Board dog


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm@ 95mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

Several weeks ago Tillman, the skateboarding dog made an appearance at a promotional event for Carter’s Pet Mart in Stockton. Never having seen the dog perform before I was a bit skepitcal at it’s abilities. After all, I thought it would be relatively easy to teach a dog to stand on a skateboard and just give him a push.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm@ 75mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

There was a big crowd gathered in the parking lot in front of the store, probably tripling the amount of cars on a normal day. Sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods he’s on tour in a large motorhome with his owner Ron Davis. An area about 100 feet by 50 feet was roped off for the English bulldog’s performance. Davis took a skate board out of a compartment in the side of the motorhome and Tillman was beside himself with excitement. He lept two feet off the ground trying to get at the board which Davis held at about shoulder height.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm@ 75mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm@ 75mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

Davis then forcefully rolled the board across the pavement and Tillman took off in hot pursuit. He caught up with it, and while still running, he put a paw on the board. A couple more gallops and he hopped on. The dog swayed back an forth causing the skateboard to rock, even lifting a wheel occasionally. I swear if a dog could smile, Tillman was doing it.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm@ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

If Tillman was smiling, so was the crowd who enjoyed his skating antics. At the end of the performance, the 13-year-old Chealsey Allmon of Stockton wanted an autograph. Davis held the hefty canine up and planted a dirt paw print on the girl’s cheek.

Posted in Animals, Event, Feature, Humor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tiny bubbles

“…Under the sea
Darling it’s better
Down where it’s wetter
Take it from me…”
-Under the sea by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

Shooting underwater pictures is always problematic. Water is not compatible with the sophisticated mechanics and electronics of a camera. In the days of film, one of the most popular options was the Nikonos underwater camera introduced by Nikon in 1963. Though a scale focus camera (meaning you didn’t look through the lens, but through a viewfinder unrelated to the lens), It had a set of interchangeable lenses and accessories like flashes that could be used beneath the waves. In today’s digital age, the Nikonos is no longer produced.

Today the main option is to use an underwater housing to protect the camera. One of the main concerns is making sure the housing’s gaskets are properly placed and seals are secure. Another is cost. Many can be far more than the camera itself.

A low-cost option is using a small fish tank as an impromptu housing. The tank is held in the water so that part of it was below the water line while the top opening is above. The camera is placed in the dry tank and is fired by reaching down into it, al the while making sure no water gets in. The limitations are that it only gets you about a foot or so under the surface, and you can’t really see through the camera’s viewfinder, which makes focusing a challenge.

I recently shot an underwater photo that employed “none of the above” and didn’t cost me a dime.


(Camera: Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/ 14 w/fill-flash. ISO:100)

I had an assignment to take a portrait of Delta College water polo player Evan Folz, who is second in the state in scoring goals with 62. Somehow wires got crossed and Folz didn’t know I was coming. He had strained his shoulder, so he went home early from practice. The coach, Mike Maroney, was kind enough to call Folz on his cellphone. He was almost home but agreed to return to Delta’s June Fergusson Pool for the picture.

The practice was over, and Maroney had to leave, so I waited for Folz by myself. I used the time to think about how I’d shoot Folz’s portrait. It was late in the afternoon and the low sun glistened off the water. So I thought about incorporating that into the picture. I had been to Fergusson Pool countless times before, but, as I waited, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before.

In the northeast corner of the pool, about 4 to 5 feet below the water line, was a dark rectangle, roughly 4 feet by 3 feet, set into the wall of the pool. It looked like a small window. Pacific’s Chris Kjeldsen Memorial Pool used to have one that looked out from a small room below the deck before a recent renovation eliminated it.


(Camera: Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5 w/fill-flash. ISO:100)

The wheels turned in my head, and soon Folz soon arrived. He quickly changed into his swimsuit, and I got a couple of shots of him using my first idea. He pulled himself up at the pool’s edge and with sunlight gleaming off the water and used an off-camera strobe to fill in the shadows. I then asked him if those rectangles were indeed windows, to which he said yes. We found someone who had keys to a nearby door which led to a narrow spiral staircase. I climbed down into a small room and saw that there were actually two identical windows on each wall of the corner, one being hidden from my angle of view from up above.


