Wednesday, January 6, 2010

parting images of 2009

Alas another year end issue of the Irrigator has come and gone, and my chance to showcase all the news photos from the previous year that meant alot to me... problem is, there's not enough space in our paper to show all of them.
So here they are, in the order that I prioritized them in, from #1 to #34, with a little bit about each one. When you see numbers missing, those were the photos that were chosen by editors to be included in the print edition of the Irrigator.
#1 Spectators at the Stan Co. fair destruction derby
Trying to find a new angle on the derby I noticed members of the pit crews peeking over fences and standing on top of fences to get a better look at their competing contestants. I was really trying to capture that feel of everyone trying to get a glimpse of the action and decided to do my own tight rope act by standing on a fence, holding the camera high above my head to really try and emphasize that aerial shot. Compositionally I love this photo, the entire frame is filled with something interesting going on. The lower foreground, mid ground, and back ground are filled with spectators giving immense depth to those in attendance yet those in the foreground don't block out too much of the action. The upper left quadrant of the photo is filled with the familiar smashing and bashing of the derby that everyone wants to see.

#3 Water Allocation
Taken during an amazingly beautiful day in February. I was photographing the local waterways for a story on the scarce water allocations being handed down by the state. I had some other shots of the Delta Mendota, but the other ones didn't have the red and white life preservers that were near this bridge in Westley and I felt that those floating balls gave the photo more depth and scale of how much water runs through our community that we don't have access to. Looking closely, you can even see the blooming almond orchards over the levee at right.

#4 Fig Avenue house fire
This one was one of my favorites. I elaborated more on this in the article that I wrote for the Irrigator which you can check here. This one I thought told the story well. Fire, spreading through the roof and to the yard, threatening the animals penned up behind before the owners came to let them free.

#5 Vernalis River Fire
I also recounted these accounts in the article, but I really liked this one because, although it didn't show the majority of the flames, I did feel that it portrayed alot of the mayhem going on in that small portion of isolated vegetation fire. Volunteer firefighters going every which way with their hoses in hand while the flames and smoke continued to surround us.

#8 "Performance Evaluation"
It may have been just a routine evaluation of our city manager Cleve Morris, but a crowd of well over a hundred people packed city hall with signs and banners ready to voice their opinions about their support for Morris, and make sure that this routine evaluation didn't go sour. Many of the anxious folks in the crowd (many of them city employees) wished to speak to the council before they went into closed session but were denied by the mayor. As they walked into the closed session chambers the crowd began to grumble, some of them saying out loud "...what about the BROWN ACT..." Then councilwoman Annette Smith turned and leaned into the microphone, furtherly supporting the mayors decision in denying the people their opines. "This is a performance evaluation", before they left into closed session. A few days go by after the meeting and a political watchdog group notified the city that they had violated the Brown Act and broken the law for not allowing the public to speak before the meeting.

#9 Crash Landing no.1
Stockton flight instructor Rick Tutt begins to diagnose the problem that caused the engine on this Piper Malibu passenger plane to fail. The single prop airplane was on its way to the Tracy airport before it crash landed in a field by a farm in Vernalis. The reason why this one is titled #1 is because about a month later, another single prop plane crash landed, that one into a waste water treatment pond.

#10 Gerry Kamilos and Patricia Snoke at the Crows Landing Air Base
When photographing the ground penetrating radar search for a lost cemetery at the Crows Landing air facility, Gerry Kamilos the developer in charge of the proposed West Park project, showed up to check on the progress. I had no idea that he would show up, but as I recognized him driving up I began to position myself for photographs. This photo is symbolic in so many ways, developer Kamilos (center) with Deputy Executive Officer in Stanislaus County's Chief Executive Office, Keith Boggs (left), standing next to Gustine's Patricia Snoke on the completely opposite end of the spectrum. Snoke also had shown up to check on the progress of the g.p.r., a family member of hers was buried in the lost cemetery, she's the one who spearheaded this entire search when she brought the issue to light for consideration going into the West Park EIR (environmental impact report). Then of course, Kamilos is standing in the middle of thousands of acres of prime farmland, the additional 3,273 acres that he plans on converting from ag use to that of an inland port and train yard for the port of Oakland. It helped that this photo was taken while the vegetation was really green on the surrounding farmland, no fallow fields here, even the walnut orchard in the background was looking strong thick and healthy for the photo. Anytime you can frame a photo with its surroundings makes the image that much more interesting as was done with this one being framed from the top by the hanging overgrowth of the unkempt trees at this ghost town facility. And final notes on this photograph, Pat Snoke's hair is glowing as it's back lit by the sun, giving almost a kind of halo effect.

