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Saturday, October 21, 2006


Fall programming: The season always starts later and later

Owing largely to my position behind the photo desk, I’m hardly shooting at all these days. But for this week’s O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz, I am making an exception.

surfer at Steamer Lane surfer at Steamer Lane surfer at Steamer Lane surfer at Steamer Lane

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Grand Prix Day 3

Pit row

Pit crews stand at the ready along Almaden Boulevard during the 2006 San Jose Grand Prix.


A driver skids around a turn during a drifting competition.


Smoke pours from the tires of a battered drifting car.

Champ car at turn 7



“Just as I suspected — they’re speeding.

so many shorts

Lucky: Finding a place to sit within the general admission area. Luckier: Finding a place to sit in the shade.

Frankie Muniz

Formula BMW driver Frankie Muniz speaks to a fan after a race.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Without a doubt, the grandest prix I’ve ever attended

race car

It might be summer, and the Spartan Daily might not be publishing right now, but that’s no excuse to avoid covering the San Jose Grand Prix, a three-day weekend of open-wheel racing on downtown streets. Hot sun, fearsome noise, and all the exhaust you can breathe.

race car

They make photographers sign a waiver in order to shoot trackside. At the photo hole on turn 3, this begins to make a lot of sense.


Malcolm in the race car

This one from today deserved its own special entry. For those of you unacquainted with teen heartthrobs of the past decade, the 20-year-old man pictured below has been a TV star for at least 6 years, most notably on a show called “Malcolm in the Middle.” For the rest of you, did you know Frankie Muniz raced formula cars? And more important, Jealous???

Malcolm in the race car

Actor/race car driver Frankie Muniz waits for the start of a Formula BMW race during the San Jose Grand Prix Saturday.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Car goes fast

race car

Go, car, go.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Heat wave

hoT with a capital T

106 degrees in the shade. (It was a more dramatic 123° in direct sun, but the heat made the LCD nearly impossible to read.)

As the kids might say, OMFG it’s hot. Thank the good Lord for tubeless internet so I can post this from outdoors, where the heat is slightly less oppressive than in the oven that my house has become.

I slept in as long as I could this morning, but nature dictated that I rise no later than 1 p.m., at which point I promptly began sweating. Dripping sweat. Rivers of it.

Setting sail on a pool of my own perspiration toward the thermostat to check the indoor temp — lately around 95 or 96 degrees — I found the two-digit display unable to cope with the current temperature. The LCD showed “OL,” which I took to mean “Oh, Lordy, it’s hot.”

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Summer programming: The outtake reel

This one is really from last April, but it never made it up here for some reason.

pay for parking here

Hit-and-run damage to cars parked in university garages is a costly problem for some students. Photo illustration by Joe Momma.

I was asked to illustrate a story about damage to cars in school garages and was encouraged to be creative. The illustration I came up with, a composite of two photographs, was deemed too realistic, and therefore a potential misrepresentation of reality — even with the words “photo illustration” underneath. What ran instead was an undoctored photo of the car door, minus the words.

Might a reader believe that the words from the parking payment machine were really emblazoned across the flank of someone’s car in a particularly ironic location? Perhaps. Might they also believe that Jesus makes appearances on tortillas? Of course. Is catering to that level of reader a good thing? I doubt it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The flogging of the mayor

Ron Gonzales

Mayor Ron Gonzales of San Jose admonishes a heckler at a special city council meeting called to discuss the mayor’s indictment on charges including bribery.

How much of a dork am I? Here’s a clue: I spent a fine summer afternoon at a city council meeting. See, our mayor just got indicted in a scandal involving garbage and Teamsters (I thought I was out West!?), and the city council held a special meeting about it. I thought it might be interesting to photograph, and I was pretty sure the new city hall had air conditioning, so I went.

The meeting wasn’t so fiery that I need to relate every detail, but here’s the jist of it. COUNCIL TO MAYOR: GET LOST. MAYOR TO COUNCIL: GET BENT.

A fair number of people turned out, and they were exactly who you’d expect would have the time to come to something like this in the middle of the day: Retirees and the unemployable. I really liked this guy’s overalls next to all the suits — kind of sums up the spirit of public comment.

San Jose City Council

Members of the public take turns addressing the mayor and city council during the public-comment portion of the council meeting.

In the end, the mayor stood his ground, won the battle, and set himself up for a stunning defeat in the upcoming war.

Ron Gonzales

“I’m sorry to interrupt, sir, but I thought you should know — your political career was just spotted. It was on fire. And jumping from the 18th floor. And headed toward a kiddie pool full of kerosene.”

Friday, June 23, 2006


Spare the Air day #2

Hot, still weather --> increased risk of smog --> free trips on public transit --> nice day for a ferry ride.

sailboarding guy

A man rides a sailboard through the wake of a ferry approaching the Larkspur terminal.

catamaran near Angel Island

A catamaran sails past Angel Island.

Saturday, June 3, 2006


They were closed, so I left with nothing

bag of anything

Spotted in downtown SF.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I can think of two things wrong with your name

Magic Slim

Magic Slim headlined the Metro Fountain Blues Festival Saturday along Paseo de San Carlos on the San Jose State University campus.

blues festival

A blues fan wears a portrait of guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan on his back.

Debbie Davies

Debbie Davies picks her guitar.

Magic Slim

Roy Rogers plays in late afternoon light.

Friday, May 12, 2006



Danielle Eakins

San Jose State University outfielder Danielle Eakins, right, leads off first base as New Mexico State University first baseman Mailei Hilva watches the pitch during the WAC Softball Tournament Friday at Fresno State’s Bulldog Diamond. Eakins went on to steal second base, but the Aggies bested the Spartans 5-0.