(Camera: Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 19mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5 w/fill-flash. ISO:100)

Folz slowly submerged himself and, through the window, I fired off a few frames, using a strobe to help offset the deep blue tinge of the surrounding water. The thick double-paned glass reflected the strobe back at myself, so I pressed both flash and camera up against the glass to eliminate the reflections. The photo was a bit static and needed a little something more. I wanted just a little splash of color in the photo so I had him take down a ball with him. The ball’s buoyancy made it difficult for Folz to stay under the water, so instead of serenely drifting down to the window’s level, he had to forcefully kick to get there. This created a swirl of bubbles that at first worried me that they’d get in the way. But they actually added something to the picture, almost as if he was swimming through champagne.

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A quarter century


St. Mary’s High athletes Chelsea Gray, rear left, Afure Jemerigbe, Alle Moreno, front left, and Madeline Kennedy pose for pictures by family and friends before they signed letters of intent at the school (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

Yesterday was my 25th anniversary of working at The Record (the accompanying photos are from the day’s take). In many ways it still seems like yesterday that The Record took in a young, wet-behind-the-ears photographer and gave him a chance to learn and practice his craft. Like any job, it has had its ups and downs, but mostly I can say that I’ve really enjoyed what I do, where I work and who I work with.


St. Mary’s Leah Figone hits a backhand against Turlock’s Elise Cusenza during a singles match of the San Joaquin Section tennis tournament held at In-Shape Sports Club in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600).

Stockton and San Joaquin County have been kind to me, its people have always been friendly and open. The population has grown in my quarter century here, but the area still maintains a small-town neighborliness.


Owner Lorraine Hitchcock tends to a display at her store Beyond Pots and Pans in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

Although these are troubling times for the newspaper industry, I’m proud to be associated with the professional journalists at The Record. If I work hard and strive for excellence, it’s because I see the others around me working their tails off and doing quality work.


Employee Kyrstin Stewart waits on customers during lunch at Whirlows on the Miracle Mile in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

In contrast to the hard times for newspapers, this has been an exciting era in photography. With the advent of digital cameras, changes seem to abound almost daily. It’s helped to keep me on my toes, my mind fresh and a youthful outlook on photography in general and photojournalism specifically. Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned so much, not just about newspaper photography, but journalism as well. I’ve been able to do things that I had never even dreamed of doing 25 years ago — this blog for one, which has turned into an opportunity to write a weekly Saturday column for the paper. I’m more excited about my job than ever.


Defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks goes through a drill during practice with the Delta College Mustangs in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

It’s a good thing too, because even after yesterday’s load of five assignments, I’m ready for another 25 years.

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Leftovers

The Sly Park trip couldn’t have been timed better. The Autumn hues gave the landscape a rich and colorful beauty before the snowy cold of winter’s arrival (yes, they have camps, and the hikes that go along with them, during the snow season). Here are some of my favorite outtakes from the trip.


Indirect sunlight reflects off the water of Park Creek at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 46mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).


A dogwood tree grows at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 195mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 400).


Mountain misery grows along a trail at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 400).


Cottonwood trees grow at Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 20mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).


A black oak leaf hangs in a tree at Sly Park (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200).


The sun breaks through a dogwood tree at Sly Park  (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 400).


Black oak leaves turn brown on a tree at Sly Park. (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 400).


The sky breaks through the canopy of trees at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 400).


Light falls on a pine cone found at Sly Park near Pollock Pines. (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 400).


A dried big leaf maple leaf at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 70-200mm @ 180mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8 ISO: 200).

