The Cats of University Heights: Cocoa

As my wife and I walked up Maryland Ave. late yesterday afternoon, something hiding in the flowers caught my attention—and I missed the perfect portrait when the meower came out to greet us. The Featured Image isn’t from the feline’s first approach but second, when she temporarily moved up the steps, before coming back to the street for more pats. Vitals: f/3.6, ISO 200, 1/1700 sec, 35.6mm. I captured the moment using the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens at 5:59 p.m. PDT, with Classic Chrome simulation set.

The day marked the first return to service for the digital camera. I boxed up the X-T1 and posted for sale on Craigslist twenty-nine days ago, after seeing selling prices for new hadn’t budged from $1,699—despite release of the X-T2. I decided to recover some of my investment, being satisfied enough with the Fuji X100F received on February 28th. About an hour-and-a-half before our couple’s walk, a potential buyer from Orange County contacted me. He wondered about the X-T1’s condition and probed on price, seeing as mine was so high ($1,100 in prime condition). He surprised me. The bottom had fallen, and I hadn’t seen: Adorama, Amazon, and B&H all are discounting the mirrorless-and-lens kit by $500. As such, no one, if anyone, would buy from me for even $900. It’s pointless giving up so much value; it’s a wonderful shooter. I unboxed the kit, attached Hard Graft Atelier Hang Camera Strap, and updated the body’s firmware to version 5.10. 

Within seconds using the X-T1, I felt a bit frustrated. With its successor, XPro2, and X100F, Fuji made a smart ergonomics change that moves all the buttons to the right of the rear LCD. My muscle memory balked at the pic preview button’s left-sidedness. I also miss the enhanced and expanded film simulation selection—Acros, particularly. I had hoped these might be in the newest firmware released last month. Nope. One more nitpick: For this first foray in more than a month, I let the camera choose parameters. To my eye, both pics are overexposed. I would have stopped down the aperture to f/5.6 or even f/8; maybe adjust exposure compensation. But, hey, the mirrorless has dials for a reason. If they’re not used, I am to blame.

Please don’t misunderstand, I am relieved to return the X-T1 to my ONA Prince Street camera bag. The interchangeable lens camera would be my carry-along choice, rather than its fixed, smaller sibling, for SDCC 2017—on the slim chance Comic-Con International revalidates my press credentials (I’m sadly not hopeful).

Regarding the second kitty pic, vitals are close to the first: f/3.6, ISO 200, 1/1600 sec, 35.8mm; 5:58 p.m. PDT. BTW, the yard where we met Flower (my nickname) is adjacent to the Butterfly House on one side; the residence where I spotted Skull is on the other.

One more thing: Purely by coincidence, I shot the same flowers (sans cat) using the X100F one week earlier. Vitals, with Velvia film simulation: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/850 sec,; 2:22 p.m. PDT. How does it compare?

Update March 4, 2019: Walking up Maryland towards Meade, I saw the kitty chewing grass from atop a cement wall. I stopped to shoot fresh photos, while a couple loaded a car. “She was abandoned three or four renters ago”, one of them explained. I learned that her name is Cocoa, and that she is cared for by neighbors on the block. I thought: If only the abandonment of Laramie and Lupe, an immediate drama underway in UH East, could end in such sweet arrangement.

I shot the newer portrait, using Google Pixel 3 XL, at 10:11 a.m. PST. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 55, 1/419 sec, 4.44mm.

Rest of the series: ScruffyRoly PolyWooSkullBiscuitThe ColonelWhiteChipper,  Frisky, Stretch, Needy, Farfisa, Mates, Hunter, Pee-PeeBlue, Blue Too, Bonded PairPatience, Fess, Jumper, Frenemy, Looker, Cozy, Scout, Lurks, Skit, Mini, Betty, Black and White, Stalker, Bell, Chill, Sammy, Scratch, Poser, Star, Grey and White, Watcher, Herman, Comet, RomanWillow, Chub, Nimbus, Watson, Lilo, Kit, Pepe, Twilight, Sebastian, Spot, Booger, Ash, Veruca, Riley, Mellow, and Bonde.