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Flickr a Week 33: ‘A Life Worth Living’

Some people are genuinely too modest. Peter Kurdulija describes himself as an “amateur photographer”. I could say the same about myself, but the measure of my talents are minuscule compared to his. The man is an artisan, with an astute eye for composition. Any selection from his Photostream would be more than worthy of this humble series.

I chose self-titled “A Life Worth Living” for composition, serenity, and storytelling. “A picnic at the end of the jetty by Lake Mahinapua, just south of Hokitika, epitomises New Zealand way of life—slower pace of the West Coast, a connection to nature and to each other”, he explains of the landscape portrait captured on March 31, 2019, using Nikon D7100 and 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Vitals: f/9, ISO 125, 1/320 sec, 44mm.

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The Strong Arms of Defiance

Around the corner from where was the Urban Pumpkin is the local gym, which closed during California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s first state-shuttering order in mid-March 2020 but has since defied the second shutdown, started July 13, that restricts indoor activities at many commercial businesses and institutions (like churches). Four days ago, San Diego County issued an order for the “immediate closure of Boulevard Fitness”; compliance “may be enforced by the San Diego Police Department”.

In meaningless sense of solidarity—the way flabby, bear-gut spectators feel good when watching their favorite sports team compete and win—I have checked daily for more than a month to see if the gym is open, silently cheering that it was. But on a Monday morning, following the “cease and desist” order, would Boulevard Fitness welcome patrons of exercise and good health?

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Flickr a Week 32a: ‘I Couldn’t Resist’

Self-titled “I Couldn’t Resist” certainly could be me—or perhaps you—walking by, seeing the sign, and taking the shot. But the moment belongs to Tom Driggers, who explains: “How very appropriate! This humorous sign was standing near the register at a well-known sandwich shop in Atlanta, GA”. The composed juxtaposition—big, sharp sign to the right and blurred cook to the left—just works.

Tom used Fujifilm X100F on Jan. 25, 2019 to capture our Weekend Winner. Vitals: f/2, ISO 640, 1/125 sec, 23mm.

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The Cats of University Heights: Snowy

We celebrate International Cat Day with an odd find from Aug. 1, 2020: Snowy, who lives within a block of Benny and John Adams and like them wears a GPS collar. Nowhere else have I seen furballs so outfitted and must wonder: Why these three neighbors?

Snowy (yep, real name) bears some resemblance to poor Maeven, who was killed by a coyote last month. 🙁 I offered condolences to his owner on Nextdoor not long before I quit again; so I am no longer cat connected there.

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Park Your Butt, Not Your Car

Southern California continues to suffer from the self-inflicted economic devastation imposed by our esteemed governor, Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom. He has imposed a partial, second statewide shutdown in response to increasing confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—cases. Pandemic deaths aren’t rapidly rising, which, in my journaled opinion, is the metric more important to making policy that harms millions of businesses and leads to massive job losses.

What is the harm? Locally, according to San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation: “Forty-one percent of businesses surveyed saw revenues decline by 81 to 100 percent; 93 percent saw staffing declines of one to 50 employees”. Additionally, “minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by COVID”. Explicitly: “More than 90 percent of minority-owned businesses have seen their revenue decline, with most experiencing steep revenue declines of 81 to 100 percent”. EDC released the most recent data—collected May 28 to June 8, when the state started reopening—on July 1, or 13 days before Newsom reimposed new closure measures.

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Brother and Sister

Uncle Arnie passed away last night, Eastern Daylight Time, in Northern Maine. He was 74. Three years ago today, we lost Mom, his sister. Their bond tightened as they aged, and I wonder about the strange synchronicity of one sibling departing on August 4 and the other on the 5th.

My strongest personal memory of Uncle Arnie is him yelling at me and my being perplexed by his reaction. He was known to be cool-headed. I was as old as 12 and about to cross the street in front of my grandparent’s house to the neighbor’s place when he screamed “Joey!” with supreme urgency that caused me to stop and turn towards him just as a car topped the hill and roared past. Uncle Arnie almost certainly saved my life that summer’s day. He gave me one hell of a scolding and sent me inside.

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Flickr a Week 32: ‘Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park | Deltron 3030 Concert Spectator’

The last of three consecutive entries discovered searching for “spectator” demonstrates how to get close in from far away. Michael Tapp captured self-titled “Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park | Deltron 3030 Concert Spectator” on July 19, 2014, using an unidentified Sony Alpha camera (presumably) and Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 lens (certainly). If I owned an interchangeable lens camera, rather than fixed Leica Q2, 135mm would be my go-to focal length on Prime glass—as it was during the mid-Noughties when shooting Canon EOS 20D.

With “social distancing” the norm for the foreseeable post-pandemic future, time is right for street shooters to rediscover the mighty telephoto. A good one-thirty-five closes the distance—more so on APS-C cameras when applying the crop-factor—while delivering sharp detail and beautiful bokeh. Michael’s portrait is a keeper for both and excellent use of natural light. Unfortunately, EXIF isn’t available, which is typical of his photos; some photographers choose to expunge the metadata. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Alvin and LB

On Christmas Day 2016, I met Comet, Herman, RomanWillow, and their owner as she let the kitties run about for a few hours. The woman had lived in a studio apartment for 19 years. But a few months later, she and her pets were gone. The property owner decided to renovate the entire complex, ahead of haughty rent increases. That’s the sad state of San Diego affordable housing: Tenants paying less are evicted before improvements are made to woo residents willing to pay much more.

Three-and-a-half years would pass before I would see any felines frolicking about the same open courtyard: June 20, 2020. My wife and I spotted the shorthairs as we walked by. I stopped for some quick shots, using Leica Q2, before chatting with the owner, who said the Siamese is Alvin, and he calls the Russian Blue LB. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 250, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 9:36 a.m. PDT. In my rush to capture the moment before the cats moved—and they did seconds later—I failed to see the open mail box door encroaching on the frame; removing it majorly determined the edited composition.

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Flickr a Week 31a: ‘Defy Gravity’

The self-title of August’s first entry is a message to my daughter on her 26th birthday: “Defy Gravity“—something she needs to do, and perhaps all of us. Markus Binzegger used Olympus E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens to make the moment, on July 15, 2017. Vitals: f/9, ISO 200, 1/640 sec, 45mm.

The stunning shot, second of three consecutively found by searching for “spectator”, is a keeper for composition (love the dude watching); stopped action (posture and leg positions really convey motion); storytelling (leap of—gulp—faith); and use of black and white (to keep attention on the two guys). Location, according to Markus: “Maggia River, Ticino, Switzerland”.

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The Cats of University Heights: Rebel

The fifty-third kitty seen behind door or window appeared as my wife and I walked along Mission, between Georgia and Park, on July 17, 2020. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/452 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 9:17 a.m. PDT. On inspection, at home, I immediately liked the composition of the iPhone XS shot but not the “Black Lives Matter” sign above him. No amount of cropping could satisfy more—in fact less.

The problem? This series isn’t political, nor is it meant to be. Black Lives Matter isn’t just a slogan—it refers to an organization with political ambitions. For reasons too numerous for the tone of a furry feline profile, BLM is polarizing—or at least in this neighborhood. Since the riots started at the end of May, I have seen an undeniable pattern emerge across University Heights: Signs and posters in windows supporting BLM or American flags hanging outside homes—but not both. Citizens choose to voice whom or what they support by the icon displayed; for some people, that’s nothing whatsoever.

So after careful consideration, fourteen days later, with the qualifications explained above, please allow me to introduce to the series the ginger that I nickname Rebel.