Category: Leica

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Some Sigma fp Continuing First Impressions

I am not exactly loving Sigma fp with 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C kit lens. Steve Huff’s glowing hands-on review compelled me to buy the diminutive full-frame shooter and sell overly-large Fujifilm GFX 50R. The compact camera checked off many of the benefits I sought in replacing the Fuji medium-format beast—or so seemed the case based on his reactions, and a few other early adopters.

Steve’s January 2010 Leica X1 review inspired me to purchase that camera, too. Much as the image quality and manual controls appealed, the X1 didn’t work well for me, and I sold it six months later. In retrospect, I should have remembered mainly why: Backside LCD as primary means for framing and focusing subjects. I much prefer, really require, an integrated optical or digital viewfinder. In the bright San Diego sunlight, handling Sigma fp, I struggle to compose photos, like Leica X1. Manual dials are gone, as well, and they are greatly longed for.

Read More

Once a Mighty Palm

Strange story the stump tells. Gone is the magnificent palm tree that dominated the corner of Monroe and Cleveland, nearby the Wilcox’s old apartment, in our San Diego neighborhood. This morning, while driving by, on my way to North County, I saw a tree cutter toss down the last frond before lopping off the top. Late afternoon, walking back, the devastation confronted me.

I haven’t written much about this tree over the years, but fleeting mentions are significant enough: “Fallen Fronds” (December 2017) and “Bell” (November 2016) from my “Cats of University Heights” series, where the kitty sits by the palm trunk that is now a stump.

Read More

Bee Friendly

Along the sidewalk outside what was the Butterfly House—and a yard now greatly trimmed back of insect-and-bird-welcoming flowers and plants—a bee drinks nectar on July 19, 2019. I captured the Featured Image and companion using Leica Q, manually focused. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec, 28mm; 12:19 p.m. PDT. Other is the same, except for 1/2000 sec.

Neither bug mug is as sharp as would please me, but they’ll have to do as memory markers for a refuge vanished. As Monarchs migrated South this autumn, I wonder where went those accustomed to the Butterfly House as one of their way stations.

Read More

The Cats of University Heights: Squint

I processed this portrait soon after capturing it, on Sept. 4, 2019, using Leica Q. I cropped, desaturated, and otherwise tweaked the Featured Image—the hope being to create mood that could compensate for shooting situation. Angle to the subject, from the street, and exterior environment looked unbecoming in color and as shot. I then stepped back several months and returned with fresh eyes to decide whether or not to publish. So here we are.

My wife and I walked along Adams around Mississippi, when she spotted the tabby, window warming morning sunshine. Squinty eyes, hence the nickname, is what compelled me to include the cat in the series, despite my misgivings about his (or her) portrait. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 8:43 a.m. PDT.

Read More

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. 

Read More

The Cats of University Heights: Ludwig

While walking down Madison Avenue, beyond North and approaching Park Blvd., I spotted a young man swinging a wand toy before his kitty in a driveway. Hey, the provocateur of this series had to stop for a visit and photographic moment. We spoke. The gent explained, almost apologetically, that he never considered himself a “cat person”, having grown up with dogs. Lest I misunderstood, Ludwig (yes, real name) is the first, and the shorthair has been with its caretaker for about two years.

But there is a backstory. Coincidentally, Ludwig’s original owners of one year were en route for a visit, and the young man wondered aloud if the pet would recognize them after two years apart. There is reason to be curious. Not long after joining his human’s habitat in 2017, Ludwig escaped and disappeared for about 14 days. The furball somehow made way back to his previous residence in Mission Hills. The nearly 5 km journey would require travel down busy Washington Street and possibly even over highway 163. Yikes. Poor baby. His paws were blistered. Once returned to University Heights, however, Ludwig settled in contently.