This softball tournament was held in Fresno, which is about 150 miles east of (and and about 20 degrees hotter than) San Jose. As I made the drive, I tried desperately to remember what fresno means in Spanish. A tree, right? But what kind? I looked around for possibilities: Oak? Nope, that would be a roble, like they have in Paso Robles. Willow? No, that’s sauce, and some bad speller once called a little one Sausalito.

Wait, I got it: Ash. A fresno is an ash tree. Incidentally, in German, it would be esche, a two-syllable word you might lazily shorten to esch’.

If I ever find the time to cultivate a smooth-talking alter ego like Jerry Lewis’ Buddy Love in the original Nutty Professor, that handsome lothario will be known as Danny Fresno.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Biggest perk: Academic robes

Karl Toepfer

After serving as interim dean since November 2004, Karl Toepfer has been named Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at San Jose State University.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Shooting talking blues

Laura Chavez

Laura Chavez, guitarist with the Lara Price Band, plays Wednesday night at the Hal Todd Theatre in Hugh Gillis Hall as part of “Talking Blues,” a free event sponsored by KSJS and the Associated Students.


Unnatural light

David Pierson

After 208 games with the Spartans, first baseman David Pierson is seven games away from breaking the San Jose State University record for baseball games played.

Thursday, May 4, 2006



Johannes Schwartz

Johannes Schwartz, a scholar from Germany currently working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., discusses his research on the role of women in Nazi concentration camps in David Mesher’s Holocaust Literature course on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006


Good times

Dana Hughes

Health educator Dana Hughes of the San Jose State University Student Health Center shares a laugh with a student as she leads a discussion on the prevention of date rape. The event, held Tuesday in the Pacifica Room of the Student Union, was presented by Delta Sigma Theta as part of the sorority’s May Week activities.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Natural light (not the beer)

Brie Marhenke

In her first year on the team, San Jose State University junior Brie Marhenke has set new school records for both the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle.

After lugging a whole mess of lighting equipment to the pool at 8 in the morning to shoot this portrait, I was pretty dismayed when the sync cord failed and rendered the lights useless. Fortunately for me, the sun has not yet burned out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Yet another sport

Jenelle Gomez

Spartan golfer Jenelle Gomez watches her drive at Coyote Creek Golf Club’s Valley Course during the Western Athletic Conference Women’s Golf Championship on Tuesday.


Otter punishment

Corey Cabral

Spartan Corey Cabral pitched two innings against Cal State Monterey Bay Tuesday at Blethen Field, retiring five batters in a row. The Spartans went on to defeat the Otters 6-0.

Chris Balatico

Spartan outfielder Chris Balatico slides to third base after hitting a triple in the seventh inning against Cal State Monterey Bay Tuesday at Blethen Field. Balatico went on to score during the Spartans’ 6-0 win over the Otters.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Follow-up: W

George W. Bush

To anyone feeling disappointed that I didn’t take this opportunity to mock the president, I apologize. If something unique had happened, and I could have made fun of him in a way that was truly funny, maybe I would have done so. But the jokes suggested by these photos are getting pretty tired after five years of W. (OK, I wrote some goofy captions, but nothing insulting, and they’re all factual.)

Besides that, there’s the issue of professionalism. I was a guest at a private event on private property and was acting as a supposedly objective representative of my university’s newspaper. My access depended on my photo editor, the managing editor, the White House media people and whichever security outfit does the background checks. These are all people I’d like to keep on my good side. Any sort of stupidity on my part just wouldn’t be classy.

This isn’t a political blog, but I’ve criticized both Governor Schwarzenegger and President Bush here before, and it seems likely that I’ll do so again. After all, they both talk funny, they each appear to represent a primate species closely related to our own and they’re dramatically unpopular (approval ratings below 40 percent!). But Friday’s post just wasn’t the time or the place.

Love him or hate him, Bush is one of the most iconic people alive. I got to photograph him for an hour, and I think that’s pretty cool. Like a peeing-Calvin sticker on a Mercedes, any attempt at humor would have cheapened the whole thing.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Superultramegapost: Photographing POTUS

When the photo editor called me and asked if I could cover the president, I assumed he was talking about the president of the university.

He wasn’t.

George W. Bush

He didn’t mention that there would be another big star there. I’m speaking, of course, of Cisco Systems president and CEO John Chambers.

George W. Bush and John Chambers

John Chambers of Cisco Systems, right, agrees with President Bush’s assertion that the growth of the Internet has helped Cisco “a little bit.”

One last surprise for me: The Governator.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger laughs as President George W. Bush cracks jokes about the two politicians’ college educations.

The president was in town to promote the American Competitiveness Initiative, a package of legislation aimed at keeping the US a major player in high tech. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, mainly because I was busy trying to not screw up a major opportunity. Fortunately, I’m a photographer, not a reporter.


Participants in Friday’s panel discussion included, from left, SJSU student Arash Shokouh, Foothill College president Dr. Bernadine Chuck Fong, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, President George W. Bush and Cisco Systems president and CEO John Chambers.

The managing editor of the Spartan Daily, another photographer and I allowed an absurd amount of time to get to the event, and that turned out to be a really good thing. Road closures and mixed signals among the traffic control people meant lots of back and forth and circling around, first in the car and then on foot.

Once we picked up our credentials, dropped off our camera gear for inspection, passed through the metal detector and picked up our gear inside, I staked out a spot on the risers set up at the back of the room for journalists while my colleague opted to shoot from the audience. Space on the risers was limited, so I was obliged to stay in my spot if I wanted to keep it.

So I waited.

