Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Year in Review -Top Photos-

Another year and another look back at the images that I helped to bring forth for the Irrigator, most of them published, some of them forgotten and none of them less or more important than the other. #1 --05-19-10-- Top on my list was the main image from covering the AMGEN Tour of California, capturing the peloton of riders as they roll through Plaza Circle and past the century old historic center building from San Jose en-route to downtown Modesto. I had photographers stationed in Del Puerto Canyon and at various other locations along the route to help capture the city’s brief encounter with Lance Armstrong in his final stage of the AMGEN race before bowing out in the 5th stage.

#2 --06-08-10--Photographing wildfires is something I’ve become more adept at over the years. Being able to watch and read the weather patterns in order to get close enough for a good shot yet keep a safe distance, is a necessary skill when approaching an uncontrolled conflagration. A hillside vegetation fire west of I-5 near Newman and Crowslanding was the largest wildfire in the direct area burning 721 acres before being doused by a force of firefighters on the ground and in the sky. The ground view of the wall of smoke and flames that had begun to quickly advance in my direction heightened my senses as I kept within close proximity of my vehicle. The ground crews kept in contact with the air tankers and helicopters and the blaze was extinguished shortly thereafter.
#3 --06-26-10-- A different fire on the opposite side of our coverage area prompted me to call fellow employee Maddy Houk, who lived in the vicinity of what turned out to be a huge plume of black smoke emanating from the Grayson area. Sure enough, word came back that the County Honor Farm was on fire and I found myself quickly changing into fire proof nomex gear and heading out to the scene. Upon arrival, the inmates could be seen all penned up in a side yard, some of them waving their arms towards their family members and loved ones that had began to gather in the parking lot nearby. Sheriff’s deputies and police dogs were on guard as the man hunt went on for an escaped prisoner that fled during the confusion of the fire into a nearby corn field.

#4 --01-14-10--Early in January, I got the call for a possible drowning/stabbing which turned out to be the Jennifer Bigham incident with her child. I feared the worst when I walked past row after row of flashing sirens to the house on Thrush Lane, and unfortunately realized the worst after walking away. I glimpsed up and noticed the solemn stare of a young boy with mother and child who may have well known the tragic victims of that most unfortunate circumstance.

#5 --11-26-10-- A solemn expression on the football field from PHS senior Cesar Gomez after the rough loss to the Del Oro Eagles caught my eye as outgoing head coach Rob Cozart gave his post game speech to the team. While the Tigers didn’t advance to the Section Finals or achieve a state championship, they did hand the DIII state champs their only loss and beat the Central Catholic Raiders for an outright Western Athletic Conference title. The highly anticipated matchup of the two rivals proved to be one of the most memorable, rare wins over Central in many years, an achievement that will long be remembered.

#6 --03-02-10--A very wet rainy season provided many opportunities to photograph spring in and around Patterson, including Del Puerto Canyon, that untouched gem of the eastern Diablo Range that could face commercial and residential development with the adoption of Patterson’s aggressive 2010 General Plan.

#7 --10-16-10-- Another locale that may soon see the wayside is that of the Fantozzi Farms Corn Maze and pumpkin patch. A recently approved plan for the Patterson Logistics Center may soon force the Fantozzi’s to seek their ventures elsewhere. Hopefully the ghoulishly good times will stay an area staple come fall time again in Patterson.

#8 --02-22-10-- This GMC SUV smashed into the dining room wall of Jackie Coble’s N. 4th street home where the force of flying debris knocked her to the ground on a Monday morning in February.

#9 --02-22-10-- Another incident involving a damaged home happened across town later that same Monday in February on Berlin Way. In this case, a fire caused in part by a ruptured gas line sent black clouds over east Patterson capturing my attention. The fire quickly consumed the nearby fence and began to burn the side of the house before firefighters turned off the gas and put out the flames.

