(Camera:Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/7.1. ISO: 200)

Here are some photo-related links from around the blogosphere to check out.

During the space shuttle Atlantis’ mission to repair the Hubble space telescope, astrophotographer Thierry Legault used a telescope to capture both objects silhouetted against the sun as they orbited the Earth. Timing was crucial with Legault having only from 0.3 to 0.8 seconds to shoot as the shuttle and telescope during the solar transit or flyby between the Earth and Sun from his vantage point in Florida.

“If it weren’t for electricity we’d all be watching television by candlelight.” – George Gobal
A photogram is one of the simplest ways  to make a picture. Just place whatever you want on a piece of photographic paper of sheet film and expose it to a light source. Develop the paper and you have an instant silhouette of the object. Artist Robert Buelteman has added a twist to the technique. Instead of a light source, he’s added an electric current to the objects on color film. The resulting photograms have a haunting glow and unearthly colors.

If you set it free…
Back in the days of film a bulk loader was something used by photographers on a budget. It would take 100-feet long rolls of 35mm film so that one could roll sections of it into the smaller film cassettes. It wasn’t hard to do but it was boring and tedious. Most photographers hated doing it, but it did save money.

Mike Mitchell on his Online Photographer blog wrote a touching and true story about a return of a long forgotten bulk loader in the mail from an admirer of his work from the other side of the world. Truly an amazing story.

I’m shocked, just shocked!
In the digital era, I believe that the lowly disposable camera will be the last bastion of filmdom. I believe that people who aren’t photographically inclined and don’t want to pay big bucks for a digital camera, can just buy a disposable film camera to suit their occasional photographic needs. Just look at your local grocery check out stand and there’s likely to be a disposable camera on the display rack.

I remember years ago a reader brought in a disposable camera. He shot some spot news event that we couldn’t get to and came to us to develop the film and run the pictures in the paper. I went into our film processing room turned out the lights and proceeded to dismantle the camera. fumbling around in the dark I inadvertently touched the leads to the camera’s built-in strobe and got a painful jolt to my fingers. To add insult to injury, I found out that the camera was the type that rolled the exposed film back into the cassette as it took the pictures and I didn’t have to open it in the dark after all.

If you don’t have a birthday or graduation to take pictures of, here’s another use for those disposable cameras. The website has step-by-step instructions on how to make a ring flash from those one-time-use cameras. A ring flash is used in macro photography and in portraiture as well. It gives shadowless illumination to close-ups and creates a halo-like shadow when used to take portraits. The strobes can cost up to several hundred dollars, but as the website shows, they can be made from next to nothing.

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The dream that is America

An immigrant holds a small American flag while participating in a U.S citizenship ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 82mm. Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

644 immigrants participate in a U.S citizenship ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

On Wednesday I shot a naturalization ceremony at the Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento. 644 immigrants raised their hands and took the oath of allegiance to become new U.S. citizens in pursuit of something called the American Dream. I looked out at the sea of humanity and saw faces of every color and ethnicity. Who knows the specific reason each had for immigrating? Perhaps some came for economic reasons or maybe to escape political persecution. They all had one thing in common, they gave up a life they had known, for good or bad, for the hope a better one.

Joe Nanor, a Ghana native and now a Stockton resident, places his hand over his heart during the singing of the National Anthem during the U.S citizenship ceremony in Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

My grandparents came to the United States from Japan in the 1920s. They, along with others of the first generation of immigrants, were known as the Issei. Although they brought their culture with them, they left their old country behind, to settle here and to belong to this new land. My grandparents worked hard in the fields, canneries and packing sheds. I don’t know if the life here for them was any better than the life they would have had in Japan, but their children and grandchildren grew up and found good jobs, some even starting businesses of their own, and made good lives for themselves. I look back at my grandparents’ sacrifices and I see that their actions have brought me to where I an today.

Some of the 644 immigrants participate in a U.S citizenship ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 110mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

I grew up with Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, teriyaki chicken and chambara (samurai) movies, yet there was never an expectation for me to be anything but American. I had the tacit blessings of my family as I dated and eventually married outside of my ethnic background. My children have a rich heritage of cultures from Japan, Ireland and Norway and are proud of each of them.

Federal judge Morrison C. England swears in 644 people as U.S. citizens during a ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 140mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

Joe Nanor raises his hand and recites an oath during a U.S. citizenship ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

As the immigrants took the oath last week in Sacramento, I couldn’t help but wonder if my grandparents participated in a similar ceremony. Did they raise their hands along and recite the words of the oath of allegiance with hundreds of others full of hope for their future?

Joe Nanor applauds after being sworn in a U.S. citizenship ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 26mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).

