Category: Leica

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Another Stand Off!

What’s up with my passing by feline territorial skirmishes? There was Ash and Bandit in late May 2021 and now Goose (left) and Jasmine, which respective yards are separated by an apartment building parking lot. All four animals are profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series.

My wife and I came upon the pair, yowling and tensing forward or retreating, outside Goose’s home. That’s right, Jasmine was the aggressor. But sometime later, after I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, she backed through the fence and he pursued. Somebody pulled up and parked a car, which broke the territorial tension.

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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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A 20-Year-Old Memento

While rummaging around for one of our daughter’s old drawings, my wife pulled out my press pass issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 20 years ago. At the time, Microsoft sought to overturn, or at least diminish, its adverse antitrust ruling and recommended remedy that would break the company into separate applications and operating systems companies. The U.S. Justice Department and 20 states attorneys general filed the initial case in May 1998. One state dropped out almost immediately. If I rightly recall, only 18 states remained by mid-2001.

I was a staff writer for CNET News.com and remember the court case well. My reporting got lots of attention, particularly analyses of the case and where it would lead—such as prediction that the appeals court would remove the trial judge; it did and upheld eight antitrust offenses. I am unable to find the news piece online because CNET removed the byline from all my stories—presumably purged in a content management system upgrade five years (or so) ago. Even more disturbing: The stories I have found universally have the wrong datelines. For example, my report “New judge assigned in Microsoft trial” has a publication date of July 20, 2002 but should be Aug. 24, 2001. Ugh.

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A Bird Poses

I don’t typically shoot bird portraits—yet here is another within three days (remember the seagull). But an unexpected opportunity presented early this evening. As my wife and I walked along Mississippi Street, between Monroe and Meade, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, we came upon a wayward dove (correct my identification if mistaken). It made no attempt to fly off as Annie passed, so I stopped and pulled around Leica Q2.

As the shutter clicked for the first of two shots, I realized that while the electronic viewfinder presented a green outlined box indicating focus the bird was blurry. Ditto for the second (half-press), so with the dove staying still, I turned the camera’s manual focus ring and produced the Featured Image (do click the link see this one bigger).

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A Beloved Tree’s Last Day

One of our apartment’s main benefits: Abundance of urban wildlife visible from expansive windows. Directly across the street from my home office is a magnificent palm tree that is the block’s primary animal habitat. Dozens of birds, of various ilks, fly up into crevices throughout daylight hours all year long. Remember: San Diego is a climate of three Summer seasons: Early, Mid, and Late. Squirrels scurry up the trunk, chasing one another. Who knows what else lives there? Tomorrow, the city plans to remove the tree. I understand the reason but hate it.

According to University California San Diego, invasive, deadly South American Palm Weevils were “first detected in March 2016″—that’s locally. But agricultural experts identified the beetles’ encroachment along the Mexican border five years earlier. The insects essentially infest the heart of the palm crown, destroying it. The bad news from arborists Coastal Tree Care: “When left undetected, this damage is irreversible and will leave you with no choice but to remove your palm trees”. Judging from the topless trees I see in some of the canyons, and the speed with which the weevils appear to spread, infected trees must be destroyed as soon as they show symptoms. A month ago, the palm across the street looked normally healthy. No longer.

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Seagull Shopper

My wife and I drove down to Westfield Mission Valley today to take advantage of an expiring coupon: One free pastry from Panera. She chose the Kitchen Sink Cookie—so large two hands are required to hold it. Walking, while she consumed, we encountered a seagull so squawky that it more or less honked like a goose. The thing prattled about looking for food, presumably, making no attempt to fly off as shoppers passed by. I wondered if he might be wing-injured. Annie wanted to share some cookie but rightly worried that the one sweet thing wouldn’t be good food for the other sweet thing. Yeah, we found the bird endearing as it weaved about shoppers.

I brought Leica Q2 Monochrom to the mall and used the camera to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 2:32 p.m. PDT. We briefly continued, then I stopped and asked Annie if she minded my going back for more photos. Happily munching, she motioned me on. As I approached, a couple with a stroller stopped to gawk at the bird, seemingly unaware that they had cornered the thing between a store’s window and sidewalk sign. The gull’s only escape route was inside the shop, and that is where it briefly fled.

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Pumpkin Patch

Remember the neighbor’s house with the towering sunflower? Their luscious garden spills onto the sidewalk. Looks at the pumpkins! I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image on  July 13, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually […]

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The Cats of University Heights: Loki

A few weeks ago, my wife made acquaintance with one of two black putty-tats that live in the same house. I started looking for him and twice saw a shorthair cross the street and jump a fence into a neighbor’s yard. Based on that behavior, he was most likely Loki (I don’t know the other’s name). But on neither instance did I see him upon reaching the location.

Three days ago, as Annie and I approached site of the previous sightings, Loki cautiously crept into the street with nose to the asphalt. There he stopped and sniffed a dead squirrel. Annie stayed on the opposite side of the street, which I crossed bringing me close to the fence. About that time a car came along and the cat fled to safety between two parked vehicles. Then he saw me and surprisingly visited.

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Bunny Beware

I invested considerably longer time than typical editing and recomposing the Featured Image. The foreground lawn was flush with sunlight, while the bunny sat stilly in the shadows. The crop puts the rabbit lower in the frame than my preference but better presents ambient lighting—that is within my arguably limited Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic skills.

The portrait comes from Leica Q2, today, along Mississippi Street between Adams and Madison in San Diego’s University Heights district. During our previous 13 years living here, cottontail sightings were rare occurrences. But something is different in 2021—my wife or I see the little hoppers fairly frequently and not at expected early or late day. Surprising timestamp for the photo: 9:24 a.m. PDT. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm.

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Cactus Blooms

I don’t recall where in University Heights—along Campus, perhaps—is this prickly bouquet. The Featured Image, and only shot taken, comes from Leica Q2 on June 28, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1000 […]

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Return to Sender

I couldn’t expect this. The Postal Convenience Center, located at the corner of El Cajon and Louisiana in San Diego’s University Heights district, is closed—looks like forever. I made the discovery when out for a leisurely walk this afternoon. Signs posted in the windows state: “We Have Moved” and directs customers to 4075 Park Blvd, where their mail will be forwarded. The location is a UPS Store.

A second-hand source says this: The proprietors learned last month that the block of properties has new owners, who will redevelop it. Efforts to continue operations of a business reportedly opened in 1987 ran aground; I don’t know specifics but can guess costs of relocation and starting over on short notice. Postal Convenience Center served locals—many of them likely lost in any lengthy restart. The establishment hasn’t moved, if I am rightly informed. It’s gone for good.