Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Accidents are always decent visuals for the newspaper and when the call of a rollover came across the scanner I grabbed my gear and headed for the scene.
A driver struck a road sign that flipped her car blocking both lanes of the road. Injuries were minor in the accident but looking at the scene i knew I had to incorporate the sign into the image.
It's not often i come back with a funny image from a crash and thankfully no one was seriously injured.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Sometimes it's just the background that makes a picture.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A classic wager

Councilman Charles Manne and Councilwoman Nancy Young donned Tracy High football jerseys at the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1, paying off a friendly wager on the 18th annual Crosstown Classic football game between the Tracy High Bulldogs and the West High Wolf Pack.

Fellow Councilman Robert Rickman bet Manne and Young that Tracy High, Rickman’s alma mater, would beat West High, the school attended by Manne and by Young’s children. The loser promised to wear the opposing school’s football jersey during both October council meetings. 

Tracy High defeated West High 60-0 on Friday, Sept. 27, at Wayne Schneider Stadium.

Afternoon burn

Spot news is quirky, you can go weeks or even months with little or no action and then over a week or two it seems like everything is on fire around town. Today had me running to just beyond city limits for a compost fire.

Afternoon winds fueled the blaze which swept from one pile to the next igniting the compost and sending a thick column of smoke across Sugar Road and over Tracy. I parked across the street and had to hike into the fire scene again.  This time I made sure to stay clear of the blowing smoke.

Over the scanner I could hear firefighters working to contain the blaze as embers jumped across the rows fanned by the winds.  Three engine companies, two water tenders, reserve crews and the compost company's water trucks worked to break down the burning piles and smother the flames.

The fire department said the fire could last anywhere from several hours to a few days. Until then residents will be able to savor the odor coming from the burning piles as the smoke drifts south over town.

Monday, September 30, 2013


I wasn't going to bother going to this grass fire burning well outside city limits but listening to the scanner they kept sending different fire departments to the scene.  With all the commotion I just had to go take a look.

The fire was burning in a irrigation ditch along Tracy Boulevard about 3/4 of a mile from Howard Road.  The California Highway Patrol had set up a roadblock so I had to hoof it in to the scene. The fire was slowly moving through the heavy brush and trees of the ditch, a term i learned was called "skunking around." The 20 mile-per-winds were still driving the fire and smoke a decent clip as crews raced to either end to try and knock it down.

I left my fire resistant wildlands fire gear in the car (a brilliant move on my behalf) so I made my way along the ditch carefully as the flames moved in front of and behind me.  I had a good escape route down the levee to Tracy Boulevard but the smoke was making for difficult times. Between the acrid sting in my eyes and the near zero visibility at times for the blowing smoke I was just content to stand there and wait for an opening to shoot.

As the wind drive the fire through the ditch tule and trees began to ignite. the popping sound was a might unnerving but what was worse was a call for crowning condition, the fire was racing to the tops of the trees in the ditch. The flames licked outward from the tree tops send columns of smoke billowing into the sky. Exposures were tricky as I was shooting into a partially obscured sun by the rising smoke with the trees and other foliage in deep shadows.

I managed to get a couple of shot that showed the flame height and some that had crews battling the flames before the smoke covered everything too densely again.  Done with the fire I arrived back at the office, streaked with soot and smelling like an old campfire. My one lesson learned form this fire was to pack a bottle of Visine eye drops to ease the burning sensation form the smoke.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The return of Skateman

 It’s not often I find myself on a lonely country road, sitting in a car with a man wearing a red cape and SpongeBob SquarePants boxer shorts. Holiday SpongeBob SquarePants boxers to be exact. But I never know where my camera will take me and on Monday I was on a stretch of Midway Road west of town watching the return of Skateman.

David Goad brought his alter ego to life last year as he paid of Facebook wager to roller skate from the Hidden Lakes subdivision across town to the mall in his colorful costume with vintage style roller skates. Goad is raising funds for research on multiple myeloma, a rare form of cancer that his older brother Jeff has.

To raise funds this year Goad decided on a more daunting task, a roller skate feat not yet attempted, or at least no one has owned up about trying this before.  On Oct. 6 Goad will roller skate 4 and-a-half miles up the 12 percent grade of Patterson Pass Road to the top and back down.

I’m a hiker and I know what a 4 mile, 1,300 foot climb feels like.  It’s not easy. It can’t be any easier wearing roller skates, vintage ones at that. I watched Goad’s first training run up the winding Midway Road. Not a fun time at all. The skates vibrate on the rough road, there is traffic to contend with and the downhill leg is precarious at best.  Why do it?

I talked to Jeff’s brother in Chicago and in the short conversation with the two brothers I know the love they have for each other and each would suffer any burden for the other. Though David Goad’s task is daunting his motivation is sure to keep him going to the top.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


When I heard the call of a haystack fire at a farm just outside of town I grabbed my camera gear and headed out the door.  As bas they are haystack fires can make for some spectacular visuals.

The fire would go on to destroy 110 tons of alfalfa hay and burn for almost three days. A cause was never found as the fire burned so hot it would have destroyed any evidence of the fire's origin.

I was also treated to my first power line failure as a service drop above the burning hay melted through in a shower of sparks.  All in all some noteworthy images to be had from this fire.