Posted in Nature, vacation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Night shift

I’ve seen shots of the night sky filled with stars, the Milky Way airbrushed across the heavens. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at getting a similar shot, but I’ve been foiled in my attempts to get a starry night shot. I needed to shoot from a location in a lightly populated area to lessen the effects of light pollution. I tried in the hills of Southern Oregon on a trip to my sister-in-law’s house, but stormy skies blocked the view of the stars. Then I tried on a vacation trip to Half Moon Bay along the central coast, but thick nightly fog was the culprit there.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 40 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

I thought that Sly Park, with its elevation of about 3,500 feet, would provide skies that were clear enough and conditions dark enough for night photography. There were even a couple of opportunities to get some night shots. One was an optional astronomy class held at night, the other was a planned night hike.

Because of some snafu in chaperone scheduling, I was the only adult watching over the 18 students in my cabin. All the other cabins had 22 kids, but they had at least two “cabin leaders,” as we were called.

Wednesday was the Astronomy session, and most of the students in my cabin attended, but not all. That meant I had to stay behind to watch the kids who didn’t go. So much for my night shot. My group’s night hike the next evening was my last chance of the trip.

When we left on our hike at about 8 p.m. to a meadow about a half-mile away, a waxing gibbous moon (nearly full, in other words), blazed in the sky. Even on a trail with a canopy of trees, the moon provided enough light so that we didn’t need flashlights to see where we were going.

The coldly shining orb was so bright that its light scattered in the crisp mountain air and it was almost as bad as light pollution from city streetlamps, but I decided to try anyway. I set up my camera on a tripod and took several exposures ranging from 30 seconds to a minute. I wanted to try to use some longer times to turn the stars’ pinprick dots of light into streaks arcing across the sky, but it was so bright out, I figured I had pushed it as far as I could already.

After about an hour in the dark, we headed back for our final night in our cabin. I managed to a couple of decent shots, but they weren’t as good as I thought they could be. Missing were the subtle shadings of our galaxy’s edge and the finer more distant stars. I’ll just have to follow the old adage and try, try again.

Posted in Nature, Night, Techniques, vacation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Slices of light


Sunlight breaks through the trees on a trail at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 37mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200).

On some of the Sly Park hikes, we were deep in the El Dorado National Forest, so much so that there were parts where very little direct sunlight made it the ground. The dim and diffused light cast a grey pall over almost everything and what color there was was subtle and subdued.


The sun illuminates a dogwood tree (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec, @ f.5.6. ISO: 200).


Bark beetle trails left on a fallen Ponderosa Pine (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 54mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).


A black oak grows at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200).

However, occasional gaps in the trees would let in shafts of light to bring slices of illumination into the forest. Some were so small that perhaps only a single leaf on a tree would be set aglow.


Black oaks grow behind a stand of incense cedar trees (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/160th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).


Light shines on a dogwood leaf (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200).


Bare incense cedar branches along a trail at Sly Park (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 48mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

Sometimes the light would cut through and skim along the lower dead branches of the incense cedars and Douglas firs to create a spooky scene befitting the nearness of the Halloween season. Other times the trees acted like a picket fence separating the darker forest from some of the larger sunlit openings. Other times still, a beam of light would fall on a tree turing to its autumnal colors and bring brightness to otherwise drab surroundings.


Sunlight skims off the bark of an incense cedar tree (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 54mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200).


A big leaf maple grows at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200).

Even though there wasn’t much light on some of our hikes, the light that was there was dramatic in its effect.

Posted in Light, Nature, vacation | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Hike price


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Every year my son’s school sends sixth graders who want to go to a week-long environmental science camp at Sly Park Environmental Education Center near Pollack Pines. Run by the Sacramento County Office of Education, it’s open to schools from outside the county as well.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/4.5. ISO: 400)

I was one of several chaperones who accompanied about 100 students on the trip a couple of weeks ago. Part of the curriculum at the camp were several hikes through the woods surrounding the facility. The students were separated into several hiking groups.

