Hole in the wall


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor: 300mm. 1/2000 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

On the southwest wall of the Stockton Arena, about three-fourths of the way up is a small circular opening in the mahogany-colored panels. From the ground it looks like the end of a very large PVC pipe. When shooting Ports baseball games at the next-door Banner Island Ballpark, I occasionally see a couple of pigeons fly in and out. I don’t know what it’s for (as far as I can tell, it’s the only such opening in the building) or how deep it goes in, but it seems to be the perfect size for a bird’s nest.

Posted in Enterprise, Feature | Tagged , | Comments closed

You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss,


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

I saw this sign at Herbert Kohl Open Elementary School in Stockton marking the school’s bus lane along Brookside Road which read “Busses Only.” Some sources have the  double “s” version as a secondary variation, but “buses” (with a single “s”) is commonly accepted as being correct and the primary spelling for the public transportation vehicle.

“Busses” is the plural of buss, which is defined by YourDictionary.com as: a kiss, especially in an unrestrained or playful manner. Perhaps Kohl is just a very friendly school.

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

A lucky unlucky guy

Some people are lucky even when they’re not.
On my way to work on Thursday I noticed a semi-truck/trailer rig parked on the side of the southbound I-5 on the deep water channel overpass bridge in Stockton. There’s not much shoulder at that point and the truck was a good 2 feet over the line of the exit lane. I didn’t notice any flares or flashing lights on the truck and I thought it could a hazard. I quickly passed it and just as quickly It was out of my mind.


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

About a half-hour later, photo editor Craig Sanders heard a call of an accident over the police/fire scanner and sent me to check it out. When I arrived on the scene I saw that it was that very same semi truck. A smaller flatbed delivery truck from Wille Electric Supply had clipped the back of the larger truck’s trailer. The flatbed then partially wedged itself under the front of the trailer.


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

As I got out of my car, I prepared myself for a gruesome scene. The cab was torn open as if it was made of cardboard, but I didn’t see the driver. I noticed that three Stockton firefighters kneeling on the ground beneath the truck and I guessed that maybe the driver was ejected from his vehicle. I approached gingerly, but they were mopping up a small fuel spill.


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

A talked to a CHP officer on scene who told me that the driver had been taken to the hospital already and that he had only minor injuries. When he said that I did a double take on the cab. He showed me that, although it was badly mangled, the precise spot where the driver was sitting was still intact, if only by a matter of inches.


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


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

I said that it was a good thing that there wasn’t a passenger in the cab. The officer pointed to the rear of the trailer and replied “if there was, he’d be back there.” Imbedded in the back left rear corner was the flatbed’s door, a portion of the roof, windshield and the entire passenger seat. They were so fused together, at first glance I thought I was all a part of the trailer.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

Everyone at the scene was surprised not only by the fact the driver survived, but that he only suffered minor injuries. Some firefighters walked around the tangled mess shaking their heads in disbelief and CalTrans workers took pictures of it with their camera phones.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/14. ISO: 200)

It could have been that it just wasn’t the driver’s time to go, or possibly it could have been a case of just being lucky. If it’s the latter, then the driver needn’t bother playing the lottery because he’s probably used up a lifetime’s worth of luck.

Posted in Spot news | Tagged , | Comments closed

Go Speed Racers, Go!


The peloton turns into the first corner at the Mens Pro 1/2 race of the Lodi Cycle Fest in downtown Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200).

“Push on a pedal, push on a pedal
Get your (gasp) heart started
Push on a pedal
Push it down and up again
Get on your bike, sit on the seat
Push your feet on the pedals
And ride it all around
Ride it all around”
- Bike by Mal Webb


Riders compete in the Mens Pro 1/2 race of the Lodi Cycle Fest (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200).

Speed is relative I guess. 30 mph doesn’t really sound that fast. I mean, it you drove in your car at that speed, even on city streets, there would be a line of honking cars behind you a block long. If you tried it on the freeway, they’d be sweeping you up in a dustpan. But in the world of bicycle racing, 30 mph is pretty fast.


Robert MacNeill makes his way through downtown Lodi during the men’s pro 1/2 race of the Lodi Cycle Fest (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

At the Lodi Cycle Fest riders navigated a figure-eight course that was just under a mile. The highlights of the day were the men’s and women’s pro 1/2 races. During 60 minutes for the women and 75 for the men, competitors pounded the streets of downtown Lodi. Both races were quite exhilarating with the lead changing hands several times through out each race all the while maintaining a 30+ mph speed.


