Category: Leica

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I Wonder Which Will Flatten First: Us or the Curve?

Today, the global number of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), also known as COVID-19, infections topped 1 million and 50,000 deaths. As I write, based on data collated by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University: 1,015,709 confirmed cases; 211,615 recovered; 53,069 dead.

One month ago, there were eight reported Novel Coronavirus cases in the United States. This moment, according to John Hopkins: 245,213. The dramatic rise is part increased testing, part exponential community spread of the virus. This USA Today headline, regarding April 1, makes the point better than I could: “More than 1,000 in US die in a single day from Coronavirus, doubling the worst daily death toll of the flu”. That number doesn’t include collateral casualties—people who, being treated for something else, might otherwise have lived if not for overwhelmed hospitals in hot zones like New York.

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The Cats of University Heights: Digger

My wife and I continue to take guarded walks, mostly along neighborhood alleys, as we attempt to practice so-called “social distancing” behavior whenever taking relief from our otherwise apartment lockdown. Actually, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all 40-million Californians to “stay at home“—a desperate strategy to slow spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19. Today, as we crossed Mission Ave., I spotted a black shorthair digging into a lawn. Hence, the nickname.

The home is next door to the place where lives Luna. Presumably, Digger is a relatively new resident—as the property where she foraged sold last year. Annie and I had a look during an Open House—not that we had interest in buying beyond our means, which describes, or perhaps described, most every property in San Diego (before contagion-containing tactics devastated the U.S. economy, among other nations).

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To Slow the Pandemic, Commerce Crumbles

Last night, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the closure of restaurants—other than take-away or delivery—across California. San Diego County issued legally-enforceable health orders, 11 in all, that impose tighter restrictions. Sizable group gatherings are prohibited, and residents are instructed to stay home. Six days after the World Health Organization (finally) declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—a pandemic, commerce shutters, slows, and stops.

My wife and I take cautious walks around the neighborhood, avoiding other people as we can. Today, as we approached Park Blvd from Monroe Ave., a strange sight greeted: Closed LeStat’s. The bustling coffee shop is normally open 24 hours every day of the year. We didn’t explore the remaining portion of University Height’s main street, but for sure the many bars and restaurants are dark, too.

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Don’t They Know It’s a Pandemic?

I will be pissed if any of these people, who irresponsibly risk exposure to Novel Coronavirus, take a hospital bed before someone trying to more safely #StayTheFuckHome. We are in the midst of a fraking global pandemic and the banning of social gatherings everywhere. My two living sisters were supposed to vacation 10-days hence in Florida, with Disney World being the main activity. The theme park, like many, many others, is closed. That plan changed.

But a few blocks from my apartment, Pop Pie Co. and sister shop Stella Jean’s Ice Cream kept their Pi Day celebration going, gathering a crowd of would-be spreaders of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19. Today, France and Spain imposed restrictions that, like Italy, essentially lock down (e.g., quarantine) the entire countries. Hours earlier, Apple Stores closed globally outside of China until March 27. Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the contagion’s rapid spread. Everyone is advised to stay home and avoid crowds. Not create them!

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Flickr a Week 11: ‘Havanna Taxis’

Where are the customers? I ask, because why would anyone Uber when they could ride in one of these? Convertibles! Especially, as I understand, ride shares aren’t available—well, at least, for tourists.

Christoph Kilger captured self-titled “Havanna Taxis” on March 21, 2019, using Leica M10 and Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens. Vitals: f/1.4, ISO 400, 1/2000 sec, 35mm. The photo takes the week for color, composition, and symmetry. BTW, since when is Havana spelled with two “n”s?

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The Cats of University Heights: Shade

I don’t see many furballs along the stretch of Lincoln from Washington to where it dead-ends past Vermont. Our newest, observed inhabitant joins seven others: CoolDainty, Glass, KittyLittle MissSky, and Spunky.