For the next two hours or so, I sat, stood, stretched, and chatted a little with the other photographers. To my left was Robert Durell of the Los Angeles Times. To my right, Christina Koci Hernandez of the San Francisco Chronicle, whose work I’ve long admired. Behind me were the AP’s Paul Sakuma and Shmuel Thaler of the the Santa Cruz Sentinel — in other words, photographers I’m familiar with, not because I go to school with them but because they work.

Before I knew it, and actually ahead of schedule, things began to happen. Lights came on. A medley of patriotic tunes played softly. Well-dressed Secret Service men staked out their corners. Four unfamous people took their seats at the table before the giant backdrop. A crush of photographers traveling with the president flowed into the space between the table and the audience, and then came three introductions: John Chambers. The Governor of California. And the President of the United States.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and George W. Bush

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger greets President George W. Bush on Friday at a panel discussion in San Jose.

The event lasted a little more than an hour, during which time I took an awful lot of pictures. I’ll say this for our president: He’s pretty animated and entertaining to watch up close. I was amazed to realize how familiar his body language has become.

George W. Bush George W. Bush George W. Bush George W. Bush

I’ll also say this for the president: He was eerily likable. It was a little weird, but there was nothing to dislike about the man. He seemed genuine and was relatively funny. He didn’t mispronounce words or say anything dumb. Another photographer told me that Arnold would steal the show with his star power, but I didn’t find that to be the case, as the president had charisma to spare.

George W. Bush

President George W. Bush speaks with members of the audience after a Friday appearance at the San Jose headquarters of Cisco Systems.

All in all, it was an interesting and exciting day. I’m glad, and still somewhat incredulous, that I had the opportunity to photograph such an internationally famous, significant and symbolic person.

And I now know that the president writes with a fat Sharpie marker with his signature on the barrel. You just can’t buy experience like that.

George W. Bush


The teaser photo

Because I wouldn’t believe me if I were you.

press pass

Photos will be posted by Sunday.

Thursday, April 20, 2006



The sculpture pictured in the April 8 photo of Anthony Teixeira is complete and was on display this week in Anthony’s impressive BFA show.

Anthony Teixeira sculpture

Lamisha Augustine, whose portrait ran in this space back in March, is headed to the Sacramento Monarchs after graduation as SJSU’s first-ever WNBA draft pick.

Lamisha Augustine

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Porte-rait time

Veronica Porte

Freshman Veronica Porte is one of three all-around gymnasts on the Spartan team this season. At the 2006 Western Athletic Conference Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Logan, Utah, on March 25, Porte was SJSU’s top all-around performer and earned second team all-conference honors.

Portraiture is something I want to do a lot more of, and not just because I need the practice. I’m beginning to understand what’s possible when certain journalistic restrictions are lifted and the photographer is allowed to control the lighting and so forth. The fact that this photo is set up allows us to see a sweet, genuine smile, something we’d never get in action shots like this one from two weeks ago. Hard to believe it’s the same person, no?

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Major author, minor photo

James D. Houston

Novelist and nonfiction writer James D. Houston, the 2006 Lurie Distinguished Chair in Creative Writing at San Jose State University, reads from his work in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Joint Library Thursday evening. Houston’s appearance was part of the Major Authors Series presented by the Center for Literary Arts at SJSU.

Saturday, April 8, 2006


There’s a foundry?

Anthony Teixeira

Art major Anthony Teixeira applies patina to a sculpture in progress at the SJSU foundry on Saturday. The finished piece will be on display in Teixeira’s BFA show, “Conflict,” beginning April 17 at the Herbert Sanders Gallery in the Industrial Studies building.

Friday, April 7, 2006


A sport without a pool

Geraldine Hazlett

Spartan Kelly Harrison winds up to pitch Friday in the second game of a doubleheader against Louisiana Tech at SJSU Field.


Not called on account of rain

Geraldine Hazlett

SJSU utility player Geraldine Hazlett attempts a block against University of the Pacific’s Annika Aspen during Friday’s match at the Aquatic Center. The Spartans beat the Tigers 17-5.

The only thing I’ll remember about this assignment is the rain, which fell hard enough to cancel any game not played in a pool.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006


My chalkiest assignment yet

Tracie Kavalec

Senior gymnast Tracie Kavalec, center, practices on the uneven bars as junior gymnast Raylyn Cardeno, left, watches on Wednesday in Yoshihiro Uchida Hall. The Spartan gymnastics team will compete at the NCAA West Regionals on Saturday at Stanford University.

Veronica Porte

Freshman all-around gymnast Veronica Porte practices a routine on the uneven bars Wednesday in Yoshihiro Uchida Hall.

The second photo was the better of the two, but at the last minute I noticed some false attachment between Veronica and the pair of legs behind her. In a black-and-white printout, it looked almost like there was a centaur on the gymnastics team, so the top photo ran instead.

Monday, April 3, 2006


Mayoral candidacy: Two funny-sounding words?

John Candeias

John Candeias, a graduate student at SJSU and a candidate for mayor of San Jose, meets with members of San Jose Fire Fighters Local 230 Monday at their downtown office. Union officials interviewed Candeias as part of the process to select a candidate to endorse.

If you’re not familiar with the Crotch — I mean San Jose — you should know that this isn’t one of those little farm towns where a high-school senior gets elected mayor based on his stance on the village-square gazebo. San Jose has more residents than Detroit, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver or Boston. The city has an annual budget of more than three billion dollars, and employs more than 7,000 people.

I’m just sayin’…. Best of luck to the man.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The thanks I get

Neal in party mode

The birthday boy in party mode.

Good old Neal turned a little older this week. I offered to host the festivities. It would appear that a good time was had by some.


Those irrepressible bloggers!