Joe Nanor, receives his certificate of naturalization after a ceremony at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).

As my grandparents did, those 694 faces from 82 countries repeated the oath spoken by US District Court Judge Morrison C. England and took the final step to becoming the mosaic of what we call America.

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When the urge hits II

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

During a Stockton Ports recent baseball game against the Modesto Nuts at Banner Island Ballpark, the setting evening sun cast its warm light on the walls of the nearby Stockton Arena. The rich wood panels, normally mahogany-colored, turned a rich, nearly-blood red. It made for a tropical sunset-like backdrop for the palm trees and old-fashioned street lights surround the downtown arena.

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June in review

“It is the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
And pleasant scents the noses.”

Nathaniel Parker Willis

Here are 10 favorite photos from June. Enjoy!



Graduate Carla Hale gets a hug from David Collum at the graduates recognition ceremony at CSU Stanislaus Stockton Center (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 155mm. 1/250th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200).



Valleri Gammon, right, helps fellow graduate Justine Young with her hat before the start of graduation ceremonies at Manteca High School in Manteca. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/100th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1000).



Graduate Amanda Fleig sings the National Anthem at the graduation ceremonies at East Union High School in Manteca (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 400).



Tino Lopez wipes away a tear as he stands next to a hearse containing the coffin of his cousin Oscar Eguis-Cazares after a funeral at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton. Eguis-Cazares was one of two Ad Force security guards who were killed execution-style as they sat in their cars at the Park Village Apartment complex in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 140mm. 1/100th sec. @ f/9. ISO: 200).

A kitten cries in a cage at the Stockton Animal Shelter in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. 1/155th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400).



Wayne Crawford just learns that he and his wife Theresa have been outbid on a house that they have made an offer on Galloway Street in Stockton. The Crawfords are trying to help their 20-year-old son but a house in Stockton, but the market has been so tough they are having a hard time making a winning bid (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 320).



Officers Kyle Barrow, left, and Sierra Brucia frisk a man while invesitgating a dispute at the Golden Era Hotel and Boarding House in east Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800).

Dan Cline of Manteca, pushes his 2-year-old son Nicholas Cline in his stroller into a stream of water to cool off at the water feature at Library Park in Manteca (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

A Stockton firefighter mans a nozzle on a ladder truck while fighting a blaze that gutted the Hi and Bye Market on Harding Way in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/500th sec. @ f/10. ISO: 200).



7-year-old Evan Burnam with the Blue Dolphins swim team waits for his turn during a swim meet against the Spanos Park Ducks at the Oak Park Pool in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. 1/250th sec. @ f/4.5. ISO: 125).

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Blast from the past: Finger pickin’ good

In 1986, I had the pleasure of photographing jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan in a solo performance at the Fox Theatre (now renamed the Bob Hope Theatre) in downtown Stockton. Being a jazz fan I knew of him, but he’s not a household name, then or today.  His unique playing style sets him apart from other guitarists. Instead of strumming or picking the strings, he taps them with his finger tips along the neck of the guitar. This allows him to accompany himself, much like a pianist or to even play two guitars simultaneously.

It was amazing to watch and listen to Jordan play. His hands alternated from gently caressing the neck of his guitar to furiously flying over it with blinding speed. Even though he performed a solo concert, he produced a full-bodied sound so rich that he didn’t need any other accompaniment.

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Say it ain’t so

You give us those nice bright colors
You give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away”

- Lyrics from “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon

The end of an era has come. This week, Kodak announced it will stop manufacturing the famed Kodachrome film. Arguably the best film ever made, Kodachrome has been in production for 74 years. Even though I haven’t shot any kind of film in years, it’s sad to see it go. I’ve still got thousands of slides sitting in plastic sleeves in binders at home. Kodachrome’s fine grain, rich, accurate color and dynamic range was unparalleled. Whether looking at them through a magnifying loupe or projected on a screen, the slides were beautiful.

I remember as a photo student, sending the film off to be processed and anxiously waiting days for the slides to return in those little yellow boxes. I’d quickly open them up and, squinting through a loupe, edit the pictures into piles of keepers and rejects.

Kodacrhome was THE film
for National Geographic shooters. Steve McCurry’s unforgettable
haunting portrait of a young Afghan girl with piercing green eyes that
graced the cover of the magazine in 1985 was shot on ‘chrome. Nikon’s
slogan used to be “We Take the World’s Greatest Pictures.” Well, the
same could be said about Kodachrome (click here for a Kodak slides show
of pictures taken on Kodachrome).

