Studio system

(Camera: D2X. Lens 17-35mm @ 22mm. Exposure: f/16 @ 1/50, ISO 100)

I used my handy dandy homemade light tent for this shot of a rack of oils and vinegars. I covered the PVC frame with a white cloth and set up two studio lights on either side of it to illuminate the bottles. The cloth helped create an even light on the. A third light was set up with a blue gel to light up the background.

(Camera: D2X. Lens 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/11 @ 1/250, ISO 100)

I still thought it needed a little something, light-wise. I placed a strobe below and behind the rack to give it a little extra glow. The Nikon SB-26 Speedlight flash I used has a built-in optical slave unit and fires when the studio lights went off. It started off a bit too hot, so I played around with the flash’s power ratios until I was happy with it.

(Camera: D2X. Lens 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/13 @ 1/60, ISO 100)

It took a few tries, but I finally got it where I wanted it. Sometimes it doesn’t all come together at the first shot. It usually takes a little tweaking until it does.

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Stripes


(Camera: Nikon D2x: Lens: Nikkor 300mm . Exposure: F/ 8 @ 1/1000, ISO 200)

At the Delta Youth Football League’s championships a referee came up to me during a break in the action. He asked me if I was with The Record and if I shot high school football as well. I answered yes to both. He said that he followed the prep games in the newspaper and that the pictures were pretty good. “I’ve even seen pictures of me (in the paper) and they don’t make me look so fat.” I guess it’s true what they say about the slimming effect of vertical stripes.

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The little big game


Northwest Trojans Daniel Rodolfo Andrade is chased by Tracy Raiders’ Emiliano Aguierre, during the Delta Youth Football League’s junior varsity championship at Lincoln High School’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2x: Lens: Nikkor 300mm . Exposure: F/ 9 @ 1/500, ISO 200)


Northwest Trojans Brett Sullivan is tackled by Tracy Raiders’ Tyler Cox. (Camera: Nikon D2x: Lens: Nikkor 300mm . Exposure: F/ 9 @ 1/500, ISO 200)

Last Friday, I shot the the big game between Lincoln/St. Mary’s in the Sac-Joaquin section semifinal. As with every high school football game, there was a group of young kids (boys mostly) playing an impromptu game behind the bleachers. The next day, the kids got to play a big game of their own.

Northwest Trojans Zackery Greenlee throws a pass during the Delta Youth Football League’s junior varsity championship against the Tracy Raiders at Lincoln High School’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2x: Lens: Nikkor 300mm . Exposure: F/ 9 @ 1/500, ISO 200)


The Stockton Bengals, left, and Tracy Cougars high-five each other
after the Delta Youth Football League’s novice championships held at
Lincoln High School’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2x: Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: F/ 6.3 @ 1/500, ISO 200)

On Saturday I covered the Delta Youth Football League held their championships at Lincoln’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. It was the Super Bowl of their league. The atmosphere held as much excitement as any high school football game I have ever attended. The large crowd was as vociferous as the game I shot the night before. Cheerleaders did their routines on the sidelines and the game had four refs covering the action. The kids got to play on a full-sized field with artificial turf. They only thing missing was a group of teenagers playing behind the bleachers.

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The big chill


(Camera: Nikon D2H: Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @17mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/250, ISO 800)


It always amazes me when I see football fans, on whatever level, pros, college, high school, braving the cold wearing little more than paint. During Friday night’s game, with the temperature was hovering in the low 40s, the shirtless wonders were out in force. I looked as if I was ready to knock over a liquor store, I was wearing a stout jacket (zipped all the way up), a wool stocking cap and wool, fingertip-less gloves. During the first half it all kept me warm enough. By the third quarter I was starting to feel the cold, but still able to ignore it.  In the fourth, it took a conscious effort to keep my knees from shivering. I looked over to the sidelines to the half-naked fanatics. A few were showing the signs of their exposure to the cold, but there were others still going strong. I don’t know how they do it. All I know is that I need a warmer jacket.

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Battle scars


(Camera: Nikon D2H: Lens:Nikkor  80-200mm @200mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/125, ISO 1000)

I played football in high school (go Delta Saints!) and after each game we would count and compare the scratches, scuffs and scrapes our helmets would accumulate. They showed how hard we played and the force with which we hit our opponents. The streaks and divots became symbols of our toughness and ferocity. The more marks, the more boastful one could be. Judging from Josh Banks’ helmet, it looks like he won bragging rights on the St. Mary’s team.

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Fanatic


MacKenzie Snider and her dad Kevin Snider cheer on the St. Mary’s team at home against Lincoln in the section semi final.  (Camera: Nikon D2H: Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 112mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/125, ISO 1600)

Both St. Mary’s and Lincoln have long standing traditions of winning football. Each side has their share of zealous fans. I don’t know about Lincoln, but it looks like St.Mary’s start theirs at a young age.

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The big game

Most of the prep high school games I’ve shot this season have been one-sided affairs. Only one or two were what could be called close. Friday night’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal game between rivals St. Mary’s High and Lincoln High schools made up for all those blowouts.

