Category: Tech

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Flickr a Week 4a: ‘The Cow–Aberdeenshire, Scotland’

When curating photos for this series, two criteria matter: Creative Commons copyright and presenting a variety of different subjects and styles. Cuts can be brutal. All choices are subjective, of course, and not everyone will share my taste. I wonder what the reaction will be to self-titled “The Cow—Aberdeenshire, Scotland“, which Giuseppe Milo captured on Sept. 28, 2018, using Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens. Vitals: f/9, ISO 400,  1/750 sec, 55mm.

The self-described “travel and street photographer”, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, joined Flickr in September 2012. He also is a programmer and web developer, as he explains on his personal site. His nature shot takes the Sunday spot for composition, color, contrast, use of light, and being interesting.

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The Cats of University Heights: Buttercup

Along most sidewalks in the neighborhood, trees—the majority palms—line the streets. Telephone poles, and their accompanying tangle of above (or below) ground wires, are relegated to alleys behind. The fifty-forth feline found behind door or window illustrates just how ugly and knotted the high-wires can be. There’s a metaphor here somewhere about California culture’s obsession with all things pretty and manicured being a facade for frightful chaos within.

On Jan. 17, 2020, using Leica Q2, I captured the Featured Image of this sleeping, sunning beauty in the alley between Georgia and Park Blvd. First sighting was weeks earlier, however. I waited for the kitty to nap during a time of day that provided maximum illumination with minimal shadows. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:15 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Petri

Look who has a new neighbor: Lily and Maxie. I have seen Storm, once on the same block, while Giotto and Striker have moved away. But we count them anyway when introducing the forty-sixth sighted Alabama Street kitty. I met 12 year-old Petri and his delightful owner on Jan. 17, 2020. They moved to the neighborhood around Thanksgiving, after driving across America: Three days on the road, and the feline behaved bravely all the way.

The Featured Image, captured using Leica Q2, deserves some context. Petri’s mom and I talked for many minutes while he hung back by the front door. Later, when he ventured out, she asked if he would like some supper. Surely she has posed the question previously, if his reaction indicates anything. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/3.5, ISO 125, 1/50 sec, 28mm; 4:02 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Glory

For Caturday, we correct a misidentification. With so many beasties that look similar—all-blacks, particularly—one can be mistaken for another. On Jan. 30, 2019, I captured a fresh portrait of Roadie; markings match previous photos perfectly. Nineteen days later, I snapped another, on a porch fairly close to the curb where she had been previously photographed. Given the proximity of time and location, and cursory examination of feline features, I presumed both shots represented the same animal.

Day before yesterday, I learned from the owner of Herbie, The Love Bug and Sparky that Roadie disappeared, presumably deceased, after losing weight and becoming feeble. In the Flickr caption to the 1-30-19 picture, I observed that she “looked considerably thinner than” when profiled eight months earlier. “I wonder why Roadie is skinnier now”. The Feb. 18, 2019 photo shows a much larger, healthy tabby, whose lower leg markings don’t match Roadie’s. I let my excitement seeing her somewhere other than the street and in better physical condition cause my judgement to stray. The later image is another animal.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sparky

Occasionally patience pays, as is the situation with Sparky, whose name I learned today. We made brief acquaintance about 9 months ago outside the home where also lives Herbie, The Love Bug. I have seen the newcomer sometimes since but deferred adding him to the series in hopes of learning his identity and hearing his story. This morning, while walking with my wife, I saw both cats’ caretaker tending the lawn and asked her about him, finally.

She had been a volunteer at the San Diego Animal Shelter, which the County turned over responsibilities to the Humane Society on July 1, 2018. Because of feline overcrowding resulting from the switchover, some cats were scheduled to transition to the animal afterlife, so to speak, rather than to the new facilities. Sparky was on the kill list. That last day of June. Herbie’s owner quite literally saved him from the executioner, by sudden adoption. Conjure up whatever cliché movie moment you like, where a governor pardons someone on Death Row seconds before the lethal injection.

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The Cats of University Heights: Fluffy

For reasons that must make sense to someone in city planning, a bike lane is in early stages of construction down Meade in my neighborhood going out to North Park. Traffic is rerouted from Alabama and Louisiana, as road crews work on some kind of traffic circle(s)—among several forthcoming “traffic calming measures”, according to project coordinators.