Race fans watch as the peloton make the first turn in the men’s pro 1/2 race at the Cycle Fest in downtown Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/6.5. ISO: 200).

Cycling is one of the few sports where a telephoto lens isn’t a requirement. Any spectator can get so close to the action that a wide angle lens can be use to get some great shots. I was able to get down low at the first turn and shoot as the riders whizzed by.


Michael Jaques, left, and Doran Mori make a turn in downtown Lodi during the men’s pro 1/2 race of the Lodi Cycle Fest (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/14. ISO: 200).

I used a technique called panning to shoot some of the race. It entails using a relatively slow shutter speed and following the action with the camera while shooting. It takes a little practice, but when done correctly it can produce pictures where the main subject is sharp and the background is a blur. This enhances the sense of speed.


The peloton makes the first turn in the men’s pro 1/2 race at the Cycle Fest in downtown Lodi (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

They took a tight line into the curve and cut the corner so close that I reflexively leaned away from them. My mind flashed back to Lance Armstrong’s mishap in the 2003 Tour De France where his handlebars snagged the loop of a fan’s bag that sent him crashing to the pavement and I edged back from the street.


A cyclist casts a shadow in downtown Lodi during the men’s pro 1/2 race of the Lodi Cycle Fest (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

It was a warm afternoon and the peloton -or pack- was moving fast enough to provide a nice cooling breeze as they sped by. Even though I was close, they were pretty quiet. All that could be hear were the whirring of chains and gears, the rush of wind and the hum of thin rubber tires against the ground.


Chad Gerlach makes a turn in downtown Lodi during the men’s pro 1/2 race of the Lodi Cycle Fest (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/10. ISO: 200).

From my position kneeling on the corner, I twisted by torso to pan the camera with the riders. They zipped by so fast that by the end of the day, I began to develop a crick in my back. Fortunately, I had the next two days off so I was able recuperate and it will be a while before I think of 30 mph as slow again.

Posted in Sports | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Elusive butterfly of…


A monarch butterfly and a bumble bee look for nectar on a flower near Ione (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

Shooting butterflies can prove elusive. They can fly around in a seemingly random fashion, flitting from flower to flower. Once you get a bead on one, it can fly off in any direction. Chasing one down and getting the right lighting and composition can be tricky and the perfect moment can be fleeting. The best time to shoot is early n the morning. The butterflies are sluggish from the cooler temperatures and are less likely to fly away.


A painted lady butterfly rests on a sunflower near Ione (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200).

I had an assignment to photograph Allison Baylor who raises butterflies at her ranch near Ione. She showed reporter Lori Gilbert and me to a mesh enclosed tent in the shade of her tree-filled yard. It was populated with red admiral and mourning cloak butterflies. I addition, painted lady and monarch butterflies flew freely on her property. As evasive as the butterflies were, Baylor herself proved just as hard to photograph.

It happens occasionally. Sometimes people don’t like the clothes they’re wearing, or their hair or makeup. Other times they just don’t want to be the center of attention. Try as I might to convince them that they look good (and 99.9% of the time they do), they still try to avoid being photographed.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/3.2. ISO: 200)

I told her that I’d like to get a shot of her with the insects, but she was hesitant. She gave an excuse of no being dressed well enough for a picture. I told her that her clothes were fine but she wasn’t convinced. Whenever I would point the camera her way, she would back out of the frame. I got into the tent and busied myself with shooting some close ups of the butterflies, which was fairly easy since they were in an enclosed space. But since Baylor was the subject of the story I needed shots of her. The last thing I wanted to do was to tell her “stand here”. That would have just lent itself to a forced and uncomfortable situation and probably a deer-in-the-headlights picture. I needed to get an honest moment of her and the butterflies.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 800)

Lori and I engaged her in conversation about the butterflies. After a little while of shooting the insects, I could tell she was starting to not notice the sound of the camera’s shutter. She climbed into the tent to show us some of the butterflies and became engrossed in capturing and talking about them. Waiting for the right moment, I managed to snap a few frames of her off before she became self-consious again. After a couple of minutes Baylor left the tent to show us where some of the wild butterflies on her 60-acre ranch.