Salam Pax

Salam Pax, left, the “Baghdad Blogger,” answers a question from an audience member Thursday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. At right, Mitch Berman, Director of the Center for Literary Arts at SJSU, moderates the discussion.

I shot this right before spring break, and it never got posted. Salam Pax is an architect from Baghdad who blogged throughout the US invasion and occupation, which makes him a perfect symbol of the new journalism, in which everyday citizens blah blah blah new technology cell phone cameras wireless broadband old guard is falling yada yada yada.

Sorry. That’s not a response to Mr. Pax, who was a very entertaining and thoughtful man. It’s just the inevitable spit-up in response to all the noise I hear about the changing face of news. New tech is great, but I seem to remember that the camcorder was supposed to usher in a new era of citizen journalism after someone taped the Rodney King beating in L.A. some 10 years ago. To be sure, there’s a lot more videotaping being done now that you don’t need to lug around a suitcase-sized tape deck, but has it really changed the news all that much? Not that I can tell. With a few exceptions, I think all we got from those citizen journalists was TV shows like “Maximum Exposure” that specialize in spectacular car crashes, fires and the like.

Could people of blog (or the “blogerati,” if you’re going to take William Safire as an authority on such matters) change the news media? Sure, they already have. Can they add any value there? We’ll see. Should everyone just relax and quit acting like there’s some huge revolution about to happen overnight in newsrooms across the land? Yes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006



The Daily’s going to run a profile of star basketball player Lamisha Augustine, and I volunteered to shoot the portrait that will run alongside a sports action shot.

Doing a portrait means bringing the lights — (exactly what I should have done when I shot a desk portrait a while back). Fortunately for me, the stalwart Neal helped me put that all together. In the end, despite some faulty equipment and a profound lack of a hoop or real basketball court, I think we did OK. The pose was also Neal’s idea, and I’m indebted to the person who found the spray-on stickum to help the ball stay put while I did my thing.

Lamisha Augustine

Spartan senior forward Lamisha Augustine will graduate in May after playing with the women’s basketball team since 2001. Augustine was the 11th player in SJSU history to break 1,000 points.



Another thing I never would have known without working for the Daily: There’s a boxing team at SJSU. And they’re not kidding around.

Jeremiah Smith

Jeremiah Smith, left, a senior majoring in aviation, spars with another member of the San Jose State University Boxing Club Tuesday at the Washington Union Youth Center in San Jose.

Patrick Myers

Patrick Myers, left, captain of the San Jose State University Boxing Club, trains with coach T.J. Trujillo Tuesday at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose.

bloody trash

A bloody paper towel sits in a ringside garbage can Tuesday at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose after being used to clean up a nose injury.

Patrick Myers

His shirt stained with an opponent’s blood from an earlier bout, Patrick Myers of the SJSU Boxing Club exercises on the mat Tuesday at the Washington United Youth Center in San Jose.

See more photos and read the story at the Spartan Daily.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I know what you’re thinking:

“Robots are nice and all, but shouldn’t you be out shooting water polo?” Sure enough.

Krissy Hansell

San Jose State University goalkeeper Krissy Hansell makes a save during a game against Princeton University Saturday at the Aquatic Center. The Spartans defeated the Tigers 9-8 in overtime.

Brianna Lindsey

Spartan defender Brianna Lindsey winds up for a shot against the Princeton University Tigers Saturday at the Aquatic Center.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Healthy competition

FIRST Robotics Competition

Robots take the field Friday at the FIRST Robotics Competition Silicon Valley Regional meet at the San Jose State University Event Center. High school teams from California built robots designed to shoot balls into a goal, first autonomously and then under student control.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Zjippy, the robot from Menlo-Atherton High School, rears up on two wheels and prepares to launch balls at the goal.

Mention robots and competition in the same breath, and people’s minds immmediately jump to Battlebots or some similar deathmatch involving circular saws and such. The FIRST Robotics Competion is an entirely different animal, fueled not by bloodlust (spark-lust?) but by a desire to motivate and inspire young people. It’s run by Segway inventor Dean Kamen’s foundation, and the whole thing reminds me of the “New Games” movement of the ’70s (not that anyone, including Wikipedia, seems to remember much about New Games). The FIRST Robotics site explains it much better. I’ll just say these three things: The kids were scary smart, the spirit of the whole thing was great, and Woz was there.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Kevin Irish, a junior at Woodside High School, works on the traction system of his team’s robot in the pit area of the FIRST Robotics Competition Silicon Valley Regional meet held Friday and Saturday at the SJSU Event Center.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Emcee Mark Leon, a NASA employee and San Jose State University graduate, introduces the teams before a new round at the FIRST Robotics Competition Silicon Valley Regional meet Friday at the SJSU Event Center.

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sits on the panel of judges for the FIRST Robotics Silicon Valley Regional meet held at the SJSU Event Center Friday and Saturday.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Non-violent robot showdown

Apes of Wrath

Jason Burke, left, and Chris Burke, representing the Apes of Wrath robotics team from Pioneer High School in San Jose, work the controls for their team’s robot at the Silicon Valley Regional meet of the FIRST Robotics Competition, held Friday at the SJSU Event Center.

I don’t even know what to say about the high-school robotics teams … I’ll return to this topic after I shoot the second day of the competition.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Photos that say, “You had to be there”

John P. Sullins

John P. Sullins, a professor of philosophy at Sonoma State University, speaks to members of the SJSU philosophy club at the King Library Wednesday. Sullins, an SJSU alumnus, discussed the development of sociable robots for personal use.

