Category: Photo

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Work in Progress

Here in University Heights, at the corner of Cleveland and Meade Avenues, is American Market. Next month, the Wilcox family celebrates 10 years living in the neighborhood, and the one-stop shop has been a fixture […]

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How Sweet, Sour Fruit

Fruit trees are among the signature characteristics of San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. You see them—particularly the citrus varieties—on the front lawns of many homes. Too often, ripening trees appear to be neglected, bearing plentiful, but rotting, delights. That said, some people gladly share, by setting out their bounty for the taking—like this line of lemons that I saw late yesterday afternoon along Maryland Ave.

Because I recklessly left Leica Q at home, the Featured Image and its companion were captured using iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals for the first: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/60 sec, 3.99mm; 5:31 p.m. PDT. The other is same, except for 1/40 sec shutter speed and 5:32 p.m. timestamp.

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The Predator

While walking down Maryland Ave. late this afternoon to the grocery store, what looked like two birds locked together swooped by me. As I turned my gaze across the street, the one dropped the other before perching on a building. There waited the first hawk I ever recognize seeing. Had the Leica Q been with me, I could have manually focused in the moment and close-cropped later during post-production for detail. Instead, I made do with the iPhone 7 Plus second camera, which acts as a 2x optical zoom.

The smartphone poorly addressed the lighting, measuring from the brightly-lit background—something I could have compensated better for if not in a rush. The bird wouldn’t wait around long. The Featured Image, and its companion, are both heavily edited; in the first, I purposely blew out the sky’s highlights to contrast against the urban structure and to brighten bird and building. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Amanda

What’s the deal with Alabama Street? For three days in a row, this series has presented a trio of felines—Itchy Valentino, Goldie, and Nine—seen within minutes of one another on the sidewalk between Adams and Madison. Later the same day, Sept. 5, 2017, at 6:59 p.m. PDT, I met another furball two blocks further, on Meade between Alabama and Florida. Where there are four, there are more. I will return to the area soon to scout for others.

Amanda (her real name) is a thin beauty, who waited before a door to be let in when I walked by. She immediately sprinted over, looking for attention, which she got—and I had to stop her from following me when we parted. My destination, the local Pizza Hut, beckoned more than 2 km (1.3 miles) away. Call me a marketing glutton; I cashed in on a National Pizza Day special (who comes up with these non-holidays, anyways). 

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The Cats of University Heights: Nine

Meet the third furball seen on Sept. 5, 2017, along the same Alabama block, between Adams and Madison. While Itchy Valentino hid under a car, Goldie howled at the tuxedo, who is ninth of that color-combo featured in this series, since its start 11 months ago.

The beastie had no collar, so I picked an arguably unimaginative name suited to the number of tuxedos. The others: Fraidy, JelliclePatience, PepePoser, Sammy, Spot, and Tux. I shot the Featured Image—and its companion—using Leica Q at 8:40 a.m. PDT. Vitals are identical for each, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm. Both are crops, but neither is retouched. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Goldie

The sudden, and unexpected, recent discovery of new neighborhood felines (five in two days), makes this site look like a cat blog, which it most certainly isn’t. I met three on Alabama Street, day-before-yesterday. Goldie is second of the trio.

The kitty approached, strutting behind Itchy Valentino, as I walked from Adams towards Madison. I shot the Featured Image, using Leica Q, on Sept. 5, 2017, at 8:48 a.m. Soon afterwards, a mom walking kids to school passed by. One of them knew the kitty’s name, which she said, and I later forget—embarrassingly. Yesterday, I walked back, luckily finding Goldie lounging on the sidewalk; name is on her collar. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Itchy Valentino

The next three felines featured in this series were all seen yesterday, on Alabama Street between Adams and Madison. We start with one of the scrawniest-looking kitties that I have ever seen. But the beastie is loved, and cared for, despite giving first-impression of being a feral in poor health.

Meet Itchy Valentino, who, as you can see, is quite thin—and the meaning is for some of the patches of scant or missing fur, too. He has a collar, with tag that reads: “I have allergies and take meds & special food. I’m OK!” Yes, but someone isn’t keeping to his strict diet, because Itchy meowed like a distressed female in heat before coughing up something. Twice. I thought maybe a furball, but on examination more likely grass or plant matter ingested as roughage.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jellicle

Huh? Another? Today’s putty-tat—photographed at 9:26 this morning (PDT)—is the eighth tuxedo to appear since the series started in October 2016. The friendly feline sprinted onto the sidewalk from a yard along Monroe Ave. near Louisiana. Somebody wanted pats and got plenty of them, making one-handed portrait-taking rather awkward. The Featured Image is first capture, from an accidental burst grouping. Reflected in the eyes, you can see me looking down, holding iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/331 sec, 3.99mm.

The furball had no collar, or other identification, so I give nickname taken from T.S. Eliot poem “The Song of Jellicles“, which is an ode to the tuxedo from his tome Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

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‘Come Home, Fess’

One month ago, Aug. 1, 2017, for the second consecutive evening, I saw my favorite neighborhood feline, Fess, lounging long after his owners came home for the day. The feisty, friendly furball sprawled far onto the sidewalk as it sloped into the street. I looked at my watch, 7:25 p.m. PDT, and walked down Cleveland Ave. to the corner of Meade—then turned back. I worried that in the dusk, a vehicular driver might not see the animal when turning into or backing out of the driveway. He looked relaxed and content. I walked on.

Four mornings later, as my mother lay dying in a Vermont medical center, I left our apartment for a long, soul-searching walk. Losing mom was unthinkable, but, based on communication with my sister Nanette, inevitable. Approaching the corner where I had looked back at Fess, his image waved from a poster placed on a utility pole by his human family. No one had seen the cat since the night of August 1st. He had vanished! My muscles tensed. We couldn’t lose Fess, too. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Roamer

One apartment complex courtyard and three cats—two of them seen here. But the beast in the foreground is not today’s featured feline. I just like the composition and opportunity to differently present our Caturday specimen. With confidence, I can state that the tiger kitty is none other than Chub (a nom de plume), whom we met on New Year’s Day. But his buddy in the back is new to me; and to this series. The third beastie, whom I dub Blue Too, presented minutes later, and her photo will appear in a followup to “Meow! Second Sightings“.

My nickname for the tan short-hair is “Roamer” because a GPS collar appears to hang around his neck. If the owner put one, there must be a reason—like a wandering pet. I trespassed to get his portrait—and others. The furballs live on Campus Ave., beyond Madison towards the canyon that overlooks Mission Valley. I spotted them from the sidewalk, then approached slowly, shooting a series of portraits before capturing each one. Hey, did Chub lose some weight?