Superstitions

“Very superstitious,
Writing’s on the wall,
Very superstitious,
Ladders ’bout to fall,
Thirteen month old baby,
Broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck,
The good things in your past”- Superstitious- Stevie Wonder

Some superstitions are based in common sense. You don’t want to go walking under a ladder because you might get hit in the head by a hammer or a can of paint. Others are more mysterious. I don’t know why putting a hat on a bed would lead to bad luck.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 80mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/6.3 w/SB-800 flash. ISO: 100)

My 14-year-old daughter came home with a new one recently. She was told by a friend that sticking your chopsticks in your rice is bad luck. It’s something I’ve done all my life and this was the first time I’ve heard anything about it. I can’t really see the reasoning behind it. I doubt if anybody’s going to lose an eye or something, nor can I see how any evil spirits could be summoned by the chopsticks. But then maybe that’s why I haven’t won the Lotto.

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April review

To me at least, April seems to have come and gone in a flash. Spring seems to just have barely started and now here we are, nearly at Summer’s doorstep. Here are some of my favorite photos from April.

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4/2/10:

Chandler Stewart of Stockton keeps his 9-year-old daughter Sydney warm by wrapping her up in his jacket while they waited in line to buy movie tickets at the City Centre Cinemas in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm w/1.7 extender @ 340mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/4.8. ISO: 400).

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4/3/10:


Children rush left field to claim their Easter eggs during a hunt at the Fan Fest at the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

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4/5/10:


Photographer Rich Turner is having a showing of his pictures of the Delta at the Tidewater art gallery in downtown in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200).

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4/6/10:

University of the Pacific student Kelie Chiu of San Diego takes advantage of the sunny day to do some studying on the retaining wall to Knoles Field on the UOP campus in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm w/1.7 extender @ 340mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/13. ISO: 200).

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4/7/10:

City of Stockton facilities maintenance department employee Roye Severson uses a torch to work on a steel form in repairing the concrete benches at the Pacific Little League baseball diamonds at Victory Park in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/16. ISO: 200).


Bishop Rufus Turner started the Victory in Praise Church in Stockton 15 years ago (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

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4/8/10:


Delta College student Alyssa Meza painted “Barefoot for a Cause” on her feet went as she went without shoes to draw awareness to the serious health hazards posed by the lack of footwear in developing countries. Meza organized a march round the school to highlight the cause (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200).


About 2 dozen Delta College students march barefoot at around the college’s Stockton campus as they wait for a march to begin. Organized by fellow student Alyssa Meza, they went without shoes to draw awareness to the serious health hazards posed by the lack of footwear in developing countries (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Sigma 14mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/10. ISO: 200).

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4/12/10:


Raindrops cover UOP student Joelle Aud’s umbrella as she walks to class on the university’s campus in Stockton Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200).

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4/19/10:


A Stockton firefighter uses a road flare to start dried brush on fire for a controlled burn on the dry portion of Mormon Slough on California Street and Hazelton Avenue in downtown Stockton Camera: Nikon D300.Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm w/1.7 extender @ 340mm. Exposure: 1/800th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 400).

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High fives

At a recent Stockton Ports baseball game against the Inland Empire 66ers, Ports’ catcher Petey Paramore hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the third inning. Jeremy Barfield, who made it to first ahead of Paramore on a walk, crossed home plate and waited to congratulate his teammate.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm w/1.7 extender @ 500mm. Exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/4.8. ISO: 400)

As Paramore approached both he and Barfield raised their right hands in preparation of a celebratory gesture. But as the gap between them closed Paramore’s hand was opened up for a high five while Barfield’s remained closed, ready for a forearm bump. When they connected it was an awkward hybrid of the two.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm w/1.7 extender @ 500mm. Exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/4.8. ISO: 400)

Along with the high-five and forearm bump there’s also the fist bump, chest bump and butt pat, among others. Some go in and out of fashion while new ones are invented from time to time. My personal favorite is one that I’ve seen volleyball players do. A double high-five is swept down in a single continuous motion to a dual simultaneous clap at the bottom of the arc.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm w/1.7 extender @ 500mm. Exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/4.8. ISO: 400)

One of the things that they have in common is that no one can give a definitive answer to where they started or who started them. Who knows, maybe Paramore and Barfield’s slip may become the next fad in sports celebrations?

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Rain or shine


Stockton Port’s Murphy Smith throws against the Inland Empire 66ers during a game at the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

“…Football is played in any kind of weather. Rain, sleet, snow, hail and mud. Can’t read numbers on the field, can’t read the yard markers, can’t read the players’ numbers, the struggle will continue. In baseball, if it rains, we don’t come out to play. ‘I can’t come out to play, it’s raining out!’” – George Carlin


The ground crew unfurls a tarp over the infield at the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/640th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200).

It’s strange, but after 25 years, I’ve never had a baseball game that I was shooting stopped due to rain. Oh, there have been games that I have been assigned to that were canceled before I even got there due the weather. There have been others where it just sprinkled lightly and play continued until the rain stopped. I’m talking about a game that has to be halted after it has already begun. I estimate that I’ve done hundreds of games from youth leagues to the pros, and it’s never happened to me until recently. In fact, the weather has been so fickle lately, it’s happened to me twice in as many weeks.


