Author: Joe Wilcox

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The Cats of University Heights: Squint

I processed this portrait soon after capturing it, on Sept. 4, 2019, using Leica Q. I cropped, desaturated, and otherwise tweaked the Featured Image—the hope being to create mood that could compensate for shooting situation. Angle to the subject, from the street, and exterior environment looked unbecoming in color and as shot. I then stepped back several months and returned with fresh eyes to decide whether or not to publish. So here we are.

My wife and I walked along Adams around Mississippi, when she spotted the tabby, window warming morning sunshine. Squinty eyes, hence the nickname, is what compelled me to include the cat in the series, despite my misgivings about his (or her) portrait. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 8:43 a.m. PDT.

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News Writing Triage (2011)

How unexpected. While cleaning up old files, I found this list created on June 13, 2011, for tech-sector news reporters that I supervised. I wouldn’t make many changes more than eight years later—qualification: for organizations solely focused on breaking news that primarily is original content. Looking ahead to 2020, in a revised list meant for a broader scope of content creators, I would put considerably more emphasis on mainly generating original content—as you will see in a follow-up post closer to the new year.

The original list was supposed to be 25 items, but dumb-butt me made a mistake and wrote two different items for eighteen. I corrected the numbering, and now the list is twenty-six. I also made a change to the second-to-last. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Savvy

I first observed this beauty sometime in late February or early March 2019—and a fair number of times since but more frequently during the past month, when being accustomed to my presence she started approaching for pats as I walked by. On November 6, I carried along Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, which I sold nine days ago. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 63mm; 8:40 a.m. PST.

Because she sits before a building’s street number, I won’t identify the street—for her safety and privacy of whomever the owner might be—other than that she lives somewhere on the West side of Park Blvd. (That’s a sizable number of possible apartments or homes. Don’t bother being a sleuth.) The frisky feline earns nickname Savvy for apparently being—and let’s hope that she is—street smart.

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The Cats of University Heights: Dash

I can’t recall exactly where in the neighborhood lives this tabby. Maybe Madison, approaching The Point, but there is no record, which typically would be a phone photo to GPS-identify location. There isn’t one. The feisty, focused feline moved along too quickly pursuing something. Many months later, my memory fades. I do recall passing posting a profile, in hopes of a better portrait and identification (from collar and name tag). Waiting is over.

I captured the Featured Image (warning: 18MB file) on June 23, 2019 using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, which I sold last week. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/150 sec, 63mm; 12:19 p.m. PDT. The cat earns nickname Dash, for his (or her) speedy departure and chase—given the foliage and time of day, lizard likely.

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Sigma fp and the Stormy Day

Torrential rains and overly-gusty winds pelt San Diego this Thanksgiving Day. I mark the moment with the first photo from Sigma fp and 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens. The last letter refers to “Contemporary”. The kit arrived last week, but I waited to take the first shot—so that it would be memorable, which it’s not. I put the quest for the Holy photo behind me and set instead to practical matters.

The Featured Image is a nearly 100-percent crop of the companion pic. The water droplets on my home office window serve as a quick test of the fp’s autofocus capabilities and image quality—how much detail is revealed. The Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, which I sold over the weekend, spoiled me with respect to IQ. The Sigma shooter satisfies so far—not that one pic is much of a measure. But, hey, miniature palm trees within the  droplets encourage me.

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The Cats of University Heights: Meadow

Happy Thanksgiving! Our series returns with a many months-old portrait that is outdated. The kitten is an adult now—still quite frisky, quick-footed, and playful enough that I can’t capture a moment better than this one. So here we are, near the end of November, presenting a Featured Image from Feb. 25, 2019.

The feline frolics around where can be found Blue, Blue Two, Chub, and Valentine. The kitty earns nickname Meadow, for the lush greenery that surrounds it. The photo comes from Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, which I sold last week. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/105 sec, 63mm; 11:09 a.m. PST.