A painted lady butterfly rests on a flower near Ione (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/2000th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200).

It was late morning by then,and the butterflies were pretty active. The fluttered about moving from plant to plant with a quick randomness. Tracking them was a challenge. I had to anticipate where they were going to land, focus at that point and wait for them to get there.

In the end, a little awareness and patience proved to be the key in photographing both insect and human alike.

Posted in Nature | Tagged | Comments closed

101 uses!

(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8 w/ fill-flash. ISO: 250)

I saw Michael Green of Stockton using a tripod in a non-photographic way.  He used it to rest his fishing pole on while angling in the deep water channel at Louis Park in Stockton. Green said he found it at the water’s edge about a year ago near the Banner Island Ballpark in downtown Stockton and has been using it ever since.

Posted in Equipment | Tagged | Comments closed

The nature of nature

When our kids were younger we shielded them from the harsh, circle-of-life reality of the nature shows on public television. They’re older now and we figure that they can handle those programs now. We just didn’t think we’d be watching them out our backyard window.

For a while I’d noticed that, while the robins that set up a homestead in our backyard still seemed to be a pair, the dove seemed to be a single parent. It would leave (to look for food, we assumed), but it’s mate was be nowhere to be seen.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200)

A couple weeks from the time the birds first took residence, tragedy struck. My son came home from school and saw that the dove’s nest had fallen off its perch on the patio shade covering. It landed in a potted rose bush below. One of its two eggs had dropped to the ground and cracked, but the other remained inside, unbroken. My wife put the nest back and the dove returned. There was a slight breeze that day, but nothing strong enough to knock the nest off its perch. We guessed that the dove might have accidentally pushed it off when flying away on one if its foraging jaunts.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

A few hours later the nest was down again, this time all the way to the concrete patio, the remaining egg was dashed upon the ground. It was then we surmised that both incidents were no accident. We witnessed several aerial skirmishes as the dove tried to take over the robins’ nest. A couple of times it drove the red-breasted birds out and claimed their home for its own. Over several hours in the afternoon and early evening the battle raged with the robins finally winning the nest back. As night fell the fighting seemed to end.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

At some point the dove must have executed a night or early morning raid because when I awoke early the next morning and looked out the kitchen window and there it was sitting on the nest again. The robins began strafing the nest, harassing the dove who hunkered down in defense.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon 300mm w/1.4 extender. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

Finally the dove had enough and fled. It seems that the robins won the war, with the dove driven away, for what appears to be, for good.

Posted in Nature | Tagged , | Comments closed

Tight as a drum

The Rolling Thunder Web site states that while Japanese taiko drums have been in use for the past 1,400 years, modern taiko drumming only dates back to the 1950s. It has become popular Japanese-American art form with taiko ensembles popping up all over in the past few decades.



I have rarely seen a taiko performance that isn’t a crowd pleaser. The tempo and beat of the music can be deceptively simple. Much more basic than the complex rhythms East Indian music, there is a certain primal appeal to taiko.  Emphasis is put on group choreography as well as individual effort and showmanship. The performers grab the thick drum sticks or bachi, in a hammer-like fashion to pound on the large wooden drums with enthusiasm.  The thundering booms seem to take over the audience’s heartbeats and the echos remain in their heads long after the music stops.

Posted in Enterprise, Feature | Tagged | Comments closed

Firepower

When was a kid all we had were small squirt guns, you know the kind that spray a small thin stream of water eveyrtime you pumped the plastic trigger.  If you wanted more firepower (or is it waterpower?), you had to use the bazooka of water fights, the hose.


Dillon Martin, 10, and his sister Kayla Powers, 9, cool off by having a water fight in the front yard of their home on Carlton Avenue and Monte Diablo Aveenue in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 98mm. Exposure: 1/1000thsec @ f/ 2.8. ISO: 100).

Today, the supersoaker type water guns are everywhere. There are some that shoot their entire load in one shot, others that send out pulses of water. In some you can pump up the air pressure to fire out powerful jets of water, others you hand crank out stream of H2O. Some can even shoot out chilled, ice-cold water. Still there’s nothing can compete with the mother of all water guns, ever reliable, unstoppable garden hose.

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

Links


(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.

Transitory
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 DIYPhotography.net 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.

Posted in Links | Tagged | Comments closed
  • 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
  • Categories

  • Archives