Category: Photo

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The Cats of University Heights: Cricket

About a half-block from where I saw Glow, a relatively new neighborhood resident lives at the corner of Maryland and Monroe. The house sold to new owners a few months ago, and some renovation followed—including the clearing of sidewalk-side foliage rising up a vertical protective wall along Monroe that obscured the backyard. The space attracted crickets, which until October 2017, during some evenings, I collected for our cats Cali and Neko to chase and eat inside our apartment; at the time, we lived around the corner on Cleveland. With the recent changes, I would be surprised if the insects gather there any longer.

The forty-eighth kitty in the series looking out from behind window or door was a sentimental sighting—for all the time that I spent skulking about the sidewalk and wall in the dark, with a flashlight and couple of plastic containers with lids. Surely, then, I needn’t explain this fine feline’s nickname.

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The Cats of University Heights: Glow

We commemorate the last Caturday in July with the first of two felines looking out from behind windows—both on Maryland, and this one approaching Monroe from Meade. Earning nickname Glow, the blackie is our forty-seventh indoor-to-outdoor gazer. I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to shoot the Featured Image, on May 23, 2019, while walking home from the grocery store.

I deliberately held back the portrait, so that I could crop and re-crop with different mindset over the course of weeks. I also hoped to perhaps capture another moment. This composition qualifies as the least-dissatisfying of those created, and I seriously considered not including Glow in the series. But the cat is clear enough behind the glass, particularly its green eyes. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/340 sec, 63mm; 2:11 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sprout

The 280th profile belongs to the fifth consecutively-presented Alabama kitty—forty-second featured from the street since the series started in October 2016. As we approach 300 and the third anniversary, I seriously consider closing down the project, which started as a photographic-practice exercise with expected, short duration. In a neighborhood seemingly dominated by dogs, there initially looked like maybe enough kitties to fill a month of posts. How could so many be lurking about?

I captured the Featured Image using iPhone XS on June 25,2019. I held back posting, hoping to learn the kitty’s real name. For now, I dub the shorthair Sprout. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/235 sec, 6mm; 10:01 a.m. PDT. The second portrait, with Zeppelin Pom Pom in the background, comes from Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. I saw both cats only once, together or apart. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 250, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 9:57 a.m.

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The Cats of University Heights: Zeppelin Pom Pom

The fourth furball from Alabama Street, presented consecutively, is one of two seen outside the same property between Howard and Polk on June 25, 2019. Meet the friendly Zeppelin Pom Pom, which joins the list of best-named neighborhood kitties (some of whom have left or passed away since being profiled). Among my favs: Captain Blackbeard; Daniel Tiger; Darth Mew; Herbie, the Love Bug; Itchy Valentino; John Adams; Princess Leia; and The Colonel.

I used iPhone XS to capture the Featured Image, which gets unexpected presentation. When I opened the portrait to edit, Apple Photos automatically adjusted—but rather than straightening, the built-in algorithm mistakenly twisted into a Dutch Angle. I kind of like it. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/65 sec, 6mm; 9:57 a.m. PDT.

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Audience Matters

While walking along Panorama Drive, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood today, a bumper sticker caused me to chuckle. The message seemed so appropriately placed on a vehicle parked in what locals might call a well-to-do, liberal enclave. Above the one proclamation another exclaimed: “Keep the Mexicans. Deport Trump”. So surely the driver’s meaning is unequivocally plain: Fewer weapons saves lives. In other words, disarm Americans.

I laughed when passing, because interpretation could be far removed from intention, or purpose. There are anarchists, terrorists, and other people—such as those wanting to rid the country of haughty liberals—who might see something quite good and affirming about “More Guns, More Death”, reading the same sentiment with a divergent meaning that is justified by a different, or even opposing, ethical worldview. For one audience, the slogan is an admonition. For another, it’s an invitation—a call to arms, so to speak.

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The Cats of University Heights: Astral

The trip down Alabama continues: Third furball presented consecutively, following Fuki and Boots; fortieth featured from the street, between boundaries Adams and Lincoln; and forty-sixth kitty to appear behind window or door. Besides the next two, there are another half-dozen of which I am aware but have been unable to present; most of those are indoors.