(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Our group’s first trip was a two-mile hike, round trip, to nearby Park Creek, led by the Sly Park teacher who went by “Wild Ginger.” “I can do two miles easily” I thought.  What Ginger failed to say that it was two miles nearly straight up and down.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

One way, with all the switchbacks on the trail, the total distance was about a mile, but I estimated the as-the-crow-flies distance at only about one-quarter to one-half mile. Within that space, the elevation dropped about 1,000 feet. It started out flat enough for the first 100 yards or so, then sloped precipitously. At the sight of the trail’s steepness, one boy kept saying “I think we should turn back now” nearly the whole way down.


Indirect sunlight reflects off the water of Park Creek at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 400).

Temperatures were forecasted to be about 20 degrees lower than the Valley, and indeed, with the exception of  the first day, which was relatively warm, the temperatures plummeted about 20 degrees into the 50s for the highs and the 30s for the lows. The cool weather was actually an advantage. With all the physical exertion, we all soon began to heat up. Coats and sweatshirts were soon removed and the cool air kept us comfortable.


Water flows at Park Creek at Sly Park (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/4th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 100).

With knees aching and thigh muscles burning, the descent took us about 45 minutes. Concentrating on the trail, I missed a lot of the surrounding scenery, but we were rewarded with nature’s beauty when we reached the bottom. The creek flowed into a small natural dam that pooled the cold water into a shallow pond. The area, about 50 yards in length, was mostly in shadow, but sunlight bounced off of a stand of dogwood and big leaf maple trees whose leaves were turning a bright yellow, about 100 yards away. The colors reflected off the nearly still waters of the pool and created a soft golden glow.


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

The students clambered on the rocks, did a little gold panning, face-painted with sandstone rocks that when wet, created colors and generally took in the beauty of the surroundings. All too soon, it was time to head back the way we came, up the steep trail. The students as well as another chaperone and I weren’t looking forward to the trip back up, but Ginger had a plan.


Emily Aranda walks past a stand of dogwood trees at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

She went up first and laid laminated index cards on the trail every 10 yards or so. Each had a different activity, such as smelling the bark of an incense cedar or looking up at a certain point to see birds’ nests. It helped to keep the kid’s minds off of the climb back up. The kids were sent back up one by one  spaced about 20 to 30 yards apart. It was up to my fellow chaperone and me to bring up the rear and pick up the cards. Soon we were huffing and puffing, legs and lungs burning. About halfway up, one of the cards read: “How do you feel right now?” I don’t think Ginger really wanted to hear the choice words that were going through my mind right then.

1105ParkCreekHike_008(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

We finally made it to a flat area near the top where the rest of the group was waiting for us. It was at an intersection with another trail, and another group passed us up on their way back to the cabins. Lagging behind were their chaperones, one clearly having trouble with the hike, the other staying with her for moral support.


Aaron Kitade walks among some fallen big leaf maple leaves on a trail at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/50th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200).

The longest hikes were the 2-mile outing to Park Creek and a 5-mile trek to Jenkinson Lake. The longer hike probably had the same elevation change as the shorter one, but proved easier because it was spread over a greater distance, thus giving the participants more of an opportunity to rest.


Eden Wong, left, and Grace Tan walk a trail on the lake hike at Sly Park near Pollock Pines (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/28. ISO: 200).

The Sly Park Web site says that the trails vary in length and steepness and adult chaperones should be able to walk “three miles at a steady pace.”  It says nothing about how difficult the hikes can be. If it did, I’m guessing there would be a lot fewer adults willing to serve as chaperones.

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15-gun salute


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 116mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

At Army specialist Kyle Coumas’s funeral United States Army Honor guard performed a 21-gun salute as well as serving as pall bearers. The gun bearers stood outside the church and waited for their cue to start firing. It was curious, but there were only five of them. I’m no genius in math, but even I quickly realized that there’s no way that five can be divided into 21 evenly. I thought that perhaps a couple of the pall bearers would join them when the time came to shoot.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

The signal was given near the end of the service, but no others joined the group. All five aimed, fired three volleys and were finished. No other shots were fired to make up the 6-shot shortfall. I suppose to the people inside the church, five rifles probably sounded a lot like seven, but I found it a bit curious there wasn’t a full complement of soldiers present.

