Category: Photo

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The Cats of University Heights: Captain Blackbeard

One year ago today, I started this series with grainy photo of a presumed stray I nicknamed Scruffy. The plan was to post pics I had recently taken, and to add a few more, before wrapping up within a few weeks or as long as a month. I had no concept of the number of kitties that there were, or are, around the neighborhood—more than 100 featured so far.

We celebrate the anniversary with Captain Blackbeard, who yesterday evening relaxed on house steps below a sweet, 6-month old girl and her friendly dad. “He came with the name”, the gent said about his pet, observing that the beard is more white. The feline spends more time indoors, but gets occasional outside romps, and he has been with the family for about 3 months. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tiger

Alabama, along a two-block stretch, delivers yet another friendly feline. These sightings surprise because the street, like a few others in the neighborhood, has no utility poles. Their absence immensely diminishes the presence of birds, which would otherwise perch on the wires. If there is so little prey, why are there so many predators? Even well-fed cats hunt and kill. It’s their nature.

On no other street to either side of Park Blvd. have I seen more furballs than Alabama. Among the recent sightings: Goldie, GreyItchy Valentino (yes, real name), and Nine. In the alley behind: Spry. Several others will join the series when I get better portraits of them. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Grey

Seven minutes after sunset, 6:32 p.m. PDT, on Oct. 7, 2017, I encountered yet another feline on Alabama, close to Meade. The kitty isn’t the first grey in the series, but she is distinguished by having the color as nickname.

Mystery: The increasing number of cats recently seen on or around that street. Why here? Also from Alabama: Goldie, Itchy Valentino (yes, real name), and Nine. In the alley behind: Spry. On Meade or Monroe, respectively, close to the cross-street: Amanda and Loyal.

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The Cats of University Heights: Dancer

Yesterday, while walking up Mission Ave. towards Park Blvd., I watched a lanky tortoiseshell cross Georgia and gracefully go into an apartment complex parking lot. Her pace was slow and precise, and slim shape and long legs reminded me of a human dancer. Hence, the nickname she receives.

By the time I reached the parking spaces, the shorthair had gone into the building’s courtyard. As I knelt down with the Leica Q, she turned to see me and then strolled back. I almost gave this kitty nickname Kneady, or Kneedy. She received pats and attention for more than 10 minutes; when twice I knelt down on a knee, she stepped in close, put her front paws on my thigh, and kneaded. I got the sense she could be a real lap cat. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Mittens

Texas Street, which leads down into Mission Valley, demarcates one of my neighborhood’s major borders. A few homes back from the throughway, as I walked to Pizza Hut along Meade, a pretty tuxedo kitty greeted me on Oct. 2, 2017. She was so friendly that getting good portraits was next to impossible. Hence the odd selection presented.

We visited for a few minutes before I crossed Texas and started strutting up the steep incline beyond. Then I changed my mind and aborted plans to fetch a $6 three-topping medium pie special. I walked back towards the furball, who had remained on the sidewalk. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Seeker

When I saw this lonesome feline looking out a window, I assumed he must be either of the furballs nicknamed Jumper or Stride. All three were spotted on Campus Ave—this one closer to Madison than Monroe. Obviously, he is another.

I captured the Featured Image on Sept. 18, 2017 at 6:37 p.m. PDT, using the iPhone 7 Plus second camera as a pseudo-2x optical zoom. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 80, 1/60 sec, 6.6mm. He is the seventh window watcher of the series. The others are: CoolGlassKitStar, Still, and Watcher. I chose this kitty’s nickname based on the presumption that he seeks to go outside.

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The Cats of University Heights: Crystal

Around the neighborhood, there are numerous nook-and-crany streets that dead into one of the canyons. Last night, I walked down several of them, for the first time in months, seeing a meandering, slow-moving siamese in one of the yards along Proctor Place.

The kitty approached me, initially. But when kneeling down to shoot, over a low-lying brick wall, I inadvertently nudged a green grated-metal door, which creaked. The furball stopped, but did not rush away. Rather, the kitty slowly strolled across the yard to an open security door and vanished. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Mika

Sometimes, I feel compelled to wait before featuring felines—as is the case with the blackie that my wife and I met on Sept. 15, 2017 at 2:59 p.m PDT. A neighbor told me his name, but confusion followed about whether she said Mika or Meeko. For 15 days, I walked by the condominium seeking an answer, and on several of those occasions I visited the puss once more but met no human. Yesterday, I finally got the answer, which surely you can guess from our title/headline. Now we share the moment.

Mika is either the ninth or tenth Halloween cat to appear in the series, depending on whether or not Betty and Betty, Too are the same animals. The others: Black, FangFarfisa, FrenemyPee-Pee, Siesta, and Skull

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The Cats of University Heights: Charlie, Too

On Sept. 27, 2017, for the second evening in a row, I observed a lean, orange furball in a yard on Campus Ave. between Meade and Monroe. Our first meeting was at 7:04 p.m. PDT—or nearly 30 minutes after sunset—when iPhone 7 Plus proved ineffective producing anything less than photos so overly-noisy that they could stand-in for bad impressionist painting knock-offs. Eh, no, to your question about there being some cool, new iOS 11 camera filter at work. Oh I wish!

The next sighting was earlier, 6:51 p.m. PDT for the Featured Image, but captured with the esteemed Leica Q about 14 minutes after sunset. Once again, the 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens and 24-megapixel full-frame sensor delivered magnificently. This first pic is all about bokeh and narrow depth of field that draws the eye to the kitty’s face and head, which detail is super sharp. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/1.7, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, 28mm. That’s my wife petting him, BTW. 

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The Cats of University Heights: ChaCho

Last night, as my wife and I walked along Golden Gate Drive, we spotted two felines—one (white) lay across the entryway, and the other (smokey) sat sphinx-like on the steps—at a beautiful home with open-wide front door. As we passed, the grey kitty got up and stretched, and I thought surely he would come out to the sidewalk for attention. I beckoned Anne to stop, and as she turned back he strutted across the lawn.

The iPhone 7 Plus in hand, I had been trying to get a closer on-the-steps shot; the second lens acts as 2x optical zoom.  Hence, the Featured Image, which I almost discarded because it isn’t sharp and reminds me of the mushy output quality I would get from 3-megapixel cameras more than a decade ago. Is it coincidental, or something more, that my last few evenings of low-light photos are similarly noisy, all after upgrading to iOS 11, where HEIC (so called High Efficiency Image File) replaces JPEG as default camera capture format. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Siesta

On the same block where last night utility workers repaired electrical cables above, 24 hours later a lone feline lounged below. I greeted the beastie after parking our car, at 4:25 p.m. PDT, following a trip to the bank and pharmacy. Important note: In July 25, 2017 post “Meow! Second Sightings” I misidentified this kitty as Black, who appeared in this series two months earlier. Turns out that the two are companions living in the same house, which I  can see looking down the alley from our kitchen window.

Around seven this evening, as I drove up with a Super Supreme pie (without olives) from Pizza Hut, both cats sat on their home’s porch railing. The one I nickname Black jumped down for attention when I approached. Her collar is the same as those in my previous photos. The other’s collar matches the one worn in the misidentified portrait. Whoops!