Kodachrome wasn’t all a bed of roses (even though it was the film of choice if you wanted to shoot one). It was slow, with ISOs of 25, 64 and, later, 200. The method to develop the film was difficult, too. Technically, it was a black and white film, with the color being infused during the arcane processing. You couldn’t do it yourself, it had to sent to Kodak or an authorized photofinishing outlet. In the late ‘90s even Kodak gave up the developing of Kodachrome, leaving it to independent dealers. Today only one place in the world, Dwaynes Photo in Parsons, Kan., still processes the film (they will continue to do so through December of 2010).

Kodak no longer primarily associates itself with film, but rather calls itself an “imaging” company. In the digital age, the one-time film giant had to change with the times to survive. In truth, Kodachrome sales have dwindled to a fraction of 1 percent of Kodak’s film sales in recent years, according to the company. Digital cameras have supplanted almost all types of film, with convenience and speed far outmatching whatever image superiority Kodachrome could supply.

Maybe I’ll buy a roll or two of Kodachrome, shoot a few slides for old time sake. Call it a last hurrah or a fond farewell to an old friend. To paraphrase Paul Simon’s song: Mama didn’t take my Kodachrome away, Kodak (with the help of the digital age) did.

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Just a reminder

(Camera: Nikon D300.Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 10 sec. @ f/11. ISO: 100)

Don’t forget, the Stockton Camera Club’s Carnival Lights Workshop is tonight.  Anyone is welcome to join the club for some night shooting at the San Joaquin County Fair. They’ll meet at 8:00 p.m. in Building 4 of the county fairgrounds in Stockton and all you’ll need is a camera and a tripod.

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Birds of a feather

(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

In years past, we’ve had robins nest in our backyard patio cover during spring. We’d watch them build the nests, see the chicks poke their heads out after hatching and marveled as they grew and left. It was interesting to see that every year the birds would build their nests in the same place, on the center of three posts supporting the cover. However, the last two years since we’ve had our labrador/retriever-mix Lucy, the birds have passed us by. We’ve surmised that, even as docile as she is, Lucy has scared away any potential settlers. There have been a couple of false starts, with nests built but then abandoned.

(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens Canon 300mm w/1.4 extender. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

This year was starting out to be birdless again when a pair of robins built a nest on the middle post of the slatted cover. They constructed a quite impressive home, but they too left after about a week or so, leaving the nest behind. A few weeks later a pair of doves moved in to the existing abode. They seem to come and go, so we weren’t sure if they were permanent residents.

(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens Canon 300mm w/1.4 extender. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Another week later we noticed a new nest under construction. This time it was on the farthest post to the left about 8 to 10 feet away from the doves’ home. A pair of robins took up residence and in about a day, the nest was done. I’m guessing that eggs have been laid, with each species vigilantly sitting on their respective nests. So far, they’ve been tolerant, if a bit wary, of us, the dog and each other (although there was a brief aerial skirmish between robin and dove). So after a couple of years absence of avian life, now we have not one, but two new fine feathered families in our backyard.

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A night at the fair

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 2.5 sec. @ f/22. ISO: 100)

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 10 sec. @ f/22. ISO: 100)

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm. Exposure: 10 sec. @ f8. ISO: 100)

The bright glow of the midway and the flashing lights of the carnival rides make any fair come alive at night. The main method used to capture that nighttime excitement is to set the camera on a tripod and use time exposures. The warm, colorful lights become bold and imaginative streaks when using long exposures.

Sharon McLemore of Stockton won 1st place in the Open color/motion category of the 2009 San Joaquin County Fair Photography Show with her picture titled: “Lights in Motion.”

If you always wanted to shoot such photos you can have an opportunity on Friday, June 26 at the San Joaquin County Fair.  For the 10th year, the Stockton Camera Club will be holding its Carnival Lights Workshop at the fairgrounds in Stockton. They’ll meet at the northeast corner inside Building 4 where the club has set up its booth at about 8:00 p.m and will go out to shoot at about 8:30 p.m. to capture the “blue hour” where the sky still has that rich indigo color. The club’s Sharon McLemore says “There is no required skill level, the process is pretty simple and even a beginner can get good results.” Just bring a camera and a sturdy tripod (a must for the long time exposures). So go out, take some pictures and have some fun.

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Less than helpful

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 22mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/22. ISO: 200)

You’ve see those generator-powered portable message signs on the side of the road or freeway. They alert motorists of construction or an accident ahead.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

I saw this one on Highway 88 and Victor Road just outside of Lockeford. The words, frozen and unmoving, were locked in mid-change. The looked like they were trying to spell something out in Klingon. So unless you’re piloting a Klingon Bird of Prey, the sign is less than helpful.

Posted in Enterprise, Feature, Humor | Tagged | Comments closed
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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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