I’ve covered a number of events, from funerals to memorials, where the 21-gun salute has been part of the ceremony. I’ve seen it performed by active military, like Coumas’ funeral, to veterans from the local VFW group. The one thing in common was it was always done with seven guns.

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Window of opportunity

In covering military funerals, I’ve been to some where the media has nearly unfettered access to others where we’re tightly controlled. It’s usually the decision of the families involved, and we respect that. Still, our job is to get the best stories and photos to present the event with emotional impact, regardless of the restrictions.


United States Army Honor Guard carry in the casket of Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas at his funeral at Century Assembly Church in Lodi. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

At the funeral for Army specialist Kyle Coumas, killed in action near Kandahar, Afghanistan, news media photographers weren’t allowed inside Century Assembly Church in Lodi.  The three of us, an NBC videographer from the Bay Area, Jerry Tyson from the Lodi News-Sentinel and myself, positioned ourselves near the front door to get Coumas’ flag-draped casket being carried in by Army pallbearers. A bagpiper played, and stoically his family and friends quietly followed and the doors were closed. It all happened within just a couple of minutes with very little to shoot to convey the gravity of the event.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

The videographer packed up his equipment and left, but Tyson and I decided to stay. After about an hour or so, the service ended. Bagpipes wheezed again, Coumas’ coffin was wheeled out, and his loved ones followed. The hearse was opened, and the Army honor guard that had carried him in gently picked up the casket and with respectful precision placed him in the back.

Looking to get a little different angle, I took a chance and quietly moved around so that the hearse was between me and the funeral goers. I could see Coumas’ parents, Greg and Lori Coumas, though the window of the hearse’s open backdoor as the soldiers placed their son’s casket the vehicle. They still were emotionally staid, but because of the framing of the window and its curtains, there was a certain solemnity to the picture that conveyed a feeling of loss and a certain finality.

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Respects


United States Army Honor Guard stands ready as pallbearers for the casket of Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas at his funeral at Century Assembly Church in Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).


From the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it seems that our area has had more than its share of military casualties, and I’ve covered a number of funerals.  In a way, both newspaper and television coverage can help a wider audience to participate in paying their respects to the men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.


United States Army Honor Guard carry in the casket of Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas at his funeral at Century Assembly Church in Lodi. (Camer: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 130mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).


The funerals I’ve covered have all had a lot of media attention. Usually there are photographers and reporters from multiple papers as well as TV coverage from Sacramento and the Bay Area. I’ve been to some where it was hard to move around without stepping on another photographer or reporter.


Students from Century Christian School line Century Boulevard in Lodi for the funeral of Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200).

It was different for the Lodi funeral of Army specialist Kyle Coumas, who was killed in action near Kandahar, Afghanistan. There were just three of us representing the news media: the Lodi News-Sentinel photographer Jerry Tyson, a videographer from the NBC affiliate out of San Francisco and myself.


The United States Army Honor Guard escorts the casket of Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas out of the Century Assembly Church in Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 110mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200).


I wondered where the people from the other papers and stations were. Granted, our access was limited to photographing only the casket and family going in and out of Century Assembly Church, but I still figured there would have been more interest.


Greg and Lori Coumas, the parents of Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas are comforted by Captain Bruce Corum, center, as his casket is placed in a hearse after his funeral at Century Assembly Church in Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200).

Perhaps they thought that a death of a single soldier is no longer newsworthy. Indeed, even my pictures were published in our Local section on page A3 (We did run his body’s return to the area on Page 1 a few days earlier). Have we all become inured to the tragic the loss of a soldier? Are we tired of having to cover yet another fallen soldier?


Alfred Nicolini, right and brother, Paul Nicolini, both of Lodi, hold up flags to honor Lockeford soldier Kyle Coumas during his funeral at Century Assembly Church in Lodi (Came
ra: Nikon D300. Lens: 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

I believe that for as long as we ask our servicemen and women to be in harm’s way on our behalf, we should pay our respects any way we can.

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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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