Critters Fuji Leica Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Siamese Twins

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On Feb. 1, 2019, as I walked down Monroe where it hugs the canyon behind Maryland, a bonded pair presented on adjoining properties. I captured several portraits, using Leica Q, planning to return for closer-up shots. I would see the chunkier beastie again, doing its business in another yard—and, well, even felines deserve some dignity, if not their owners. No photo.

While preparing to add the Siamese Twins to the series, using the Leica Q portraits, FedEx delivered the Fujifilm GFX 50R camera and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. I intended the medium-frame shooter to replace my departed full-frame Leica M10, which a Mexican wedding photographer purchased four months ago. But the Fuji is considerably larger than imagined, and I strongly considered boxing up without even one shot and returning.  Read More

Critters Fuji Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Valentine

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Some kitties pull your heartstrings—to somber notes—as did this black and white seen yesterday along Campus Avenue, at the same property where lives the grey that I call Blue. The putty-tat earns its nickname for the day being profiled and for me thinking when looking at its face: “Be mine”, like the text on one of those candy hearts.

Valentine also has the distinction of being the first cat appearing in the series shot using the Fujifilm GFX 50R, which I received four days ago, and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/70 sec, 63mm; 9:13 a.m. Same for the other, but 1/100 sec. Read More

Food Living Photo Society

Candy Crush

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If you believe the Wall Street Journal (and some other news outlets), “No One’s Making Sweethearts This Year, Crushing Lovers of Valentine’s Day Candy“. NECCO (New England Confectionery Company), the manufacturer behind the confection, closed its doors in 2018. Sweethearts’ new brand owner, Spangler Candy Company, hopes to have production lines ramped up for Valentine’s Day 2020, but existing supplies are limited for this year. Hehe, good thing this stuff has long shelf life.

Given the Sweethearts shortages, I was surprised to see a bowl of the candies strategically placed between the cosmetic and jewelry sections inside Macy’s Fashion Valley. Shouldn’t there be a security guard to protect these precious commodities from smash-and-grab robbers rushing the bowl? I imagine a sitcom plot where an attempted jewelry case robbery is merely a distraction for stealing Sweethearts instead.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Mewl

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Wagering a guess, the shorthair that I call Mewl is a pregnant female. She was needy and noisy—hence the nickname—when my wife and I encountered the kitty along Spalding Place on Feb. 6, 2019. We approached from Madison Avenue through the alley between Park and Georgia, when we saw her walking from street to sidewalk. She turned when I pulled out Google Pixel 3 and loudly and nearly continuously meowed as she came up to us.

I spent some time tweaking the Featured Image and its companion, particularly for highlights and shadows. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 58, 1/1466 sec, 4.44mm; 10:43 a.m. PST. I let Google Photos auto-tune the second pic, for comparison sake. To my eyes, the first is more color accurate, as captured by the smartphone. The other has a more yellowish hue. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 57, 1/1565 sec; 4.44mm; 10:43 a.m.  Read More

People Photo

The Barber of Seville

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The Fujifilm GFX 50R is meant to replace Leica M10, with which I parted ways four months ago. The camera arrived yesterday afternoon, and I unboxed it last night—in disbelief. The thing is ginormous! Perhaps had I read PetaPixel story “How the Fujifilm GFX 50R Compares in Size to Popular Cameras“, my choice would have been different. The medium format shooter appealed for image quality, rangefinder-styling, and straightforward ergonomics—and all three attributes satisfy straight out of the box. I am pleased. But I don’t know about the size, though. I chose the GF63mmF2.8 R WR as my one—and so far only—lens for the GFX 50R. Applying the crop factor, the Fujinon glass is about 50mm, full-frame equivalent.

This morning, I grabbed the 50R, which is surprisingly comfortable to handle (rather than being cumbersome, as the bulk might suggest), for a photo walk. I arrived at Park Blvd and Monroe Avenue, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, just as my barber opened shop. Explaining about the new camera, I asked to take his portrait, and he kindly obliged.  Read More

Critters Fuji Photo

Slumber Time

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We stumbled into an unexpected nighttime ritual—thanks to a free product sample—of giving Cali and Neko a can of Fussie Cat food to share. The local pet store cashier calls the stuff “crack for cats”, and I wonder how true that might be. Because both longhairs devour with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. In the Featured Image (warning: 44MB file), Neko naps following his Fussie feast—and that’s more from disappointment that he didn’t get more than from digesting a hearty meal.

