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Do Not Pass Go

I vaguely recall capturing the Featured Image, during my early days with the Olympus PEN E-P1, and being dissatisfied. But in reexamining the photo tonight, something about the juxtaposition of red and blue colors and the odd composition appeals to me. Perhaps there’s some subconscious message blaring from the overly-large STOP. Vitals: f/9, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 42mm; 6:48 p.m. PDT, July 19, 2009.

I have no idea the exact location other than a reasonable guess of somewhere on the West side of Park Blvd. in San Diego’s University Heights Neighborhood.

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Her Heart Soars

As explained nearly three weeks ago, I tend towards thrifty shooting with a digital camera—in this instance Leica Q2. The Featured Image is only one of three captures—the other two at f/5.6 and f/8, with the latter greatly expanding the field of focus. But in the end, wisely or not, I chose the photo made wider open, because of how the painted bricks lead the eyes to the graphic. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2500 sec, 28mm; 10:28 a.m. PDT, April 12, 2021. In post-production, I used DxO Perspective Efex to tweak the geometry.

The evening before, I encountered two of my neighbors walking their dog. The husband said that I would want to stop by his house “and bring your camera”. You can see why. The couple live on Meade below Georgia, and they are long-time University Heights residents—about 22 years, if I recall rightly.

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The Bearded Tree is Gone!

And that’s not the worst of the devastation. Nearly three months ago, I wondered about the fate of the mighty palm after high winds ripped fronds from the trunk. Then, unexpectedly, on the First Day of Spring, under the direction of cute cottages’ new owners, men with chainsaws started clearcutting a lush landscape of shrubs, succulents, and trees around the buildings. The bearded tree is the last to go.

Every nearby neighbor to whom I have spoken about the destruction of the urban jungle is shocked. No one can fathom why the massive deforestation. Late this afternoon, one homeowner, who has lived in University Heights for more than two decades, told me that water can’t be the reason. He and his wife maintain a lovely backyard of flowers, plants, and trees, without wasteful watering.

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If You Work (or Live) Here, I’m Jealous

On the same day, April 11, 2021, that my wife and I walked across the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, we footed down 1st Avenue towards downtown. We wanted to reminisce about our delightful after-theater walk—planes flying low overhead to land—after watching Jesus Christ Superstar on stage at the San Diego Civic Center. That was Nov. 16, 2019, near the start of the 50th anniversary tour, which SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns would end earlier than the planned Aug. 30, 2020 final performance.

At the corner of First and Kalmia, we came across the magnificent structure that is the Featured Image (warning: 30MB file), captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 12:44 p.m. PDT. I reduced exposure in post-production, should you feel that the photo is too dark; that’s deliberately done.

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The Cats of University Heights: Schroeder

The series‘ 399th feline is also the 63rd seen on Alabama between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. Why baffles me. But that works out to 16 percent of the total. Louisiana sightings rise, likewise Madison, but far fewer than the other street.

My wife and I happened upon Schroeder in the alley between Alabama and Mississippi just as his owner popped open a gate looking for him. He resides in the same home as Peanut and Rocky—and the mighty Monkey before he passed away three years ago.

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This Building…

Is gone—and two others with it, a residence and auto-repair shop. The owner waged a war with graffiti artists, which he (or she) eventually won. The place was repainted several times, despite appearing to be derelict, before being leveled by (presumably) new owners. By all appearances, another fine cathedral of unaffordable housing will rise in the San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, at the corner of El Cajon and Mississippi across the street from BLVD North Park (located in UH, not NP).

I shot the Featured Image on Feb. 25, 2018, using Leica Q; many times since then, I planned to update with something showing more of the corner. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 1:19 p.m. PST. Best I can offer for now is the first of two companion captures—a stuffed bear, sitting on the diagonal corner. Photo comes from Leica M (Typ 262) on March 31, 2018. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/9.5, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, 50mm; 11:47 a.m. PDT.

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One Woman’s Treasure

A few days ago, an overstuffed beanbag—suitable for someone of great heft—appeared in the alley between Alabama and Mississippi at Monroe in University Heights. San Diego residents frequently leave unwanted things for foragers to take. What’s that saying about one person’s trash being another’s treasure?

Today, my wife and I happened to pass by, seeing a new addition: The Vitamaster Slendercycle prominently placed in the Featured Image and companions. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 9:50 a.m. PDT. The second, composed as shot, is 1/200 sec, 9:51 a.m. I used Leica Q2 for both. The last, added after posting, is a closer crop of the first.

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A Bridge Apart

After my father-in-law passed away at age 95 in January 2017, my wife and I had more free time to spend together; we started taking local excursions about San Diego. Among our jaunts: Several to the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, which is the Featured Image captured using Leica Q on May 27, 2017. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 10:12 a.m. PDT; composed as shot.

Now that San Diego has entered the Orange Tier for loosening restrictions imposed by Governor Gavin Newsom in response to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, Anne and I will get out more—perhaps to the bridge and there capturing some vertigo-inducing photos.

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Bee Better

This is an odd post: Disappointing photos. Today, while waiting for my wife to fetch me from the ophthalmologist, I stopped to gawk at bees busily bouncing about flowers for nectar. Hundreds of them gathered and proved no threat to me as I closed in and captured 20 shots, using iPhone XS.

Grumble. Can the Apple cameras do no better than these, which are the best of a bad lot? I experimented with standard and Portrait modes—and all the pics look artificial at best, and not sharp enough at worst.

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The Cats of University Heights: Mr. Frankie

While walking along Louisiana Street and talking to my sister in Florida (yes, the state), I spied a woman with a leashed orange kitty up ahead. Sis got the “call you back in 2 minutes” request; I moved along and asked permission to take photos of two-year-old Mr. Frankie. He posed between leash-pulls, trying to chase a butterfly, and I used iPhone XS to make his portraits. Vitals for the Featured Image and companion: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/3086 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 9:51 a.m. PDT, today.

Bunch of cats live on that one block, currently: Daniel Tiger, Darth Mew, FluffyHuck, Peach, and Pepto—that I know of. Possibly passed away, moved away, or kept indoors: GingerJedi, Milo, and Princess Leia. Some of these, or others, come by to visit Mr. Frankie, outside his home—and some territorial squabbling occurs among them, his owner says.