“The Georgia-Meade Bikeway will run along Georgia Street between Robinson Avenue and Howard Avenue, shift to Howard Avenue for one block, and continue on Florida Street to Meade Avenue”, explains the project page. “The bikeway will run along Meade Avenue between Park Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue”. Crews started digging up the intersection at Alabama around Christmas 2019 and are expected to continue working for six months locally. The entire thing is planned to be completed in 2022.

What does any of this have to do with our Caturday tabby?

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The Cats of University Heights: Ranger

Perhaps two years ago (if not longer), I spotted this lush longhair sitting upon a roof. His owner said that he frequently goes there. Of course, I would forget his name, minutes after she told me. Even so, a really good portrait opportunity didn’t come until June 19, 2019, when, at 3:50 p.m. PDT, I captured the Featured Image using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/350 sec, 63mm.

I sometimes see the tabby roaming among houses along his street or crossing Monroe to visit Twilight. Six months of waiting, hoping to see his owner and ask again for a name, time is come to call him something and add his furriness to the series. Ranger is good moniker for now. BTW, he is second of two consecutive cats presented living on the same Campus Avenue block. The first: Kip. Happy Caturday!

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The Cats of University Heights: Kip

Our New Year’s kitty, Gem, is the last subject photographed with my beloved Leica Q. We follow him (or her) with the first photograph from Leica Q2, which replaces the returned-for-refund Sigma fp that—had shooting experience been different—would have supplanted the Q.

Nicknamed Kip, which is British slang for nap, this ginger is the first of two from the same block of Campus Avenue and fifty-third featured from behind window or door. She looks cozy, eh? I shot the Featured Image at 8:41 a.m. PST, today. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm.

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Why I Returned Sigma fp

Lesson learned: Sigma makes cameras that are innovative but idiosyncratic. As I have often expressed, balance is the hallmark of good product design—whether the physical handing, how features/benefits mesh together, or, most often, combination of both characteristics. For me as an arguably amateur photographer, Sigma DP1 and DP2s didn’t measure up, and I parted with both. Now, many years later, the company’s marvelous full-frame shooter joins them. I ended the decade by sending back Sigma fp and its accessories for refund. Strike three!

Perhaps if I were a videographer, Sigma fp would be perfect. It is tiny, shoots hours of uninterrupted footage, and can be rigged by expansion to need. As a still photographic tool, the fp charms by capturing photos with rich colors and crisp contrast from a 35mm sensor packed into the smallest interchangeable body available anywhere. The rear controls are conveniently and intelligently laid out, particularly those placed below the LCD screen. But, and here it comes, the shooting experience—at least in my hands—disappoints. Like its predecessors, Sigma fp is (being polite) somewhat unbalanced, with respect to end-user benefits and overall device handling.

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The Cats of University Heights: Gem

The fourth New Years kitty to appear in the series shares the distinction with Storm (2019), Norman (2018), and Chub (2017). I chose the black and white, because of his (or her) fleeting resemblance to  Mr. Kitty, who disappeared nearly five months ago. His owner still searches for him.

I nickname the furball Gem, for being an unexpected find and in hopes the Mr. Kitty is one day found. Gem joins only five other felines featured from Panorama Drive: Brick, Hawk, Herbie, The Love Bug, Roadie, and Poinsettia. The Featured Image is the second of three taken—and they are the last photos from Leica Q, which I retired yesterday and posted for sale on Craigslist. Today, I start shooting with successor Q2. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 3:28 p.m. PST, Dec. 30, 2019.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sparkle

The last in a trio of window watchers—and fifty-second for the series—comes as a surprise to me, since it’s coincidence rather than advance planning. This gorgeous longhair, whom I nickname Sparkle, joins Squint and Poinsettia. She appeared along Campus, between Meade and Monroe, on Dec. 11, 2019. I captured the Featured Image, using Sigma fp and 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 45mm; 3:06 p.m. PST.

The cropped portrait is a compromise composition, to remove the building number. In post-production, I emphasized highlights, increased whites, but pulled back shadows, using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic.