Category: Tech

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Hat Tip to Leica Q

For weeks, I have walked by this hat hanging from a tree along Alabama Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Finally, today, while out and about with Leica Q, I stopped for a shot. The Featured Image is a near 100-percent crop of the companion photo, which is composed as captured. I drew out highlights, but made no other edits. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec, 28mm; 2:27 p.m. PST.

The hat, whether original or cropped, shows the fantastic detail that the Q’s f/1.7 Summilux lens and full-frame sensor combo captures. Beautiful Bokeh, too. The Leica continues to satisfy, more than 30 months later. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Hero

This profile breaks a steadfast rule: Only spotlight felines that live in the neighborhood; those that move away or pass away are ineligible from participating in the series. Problem: The ginger was a resident when I captured the Featured Image, on July 19, 2019, using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. His family relocated before I could clear enough of the backlog of photographed, but unpublished, kitties.

Because the beastie was frenemy with Zero, and is missed by the black, he earns exemption and nickname Hero. He lived on Georgia, between Madison and Monroe, in an apartment building across the street from Zero and the new home of Reddy, whose current caretaker has renamed Jinx. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/240 sec, 63mm; 3:54 p.m.

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The Cats of University Heights: Zero

Three years ago today, I started this series with photo of an apparent stray nicknamed Scruffy. In a neighborhood with a bazillion dog walkers, I expected to exhaust the potential population of felines within 30 days—perhaps a few weeks longer, if lucky. How many cats could there possibly be in woof-woof paradise? Thirty-six months later, not only is this thing still going but should I choose to continue (maybe to that) a backlog of unpublished kitty portraits waits on camera(s) and computer. Quite deliberately, Zero’s profile is 300th; but I waited too long to tell his story and that of his mates.

Our tale begins on July 12, 2019, when, while walking along Georgia Street, I spotted a sleeping, sunning ginger who looked lots like Reddy—and on the wrong side of Madison, which is treacherous for people to cross let alone animals. So I purposely returned over the next several days to see; one week later, he appeared, along with two other beasties.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sentry

About an hour before sunset, on Aug. 6, 2019, my wife and I spotted an orange tabby comically placed—or so it seemed to my dry, wry sense of humor. I snapped a quick pic using iPhone XS, and we moved along, as to not disturb the sleeper. Eight days later, the kitty opportunely presented in the same place; this time I carried along Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, which produced the Featured Image (warning: 20MB file). Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/8, ISO 500, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 4:34 p.m. PDT.

If somebody was supposed to be on guard duty, he shouldn’t siesta on the job. Hehe. For reasons hopefully obvious, the shorthair earns nickname Sentry. We saw him on Madison near the corner of Cleveland.

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Making Monarch Moments

Surely weather is major explanation: Monarchs are uncharacteristically present this summer. I see more around University Heights than any year since moving our family to San Diego in October 2007. I wondered while walking around the neighborhood: How effective a photographic tool could be Fujifilm GFX 50R for capturing butterflies? After all, composing is deliberate rather than quick, and the Fujinon GF63mmF.28 R WR lens isn’t specifically designed for macro (e.g. close-up) work. I have experimentally used the oversized camera as a street shooter—since acquiring it in February 2019 to replace my Leica M10, which a Mexican wedding photographer purchased from me late last year.

The massive medium-format sensor collects heaps of data, which makes shooting with a 50mm-equivalent prime lens surprisingly satisfying. In post-production, I can crop in close, retaining amazing detail—something that the Featured Image and first companion demonstrate. The 50R is able enough, and more. Question answered.

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The Cats of University Heights: Misty

Our landlord is imposing a 4.1-percent rent increase, about which we gripe but probably shouldn’t—given that the 2-bedroom trend in San Diego is a ridiculous 16.6 percent. Timing is opportunity to reconsider options, so my wife and I are exploring them. One of the initially more appealing apartments is on Cleveland, south of Meade, and would reduce our yearly housing cost by $3,000. In the online listing’s photos, a cat approaches the back door. Annie and I saw the fluffball waiting at the front door, seemingly greeting us, as we walked by the place on Aug. 4, 2019. Assuming that the animal’s owner likely will leave the neighborhood soon, since the apartment is supposed to be available on September 1, I pushed the profile ahead of others.

Once again, I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to make the moment, which required some careful editing and thoughtful composition. Initially, I cropped so that the door and windows could be seen, which put the feline low down. The Featured Image is somewhat disrupted by the foreground fence but works better by bringing the beastie more to eye level, which—for want of a better word—creates more immediacy. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 10:11 a.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Gucci

The Alabama cats are back, with the forty-third profiled from the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. There is a cache of kittens that may soon be included, should I get photos, that are being fostered across the street from where I saw this black. She earns nickname Diamond, for rarity of sightings.

I first observed the shorthair nearly a year ago, occasionally since—and always fleetingly, mornings when people leave for work. The kitty would disappear down nearby apartment complex steps, where also goes Sly. On July 31, 2019, Diamond made an unexpected afternoon appearance, poking through the fence surrounding the house where lived Laramie and Lupe before they were abandoned and later rescued. The beastie dug into foliage and dirt, for something, before laying out in unexpected repose. Oh, how I wanted to read the name tag, but close approach wasn’t happening.

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The Cats of University Heights: Lively

A couple doors down from Cricket‘s house, my wife and I encountered a lively kitten on July 29, 2019. Hence, the nickname. Hanoi and Maxine reside close by, and near the sighting—along Maryland between Madison and Monroe—a car hit Kuma as he crossed the street to Annie; Sept. 15, 2011. The bastard driver didn’t stop, but our Maine Coon survived.

We observed Lively from a distance, and I stopped with Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to shoot what would be the Featured Image (warning: 15MB file). Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/300 sec. 63mm; 9:34 a.m. PDT. The cropped composition isn’t preferred, but it removes a distracting Stop sign to the left of the tabby’s head.

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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.