#10 --02-02-10-- The Del Puerto Health Care District’s current landlord John Ramos looks on during a February city council meeting while planning commissioner and local developer Ron West approaches the council on how he’d like to see wastewater treatment facilities in the list of allowed uses in the West Patterson Business Park. In the crowd, then district CEO Margo Arnold can be seen, as well as community activist and former council member Kathy Wright, along with other concerned members of the public there to support the advancement of health care on the Westside. Those meetings were just the prelude to one of the most contentious elections in Patterson’s history for both the city health care board and the city’s.

#11 --09-18-10-- The on stage view is always a vantage point I try to include when photographing musical or staged venues, and Patterson’s Mexican Independence Day celebration was no exception. Many bands took to the stage including Patterson’s Ilusion Nortena, and Grammy award winning Mexican band El Tiranos del Norte, who played on stage for thousands of Patterson residents on downtown’s Plaza Circle.

#12 --06-05-10-- The view of the Apricot Fiesta fireworks show from the football field was one I had anticipated since I learned of the news to re-open the field for the annual fiesta event for the first time since the stadiums’ renovation with all weather turf grass. However when Fiesta time came around and I kept bringing up the opening of the stadium, no one knew what I was talking about reassuring me that it would once again be closed. I always remembered watching the fireworks from the 50 yard line and meeting everyone that you knew there and finding out what would be going on afterwards. Why was the community being barred from the community stadium? I eventually found the article in our own paper that quoted then superintendent Patrick Sweeney saying that the stadium would be open for the 2010 fireworks. I printed a copy of the article and presented it to the district a few days before the Fiesta. Sure enough, I got a phone call later that day with a message of reassurance that the football field will indeed be open. Even with the late notice of the opening of the stadium, roughly 500 folks got the opportunity to view the fireworks once again from the stadium with out having to worry about any untimely sprinklers on an all weather turf field.

#13 --06-11-10-- Ten year old Makenna Hernandiz takes the stage during July’s Friday Night Lights event in downtown Patterson’s North Park. This particular theme was Patterson Idol Night, where participants could take the stage and show their stuff while a panel of judges takes notes and provides constructive comments on their performances.

#14 --09-23-10-- Wal-Mart representative Marko Milkoton, president of River City Communications, talks to Wal-Mart supporters at Pizza Plus where they were treated to free pizza before heading out to the planning commission meeting regarding the superstore. At the meeting, many of them approached the commissioners regarding their desire for the store. The depth of the crowd is what I like most about this photo, as well as the expressions on the faces of the pizza eaters.

#15 --06-21-10-- Flames from a fire sparked by a blown tire made their say up the Southbound I-5 Patterson off ramp at Sperry Avenue as southbound travelers speed by near the flames. After burning about 10 acres of range land just west of the city, Cal Fire and West Stanislaus fire crews contained the fire with the help of an air tanker and a fixed tank Super Huey helicopter.

#16 --05-01-10--Children play into the night, while others take care of every day business as Patterson Community Stadium is transformed into a tent city for the annual American Cancer Societies' Relay for Life.

#17 --09-24-10-- Cal Fire and Westley El-Solyo fire fighters work to douse the flames of a burning SUV while paramedics work on the sole passenger who was ejected into the grass nearby.

#18 --09-18-10--Patterson's own Illusion Nortena band takes to the stage as the sun sets over downtown Patterson's Mexican Independence Day celebration. The mixture of natural and stage lights is what appeals to me in this photo. The thousands of folks who came downtown that day can be seen in the background of the photo.

#19 --06-12-10--A Bodo de Leite oxen handler pulls his cows along Salado Avenue as the procession heads back to the Festa De Espiritu Santo hall. The size of these huge animals is put to scale as they stand next to their handler.

#20 --05-27-10--Students and PHS faculty sit tight through a downpour during last Thursday's graduation ceremony at Patterson Community Stadium. Despite the occassional cloudbursts, attendees to Thursday's graduation touted the ceremony as being one of the best in recent years.

#21 --11-05-10--Patterson's varsity football team enters Patterson Community Stadium before their Western Athletic Conference title winning game over the visiting Central Catholic Raiders.

#22 --01-25-10--A trio of elementary school students walks home with a pair of colorful umbrellas after school during a rain shower in late January.