St. Mary’s Josh Harper leaves Lincoln’s Anthony Dials grasping at a missed tackle in the San Joaquin Section semi final at St. Mary’s High in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2x. Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/320, ISO 1250)

It was the first time that the two north Stockton rivals have ever met in the semifinals. When I talked with our reporters before the game, they said that the 11-1 St. Mary’s Rams were likely to win handily over the 8-3 Lincoln Trojans. They played each other earlier in the year during the regular season with St. Mary’s winning by about 30 points. I prepared myself for another lopsided game, but Lincoln showed that it would be anything but a cakewalk for their opponents.


Lincoln’s David Hayselden tries to escape the grasp of St Mary’s Sam Clark during a game at St Mary’s in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/800, ISO 3200)

After being scored on first, the Trojans came back and pulled ahead by a point in the early goings of the game. The Rams showed why they’re one of the top teams in the area and racked up a 10 point lead in the second quarter. But Lincoln never gave up. Even after being scored on, they thwarted every St. Mary’s PAT attempt during the game.


St. Mary’s QB Cody Vaz is hit by Lincoln’s Dan Wiggins in the first quarter of the section semi final. (Camera: Nikon D2x. Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/320, ISO 1250)

I covered a Lincoln practice a few days before the big game. At the end, head coach Jim Rubiales told his team that if their defense held St. Mary’s to 28 points or less, the Trojans had a shot at winning. The Lincoln defense rose to the occasion and didn’t allow another St. Mary’s point for the rest of the game.


St. Mary’s Sam Mafi celebrates their win over Lincoln in the section semi final. (Camera: Nikon D2H. Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/250, ISO 800)

The Trojans pulled within three points in the third period. It was close, but St. Mary’s defense also put out a great effort and held them off and the Rams went on to win the game 24-21.

Both teams played with skill, intensity and heart. It was a shame that only one of teams could win.

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Graceful living

“Tai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process.” – Chungliang Al Huang


(Camera: Nikon D2x. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/8 @1/250, ISO 200)

I like shooting tai chi. It’s slow, deliberate movements are graceful and yet dynamic at the same time.


(Camera: Nikon D2x. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/14 @1/250, ISO 200)

The other day I spotted George Chan of Stockton immersed in the controlled movements of the ancient Chinese martial arts exercise form. He was at Victory Park in Stockton practicing some new moves of Tai Chi Qigong. Chan said it emphasizes the breathing and energy flow aspects of the form rather than the combat-based Tai Chi Chuan.


(Camera: Nikon D2x. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: f/8 @1/250, ISO 200)

What I find most appealing, photographically, is that the people practicing it are totally in the moment. Concentrating on perfecting their motions they seem to block out everything else, unconscious of the elegant beauty of their movements.

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Background check


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: f/8.0 @ 1/500, ISO 400)

A general rule of thumb in photography is that the eye will go to the lightest part of the picture.
So what can you do when you have unwanted light areas in the scene you’re photographing?


(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: f/8.0 @ 1/500, ISO 400)

I liked the sunlight illuminating the fronds of this palm tree sapling at Louis Park in Stockton. It wasn’t really something we’d run in the paper, but I liked the simple beauty of the photo. It was fine just the way it was shot, but I found the light background a little distracting. To get a dark background, I simply set my black camera bag a couple of feet behind the palm, enough to throw it out of focus. It was a quick and easy way to help the fronds pop out from the background and change the look of the photo.

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Grief

“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak” -  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Ceclia Duarte,left, and her daughter Alma Jimenez attend a candlelight vigil for Duarte’s son Jose Jimenez who was gunned down four years ago at the USA gas station on Charter Way and Grant Street in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/15, ISO 800)

Some of the hardest assignments that we do as photojournalists are ones that deal with grief. Accidents, fires, homicides all have the potential for us to encounter someone’s sorrow. These situations are at best difficult to photograph. At The Record, we always try be as tactful and discrete as possible.


Ceclia Duarte lights a candle at a small shrine made for her son Jose Jimenez who was gunned down four years ago at the USA gas station on Charter Way and Grant Street in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/6, ISO 800)

Some people ask why do we do it all. For one, it’s our job. We’re there to tell the story of what happened and how it affects the people involved. Coming back empty-handed isn’t an option. Secondly, when I cover these events, I try to say something about the person who is being grieved. I try to show that he or she was a son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother.  I want them to be more than a statistic. That they were loved and will be missed by family and friends.
The most powerful way to do that is through faces the living.


Ceclia Duarte, right, is comforted by Myrna Leon during a candlelight vigil for Duarte’s son Jose Jimenez who was gunned down four years ago at the USA gas station on Charter Way and Grant Street in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 155mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @ 1/15, ISO 1250)

Sometimes those images that make the most impact are the ones hardest to take as well as view.
It’s a fine and difficult line that we walk but to bring the reader something meaningful, we must always try our best.

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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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