Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year In Review: The best photo of the year

No, it's not a fire, it's not a car wreck or cops running around with guns. My favorite photo from 2008 is a quiet little picture taken at the Isenberg Crane reserve as the sun set and the clouds were ablaze from the last rays of sunlight. It's a happy photo the kind of which I don't take nearly enough. I wasn't on assignment, I wasn't racing against deadlines. It was the best sunset I have seen in years and as a flock of cranes passed beneath the clouds I remembered why I got into photography into the first place.

Here is to 2008 as it passes and I look forward to the moments of 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The year In Review: The saddest night of the year

I’ve covered many a memorial service in my years, too many I think. This year’s saddest moment came at the side of the road one January night as mourners remembered a family member killed in an early morning house fire.

It is sad to think I have so much practice at assignments like this. Watching their pain and grief can take a toll. This year has been filled with tragedy and anguish and I have seen much of it behind the lens. Sometimes it is all I can do to not be swept up in the despair of the moment. Hopefully 2009 will bring happier moments to our city and its resident.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Year In Review: The big story breaks

The plight of the shackled teen known only as Kyle R. dominated the news media and the frenzy surrounding the house and court appearances easily made it the biggest news event of the year for Tracy.

From search warrants to court arraignments we covered the story as it unfolded. The events quickly became international news and and our town was beset with live trucks and reporters as they vied to get the details on this sick and twisted story.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year's end

With Christmas over and the New Year on the horizon Alice and I headed out for one last hike for 2008. With recent rains and snow on Mount Diablo we planned for a return trip to the waterfall trails on the mountain.

Cool temperatures and a thin line of clouds at the summit greeted us as we made our way on the muddy trail. Fresh cat scat was scattered everywhere as we trudged up the hill.

While we could hear the water rushing along the streambed the waterfalls were sparse along the trail. What falls we did find fell majestically along the cliff side.

Making our way through the trail loop Alice spotted the best photo-op on the hike. Thousands of ladybugs clustered along the edge of the path as they swarmed and spilled over each other along moss-covered rocks and tree branches. We spent almost a half an hour photographing the colony as they wandered about.

With our 6-mile-hike finished we headed for lunch and coffee to celebrate our last hike of 2008. We plan to explore more of the California coastline as we continue or photo safaris of hiking trails around California.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Year In Review: A slice of history

Millennium High’s Izzy Shanks makes school history as he runs into the end zone scoring the first touchdown in school history in the first quarter of their game against the Calistoga Wildcats.

The Year in Review: Home at last

This assignment was a long time in the making. For almost 15 years, coaches, player’s family and friends had been waiting to play a home game at West High School. Since the campus opened the dream was for a home field for the Wolf Pack complete with lights and bleachers.

After fundraisers, golf tournaments and school bonds construction finally began on the new stadium and pool complex. The 2008 graduating class took the new filed for their commencement and in September the varsity team led by coach Steve Lopez took to their home field for their first game under the lights of the newly dedicated Steve Lopez Stadium.

Down by the river

I found this sunlit scene by the banks of the San Joaquin River today while on assignment.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Year in Review: The best shot nobody liked

I was channeling Ernest Haas while I was covering the West High homecoming rally and experimented with panning on the flag being carried around the stadium. I don’t why they didn’t like it, I guess it had too much motion, too much action, too much creativity.

The Year in Review: The most disgusting assignment of the year

Millennium High students bobbing for potatoes in a bucket of spaghetti. Need I say more?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Year in Review: The scariest night of the year

This had to be one of the busiest years for spot news that I can think of. Amid the structure fires, drownings, stabbings, and assorted carnage there was one week that provided enough action to last the entire year. The crowning moment of that week of mayhem was a drive by shooting on the south side of town that injured five people.

Two days earlier I stood on the sidewalk on Grant Line Road as officers investigated a man shot in the head. Now I was standing ion the road on Third Street as police officers geared up to search an alley and field for the shooter.

Everyone was tense as this was the second shooting in three days for the town/. As cars passed by officers trained flashlights on the cars to see who was in the car as they approached and what they were doing.

This had to be the assignment I was the most nervous at. As the officers left to conduct their search I was left alone on the road near midnight with an empty Hoyt Park behind me as I waited for a photo opportunity to emerge from the darkness.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Year in Review: The hottest night of the year

I have covered a couple of structure fires in my career but I can’t remember a year where I covered so many. There was a mobile home fire, a garage and part of a home burned on F Street and even a pharmacy burned one Sunday afternoon. But taking the cake for the most spectacular blaze was late evening fire down the street from my home.

It is bad when I hear sirens at night, worse when I hear them stop close to where I live. So imagine my surprise to see this house fire just a few doors down. No one was hurt but the fire lit up the night along Grant Line Road and was quite the sight.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Year in Review: The odd couples

It’s that time of year again as we look back at the assignments of the past year and wonder what the heck happened? There were sad moments and happy times. Celebrations and moments of fear passed before the lens as the year unfolded before me.

So starting this personal review of the highlights and some of the very low lights of my year I begin with the oddest assignments of the year.

Now you know you’re in trouble when your photographing someone wearing Coca Cola pants but I put on my man pants and covered a “unique" music group at a concert in the park performance. The Wonderbread 5 weren’t my cup of tea but they were colorful. That could have been the oddest sight if not for a man dressed in pink pig costume roaming the newly opened rib restaurant Famous Dave’s. He even made a little kid cry. And who could forget a truly evil looking rabbit at Easter. I would have cried too if I was sitting on that demented bunny’s lap.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How do cats get their name?

“Henceforth thou shall be known as… ummm, what are we going to call you?”

“I know let’s look in the big book of pet names”


“Yeah Bella sounds good. By the power invested in me I declare thy name is Bella.”

Bella and other oddly named cats and dogs are available for adoption at the Tracy Animal Shelter.