#23 --08-25-10-- Construction workers at the Granger distribution center work away on the foundation of the 800,000 + square foot facility. I really enjoyed the silhouettes of the workers on the massive foundation back lit by the rising sun.

#24 --09-09-10-- Patterson resident Shaun Hale (second from right) regains his energy after being pulled from the currents of the California Aqueduct which he was stuck in for more than an hour before being rescued by CHP officer James Dixon and a crew of fire fighters. Hale said he hooked a large catfish before slipping into the water and tried to climb out, even taking off his shoes to help grip the concrete side of the canal, but was unsuccessful. "Thankfully someone saw me holding on and called 911," Hale said.
This was one of those random instances where I heard wave after wave of sirens and decided to check on the commotion. Upon approach to the scene I could tell that the emergency first responders all had gathered on the banks of the aqueduct and my spirits immediately dropped. I've covered too many incidents where folks fall into the canal, almost all of them have an unhappy ending, but this story ended on a positive note. The story was even a good chance for our new editor Jonathan Partridge to get his feet wet in our coverage area again.
#25 --09-18-10-- Cowboy hats, leather belts, and belt buckles were popular attire on folks attending the Mexican Independence day celebration in September.

#26 --03-27-10--A group of 26 hikers, led by the Patterson Parks and Recreation Department, make their way along a series of trails through the Minnear Day Use Area as the first of three scheduled hikes took place in Del Puerto Canyon for the Westside Healthcare Taskforce's Hikes and Bikes to better your health event. Hikers of all ages and skill ranges took part, including District 5 County Supervisor Jim DeMartini. The hikes and bikes, and even kayaks, will make their way to the area again in 2011.

#27 --06-04-10--Patterson High School's Savannah Vento addresses the crowds from the Apricot Fiesta main stage after being named the 2010 Miss Patterson. Once again, a back stage shoot through with Miss Vento looking sideways enabled me to capture the lights, the crowds, and her expression all in one photo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

photographing the Amgen bicycle race

After a year hiatus in Patterson, the Amgen Tour of California, the nation's premiere cycling event, once again passed through the city for Stage 4 from San Jose to the downtown Modesto finish.

When I first heard that the Amgen was returning to Patterson after rolling down Del Puerto Canyon and Mines' road from the hills to the west, my mind began to think of all the possible vantage points I may want to photograph the race from. A fellow from a helicopter company gave me a call at the Irrigator asking if I wanted to go up and get some aerial shots. Who wouldn't want to go up in a helicopter right? Well, for $350 an hour I had to pass him up on his offer.

As race day May 19th was upon us, and final preparations were being put into place, I found myself in Modesto on the main stage of the Gallo Center for the Arts at 10:30 a.m. where they had a media center set up.

It was my first time in the Gallo Center and the facility was nothing short of impressive

While waiting for my media credentials, Modesto Bee photographer Joan Barnett Lee noticed me and we struck up a conversation. I had met her previously when I was interviewed for a position there, but couldn't be guaranteed enough hours, so I tried to pass the job onto my girlfriend Lori Marklund, whom Joan also remembered. I informed her that Lori was working for me that day at a vantage point we had scoped out the day before in Del Puerto Canyon, and she told me that Bee photographer Bart Ah You was going to be getting aerial shots via a Cesna airplane.

For a brief moment I had almost wished I had taken that helicopter guy up on his offer, and although I like the images that Bart produced, after seeing them, I have to say that I'm glad I stayed on the ground... well, sort of on the ground.

With the help from the City of Patterson's bucket truck, and friend Cody Manning, we got these aerial shots much like those when the Amgen rolled through two years ago. This is typical Patterson, 100 year old palm trees, Apricot trees in an orchard to the left and the historic center building at the vanishing point of Las Palmas avenue behind.

Excited fans cheer on the side of Las Palmas avenue as the peloton of riders passes by.