Most of what happens at a university is not interesting to the eye. Maybe I’m just more of a writer than a photographer at heart, but when it comes to covering lectures, seminars, guest speakers, workshops, symposia, colloquia and what have you, a camera just feels like the wrong tool for the job.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Wee engineers


Seventh-graders Davis Vu, left, and Anthony Phan make some last-minute repairs to their mousetrap car, which is propelled by the force stored in a mousetrap spring, during MESA Day Saturday in the engineering building. Students put their cars through speed and climbing tests before giving a speech on their design process.


Volunteer Daniel Katz of Hitachi, left, sets up a student’s mousetrap car on an incline to test its climbing ability during MESA Day Saturday in the engineering building.

They used to grow fruit around here, and now they grow little geniuses. This was a competition put on by the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program.

This last shot didn’t run for some reason, which is too bad. I like it better than the other two.


MESA volunteer Rick DiPrieto of IBM performs a weight test on a middle-school student’s bridge during MESA Day Saturday in the Student Union.


Weird snowy winter

snow on Diablo Range

Snow blankets the Diablo Range east of campus Saturday in this view from the top of the Fourth Street Garage.

It was at least 10 degrees warmer in New York City today than in San Jose. No snow there, either.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006


Quick lecture shot

Victor Pineda

Activist and filmmaker Victor Pineda adresses a group in the Guadalupe Room of the Student Union Wednesday. Pineda, an advocate for people with disabilities, discussed the history and future of his cause.

This guy was really cool, and his talk was entertaining as well as informative. But since I was supposed to be covering a demonstration, filling in for the photo editor, and doing some research at the same time, I didn’t get to hang around very long.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006


The world language of art openings

fussball buffet

San Jose State University senior Ernesto Bueno shows off with the ball Tuesday at the opening reception for “World Language of Soccer,” a photo exhibit in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library.

Time for another gallery opening in the second-floor exhibit space, but unlike last time, there was an actual opening with an actual reception. It was a good deal more lively that way.

Unfortunately, exams and whatnot prevent me from going on any further, but I just had to get that awful block of text off the top of the page.

Monday, March 6, 2006


Friggin features

water goes up, water comes down

Two students enjoy this week’s one sunny day by sitting near some simulated rain. I got their names, class years and majors, but what do you care? If you saw them on campus, would you say, “Hey, Dick and Jane! Math majors, right? Seniors rule!” Of course not.

Not sure which is worse: having to shoot crap like this, or having it cut from the paper after I get all the work done, including a legitimate caption. I could have been studying, for crying out loud. Or at least not bothering innocent people to fill imaginary white space.

Sunday, March 5, 2006


Set-spike-block, meet point-shoot-suck

men's volleyball

San Jose State’s Barry Ivers, right, spikes into a block by Fresno State during the Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League Mini-Tournament held March 5 and 6 at Santa Clara University.

This was not my day to shine. Lighting was bad, vantage points were few, and I didn’t have really have the right lens for the job. Besides, I might just be too slow on the shutter for this sport. If I must do sports, they should probably be slow ones, like bocce or curling.

men's volleyball

SJSU’s Paul Dhillon, left, winds up to spike the ball after Carter Youngblood sets it during the NCCVL Mini-Tournament.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Neither here nor there

Okay, fine, I’ll play

Fellow photographer fling, whose blog I mistakenly omitted from my sidebar, is perpetuating this … this thing that I don’t want to say because it sounds even stupider than blog … But I appreciate the spirit behind the thing, and I’m flattered to have been tagged. I think. What does that mean, exactly?

The Four Things Meme
Four shows I enjoy:
• Lost
• The Office (yeah, the American one)
• dog-and-pony
• medicine
Four movies I can watch over and over:
Office Space
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Four jobs I’ve held:
• Proofreader
• Magazine buyer
• Bike messenger
• Taxi driver
Four cool toys:
• blocks
• magnets
• chalk
• Colorforms
Four of my favorite dishes:
• Dungeness crab, and don’t mess with it too much
• Fresh artichoke, and don’t mess with it too much
• Filet mignon, and don’t mess with it too much
• Lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, brandy, and a fried egg on top and SPAM
Four web sites I visit daily:
The Straight Dope
Boing Boing
MAKE: blog
Four places I’ve lived:
• Berkeley
• Oakland
• San Francisco
• San Jose (look out, Sausalito!)
Four places I’ve vacationed:
• Vermont
• Arizona
• Kentucky
• New York
Four places I’d rather be:
Instead of San Jose? Are you insane? There’s not one place I’d rather be!
Four bloggers I’m tagging:

Friday, March 3, 2006


Precision who what?

Okay, today’s picture is nothing to write home about, photographically speaking. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I wish I had sought out some really awesome angle, or something to make it more visually interesting.

On the other hand, it was cold out in that hangar, and they wanted to get back to their meeting. The last thing I wanted was uncomfortable subjects, so I tried to work fast. I finished before some of the guys realized I had started — they thought I was just shooting some test shots.

They could be more perfectly arranged, but I left that up to them for the most part. I’m a newspaper photographer, not Sears Portait Studio. Seriously, I wanted their relaxation and good spirits more than any particular arrangement of faces. To some degree, I think it worked. What I like most about the shot is the smiles. They’re all genuine. The stupid photo patter doesn’t hurt, but putting the team at ease was the key to getting some good expressions.

Next time, though, I have to remember to rotate the flash a little. Speedlights, you will be the death of me. Photographically speaking.

SJSU Precision Flight Team

Members of the SJSU Precision Flight Team pose for a photograph in a San Jose Jet Center hangar during their Friday night meeting. Pictured from left are Sean Cooksy, Warren Kitchen, team captain Travis Plutt, coach Kelly Harrison, Jerry Wong, Andrew Wigley, Vess Velikov and Mike Meschi.