#12 Civil War re-enactments at Knights Ferry
I had never been to one of these, but am glad I did. It was tons of fun, I followed the Reynolds' family from Patterson around a bit during the event which lasts a few days. At designated times during the day, the war ready troops line up and perform what a civil war battle may have been like. The two battling parties blasted gunpowder at each other across the Stanislaus River with the historic covered bridge nearby. Costumes and authenticity, it all made for some pretty impressive images, which I gave a little bit of a rustic look in photoshop.

#13 Grayson's Moses Alvarado shot dead at age 19
The murderer(s) of Moses Alvarado have yet to be apprehended in this unsolved mystery that occurred March 16th of this year in a remote section of the San Joaquin River north of Grayson leaving these two family members to console one another, while Sheriff's deputies stand nearby trying to work on any leads in the case.
Police surrounded a vehicle at Grayson's One Stop Market where the vehicle that supposedly carried Alvarado from the river, was left behind.

#14 Low Snow in Del Puerto and San Antone Valley
Last year we had two really low snow days, one in early March, and one in December. I love photographing the snow especially so close to home. But the low snow in December came at a particularly difficult time. A day before the phenomenon, friend and Del Puerto Canyon resident Dave Currier had unexpectedly died. I hadn't been up to the canyon until going up there to inspect the snowfall and I couldn't help but think of Dave as I drove up the road, it was almost as if he left a small reminder of his presence with the blissfully beautiful snowfall that graced his and wife Bj's hilltop home that day.

#19 Power Team display
The Power Team came to town and Creekside Middle School in August, to perform their inspirational, motivational, downright fun strength show. They broke stacks of bricks, splintered wooden planks, bent the occasional cooking pan, and oh yeah... exploded cans of soda all over the unsuspecting crowd!

#20 A blustery day
Late October brought some windy days, toppling tree branches, uprooting tumbleweeds, and this huge tree in front of a house on Spooner Ct. When I got to the scene, city workers were inspecting the problem, which consisted in the tree blocking the whole street. This phenomena attracted all of the neighborhood children, as they played on and in the felled tree until city workers dismembered it and shredded it.

#22 City Manager's Smile
While it may seem like less of a smile than that of the Mona Lisa's, but I consider this expression from city manager Cleve Morris to be one of relief, as he glances at the huge crowd that amassed in his support during the "performance evaluation" mentioned earlier.

#25 At the scene of the Grayson shooting
While much of the drama was unfolding at Grayson's One Stop Market where 19 year old Moses Alvarado was dropped off, the Sheriff's were busy at the scene by the San Joaquin River where Alvarado was fatally shot, looking for clues, trying to piece this case together. This photo is actually two images taken next to each other at the same time, only to be stitched together later in photoshop. This allows me to retain more detail in the image by not having to zoom out or get farther away from the scene to take the photo.

#26 Fig avenue house fire's flames
Being able to see fire chief Steve Hall through the heat waves mottling the depiction of him was unpredicted yet welcomed, especially knowing that each firefighter that is shown in the paper gets fined(usually with pizza or icecream), hopefully this gave him a little slack since it's a little hard to tell who it actually is (although I could tell).

#27 Patterson City Council
Patterson Mayor Becky Campo explains to council member Dominic Farinha why farmland mitigation should be excluded from the city's latest industrial annexation at Tuesday's council meeting, as they voted 4-1 not to save farmland elsewhere. Strong expressions from the councillors made for this interesting photo.

#31 Skateboarder Stabbed
A skateboarder who tried to break up a fight was stabbed on the street intersection of Las Palmas and Pipit dr. near the Save Mart parking lot June 27th. Droplets of blood including these wrangled sun glasses could be found on the ground at the scene.

#32 Grainger Ground breaking Ceremony
I'm not one for ribbon cuttings or official ceremonies, so I took this shot from one end of the new Grainger distribution center site with earth movers and churned soil in the foreground, while the officials pulled out the golden shovels and performed their own ground breaking in the tent beyond.

#33 Firefighters at the Vernalis River Fire
These two firefighters didn't seem to care that the large tree behind them was going up in flames, but I knew some thing was about to happen, the wind was beginning to pick up. Sure enough, flames from this very picture, shot into the sky and spread spot fires that grew and spread rapidly on their own. After the flames were subdued, the firefighter at right said "I thought that was going to happen" as he walked by me. I told him that I saw it happening too.

#34 Wal-Mart's big wall
For the stories that the Irrigator did on Wal-Mart, I was sent to some of the surrounding supercenters for photos. I waited outside of this one for a bit until everyone came into the composition that I kind of had in mind. Cluttered, chaotic, some of the words that come to mind when I see this picture and think of Wal-Mart. I feel that this picture does no justice to chaotic and cluttered, as some of the other instances in Wal-Mart lore that I have witnessed.