I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to capture the Featured Image on May 8, 2019. I held back posting by several months, hoping to possibly identify the real name. Several cats live in the same building, between El Cajon and Meade, and some owners identify them in the Pets section of social network Nextdoor. But not this animal, or that is obvious enough to me. I can wait no longer. For shining stare looking down from the second floor, this tabby earns nickname Astral. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 4:40 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Boots

Our second of five, consecutively-presented Alabama cats is thirty-ninth seen on the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln, since the series‘ start in October 2016. For perspective, that works out to 14 percent of the 277 profiles published to date. I spotted the first felines there—on the same block and all on the same day—in September 2017: Itchy Valentino, Goldie, and Anthony. I frequently see the three still.

In fact, on July 7, 2019, as my wife and I walked by, Anthony trotted across his yard for some pats; guess he heard us talking and recognized our voices. As Annie bent down to oblige him, movement behind raptured my attention. The Tuxedo had a visitor, who wasn’t feeling friendly towards us. Ah, sorry for the interruption, kitty.

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The Cats of University Heights: Fuki

Alabama is back, with the thirty-eighth-sighted feline on the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln, since the series started in October 2016. Another four follow consecutively. Your guess why the Alabama abundance easily could make more sense than mine. Prevailing theory: Human population density, because of the comparatively, unusually high percentage of multi-unit rental properties—and fairly frequent tenant turnover with them. More people, more pets.

About three weeks ago, I first observed Fuki (her real name) sleeping on an outdoor sofa in a yard that should be called a cat paradise—for the lush trees and shrubs and varying areas of sunlight and shade that provide changeable siesta spots. I captured the Featured Image on July 1, 2019, using iPhone XS, which replaces my recently-departed Google Pixel 3 XL. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/302 sec, 6mm; 10:46 a.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: King

Two days ago my wife and I resumed our San Diego Zoo membership. This morning, we walked through the animal refuge for the first time in more than a year. The caged creatures there inspire the nickname for the tabby spotted on June 13, 2019 along Florida between Madison and Monroe. He (and hopefully not she) is first feline in the series seen inside a catio.

I captured the Featured Image using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 125, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 3:28 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Hawk

Our forty-fifth kitty to appear behind window or door, like the others, is nameless—or at least to me the street photographer. I dub this one Hawk, for watching birds on the wire. Their reflection in the glass punctuates the moment, which I captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 9 a.m., June 17, 2019. The Featured Image is best appreciated by clicking through (warning: 19MB file).

I spotted Hawk along Panorama Drive, where also live Brick; Herbie, the Love Bug; and Roadie—surely others.

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Such a Waste

Last month, on a whim, my wife and I took an excursion down memory lane: the narrow, out-of-the-way street leading to San Diego Hospice, where twice weekly my father-in-law played flute for residents before the facility closed. He passed away in January 2017—and unbelievably—the buildings have followed him, as can be seen from the Featured Image.

In December 2012, administrators told him that his playing would end at the start of the new year. Months later, the healthcare operation declared bankruptcy before closing for good. My experience going inside any kind of extended-stay care facility is bad. But San Diego Hospice was good, with clean, wide hallways and walls decorated with art—some of it for sale, if I remember rightly. There was warmth, in a place that could otherwise have born the chill of death.  After all, most of the residents received care before their lives ended.

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The Cats of University Heights: John Adams

We follow up Ludgwig, with one of his street buddies, quite appropriately and unexpectedly. Two days after the white and orange kitty joined the series, his close neighbor John Adams disappeared. Perhaps because the tiger tabby is so handsome or maybe because so many people like his name, he caused quite the consternation on Nextdoor when reported missing. I didn’t learn about the two beasties’ close residences until about a week after John Adams was found. He hangs out on North; Ludwig around Madison, not far from where the streets meet.

Ludwig’s owner was one of the many folks scouring alleys and rapping locked garages searching for the cat who would be named president of the United States. No one guessed that he was trapped a stone’s throw away (for five days) inside the nearby, abandoned florist shop, which closing I wrote about one year ago today.