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The Cats of University Heights: Dusty

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As my wife and I strolled down Campus on Aug. 11, 2019, a shorthair sighting drew us down memory lane. Two years earlier—almost to the day—I watched stagers unloading furniture for placement inside the property for sale on the corner, at Meade. The following evening, Aug. 15, 2017, feral kittens presented half-a-block away; the next night, neighborhood teens trapped/rescued them and their momma. Two weeks later, Annie and I made an accepted offer to buy what we called the Schoolhouse, because of its proximity to Birney Elementary. We withdrew weeks later.

Seeing the black and white by a sidewalk tree at the Schoolhouse property line surely surprised. I initially thought that he might be Captain Blackbeard, who lives another block down Meade at North. But close examination of facial markings, similar as they seem, show subtle but distinct differences. Read More

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Rainbow Ribbon

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While walking along Lincoln towards Vermont—and the bridge crossing Washington that separates University Heights from Hillcrest—a front yard sprinkler nabbed my attention, on Aug. 15, 2019. I passed by then turned back to capture the moment using iPhone XS, uncertain that the colors would come through. As you can see from the Featured Image, which I cropped 3:2 and enhanced, the rainbow shows nicely. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/249, 6mm; 6:20 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sable

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Meet the forty-fourth feline featured from Alabama street, between boundaries Adams and Polk—and, unexpectedly, third seen at the same property. (Sprout and Zeppelin Pom Pom are the others.) My wife caught glimpse of the blackie as we walked to Smart and Final for groceries on Aug. 12, 2019. Coming up with new nicknames for so many kitties, whenever the real ones aren’t known, gets harder as we go along. I dub this one Sable, for the dark-colored coat.

The Featured Image comes from iPhone XS. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/160 sec, 6mm; 9:11 a.m. PDT. Photo is lightly edited. Read More

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Making Monarch Moments

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Surely weather is major explanation: Monarchs are uncharacteristically present this summer. I see more around University Heights than any year since moving our family to San Diego in October 2007. I wondered while walking around the neighborhood: How effective a photographic tool could be Fujifilm GFX 50R for capturing butterflies? After all, composing is deliberate rather than quick, and the Fujinon GF63mmF.28 R WR lens isn’t specifically designed for macro (e.g. close-up) work. I have experimentally used the oversized camera as a street shooter—since acquiring it in February 2019 to replace my Leica M10, which a Mexican wedding photographer purchased from me late last year.

The massive medium-format sensor collects heaps of data, which makes shooting with a 50mm-equivalent prime lens surprisingly satisfying. In post-production, I can crop in close, retaining amazing detail—something that the Featured Image and first companion demonstrate. The 50R is able enough, and more. Question answered. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Jester

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Oddly, I have a backlog of kitties; suddenly sightings are numerous. A few are different furballs in the same location—like the fine specimen spotted in the same catio as King. Someone else might say that his majesty needs a queen, but I say a jester—hence the nickname.

I used iPhone XS to capture the Featured Image, which is about a 100-percent crop. In Apple Photos, I first edited then applied the Vivid Cool filter. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/94 sec, 6mm; 5:10 p.m., July 24, 2019. I have returned since, hoping to snag a better portrait with the camera. But on subsequent occasions, Jester reclined on the second level, which is obscured by vines. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Topper

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Google Pixel 3 XL may be gone, replaced by Apple iPhone XS, but some kitty portraits remain from the device to be added to the series. Simple reason: Backlog of sighted, and photographed, furballs. Where do they all come from? I snagged the Featured Image on May 28, 2019, along Louisiana approaching Adams from Madison. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 78, 1/7813 sec, 4.44mm; 4:04 p.m. PDT. The portrait is heavily edited, such as pulling back contrast, enhancing highlights, and cropping in a way that preserves some semblance of streaming sunlight.

I initially passed by the blackie, because of its distance up the stairs and concerns about shooting into the bright, afternoon sun. But backtracking, I snapped four quickies, choosing to use the one where the shorthair looks down at me. For position sitting, the beastie earns nickname Topper. Read More

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Cock-of-the-Rock

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Confession: I conduct a test—to see how search engines or organizational filters might censor this post, or my entire site, because of “cock” in the headline. Or will something quite unexpected happen: Surge in traffic because of indexing that brings porn searchers my way? Now that would be hilarious outcome—and not my purpose.

