Category: The Arts

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The Music Box

This must rank as the strangest thing seen in any University Heights yard—and I wonder what is the backstory. Is a harp inside the crate? Was an instrument delivered or waits pick up? Could the rustic box be placed as a lawn ornament, recognizing that no rain is expected to fall in San Diego for months? Surely even empty the wooden container is valuable—for collectible vintage, shipping usability, or both.

My wife and I passed by the crate, earlier today, while walking along Mission near Florida. Later, I left her at our apartment and returned to shoot the Featured Image and companion—both using Leica Q2. Vitals for the first, aperture manually set for both: f/4, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 9:36 a.m. PDT.

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Birds in a Tree (Hey, It’s Art!)

I rarely walk along Georgia Street between El Cajon and Meade but traipsed there today, hoping to see either Husky or Romper—both profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series after separate sightings. Approaching El Cajon, I came upon the oddest thing: a metal mobile hanging from a tree alongside the outside wall of a commercial building. I wondered: Why here? Home decoration makes sense, but before a facade of bricks? How odd. That said, what’s more appropriate than birds in a tree?

Location presented excellent opportunity to capture mobile and The Boulevard sign in the background. The Featured Image, which is composed as shot, comes from Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:41 p.m. PDT. In post-production, I experimented with several different lighting scenarios—one that silhouettes tree and metallic birds—before choosing the one you see.

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Aspiration is a Long Way from Talent

My artistic talents peaked in first grade and never improved. That school year, I won my one, and only, award for them—and decades later I doubt doing better, if as well, as the ribbon-winner that is the Featured Image. I vaguely remember making this drawing, with the teacher looking over my shoulder either to offer praise or suggestions; perhaps both.

The next clear recollection is my mom talking on the party line to see who would win, my anticipation, and both our excitement at the news. Gosh, I felt so proud. The next day, the second-grade winner and I basked in the limelight and awaited our prize. What would it be? Speculation killed me. Then, with modest fanfare, the teacher presented each of us with a proper drawing pad and black marker. I was crushed. How boring.

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‘Not Politically Correct’

Yesterday, as my wife and I walked along the alley separating Louisiana and Mississippi, between Meade and Monroe, she stopped, then said: it’s “not politically correct”, referring to a framed poster that I hadn’t seen. People put out giveaways all the time, and art ranks low on my interest meter; hence my blind disregard for an object worth inspection. Not only is her statement accurate, it could explain why someone discarded the thing. With all the hubbub about systemic racism, the caricatures could offend someone. Perhaps raised awareness led the owner to let go the wall hanging. Click through to the Featured Image, and you tell me.

I used Leica Q2 to make the moment, choosing to leave the framed poster leaning as we found it, rather than repositioning for the shot. Composition intentionally reveals some of the alley, for context. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 9:29 a.m PDT.

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Her Heart Soars

As explained nearly three weeks ago, I tend towards thrifty shooting with a digital camera—in this instance Leica Q2. The Featured Image is only one of three captures—the other two at f/5.6 and f/8, with the latter greatly expanding the field of focus. But in the end, wisely or not, I chose the photo made wider open, because of how the painted bricks lead the eyes to the graphic. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2500 sec, 28mm; 10:28 a.m. PDT, April 12, 2021. In post-production, I used DxO Perspective Efex to tweak the geometry.

The evening before, I encountered two of my neighbors walking their dog. The husband said that I would want to stop by his house “and bring your camera”. You can see why. The couple live on Meade below Georgia, and they are long-time University Heights residents—about 22 years, if I recall rightly.

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Make More Movies Like This

Superhero movies don’t really appeal to me, which is major reason I haven’t bothered watching “Justice League” (2017) or any other films in the genre. The so-called “Snyder Cut” debuted on HBO Max, March 18, 2021. Two days ago, the Twitterverse—heck, the universelearned that a black-and-white “Justice is Gray” version is “coming soon” to the streaming service. I love it!

During the early 1990s, I was an editor working for a general-interest magazine based in Washington, DC. I conceived, commissioned, and edited stories for print. Observed trend among successful freelancers: They would take one body of reporting/research and repackage it as different stories for several publications and their respective audiences. It’s a thrifty approach to news gathering that maximizes potential revenue for the writer, improves relationships with print (in this decade online) editors, and expands audience reach. Why shouldn’t filmmaking be something similar?

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CLAWS Dig In

We follow up my neighborhood’s lone Trump-Pence 2020 sign with something even more surprising: Black flag that is the Featured Image, which I captured using iPhone XS on August 16. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/1229 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 11:51 a.m. PDT. The tabby nicknamed Ranger from my “Cats of University Heights” series lives in the same residence.

Have feline families formed a coalition against racism? Nope. It’s the meeting of art, entrepreneurism, and opportunity. “CLAWS is not a group or organization, it’s my idea/message/statement/artwork/design”, creator Ryan Patterson explains on his Cat Magic Punks page. “If you love cats and are against white supremacy, you’re part of it!”