Stockton Ports employees watch the rain come down during a delay in the game between the Stockton Ports and the Inland Empire 66ers at the Banner Island Ball Park in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 400).

Two weeks ago, at the top of the first inning of a game between the Stockton Ports and the Inland Empire 66ers, with one out and a man on first, a rain shower poured down and stopped play of the midday game. The grounds crew unfurled a tarp to cover the infield and everyone waited for the rain to subside. About an hour later, the sun came out, albeit through partly cloudy skies, and the game resumed, though most of the already-sparse crowd had left.


2-year-old Sofia Melissare of Livermore wore a red rain slicker to keep dry while attending the Stockton Ports game against the Inland Empire 66ers at the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200).


Charles Danner keeps dry uner an umbrella during a rain shower while watching the Stockton Ports play the Inland Empire 66ers at the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 400).

I shot about 3-1/2 more innings when it started to sprinkle again. I looked off to the west and saw ominous dark clouds moving in. I had gotten a couple of action shots, so I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and headed back to the office. After a second stoppage, the game was finally finished with the Ports losing 9-5.


Stockton Port’s Dusty Napoleon slides into second as Inland Empire 66ers Chris Gutierrez prepares to throw to first during a game at the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton. Napoleon was out but broke up the double play (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200).

Last week, at the start of a Pacific softball game against U.C. Davis at Simoni Field in Stockton, a shower caught everyone off guard. It was the third and final game of a series that started more than two weeks ago but was postponed due to, you guessed it, bad weather


Lorraine Sarale and Roger Davey protect themselves from a rain shower with an umbrella while attending a University of the Pacific softball game against UC Davis at Pacific’s Simoni Field in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200).

Just before I got to UOP I could see the downpour moving in from the east as II drove on I-5. I could also tell that the storm cell was small and wasn’t going to last very long. The officials on the field didn’t have that advantage with near by A.A. Stagg Memorial Stadium blocking their view eastward. When I arrived at the field grounds crews rushed to cover the pitchers mound and batters box as large drops pelted down. The shower lasted about 10-15 minutes after I got there. The game was pushed back about half an hour. The rains stopped, the clouds parted, sunshine radiated down and the game started.

University of the Pacific’s Nikki Armagost throws a pitch during a softball game against UC Davis at Pacific’s Simoni Field in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300. Exposure: 1/2000th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

Like the Ports, the Tigers lost and I got rained on again. I guess there’s some truth in the saying “when it rains, it pours.”

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Blue hour in reverse


A woman raises her hands up during the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

I’ve talked about the so-called “blue hour” that’s the holy grail for many night photographers. It’s the time just after the sun sets below the horizon and the last remnants of light have faded away when the sky turns a deep indigo. Skylines and trees can still have some definition while capturing glowing city lights. After the blue hour is up, the sky fades into darkness and along with it that beautiful hue.


People attending the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service hold up their hands in prayer during the service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 140mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600).

Most photographers wait for the evening for this to happen, but in truth the “blue hour” occurs in the time before sunrise as well. I think most people, like me, they would wait for the sun to go down rather than wake up early in the morning for the sun to come up. Nearly everyone is awake at sunset, but few are fully conscious at what my photo instructors used to call “Oh-dark-hundred” in the morning.


Pastor Ernie Jordan speaks at the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 155mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600).


Alma Gutierrez of Stockton bundles up against the cold at the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 800).

A few weeks ago I shot the mutli-denominational Easter Sunrise service at the Weber Point Event Center under the park’s sail-like shade structure in downtown Stockton. The event started at 6 a.m., when the early morning skies were still night-like, black as coal. CIty street lights twinkled in a warm orangish glow, and the white panels of the tent structure, always illuminated at night, seemed like a light oasis in the inky darkness.


People attend the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/50th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 800).


Sherrie Woodward sings at the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/50th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

Prayers and preachers were on the program, and about 20 minutes into the event the sky slowly began to transition from a stygian blackness to a deep dark blue. A few minutes later the sky, now only a slightly lighter shade of blue, revealed a thick blanket of clouds. This was the perfect blue-hour moment. I could balance the lights of the tent with the cobalt blue of the sky.


Pastor George Cresencia speaks at the 11th annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 140mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec @ f/4. ISO: 800).


Louisa Tahod of Stockton, holds up her hands in prayer during the service held at the Weber Point Event Center in downtown Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 140mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

When New Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor George Cresencia delivered the sermon at about 6:40 a.m. the sky was lightening, but it was still a pretty shade of blue. It seemed to getting brighter exponentially now. It was almost as if it grew brighter and brighter with each word Cresencia spoke. The clouds diffused the golden morning glow into a simple whiteout sky, and by the time the sermon was finished, the day’s first blue hour was done.

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Separated at birth: Keanu’s Excellent Adventure

It is said everyone has a double somewhere in this world, but what about somewhere in time?

