Author: Joe Wilcox

Read More

Must Dark Chocolate Taste Bad to Be Good?

The answer depends upon your tastebuds and eating habits. In July 2013, following a diabetic health scare, I voluntarily adopted a low-carb, low-sugar diet—and the latter isn’t easy, given how much sugar is added to everything. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “For most Americans, the main sources of added sugars are sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, desserts, and sweets”. I stopped eating all these things seven years ago. Granny Smith Apple is my main treat; dark chocolate is the other.

In a relatively recent change, the FDA requires “added sugar” to be included on a packaged food’s Nutrition Label along with the overall total—the remainder being naturally occurring. The amounts can be staggering. For example, in a half-cup (130 grams) of Bush’s Baked Beans (original recipe) there are 12 grams of sugar —11 of them added, for 22 percent of the daily recommended total of 50 grams if consuming a 2,000-calorie diet. But other organizations recommend much less intake. The American Heart Association guidance is no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. Ladies, one cup of Bush’s would fill your daily quota.

Read More

Flickr a Week 53: ‘Blue Lives Matter meets ACAB’

The final Wednesday of the year brings us to the second-to-the-last post in the series, should it conclude as previously planned. I am undecided. For now, our selection captures some of 2020’s most important themes—triple-P: pandemic, politics, and protests; for sure one overlaps another in some manner or another. My first choice, self-titled “Respirator Life“, by David Geitgey Sierralupe, is unfortunately All Rights Reserved. So I had to pick another selection, one Creative Commons-licensed, from the carpenter who lives in Eugene, Ore.

Rally for Democracy“—with a nurse wearing KN95 mask and typifying fallout from the Presidential Election and SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19—was a contender. But the choice came down to a coin-toss between two street shots with the same self-title: “Blue Lives Matter meets ACAB“. The acronym stands for “all cops are bastards”. The second choice (blame the quarter for landing tails).

Read More

The N-Word for White Women

Six months have passed since I walked by the painted window, somewhere in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, that is this post’s Featured Image. My thoughts needed some percolation before I was ready to express them. Here we go. Women of a certain age (often middle age, or older), economic status (Middle Class or wealthier, which means entitled), and race (white) are all over the InterWebs for behaving badly. Somebody smartphone-videos their tirades, which may or may not include racial slurs but more often is angry or exasperated. The typical stereotype is the woman who calls cops or store manager to settle a perceived grievance.

Call it the new KKK—Karen-Ken Klan, which lynches people in the social media public square, where they don’t lose their lives but absolutely lose their livelihoods: Jobs and reputations, for starters. Death would almost be merciful compared the merciless torture for which they endure.

Read More

Flickr a Week 52b: ‘Winter afternoon at the Boston Public Garden’

The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), dramatically changed this series‘ planned character. There is much less street photography, fewer candid portraits, and more landscapes or scenes where people might be expected but are absent. Bleak black and white, or scant color, are common for what they represent during a year where, as I warned my wife in late January: “Fear is the contagion”. Examples relevant to today’s selection: “A Spring Snow Fall In Prescott, Wisconsin“, “A Yukon Quest Team“; “Barns in Snow“, “Break“, “Foggy Morning“, “Forever Silence“, or “Ice, Ice Baby“. The tonal change began in May, rather than March—my habit of curating two months ahead.

Our third Monochrom moment in a row comes from Subhash Roy, who used Leica SL2 to shoot self-titled “Winter afternoon at the Boston Public Garden” on Dec. 20, 2020. Vitals: f/8, ISO 200, 1/500 sec. I used to live nearby that lovely locale, and it’s wonderful to see a statue—of George Washington—still standing months after so-called peaceful protestors and rioters defaced or destroyed iconic (and some controversial) American statues and monuments. The winter scene takes the Sunday spot for composition, film-like quality, and mood.

Read More

The Bee Tree

I am not a photographer and bear no illusions about ever being one. My composition skills are raw, and rarely cooked, and I lack the post-production sense that someone else would use to create art. My camera, the Leica Q2, is professional grade and seemingly beyond my skills. But I handle the all-in-one well enough, and it is satisfying to use—enjoyable and versatile.

I am a storyteller, however, and use photos to mark moments or to illustrate a  narrative. Take as example the Featured Image (warning: 30GB file), which I captured today along Georgia Street between Lincoln and Polk in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 11:36 a.m. PST. The original was portrait, but I cropped square.