Oh, yeah … my university has a precision flight team. Who knew?

Thursday, March 2, 2006


Reflections on light rail

The light-rail station closest to campus is closed for a while — big news for the brave few who don’t drive to school. After I got the photo assignment for this story, I promptly forgot all about it, and ended up having to shoot it in a big hurry. I really wanted to get a more direct illustration, like a frustrated person standing at the closed station while the train whizzes by. Unfortunately, the platform is all fenced off, and the trains go about as fast as a grandmother parking a Cadillac, so that would be a tough shot to get.

Anyway, it’s not my best work, but I was out of ideas.

VTA light rail

Betsy Canfield, a San Jose State University sophomore majoring in human resources, waits to board the VTA light rail at the Santa Clara station Wednesday. The Paseo de San Antonio station closer to campus, which Canfield normally uses, is closed for renovation.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Site news

Foist of March

I can’t believe how March always sneaks up on me. Seems like there should be a couple more days of February, but since it is usually the worst month of all, I am happy to see it go.

Unpleasant though it might often be, this February was a banner friggin month here at danesch.com. The number of posts for the month set a new record, and traffic was through the roof. (I want to encourage everyone to leave a comment by clicking on a photo, and let me know who the hell you all are.)

One bit of bad news: The eminently cool Alma Bowl sign, which I photographed last April, came down last week along with the Alma Bowl itself. In my dreams, the sign has been spirited away to be refurbished and put back in place next to whatever monstrosity gets built there. As if.

When you’re done drying your tears, why not make yourself feel better with a quality print, suitable for framing?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


100% podium-free

Yesterday’s assignment, the unveiling of a painting in the library, seemed like it was going to be another occasion that wouldn’t yield any good pictures. Sure enough, all the shots of speakers next to the easel were downright sleep-inducing.

Fortunately, I caught a nice moment where a key figure in the proceedings turned around to speak with the Spartan Daily reporter. For a second, I was finally just seeing instead of thinking. This happens more and more often these days as the paper forces me to speed up my process. For my money, this is one of my best shots so far.

But I want to know what you, the readers, think. You can comment on this photo or any other (within the last six months) by clicking on it. Do it.

Martha Heasley Cox

Martha Heasley Cox, founder of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, attends the unveiling of a restored 1946 portrait of John Steinbeck Monday. The painting by Swedish artist Bo Beskow will hang in the Steinbeck Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


A cold, wet day at Muni

I used the rain cover on my camera backpack for the first time today, and even had a baggie around the camera body for a while. The 300mm lens on the monopod felt like a sail on a mast every time the wind gusted. But dozens of fans can’t be wrong: It’s baseball season!

baseball v LMU

SJSU catcher Brett Prieto, center, prepares to hit the ball in game three against Loyola Marymount University Sunday at Municipal Stadium. The Spartans beat the Lions 6-1.

baseball v LMU

Spartans infielder Ben Agatep slides safely into first after Lions first baseman Kyle Mura attempts a pickoff in game three against LMU Sunday.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


“Demonstration at City Hall…”

“…can you send a photographer down there?”

cease-fire march

Demonstrators calling for an end to gang violence march down Santa Clara Street after gathering in front of San Jose City Hall Thursday.


From the not-exactly-news dept.

Two more shots in today’s paper, photos that I took days and weeks ago and then forgot about. It’s always a pleasant surprise to find them put to use on later stories.

baseball file art

Brigham Young University designated hitter Austin Carter attempts to steal second as San Jose State University shortstop John Shaffer prepares to make a tag during the sixth inning Saturday at San Jose Municipal Stadium.

WP file art

Stanford University 2-meter player Alison Grehorka attempts to shoot past San Jose State University attacker Angela Riddle during the 2006 Stanford Invitational tournament held Feb. 12.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


“Lost boys” of Sudan


Mach Gong, a junior majoring in international business, takes an exam in his finance class Wednesday. Gong, along with two other SJSU students, fled his native Sudan after civil war erupted there.


San Jose State University junior marketing major Bol Bol, second from right, takes an exam in a finance class Wednesday. Bol fled his home in Sudan after civil war broke out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The most physically demanding of sports

… for me, anyway.

Today’s assignment was the 2006 Amgen Tour of California, a new bike race in the style of the Tour de France. The Daily’s coverage was a team effort with four photographers at different places along the route. I volunteered to stake out Sierra Road, the “signature climb” of the tour, which rises 1800 vertical feet over about four miles.

The summit of Sierra Road is one lane and a cliff, so forget about parking. If the giant media credential around my neck got me anything today, it sure wasn’t a ride to the summit. I hoofed it with a laptop, two camera bodies, and three or four lenses. That took a couple hours. The riders arrived soon after, I got a solid two minutes of shooting in, and then it was time to hike back down. Never have I sweated so much in the name of photography.

These two made the cut:

George Hincapie

Team Discovery captain George Hincapie, right, climbs Sierra Road in San Jose Tuesday during Stage 2 of the Tour of California. Hincapie went on to win the stage and is the overall leader entering Stage 3.


A pack of racers ascends Sierra Road with Silicon Valley in the background during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday.

This would have made the cut if I had been able to identify the CSC rider on the right, but I don’t have a shot with his number visible, and all bike racers look pretty much the same. Update 2/25/06 — I’ve finally identified him as David Zabriskie, a serious American rider formerly on the USPS team, who as of tonight could well win the tour.)

David Zabriskie

CSC’s David Zabriskie pedals up Sierra Road during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday. Zabriskie finished the stage in 9th place.

This shot made no cut of any kind, but I like it.

