Author: Joe Wilcox

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The Cats of University Heights: Peep

Well, turns out Buchi isn’t the last photo from Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra after all. You get one more. While we walked after sunset on Jan. 26, 2024, my wife spotted a kitty looking out a second floor window onto an alley somewhere separating Alabama and Mississippi. UPS delivered S24 Ultra earlier that day, but I hadn’t yet time to set up the newer smartphone.

I turned the S23 Ultra skyward and used the 10x optical zoom lens for the Featured Image. My longstanding gripe: focal length undermines the utility of the telephoto in low light, as is so clearly demonstrated here. Vitals: f/4.9, ISO 4000, 1/30 sec, 230mm (film equivalent); 5:36 p.m. PST.

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Yikes! Two Galaxy S24 Series Smartphones are in the House

Yesterday, UPS delivered the Galaxy S24 and S24 Ultra, which I preordered from Samsung on Jan. 17, 2024. My wife and I each chose one of the three exclusive colors; she moves up from the S22 and I from S23 Ultra. The South Korean manufacturing conglomerate offered generous $450 trade-in value for her phone and $750 for mine. Combined with other discounts and incentives, which includes double storage, my out-of-pocket spend for the new model is less than the older one. For hers, I paid less than the discount given for the trade-in.

Last night, right before going to bed, I finally opened the box for a peak and a shock. Titanium Green wasn’t as strong a color as I expected. Oddly, the Featured Image and companion—even taken with Leica Q2—isn’t representative. The green isn’t as faint or pastel as you see but not really far from it.

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I Stand with Texas

The Featured Image might seem to you an odd choice for this post’s title but I must disagree. Suddenly, on my walks, I see many more American flags displayed—and in places that are new to my eyes, like this one outside a North Park market. Makes me wonder: Are some San Diegans quietly, but affirmatively, expressing their patriotic support for Texas’ standoff with the Federal government?

Under a program called “Operation Lone Star“, Texas seeks to “hold the line to defend the Southern border”. Bolstering that effort, Governor Greg Abbott has mobilized state national guard units as part of a vanguard laying razor wire and blocking U.S. Border Patrol agents from processing immigrants. A Supreme Court ruling favors Federal efforts to cut (and remove) the razor wire. Abbott and his attorney general are defiant.

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The Cats of University Heights: Buchi

Address undisclosed, I spotted this fine feline, seemingly somewhat forlorn. Perhaps its owner stepped out for awhile. The cat tree is more typically unoccupied whenever I walk by, so finding a resident was quite the treat, today.

The Featured Image could be the last photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Its successor is scheduled for delivery tomorrow. Vitals: f/4.9, ISO 125, 1/60 sec, 230mm (film equivalent); 4:30 p.m. PST.

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Squirrel’s Supper

In February 2023, I owned the Galaxy S22 Ultra for such short time that upgrading to the S23 Ultra sure seemed stupid. But, for preorders, Samsung offered appealing trade-in value ($500) and other incentives that reduced price so much that the new flagship cost less than what I paid for my wife’s humbler S22 a few months earlier.

The S23 Ultra turned out to be quite a bit better than its predecessor by way of many refinements, particularly performance of the 10x optical zoom camera—the differentiating feature that appealed most to me.

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Distant Rainbow

I shot the Featured Image on this date seven years ago, using iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/1250 sec, 28mm (film equivalent); 3:37 p.m. PST, Jan. 23, 2017. Composed as captured. Presumably, I sought the faint rainbow in the distance.

The view—looking East towards Cleveland Ave. along Monroe in University Heights—could easily be current. Heavy rains pelted San Diego County, yesterday. In response to widespread, destructive flooding, today, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency.

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Rain Day!

Storm showers pelted San Diego on this mid-month Monday. My unofficial estimate here in University Heights is 7.6 cm (3 inches). Elsewhere, according to the National Weather Service through 3 p.m. PST: Point Loma, 11.04 cm (4.49 inches); Airport, 8.36 cm (3.29 inches); Fashion Valley, 7.32 cm (2.88 inches); Montgomery Field, 6.6 cm (2.58 inches).

In the Mountain View neighborhood, Interstate I-15 flooded out at 32nd Street. TV news footage showed city crews wadding through waste-deep water, trying to free up drains and release the unexpected river crossing the highway. Similarly, rising waters closed businesses along the main thoroughfare through Mission Beach.

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Seriously Spiked

Nothing about the Featured Image really works. Depth of field is too shallow. Overall quality is too noisy. Composition is cluttered. Light and shadows contrast too much.

But busyness also shows off Southern California climate and diversity: The funny spiked thing, maple leaves, palm trees, sunny skies and wide street—on Dec. 17, 2023. The photo also reminds that even a premiere full-frame camera, Leica Q2, will produce a shot someone might presume comes from a smartphone’s small sensor.

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The Cats of University Heights: Puff

We have a winner—or would if there was a contest for the neighborhood’s most gorgeous kitty. My wife and I walk along Mississippi less than other streets, which explains why we hadn’t seen this beauty—unless she is a newcomer, which is possible. For fluffy fur, Puff is our nickname.

The Featured Image marks the first sighting, on Nov. 19, 2023. All the portraits come from Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Vitals: f/4.9, ISO 64, 1/60 sec, 230mm (film equivalent); 9:55 a.m. PDT.

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Uglydoll to the Stars

For no particular reason, we spend another day looking back on San Diego Comic-Con 2015, where Star Trek-themed Uglydolls went where no plushie has gone before—sold out, if I rightly recall, before the convention ended.

In the Featured Image, Power Ice-Bat rises above a sea of OX. The companion capture presents Ice-Bat as Scotty—and the Red Shirt who defied the odds episode after episode during the three seasons. Red Shirt has become a euphemism for a pulp-media character who is killed soon after his or her introduction. On Star Trek the Original Series, they dressed in a specific color.

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When Comic-Con was Fun

San Diego Comic-Con is still six months away (July 25-28). Late last year, I missed the first chance for a 2024 pass and skipped the second opportunity. My attendance days long ago ended when the convention chose not to renew my press credentials (and when I was still a working journalist). Subsequently, I wasn’t (supposedly) randomly chosen to purchase a pass.

On this fine Thursday evening, for no particular reason, let’s peek at what was SDCC before the culturally woke put to sleep my interests in participating. The Con is gone, or at least as I remember it.

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Is the Bird in Hand Better?

Earlier today, Galaxy S24 Ultra launched. Unfortunately, rumors were right. Samsung replaced the 10x optical zoom with 5x; the previous reach remains available, synthetically: artificial intelligence plus 115mm (film equivalent) optical lens and software.

That 230mm (film equivalent) telephoto set apart the two previous Ultras—S22 and S23—from Apple and Google flagships. But the f/4.9 aperture really limited low-light shots at 10x. I hoped for something much better. I am not jumping jacks with excitement over S24 Ultra’s f/3.4 at 5x, particularly when iPhone 15 Pro Max and Pixel 8 Pro are f/2.8.