In the Palace of the Legion of Honor was an oil painting by French artist Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1851-1913) of Paul Mounet done in about 1875. Painted in mostly dark tones, Mounet cuts a dashing, if a bit brooding, figure.

KRT Photograph by Amanda Parks

When I saw the painting, I was struck on how much Mounet looked like Modern-day actor Keanu Reeves of “The Matrix” fame. To me, the resemblance was remarkable. But Reeves was born in 1964, 42 years after Mounet died in 1922. There couldn’t be a connection, could there?

In the 1989 movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Reeves played one of two San Dimas teenagers who go time-hopping to gather historical figures for a school report. Who’s to say he didn’t stop long enough to sit for a portrait?

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Thinking about firepower


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1.250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

In the movie “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009),” as in its predecessor “Night at the Museum (2006),” a mystical talisman brings every museum artifact to life. In one scene, Rodin’s most famous bronze sculpture “The Thinker” is animated and tries to get the attention of a statue of a beautiful yet demure nymph. In a Bronxonian voice he proclaims: “Hey bay-bee, check out da gunshow goin’ on over here!” He then strikes a Charles Atlas-esque pose and says: “Boom, boom, Fiya-powah!” as he flexes his muscles. I have that scene ingrained in my head because, after seeing the movie, my then 11-year-old son would repeat it around the house. Over and over again.

In the courtyard at the entrance to the Palace of Legion of Honor a casting of “The Thinker” greets visitors to the museum. But when we visited there was no “boom, boom.” No “fiya-powah.” Without a magical charm, he remained in his contemplative pose, cold and silent.

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Weather or not

Rain had been forecast on the day of our San Francisco trip, but we decided to take a chance anyway. We were quite surprised when we were greeted with partly cloudy skies and relatively warm temperatures. Even traffic was unusually light, moving along briskly at the speed limit. It was about 10:30 am when we got to the California Academy Of Sciences, and we spent several hours looking at the wonders there.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

It was a bit cloudier, but still a pleasant day, when we left the Academy to make our way to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. So much so that my daughter and I left our coats in the car. After a couple of hours we left the museum to do a little sight seeing. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t held, and the sky had opened up with a moderate but steady rain.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

The weather limited our tourist activities to driving around in the car. We tried going to the beach. Winds pushed large waves onto the sand, but the skies were still cold, rainy and gray. Only a handful of people were bold enough to brave the elements.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

It was getting late in the afternoon so we decided to have an early dinner before returning home. Across the highway from the beach, a place called the Beach Chalet looked inviting. A two-story building at the western most edge of Golden Gate Park holds a visitors center on the bottom floor, and the restaurant occupies the upper floor.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/40th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Designed by San Francisco architect Willis Polk in 1926, the building has a lounge and changing rooms as well as the restaurant. In 1936, as a part of a federal works program, murals, mosaics and carvings were added. The paintings depict various aspects of San Francisco life much like the artwork on the interior walls of Coit Tower.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/40th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

After marveling at the wonders downstairs, we went up to have some dinner. A large bank of windows graced the west wall of the eatery. They gave a great panoramic view of the of the Pacific Ocean.  Had the weather been nicer, it would have been spectacular. Instead it was merely impressive to see the waves crashing against the large expanse of beach. The service was prompt, and our meals were very tasty. Even the price was relatively reasonable, considering it was a pretty fancy place in the City.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

So we left for home satisfied with a good meal and some interesting and satisfying, albeit truncated, sightseeing.

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Big fish


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


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

At the California Academy of Sciences was the Steinhart Aquarium. Though not as big or as well laid out as the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Steinhart is not without its charms. It had several large tanks as well as many smaller ones. It even had a tunnel aquarium in which you could walk under to view the fish much like the Aquarium By The Bay at Pier 39, though much shorter.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

From Bat rays and sharks, to jellies and sea stars, the Steinhart had quite a variety of species. My favorite was the giant sea bass. It had the proportions of a carp or a perch, but it was huge, about the size of a small child. A placard on the wall said they can weigh up to abut 500 lbs. There was something a bit comical with its appearance. With its bulging eyes and puffy lips, it looked like an aquatic muppet.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

It floated serenely in its smallish tank, paying no attention to the curious people on the other side of the glass. Maybe he was waiting for Kermit to show up.

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Gator-aid


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

On our recent trip to San Francisco, we visited the California Academy of Sciences. Although it was the first time for the kids and me, my wife had been there several times as a kid. It had been a long time since she had visited, and the layout of the place had changed considerably. Her most vivid memory of the place was the alligator enclosure. She recalled that students would dare each other to try to land nickels on quietly floating reptiles.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Tucked away in a corner of the academy was the Naturalist Center. In it were some small animals pickled in formaldehyde, skeletons of various critters, a few stuffed and mounted birds among other things.  Tucked away even farther in the center were alligator and crocodile skulls sitting on a counter in a display for comparison. A small placard in the display didn’t say where the skulls came from or how they got there.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Near the Academy’s south entrance was The Swamp, a small pool that’s a re-creation of a southeastern water habitat that included huge alligator snapping turtles and Claude, an albino American alligator. I took a close look around, and there wasn’t a nickel in sight.

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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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