Nicolas Jalabert

Frenchman Nicolas Jalabert, riding for Phonak, ascends San Jose’s Sierra Road Tuesday during Stage 2 of the Tour of California. Jalabert finished 36th in the stage.

On the way back down the hill, I was surprised to see a few stragglers. I still had a camera ready, so I got some good shots of the … how you say … less famous pro cyclists.

Jesus Zarate

Jesus Zarate, riding for the KB Home Mexican National Team, struggles up Sierra Road during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday in San Jose. Zarate finished the stage in 116th place, nearly 18 minutes behind stage winner George Hincapie.

Martin Gilbert

Canada’s Martin Gilbert of the Kodak Gallery.com/Sierra Nevada team tackles the Sierra Road climb. Gilbert finished the stage in 113th place.

More photos, video, and the full story at the Spartan Daily.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Also ran

Also in the paper today: a really weak feature I shot last week on no sleep.

baseball v BYU

San Jose State University students celebrate Black Thursday with some informal stepping in the Student Union Amphitheater.


Thaw me out, coach

It’s late February, and the snow on the peaks around here has persisted for three days now. That can mean only one thing: Baseball!

This was the first baseball game I’ve covered, so I had a few things to learn. Like, bring the winter gloves.

baseball v BYU

Spartans outfielder Sam Hall advances to second off a hit by John Shaffer in the fourth inning against Brigham Young University Saturday at San Jose Municipal Stadium.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


There’s no I in feature

The occasional solo shot is nice, but mainly it’s all about the timeless interaction between two human faces. Or, failing that, between two human faces and a computer screen.

Comp sci front

Lei Li, left, and Kelly Lu, both computer science students working on their second bachelor’s degrees, collaborate on a classroom project Wednesday.

Someone over my shoulder at the paper liked the above shot because of the repetition of form — one pair of people with a laptop in the foreground, and a matching set in the background. I hadn’t even noticed that, but he was right. Is it possible that I’ve finally internalized this basic tenet of good photography, so that I do it without even thinking about it? Nah. I got lucky.

Comp sci jump

Kelley Cartwright, left, a graduate student of mathematics, and Bruce Langdon, a junior math major, work together on a computer science project Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Mo’ file art

One of the shots from Sunday’s water polo tournament made it into a story on the two goalkeepers for today’s edition. Just a crop of the head ran in print, but the whole thing showed up online. Considering this wasn’t even a shot that had been put aside as file art, I was pretty surprised to see it run.

A further note on captioning these pictures: Differentiating the players is difficult at best — height, hair color and hairstyle go out the window as identifying characteristics. The players in the pool don’t really resemble their dry, swim cap–free portraits on the team web site. Worse yet, any full-face portrait of a player doesn’t show her number, forcing me to go back and forth through the take looking for a shot of the same player with her head turned. Maybe in time I’ll actually learn to recognize their faces.

Krissy Hansell

Krissy Hansell, SJSU goalkeeper, sets up a pass during a game at Stanford Sunday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Love is in the quad

Got a text message from my photo editor last night around 12:30 — could I find a Valentine’s Day feature for Wednesday’s issue?

I assaulted three couples with my camera this morning, including the young lovers below. I shot first, asked questions later: “Are you guys, like, boyfriend and girlfriend?” They were totally cool with me and the camera, so I moved in closer for this shot. Their coolness will be rewarded with an appearance tomorrow’s paper.

Valentine's Day feature

Junior biology major Julie Sullivan, left, and her boyfriend Jason Martin, a junior mechanical engineering major, work a crossword puzzle together outside the Student Union Tuesday.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Neither here nor there

Take that, Hallmark

In the spirit of the impending day, here’s a sweet little love note I got today. It really deserves to be set to music. Who wants to have a go?

“Fucking St. Valentine”
Words by Carol Tidwell

What are you to do if you have bad erection?
Especially in the forthcoming Saint Valentines Day???
Don’t worry, it is not the last
of pea-time...The most simple way
is to visit our site, order the medication
and that is all you are to do!

Do not kill the clock!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Mo’ polo

Today I covered a water polo tournament at Stanford, about a half hour away. The SJSU game began at 8:30 this morning, while a heavy fog hung over the steam rising from the pool. It finished around 10, so I went home and ended up getting a couple hours of much-needed sleep. Then it was back to Stanford for a 2:30 match. As soon as that was done, I had to head straight for the Daily to have the photos edited, write the captions, get those copyedited, and put everything on the paper’s servers. I made it home by 8.

Am I complaining? Not at all; I know it’s more of a job than a class, and jobs tend to involve lots of time and effort. I intend only to clarify things for those who find them unclear: This is a very time-consuming course.

At the end of the day, I had two photos for tomorrow’s story and two for file art. Of those, I like one from the first game, even though it’s flawed (the Stanford player and the ball shouldn’t be cut off like that). The facial expressions, the jazz hands, the magic-show fog… you can’t stage stuff like this.

SJSU vs. Stanford

Here’s what’s running in the paper:

SJSU vs. Stanford

Spartans defender Katie Morgan, left, reacts after failing to block a shot by Cardinal driver Katie Hansen, center, during the 2006 Stanford Invitational Sunday. Spartans goalkeeper Kendra Adama, right, made the save.

SJSU vs. Hawai'i

San Jose State University defender Brianna Lindsey, left, prepares to set up a play as University of Hawai’i 2-meter player Sabrina Cook attempts a block at the 2006 Stanford Invitational Sunday.

Friday, February 10, 2006


1. Hang head in boredom 2. Hang head in shame

I spent four hours tonight at an awards ceremony. It was a good-hearted thing done by good people honoring other good people, so the last thing I want to do is bad-mouth it. But it was not even slightly fun. As far as work goes, it wasn’t bad — I’ve definitely had worse jobs — but by college standards, it was pretty darn tedious.

