican presumptive nominee John McCain, May turned out to be a particularly productive month. Here are ten of my favorite photos from the month that have not been previously featured in this blog.

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5/4/08:


Carlos and Liza Chivita dance to the music of the Mike Torres Trio on the Harbour King  cruise on the deep water channel in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @135mm. Exposure: 1/160th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)


Bassist Jeph Howard with The Used, performs at the Get A Life tour stop at A.A. Stagg Memorial Stadium on the UOP campus in Stockton.
(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 40mm. Exposure: 1/40th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 3200)

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5/7/08:


Stockton police officers salute during the Stockton Police Department’s annual memorial for county law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)


Stockton Police Department deputy chief Blair Ulring reads the names of the the fallen offices at the department’s annual memorial for county law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)


St. Mary’s Beau Riley waits for the ball as West High’s Rico Martinez slides into second base during a varsity baseball game at West in Tracy. Martinez was out on the play. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

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5/9/08:


Greg Dohrmann holds his 2-1/2-year-old daughter Danika who enjoys soap bubbles blow by her mother Natalie at their home in Stockton. Danika suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a rare disease that causes seizures and delays development. Greg Dohrmann is a co-chair of a fundraiser that funds the research of the disease through the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

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5/22/08:


Senator John McCain speaks during a campaign rally AG Spanos Jet Center at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 20mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

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5/23/08:


St. Mary’s Kim Williams competes in the girls high jump at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track meet finals held at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 400)

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5/27/08:


A Stockton police officer and a San Joaquin Sheriff’s deputy examine manacles they found near San Joaquin Street and Weber Avenue after two inmates escaped from the county courthouse in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 120mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

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5/30/08:


A stiff breeze blows the tassel into Luis Coleato’s face during graduation ceremonies at Weston Ranch High School in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

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Gold standard


A fly catches some shade under a golden poppy growning on the bank of the deep water channel at the Stockton Sailing Club near Buckley Cove Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

According to Wikipedia, the California State Floral Society selected the golden poppy (Eschscholzia californica) as the state flower in 1890. It took the Legislature 13 years, but the poppy finally adopted as California’s official state flower in 1903. One wonders why it took them so long. California is know for the Gold Rush and its golden sunshine, the golden poppy is the logical, natural choice. The flower can be found everywhere in California from the high mountains to the desert and coastal regions of the state.


A golden poppy grows on the bank of the deep water channel at the Stockton Sailing Club at Buckley Cove Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

I remember a drive down I-5 through the Grapevine near the town of Gorman during spring a few years ago. The community is situated in a valley where three mountain ranges, the Sierra Pelonas, Tehachapis and the San Emigdios, come together. The rolling hills were covered in hues of yellow, orange and gold. California lived up to its nickname of the Golden State in that valley.


A boat cruises down the deep water channel as golden poppies grow on the at the Stockton Sailing Club near Buckley Cove Park in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/22. ISO: 400)

Development and agriculture preclude the wild growth of poppies in much of the Central Valley. But you can find patches of them here and there. Whether growing wild or a part of some suburban landscaping, a little bit of California gold can be found everywhere.

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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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