The portrait is the first photo taken using the Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format camera. Yes, yes, composition could be a whole lot more pleasing. But being the first image, I got to share, even if it isn’t the ideal keeper. Vitals: f/4, ISO 5000, 1/60 sec, 63mm; 11:05 p.m. PST, yesterday. High ISO performance impresses, and I held the camera still enough, despite the slow shutter speed and 50R’s size (It is huge).

Living Photo Society Storytelling

The Joy Ride

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Classify this story in the category of surprising Sunday dramas. Painters have been working on our apartment building and parking their lift truck along the street. Around 11:45 a.m. PST, I saw some stranger climb onto the lift and start it up. While he wore yellow utility belts that gave the aura of authority, his presence was suspicious, because: Neither he nor his buddy was one of the three painters; his companion drove a nondescript white utility truck, while the painters’ vehicle is branded and red; and he initially fumbled around like someone unfamiliar with the controls.

When the dude unparked the lift, I wondered: Is he stealing it? Off he drove down the street, with his companion following behind in the white truck. This is my neighborhood, it’s a sleepy Sunday, and I am more curious than a cat. I had to follow, first on foot and then by car. The pair drove about 1.8 km (1.1 miles) through University Heights to Rhode Island Ave., which is nearby an area called The Point and overlooks a canyon leading into commercial area Mission Valley below.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Shy

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Happy Caturday! Meet our thirty-sixth behind-the-window watcher, whom I have seen several times over the past few weeks. During the portraiture session a couple days before the Featured Image, a young man returning home said that was his kitty, Shy, looking out. None of the shots, taken with Google Pixel 3, precisely auto-focused on the shorthair.

But on Feb. 3, 2019, with Leica Q, I could manually focus just right. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 11:14 a.m. PST. Shy lives in the same apartment complex as Honey Bunny, who was the 11th cat to appear in the series. Shy is number 244. BTW, Veruca lives on the same block, along Meade.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Brick

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Feline sightings along Panorama are infrequent. Among the 243 profiles since the series‘ start in October 2016, this is only the third from the drive that horseshoes to Adams Ave. at both ends. Brick—nicknamed for the wall behind—joins Herbie, the Love Bug and Roadie. Will there be more?

Few months ago, I saw the black shorthair in the same vicinity before it disappeared into the bamboo along the canyon. Brick presented once more, finally, briefly in a yard on Jan. 30, 2019. I used Leica Q to capture the Featured Image, which RAW DNG file underwent extensive editing to emphasize highlights, pull back shadows, and boost whites to make the dark fur more visible. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 9:38 a.m. PST.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Calm

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While walking down Mission Avenue on the afternoon of Jan. 19, 2019, I came upon a handsome feline sitting on cement-stone steps in statuesque repose, unfettered by passing people, cars, or dog walkers and their beasts. The kitty surprised, as I hadn’t seen him (or her) on the street before. She (or he) presented on the several following days, on the same property and others.

The shorthair earns nickname Calm, for demeanor. I used Leica Q for the Featured Image and its companion—the latter on the 21st. Vitals, aperture manually preset for street shooting: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/60 sec; 28mm; 4:20 p.m. PST. The other is same, except for ISO 100 and 3:13 p.m.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Shadow, Too

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For years, I have wondered about a house on Monroe Avenue, around the corner from where live Luci, Maven, Night, and Peso because of the kitty decorations in the yard. This morning, while passing by, my curiosity met the cat: the series‘ thirty-fifth behind-the-window watcher. Initially, I stopped to gawk but not to photograph because something felt a little too intrusive about the setup and my peering inside from the sidewalk behind the lens.

But before reaching the cross street, I turned about. As I lifted Leica Q to manually focus, a couple walking dogs passed behind me. The gent gleefully yelled: “Oh, that’s Shadow!” To which, I asked: “How do you know?” “We know the owner”, he answered, adding that there is a companion cat named Charlie.  Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Ruff

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Heavy rains gave way to summer sun this fine Caturday, as temperatures topped 21 degrees Celsius. I hauled out for a late-morning walk, with intention of calling my sister who winters in Florida. Her line went straight to voicemail. I rang my (last living) uncle, instead. Yikes, he prepared his Northern Maine homestead for impending heavy snow and possible power outage. About 15 minutes into the conversation, I asked that he wait while I used Google Pixel 3 XL to capture several quick portraits of a handsome dark grey shorthair sitting beneath a propped window and looking out through the screen.

The Featured Image is the second shot of four, taken along Meade Avenue not far from where Teach lives. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 67, 1/7813 sec, 4.44mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. Thirty-fourth behind-the-window watcher to appear in the series, the cat earns its nickname for fine white ruff.  Read More