Cold cash


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 33mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200)


Each of the 21 windows on the observation deck of Coit Tower has a pane of glass covering them. Looking down, I could see hundreds of coins from every part of the world resting on the wide window sills. Visitors to the tower slide them through the thin crack between the glass and the wall.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

From the looks of things, the windows weren’t part of the original design. Mounted on the inside of the tower, they have that aftermarket feel. My guess is that they were put in to keep people from tossing coins onto the unsuspecting tourists below.

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Wall to wall

“Like tourists huffing and puffing to reach the peak, we forget the view on the way up” – Friedrich Nietzsche


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Floor to-ceiling fresco murals cover the walls of Coit Tower’s rotunda foyer. Painted in the 1930s as a New Deal Public Works of Art federal employment for artists project, they feature scenes of California life during the Great Depression era.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Being a photojournalist, one of my favorite details was of a couple of newspaper photographers with old Speed Graphic cameras in hand, rushing to get the shot of a car accident.

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

I was also interested in the scene of the San Francisco Chronicle (complete with reporters, editors and typesetters). Given the state of the industry, a long-time newspaper employee can get wistful for days gone by.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Another interesting detail was the man being mugged on the street in broad daylight. I think it’s interesting that the artists depicted the bad with good. I wonder if a government sponsored art project today would have the same freedom.

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A view from the top

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

Telegraph hill climbs 275 feet above the bay in San Francisco. One of the City’s most noted landmarks is Coit Tower, which rises another 210 feet from the crest of the hill and can be seen from around the bay.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 24mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

The view from the base of the
tower was at one time spectacular, but the trees from surrounding
Pioneer Park have grow so tall that even the coin-activated binoculars
on the ground are all but useless. There are only a few gaps that offer
any kind of a view.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

The top, however, offers a
breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the City. From the windows that
ring the crown of the concrete tower, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges,
the Transamerica Building, Pier 39, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Angel
Island and more can be seen.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/16. ISO: 200)

I’m always looking for different angles or my shots, sometimes the more extreme, the better. It’s hard to get a better angle than from the top of Coit Tower

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A crowd pleaser


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm w/ 1.4 extender. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200)

With all the different sights and attractions that San Francisco has to offer, it’s ironic that one of the biggest crowds we saw was gathered around something that’s considered a nuisance. Tourists were lined up, at times two deep, to get a picture of or just to watch the seals basking on the docks at Pier 39. Maybe Stockton can import a few dozen of the marine mammals and park them in McLeod Lake as a part of downtown’s revitalization.

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Location, location, location


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 34mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/9. ISO: 200)

The Palace of Fine Arts is located in the Marina District of San Francisco. It was designed by architect Ronald Maybeck for the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915. During our visit, the large Roman/Greek style rotunda was enveloped in scaffolding due to a renovation project, but the view of the majestic colonnades was still unobstructed.


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


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Across the lagoon that is located to the east of the palace, closely placed houses line Baker and Bay Streets. Each home has a great view of the serene and stately palace as well as the lagoon and the narrow park area that surrounds it.

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 110mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

We saw a “for sale” sign on the house at 2427 Bay Street. It got us to wondering how much real estate like this would cost? I looked it up online. The four bedroom, three bath house features living and dining rooms, a breakfast nook, media room, a deck, kitchen with pantry, walk-in closets and a two-car tandem garage. If you’re looking to move to cooler climes or want a summer house, it is listed at an easy $3,995,000.

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Color and light


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

“We may explore the universe and find ourselves, or we may explore ourselves and find the universe. It matters not which of these paths we choose.” –
Diana Robinson


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

One of the attractions we specifically wanted to see in San Francisco was the Exploratorium. Housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, it features hundreds of hands-on science exhibits that’s fun for both young and old. We spent several hours there and still didn’t see everything. There were experiments that explored sound, motion, magnetism and more. Being a photographer, my favorite part was a section that dealt with visual perception and light.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/3.2. ISO: 800)

One exhibit gave masks to users who were asked to match their bodies’ postures with facial expressions of the masks.

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Another placed a large opaque globe over the wearers’ head which kind of made them look like the robot “Marvin” from the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The globe changed hues as an experiment on how color affects mood.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 34mm. Exposure: 1/8th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

There was a display of spinning LED lights that was mesmerizing. I’m not sure what it’s purpose was, but it was cool to watch.

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Touristas

“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” - Russell Baker


A flock of pelicans flies past Alcatraz on the San Francisco Bay. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/10. ISO: 200)


Tourists have their picture taken on Lombard Street in San Francisco. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 135mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)


Cars travel down the so-called “Crookedest Street in the World”,  Lombard Street in San Francisco. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 110mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)


A sailboat rides the wind across San Francisco Bay as the sun sets in the west. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

During my vacation, my family and I decided to stay relatively close to home and take in the sights of San Francisco. Although it’s just a few hours away, it’s been several years since we visited the City by the Bay. It was sort a spur of the moment trip, so we had no real plans or itinerary. We decided to hit up the tourists spots. From Fisherman’s Wharf to Coit Tower, we tried to get in as many of the hot spots as we could. We only had a few days, so we couldn’t see everything, but it was nice just to get away from the valley heat and get a great view of the bay.


Tourists visit Pier 39 in San Francisco. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 70mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 400)


A tourist bounces on a bungee line at Pier 39 in San Francisco. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 400)


Tourists visit Pier 39 in San Francisco. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 400)

We were amazed at the amount of foreign tourists in the City. Perhaps it was because of the weak dollar, but it seemed like we heard a different language or accent at every turn. One thing most foreign tourists had in common was how they were dressed. The weather was relatively warm for San Francisco, in the 70s. Light jackets, sweaters or sweatshirts over t-shirts and jeans or shorts must have been an international dress code because that’s what everyone was wearing. Or it could have been the dress code for tourists because that’s how we were dressed as well.

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Blast from the past: Equipment check

4/10/1997: We were invited by the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Department on a prostitution sting. Hooker decoys were set out along Wilson Way in Stockton, waiting for men to proposition them. A reporter and I were set up in an unmarked van with a team of deputies to monitor the situation from about a half-block away.

Shooting through heavily tinted windows, I guesstimated the exposure (remember, this was back in the days of film, no “chimping”). The only restriction that the sheriffs put on us was that we didn’t identify the decoys who were working under cover.

It didn’t take long for a “John” to pull up. Fortunately, he parked in just the right spot for me to get a shot that included a sign on the side of a U-Haul truck in the lot next door. He might have been looking for a discount deal, but I’m sure he got more than what he bargained for.

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Blast from the past: Right of way


(Camera: Nikon D2H. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 100mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)


07/05/2006: Where do you park a 27-ton tank? Anywhere you want to. I shot sgt. first class Thomas Lane driving an M-109 Alpha Self-propelled Howitzer down Turner Road through Lodi. Lane was returning the artillery piece to its home at the National Guard armory on Stockton Street in Lodi after it was on display for the Fourth of July celebration at Lodi Lake. How you like to see that in your rearview mirror on your daily commute?

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Blast from the past: Face value

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception” – Groucho Marx


(Camera Nikon D1H. Lens: Nikkor 500mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec. @ f/ 7.1. ISO 200)

7/20/2003: I shot Stockton Ports’ pitcher Richard Gilbert throwing during a game against the Modesto A’s at Billy Hebert Field in Stockton. After each throw Gilbert would screw up his face in a bizarre wide-eyed sneer. Maybe he was trying to scare the batters into missing the ball.

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  • Blog Authors

    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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