Category: Storytelling

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Comic-Con’s Crazy COVID Conniption

To close out the month, and first half of the year, we connect the somewhat distant past with the not-so-far-off future. San Diego Comic Con returns July 21-24, 2022 with Preview Night on the 20th. The show floor, or break-out sessions, will look nothing like the Featured Image, taken seven years ago.

SDCC apparently didn’t get the memo that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 is endemic and no longer pandemic. Locally, people move freely about without being required to wear masks, be tested, or verify vax status. Based on the official tally, the cumulative-calculated case fatality rate in San Diego County is 0.64 percent. Meaning: Your chance of surviving Coronavirus is better than 99 percent, while more than 85 percent of those infected likely show no symptoms.

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The Pusher and the Biker

Four days ago, I came across Chris Gampat‘s The Phoblographer commentary “Manual Mode Is Overrated: A Popular, Unpopular Opinion“. Conceding that I am amateur at best, my tendency is to shoot semi-automatic by presetting aperture and fiddling with other settings only when necessity arises.

Chris tramps through several examples of missed opportunities. From the lede paragraph: “You raise the camera to shoot, very sure that you’ve got the decisive moment. But when you chimp the LCD screen, you notice the screen is pure white. Because you were in manual mode, your camera couldn’t adapt and you lost the moment. Had the camera been constantly adjusting the exposure itself, you would’ve probably captured the moment”. Okay, I might have some experience with that.

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The Players

Friends invited me to attend Spirit West Coast at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 2008. I couldn’t guess what to expect—and, whoa, what a surprise. The atmosphere felt good and the overall ambience refreshed and enlivened. Christian musicians. Families. Young adults. All having fun at a festival where there was no alcohol or illegal substances. I was surprised. Transfixed.

I attended the following year, too. But those days are gone. The music festival no longer comes to San Diego County.

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Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

When my wife and I set out for a morning walk today, we passed by the same mirrors from whence came my selfie yesterday. She stopped for one, too, and I captured the Featured Image; discretely with iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/1901 sec, 26mm; 10:26 a.m. PDT.

Annie tends to shoot portrait orientation, and she has a great eye for composition. More than 99-percent of the time, I choose landscape. You could count on one hand my number of vertical shots since acquiring Leica Q2 on the last day of 2019.

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Me in the Mirror

I am not one to take selfies but an odd opportunity presented today and the result is better than my expectation. While walking along the alley separating Alabama and Florida, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I came upon discarded mirrors between cross-streets Adams and Madison. Initially, I shot sideways, capturing car reflections across the way.

My journey continued. But along Adams and the next parallel alley, I encountered a nasty wind. Chilled, I chose to retrace my warmer path. That brought me back to the mirrors, which pitted, scratched state made me stop and ponder taking a shot from the hip, which I did after manually setting the aperture on Leica Q2.

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He Knows No Limit

I can’t explain why the Featured Image appeals to me. Maybe the gent’s mouth caught in speaking motion is reason combined with tilt of head, necklaces hung around neck, and one presented in hand. Is he selling the beaded strings? Seeking donations? I want to know.

The moment is from the Labor Day Parade on Sept. 5, 2005 in Kensington, Md. I used Canon EOS 20D for the portrait, which is composed as shot. Vitals: f/10, ISO 400, 1/500 sec, 40mm; 10:26 a.m. EDT.

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A Sign is 25

I can’t imagine how our family still resides in the village of University Heights, which is where we settled upon arriving in San Diego nearly 15 years ago. But here we remain, even as rising rental fees and soaring property values make the area unbearably costly. Exit strategy has been my priority for some time, at least since our decision not to buy the Schoolhouse five years ago. As homeowners, we would have been more natural members of the community.

Still, my wife and I briefly joined today’s block party—along Park Blvd between Adams and Madison—celebrating 25 years of the neighborhood’s iconic sign, which you can see in the Featured Image, taken using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 4:41 p.m. PDT. The event officially started at Five.

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The Phone Call

At 11:45 a.m. PDT today, iPhone 13 Pro chimed from a San Diego number that I did not recognize. Expecting a call from a local business, I answered rather than assume spam and send to voicemail. A young woman hysterically cried: “I had an accident. Dad, I had an accident”. My daughter doesn’t own a car, so her situation could be dire and ringing from someone else’s cell could be expected.

But hysteria and sobbing made identifying the voice difficult. I asked: “Who are you?” The response: “I had an accident. It’s me, dad”. I asked again, and her last answer sounded like “Diana”. She disconnected. The call lasted 41 seconds. For peace of mind, I immediately rang my daughter’s number and confirmed that she was in no trouble.

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The Nikon Shooter

The day is June 10, 2006. I drive my daughter and friend to the mall in Columbia, Md. when we unexpectedly come upon the Festival of Arts event, where cardboard boat races are underway. I pack Nikon D200, which comes out to shoot some of the activities, including the Featured Image. If I recollect rightly, the portrait is not one previously shared. Vitals: f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 200mm; 1:07 p.m. EDT.

The Nikon shooter evokes a bygone photographic era, before the ascent of mirrorless cameras displaced digital SLRs. Yes, professionals still use them, but a journey to any photo forum reveals a massive migration to smaller bodies and more compact lenses.

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Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble

The current housing bubble—and there absolutely is one—bears only modest resemblance to the previous catastrophe, which I warned about in a lengthy August 2005 analysis. Rising mortgage rates already are deflating the 2020’s-decade bubble, but the pop is unavoidable without fundamental changes in the actual market or the myths used to explain existing dynamics.

Since before anyone heard of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, which economic and societal disruption super-inflated the housing bubble, I had warned about a dangerous trend that ignores common sense observation of national demographics: Among the two largest segments, Baby Boomers are dying off and Millennials aren’t having many kids. As population growth stalls, there will be less demand for housing because there will be fewer people to buy. Meaning: All the babbling about not enough inventory has set into motion an overbuilding frenzy that is sure to deflate home values in the not-so-distant future. Before pandemic lockdowns, I had thought within 10 years. I now expect less than five—if we’re lucky.