This photo, that my girlfriend Lori Marklund helped me take, required quite a bit of planning to accomplish. I had always noticed how one certain boulder along the Del Puerto Canyon roadway in the Minnear day use area always seemed to hang onto the hillside, looking as if it would fall from its place at any moment, and some how I wanted to incorporate this into a shot. So we went up the day before, and scoped it out to see if it would work. From the roadway where the cyclists are pictured I could see that through a clearing of trees and bushes there was a barren spot of hillside across the creek that looked like would probably be a good vantage point to incorporate the riders and the canyon's Wile E. Coyote boulder.

The hike to the hillside clearing wasn't as easy as it at first seemed, but no pain no gain right? The vantage point and composition of the photo was decided, and Lori agreed to return the next day before the race came through.

Back in town, on the circle, where I had another of the cities' boom lifts situated, excitement was building in anticipation of the riders.

A few folks were using team Radioshack banners as makeshift umbrellas as the sky began to drop some rain.

Tina Dudley from Oak Valley bank on the circle, helped keep us all current on the racers while we watched the live feed from inside.

The first group of break away sprinters roll through town while members of the Red Hat Chicks cheer them on.On the other side of town, the peloton of cyclists with Lance Armstrong (center) pushes its way fervently down Las Palmas Avenue between Las Palmas School and Patterson High.--photo by Kendall Wright/Patterson Irrigator

From my slight aerial position, I photographed the image at the top of this post as well as these images of the break away riders and the peloton passing through Plaza Circle and on its way to where Cody was positioned in the bucket truck. Notice the green helmet from the spectator at lower right? Gotta love those Patterson Vegetable Company green helmets.

This photo shows the peloton, and the traffic held up behind on Hwy 33, as well as the blue genie boom lift (doh!)

The break away riders reach Cody Manning on the edge of city limits.

And the peloton and entourage of team vehicles stocked with extra bicycles follows shortly there after.

Nice wide angle of the 100 year old Canary Island Date Palms, nearby Apricot orchard, and peloton of riders as they leave city limits.

And the racers continue on towards the Modesto finish to hopefully return another day.

After quickly compiling all the images and selecting those to be submitted to the copy desk editors (seven submitted, and three used) for a deadline held specifically for the Amgen, Cody Manning and I were back off to Modesto to see what else may be going on.

Everything was pretty much shut down by 5:30, but we made our way into the media center mentioned earlier to see what and who we might see. Everyone was busy working away on their laptops, but in the lunch room, folks were socializing and I got a chance to talk with former Modesto Bee photog Al Golub. He had worked with the Bee for many many years and it was quite interesting to hear his point of view on a craft that we both know so much about. He is quite set in his ways and completely denounced film photography, but then said that he still uses his film photos; then talked smack about the famous black and white photgrapher Ansel Adams, then later said he helped spread his ashes with the family of Ansel on Mt. Ansel Adams when he died. Intersting guy Al is, full of stories, and very pointed points of view, but still a wealth of information and experience when it comes to photography.

Well, recapping on the day, I was quite satisfied with the images that team Irrigator produced, and while I may not have had a helicopter or a Cesna plane, I still got a variety of aerial and ground level shots with the help of a few polite requests and some dedicated friends of mine, thanks again to all who helped.

Friday, May 7, 2010

fire in the hills

It's fire season again in Patterson.A vehicle accident along southbound I-5 near the Patterson exit sparked a blaze that was fanned by evening winds into the hills.
I first heard and saw emergency response vehicles driving to the vehicle accident while I was photographing a baseball game. When I saw the smoke I figured it was time to leave the game and get to the hills.

Encroaching flames were visible from Del Puerto Canyon road.

Flames and smoke visible from Sperry ave.

Fire Chief Kinnear assessing the flames and communicating via radio to helicopters, bulldozers, and fire trucks from Jeff Arambel's hill top orchard.

Traffic backed up to near the Westley exit.
Scattered remnants of the wreck that started the blaze photographed the next morning.
A few charred peach trees, but all in all I think the trees will make a full recovery and maybe receive some added nutrients from the black ashes of the fire.
After photographing the fire, it was back to the high school and still time for the second half of a contentious girl's soccer match against Livingston.