Read More

Flickr a Week 52a: ‘Where Mozart Lives’

Happy Christmas! For months, I searched for a holiday-specific, Creative Commons-licensed photo and found none that wowed me. Instead, we go non-traditional but other timely—when bow and string made merry music and smartphone distractions were beyond the imaginations of even the most prolific, prophetic science fiction writers.

Roman Boed captured self-titled “Where Mozart Lives” on Dec. 28, 2017, using Leica M and Summilux-M 1:1.4/50 ASPH lens. The EXIF doesn’t identify specific camera model. Vitals: f/1.4, ISO 3200, 1/60 sec, 50mm. The string quartet portrait is a keeper for atmosphere, composition, film-like texture, and timelessness (just ignore the lamp’s pull-string).

Read More

The Cats of University Heights: Measure

I really should be more observant about where kitty portraits are taken. This one is on North—or could be Campus—nearby Madison or Monroe. For some reason I failed to use the iPhone XS camera for quick, GPS-marking shot. Sigh. The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2, on Dec. 4, 2020. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 125, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 9:41 a.m. PST.

The black earns nickname Measure, for how it sized up my approach and the motion of nearby birds.

Read More

Flickr a Week 52: ‘Llama Love’

What’s not to like about a child receiving a little “Llama Love“? Ian Sane used Canon EOS 5DS R and EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens to capture the self-titled portrait on March 23, 2019. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 250, 1/800 sec, 50mm.

About the moment: “Here’s my granddaughter, Penelope, getting a kiss from an unlikely source at Riverfront Park in Salem, Oregon. Full disclosure: I love her wild looking hair”.

Read More

Flickr a Week 51a: ‘Someone left These’

Brrr. Does self-titled “Someone left These” make you feel cold? I shiver just looking at this fine photo, which Jack Wallsten captured on Feb. 15, 2017, using Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens. Vitals: f/5, ISO 400, 1/1800 sec, 35mm. The provocative, but simple, shot takes the Sunday spot for color, composition, contrast, and creativity—then there is use of light.

The “professional videographer and editor” shoots “mainly street photography, pictures of my beautiful girlfriend, or sights from my balcony in Örnsberg, a southern suburb of Stockholm”. He wants “to improve as a photographer. I believe that no matter what skills you inhabit you are never too experienced to become better or to discover something new about yourself”.

Read More

Cali’s Cushion

Buzz about the Leica Q2 Monochrome piques my interest in black-and-white shooting using the standard model, which I purchased on Dec. 27, 2019. B&W is what I see in the EVF (electronic viewfinder) when composing, but the sensor saves color as RAW and black and white as JPEG. Seriously? DNG me something I can meaningfully edit.

Last night, Cali hopped up on Neko‘s chair, which he hasn’t used much lately. So I grabbed the Q2 for a quick, spontaneous portrait, which is close-cropped but otherwise not manually altered. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 4000, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 6:19 p.m. PST.

Read More

The Fiddler

The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings for Boston and New York, with expected snow accumulations between 20 and 38 cm (8 and 15 inches). Washington, DC: Mixed perception, which if typical means freezing rain. Well, perhaps I don’t miss the East Coast as much on this fine Wednesday. The third season of the year, Late Summer, brought breezy air and blazing sunshine to San Diego for a high temperature of 22 degrees Celsius (72 F).

My wife and I spent much of the late morning through early afternoon in Ocean Beach, packing up our daughter’s apartment. Molly’s plan to vacate the place by the end of the month was interrupted last week by an emergency trip to the hospital, where she spent 24 hours on a ventilator (unbelievably not for COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2).

Read More

Flickr a Week 51: ‘La Orotava, Tenerife’

Expressing a sentiment that applies to most photos showcased in this series, Viktor Kirilko says about self-titled “La Orotava, Tenerife“: “Pre COVID-19 era”. No social distancing. No mandated mask wearing. We see life as it was—magnificently depicted, too—one year ago, when, already, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) silently spread. How dramatically—no, drastically—life has changed since.

Viktor captured the moment on Dec. 7, 2019, using Fujifilm X100. Vitals: f/16, ISO 200, 1/4000 sec, 23mm. Nearly a decade after its release, the X100 is still worthy in capable hands and eyes. The photo takes the week for clarity, color, contrast, sassy saturation, and three-dimensional depth. BTW, the yellow building to the right is a hardware store: Ferretería Orotava. The Novel Coronavirus hit Spain hard. Did, or will, the shop—and others around it—survive?