The title refers to the name of the bird that you see in the Featured Image and its companion: The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, which is the national bird of Peru. He posed for my wife and I yesterday, during a San Diego Zoo visit. Vitals are the same for both portraits, which were taken using iPhone XS: f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, 6mm; 12:50 p.m. PDT. The first is composed as shot; the other is cropped 3:2 and slightly recomposed. Neither is enhanced, or otherwise edited. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Misty

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Our landlord is imposing a 4.1-percent rent increase, about which we gripe but probably shouldn’t—given that the 2-bedroom trend in San Diego is a ridiculous 16.6 percent. Timing is opportunity to reconsider options, so my wife and I are exploring them. One of the initially more appealing apartments is on Cleveland, south of Meade, and would reduce our yearly housing cost by $3,000. In the online listing’s photos, a cat approaches the back door. Annie and I saw the fluffball waiting at the front door, seemingly greeting us, as we walked by the place on Aug. 4, 2019. Assuming that the animal’s owner likely will leave the neighborhood soon, since the apartment is supposed to be available on September 1, I pushed the profile ahead of others.

Once again, I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to make the moment, which required some careful editing and thoughtful composition. Initially, I cropped so that the door and windows could be seen, which put the feline low down. The Featured Image is somewhat disrupted by the foreground fence but works better by bringing the beastie more to eye level, which—for want of a better word—creates more immediacy. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 10:11 a.m. PDT. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Diamond

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The Alabama cats are back, with the forty-third profiled from the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. There is a cache of kittens that may soon be included, should I get photos, that are being fostered across the street from where I saw this black. He, or she, earns nickname Diamond, for rarity of sightings.

I first observed the shorthair nearly a year ago, occasionally since—and always fleetingly, mornings when people leave for work. The kitty would disappear down nearby apartment complex steps, where also goes Sly. On July 31, 2019, Diamond made an unexpected afternoon appearance, poking through the fence surrounding the house where lived Laramie and Lupe before they were abandoned and later rescued. The beastie dug into foliage and dirt, for something, before laying out in unexpected repose. Oh, how I wanted to read the name tag, but close approach wasn’t happening. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Lively

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A couple doors down from Cricket‘s house, my wife and I encountered a lively kitten on July 29, 2019. Hence, the nickname. Hanoi and Maxine reside close by, and near the sighting—along Maryland between Madison and Monroe—a car hit Kuma as he crossed the street to Annie; Sept. 15, 2011. The bastard driver didn’t stop, but our Maine Coon survived.

We observed Lively from a distance, and I stopped with Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to shoot what would be the Featured Image (warning: 15MB file). Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/300 sec. 63mm; 9:34 a.m. PDT. The cropped composition isn’t preferred, but it removes a distracting Stop sign to the left of the tabby’s head. Read More

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Mother and Daughter

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A few weeks ago, an accident occurred while my wife reorganized photo albums. She cut up an older black-color storage sheet, to which a portrait stubbornly and stealthily clung. Seeing and liking the image, I asked about taping together the two sheared portions. Annie took quick action before I could even think to.

I don’t know location, exact timing, or photographer. “June `95” is stamped on back of the print. If taken then, and I suspect earlier, our daughter would have been about 10 months old. But my eyes always look first to the beautiful mother. How could they not?

The Featured Image is a digitized version made using iPhone XS and Apple Photos. I share it in celebration. Molly is 25 years-old today.

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The Cats of University Heights: Cricket

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About a half-block from where I saw Glow, a relatively new neighborhood resident lives at the corner of Maryland and Monroe. The house sold to new owners a few months ago, and some renovation followed—including the clearing of sidewalk-side foliage rising up a vertical protective wall along Monroe that obscured the backyard. The space attracted crickets, which until October 2017, during some evenings, I collected for our cats Cali and Neko to chase and eat inside our apartment; at the time, we lived around the corner on Cleveland. With the recent changes, I would be surprised if the insects gather there any longer.

The forty-eighth kitty in the series looking out from behind window or door was a sentimental sighting—for all the time that I spent skulking about the sidewalk and wall in the dark, with a flashlight and couple of plastic containers with lids. Surely, then, I needn’t explain this fine feline’s nickname. Read More