On top of that, I did a lousy job. The best I could hope for was a couple decent podium shots, but instead I got some horrible compositions with bad flash effects. Of all the moments in the subject’s 50-year coaching career, I’m sure he’ll remember this one as the most harshly lit.

Yoshihiro Uchida

I will not dignify this shot with a caption.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006


File art! Whoo!

Didn’t expect to have a photo in today’s paper, but there you go.

Water polo file art

San Jose State University utility Julia Moruza, center, blocks a shot by Santa Clara University utility Kendra Betke in a Jan. 28 match at the SJSU Aquatics Center.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006


The continuing search for compostion and artistry

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing SJSU’s new director of Student Life and Leadership, Richard Kelley. He was a more than affable subject, and profusely apologetic for the emptiness of the office he hadn’t yet had a chance to settle into. All the same, the static nature of a behind-the-desk portrait seemed at odds with my goal of taking good photographs. At least now I understand why photographers lug those big lights around.

Richard Kelley, take 4

Richard Kelley, director of San Jose State University Student Life and Leadership, poses in his new office Monday. Kelley joined the staff Jan. 30.

(The final shot is from today’s Spartan Daily.)

Monday, February 6, 2006


Not quite ready for prime time

Today was a day to get feature photos, that is, those without any news story attached.

Today’s entry is to show that most of my photos, simply put, bite. The ideas might be good, but it’ll take some more shooting before they’re ready for the paper.

Returns line

The line for returns at the Spartan Bookstore was two people thick Monday afternoon at the Student Union.


Graduate art student Bryan Yerian, left, and art major Shaun Griffiths work together in the glassblowing studio at the Industrial Studies building Monday.

(Neither of these were published anywhere. And rightly so.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006


The challenge of antiphotogenic news

I always knew newspaper photography would be challenging, but the thing I used to worry about most was capturing a really big event, like a riot or a neighborhood on fire, in a frame. Photography boils down to selection and subtraction, so what do you choose to symbolize everything that’s going on around you?

This just shows how little I know about photojournalism. Riots and wildfires are at least exciting in some way. Even Rush Week and water polo provide interpersonal connections and a certain amount of action to look at. But what about a press conference? Or a gallery opening without a reception? The dreaded grip-and-grin? They might make good news stories, but getting a good picture in the dullest of circumstances? Now that’s hard.

Don’t get me wrong — I consider myself quite fortunate to live in a part of the world where things are largely stable, peaceful, and not on fire. I’m glad, both as a human and as a photographer, that I get to witness far more beauty than horror. It’s just that there’s a big gray area in between. I hadn’t given much thought to it, but that’s where most stuff happens.

That gray area, I now understand, is the daily newspaper.

Leap exhibit

Valerie Kiadeh, a linguistics student at San Jose State University, reacts to a photograph in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library Wednesday. “People with Disabilities in Our Community,” a show by photographer Misako Akimoto, is on display in the library’s second-floor exhibit area through March 1.

Dick Tomey press conference

Spartans football head coach Dick Tomey answers a reporter’s question about national signing day during a press conference Wednesday at the Simpkins Stadium Center.

(Both for tomorrow’s Spartan Daily.)

Now, to end things on an upper, I’d like to point out that the Spartan Daily is far from a gray place. It’s an exciting ongoing project populated with some of the brightest people I’ve met in college. Some of them have blogs and web portfolios. Some, like Dr. Dennis Dunleavy, are no longer in the building, but the magical interweb keeps their work and wisdom close at hand. (And then there’s Edy Moreno — not at the Daily, but a fellow sunrise/sunset photographer from my landscape class last fall, and one of the best photographers I’ve shot with.) When I get around to making a sidebar for links, all these people will be up there.

Dennis DunleavyThe Big Picture?

Daniel SatoPhotojournalism from a Student’s Eye

Shaminder DulaiS(urrender) L(aughter) R(egularly)

Edy Moreno — Flickr page

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Site news

A good streak ruined

To what’s left of my loyal readers:

I had a good thing going here — a year and a half of pretty solid posting, anyway, and pretty good traffic at one point. Even some good comments and e-mails from strangers, which helped fuel the whole thing.

I also had big plans: A shift of all the photo-hosting headaches to someone else. Higher-quality versions of old galleries. Better scaling and color for your display. A few prints for sale here and there.

But then the last few months happened, and well …. What’s important here isn’t the last few months, but the months to come. After registering for a full load of classes that didn’t include the student newspaper, I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself on the staff of the Spartan Daily. That means lots more photographs to come, mainly of a kind I’m utterly inexperienced with … like, say, water polo. (It’s a far cry from Monterey at sunset.)

As I get back to working on the site regularly, I hope to implement more of those changes I had in mind. One improvement has been forced upon me by unscrupulous casino comment spammers, and it starts right now: Comments can no longer be made on this page, and instead can be left at photos.danesch.com, which you can get to by clicking on any new photo. (The older stuff will take some time in transition.)

The bottom line is this: Stick around, it’s only going to get better.


Live wet girls

From today’s Spartan Daily:

water polo

San Jose State defender Katie Morgan blocks a shot by Santa Clara University attacker Andrea Evans during a match Saturday at the SJSU Aquatics Center.

I think that was a 200mm lens, so effectively 300mm on my D70...probably f/11 at 1/1500 or so.

Friday, January 27, 2006


OMG, it’s SOP!

From today’s Spartan Daily:

SOP sisters

Sigma Omicron Pi sisters Janet Chiu, left, and Sandy Chen looked over a recruiting flyer at their sorority’s table outside the Student Union Thursday.