Not the most original nickname, Shade is apt for the challenge posed capturing the Featured Image using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 12:20 p.m. PST, Jan. 22, 2020.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jolly

The fifty-sixth putty-tat seen behind window or door made an unexpected appearance, along Madison near Delaware, early afternoon Feb. 4, 2020. I shot a half-dozen photos—some auto, others manually—focused, and the last is best. The Featured Image, nearly 100-percent cropped, comes from Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm; 12:48 p.m. PST.

The cat’s coloration reminds of Internet meme-maker (and now deceased) Grumpy Cat, but without the ridiculous frown. An appropriate nickname should be some kind of opposite, then. I choose Jolly.

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The Cats of University Heights: Chum

As summer solstice approached last year, I spotted three playful kitties romping around a front lawn not far from where North meets Madison. Only two were photographed, and I frequented the property over the following months hoping for a shot of the third. No such luck. Finally, in October, the pair joined the series with nickname Chums; I have seen them chasing one another a few times since.

The other remained more mirage until the morning of Jan. 29, 2020, when he (or she) appeared on the porch overlooking the yard they all apparently share. Singular Chum is appropriate moniker for frenemy the third. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 9:49 a.m. PST.

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Promise

On Feb. 16, 2019, my wife and I happened upon an unexpected apartment open house, in North Park, but only a few blocks beyond our neighborhood’s boundary. The complex’s center courtyard, surrounded by cute cottages, was lush with greenery and trees; the atmosphere was tranquil. In the back, two upstair flats topped garages that opened into the alley behind. One of them, a two-bedroom, was larger than our residence, for $210-monthly less money. The landlord had owned the property for nearly 40 years. We liked his character, and that of the vacant unit.

We were first applicants, and the gent called the next morning to offer us the place. Annie and I walked back, spent two hours looking around, and discussed whether or not we would accept. Massive number of windows would welcome warming rays from sunrise to sunset. We had to say yes, and left a deposit check equivalent to one month’s rent. In the afternoon, we returned to measure for placement of furniture and to assess late-day sunlight and airflow. Then the negatives started to pile up in our minds. Among them: With windows open, the place was warm, not breezy, which forebode overly-hot during summertime; an odd smell emanating from the kitchen bothered us; and prospect of street parking, which a San Diego bike path project would limit during years-long construction, looked to be challenging. After further deliberation, I called the owner to tell him, with great angst, we wouldn’t take the apartment after all.

What does any of this have to do with today’s kitty?

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Tortoises in Black and White

Yesterday, my wife suggested a walk around San Diego Zoo, which wasn’t nearly as bustling as I would expect it to be on a summer-like-weather Friday afternoon. The place was by no means desolate of people, just not overly crowded. I wonder if increasing paranoia about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is one reason. People infected or showing symptoms are being treated or quarantined at UCSD Medical Center, which is just 3.7-km drive (2.3 miles) from the zoo. My apartment is even closer: 2 km (1.3 miles) as the crow flies and 3 km (1.9 miles) by road. If—gulp, when—the virus spreads locally, my family will be at the epicenter.

But back to the lovely afternoon spent with the animals—calm before SHTF, as the country’s self-described Preppers call it—I brought along Leica Q2, with the Film Style set to Monochrome. The result wasn’t as anticipated. Importing into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic, after returning home, the RAWs came in as color. I wrongly assumed that the setting would apply to the native files. Nope, only to the JPEGs.

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The Cats of University Heights: Ash, Too

The Louisiana parade follows Huck with another: Ash (yep, real name). The grey and white lives on the next block, where he plays territorial tippy-toe with Bandit and buddies up to Nelson; the two are street mates, not house companions, which makes their getting-along a surprising relationship.

My quest to photograph Ash has been challenging—so much that my failure over several days to snag even a single focused shot greatly contributed to the decision to abandon Sigma fp and return for refund. Even Leica Q2, which produced the Featured Image and companions, missed the mark. The best composed portrait puts the focus point somewhere else, and the cat is completely blurred. Finally, on Jan. 23, 2020, when Ash made his best appearance yet, patience and manual focusing got good enough photos. They’re not as sharp as I would want, being close crops, but the banter with Nelson makes them keepers—and I would have been monumentally miffed if they hadn’t been.