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Hey, Let’s Throw Some Dirt Bikes in Back and Go Ridin’

For about a week last month, I passed by this truck parked on the adjacent street from our apartment. San Diego has a 72-hour limit for staying in one location, and the day I captured the Featured Image, the city’s parking patrol had placed a pink warning notice on the windshield. Since, the vehicle is off-street outside a nearby apartment building.

Vintage vehicles are quite common in Southern California, which sunny climate extends their potential lifespans compared to states like, say, Maine or Virginia, where harsh humidity or precipitation are aging elements. Consider this other long-lifer, a Rambler remembered with kitty Nelson from my “Cats of University Heights” series in December 2017. Months later, someone placed a “for sale” sign in the rear window. In another universe, an alternate version of me bought that classic.

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My 16-inch MacBook Pro Dilemma

Three years ago today, I purchased the first-generation 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with the much-maligned Butterfly keyboard and Touch Bar. The laptop has been a fine friend, whose time in the Wilcox household soon ends—maybe. I always planned to keep the beast at least through the end of its Apple Care warranty period. But about four months ago, several keys started misbehaving—letters “B”, “C”, and “X” and the spacebar among the offenders. I never imagined how widely used is “B” until it stopped rendering or started repeating. Autocorrect made matters worse, when compounding mistakes with new ones.

I keep my computer fairly clean and figured that the Butterfly’s particle problem wouldn’t affect me. That was true for more than 30 months use. Believing rumors that Apple readied a 16-incher with new keyboard, I hobbled along, waiting for its release rather than taking my MBP in for warranty repair. Backing up data, wiping the disk, and restoring macOS is a pain. Why interrupt my workflow twice? So when the fruit-logo company finally announced the newer model, 14 days ago, I ordered one hours later. The laptop delivered a week ago, but I didn’t complete the switchover until last evening.

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Fly Away, Fujifilm GFX 50R

Yesterday, I sold my medium-format camera to a fascinating Millennial living in Oceanside, Calif., where we met at his family’s small business to complete the transaction, which included my receiving a 2020 wall calendar with illustrative photos that he had taken (oh, they’re impressive). Yep. My Fujifilm GFX 50R is gone.

I had considered letting go the digicam for some time, reluctantly. While the 50R’s image quality is magnificent, the massive camera and attached Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens often scares off animals or intimidates people (e.g., I get suspicious reactions). Time had long-ago come to go discreet, for the street.

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Jesus Christ Superstar in San Diego

This afternoon, my wife and I attended one of two matinee showings for “Jesus Christ Superstar”, which is making a 50th-anniversary U.S. tour. The new stage play started in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 8, 2019 and is scheduled to end in Fort Worth on Aug. 30, 2020. As I write, two local shows, at San Diego Civic Center, remain: Tomorrow at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. PST. I enjoyed the performance enough to want to see it again, but that’s not happening.

Anne and I sat in the last row of the Orchestra section; seats 44 and 46. The location was close enough to fully see the performers and enjoy the music (the arrangement was fantabulous). Having not been to this theatre before, I chose to purchase presale tix that put us aways back but not too far. After attending, and seeing the musicians high over the back of the stage rather than in a pit before it, I might move forward. That said, because the cast performed across the stage, and above it, ORCHR3 V44 and 46 gave great vantage point. Closer seats are lower to the platform, perhaps too much so.

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Hat Tip to Leica Q

For weeks, I have walked by this hat hanging from a tree along Alabama Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Finally, today, while out and about with Leica Q, I stopped for a shot. The Featured Image is a near 100-percent crop of the companion photo, which is composed as captured. I drew out highlights, but made no other edits. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec, 28mm; 2:27 p.m. PST.

The hat, whether original or cropped, shows the fantastic detail that the Q’s f/1.7 Summilux lens and full-frame sensor combo captures. Beautiful Bokeh, too. The Leica continues to satisfy, more than 30 months later.