Category: Leica

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Give Peace a Chance to Bring Justice

This morning, while walking from the Point in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I passed by a dove placidly perched on a wooden fence. The bird looked somewhat scrawny, and I wondered if even weakened—for it made no attempt to flee when I turned back with Leica Q2, stopped, manually focused, and captured the Featured Image. Surely there is a metaphor here somewhere.

Racial riots rage across swathes of the country, months after the first ones in late May 2020: Chicago, Ill., Kenosha, Wisc., Minneapolis, Minn., Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. are among the cities stricken by arson and looting. Today, in D.C., on the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech, thousands of protesters rallied for racial equality and against violence during The Commitment March. Afternoon stormy weather and heavy rains dampened activities, which, more or less, came to a soggy end by early evening. Mmmm, is there another metaphor there?

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The Cats of University Heights: Cocoa, Too

With each week in 2020 lasting lifetimes—and the ongoing chaos that pandemic, politics, and protests present—we need some furry relief. Pardon me. Did I neglect to mention the racial riots? What a year. Please release some of your stress by gawking at the second Cocoa to appear in our series. The first, whom we met in April 2017 and wanders West of Park Blvd, bears some resemblance to Burglar, who lives on the East side.

I encountered the beautiful black on July 26 along Alabama—making her, gasp, the fifty-third profile for the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. The cat’s owner, who was working in the yard where I saw Burglar in December 2017, told me her name—after I shot the Featured Image and companion using Leica Q2.

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Going Postal

Among Americans, few institutions, and the services provided, are as meaningful as the United States Post Office. The Second Continental Congress created the U.S. postal system on July 26, 1775—nearly a year before the Colonies formally declared national independence from Britain—and chose Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general. Living generations, even the youngest among them, share some emotional experience from receiving, or sending, mail. The card from grandma is a tangible expression of her love for you. Delivery of an online-ordered package—and every other one before it—is a moment of anticipation and joy. Feelings about the mail are entrenched, and within our society they are universally shared.

We put faith in the Post Office and its capacity to deliver our mail. But now, Democrat politicians and their supporters assert that our faith is misplaced—that we cannot trust the USPS, because the Trump Administration conspired to  disrupt postal operations to tamper with this year’s Presidential election. The allegations exploded like a supernova—seemingly from invisibility—not long after the President raised concerns that universal mail-in ballot initiatives, like the one here in California, would lead to voter fraud. Trump’s Democrat rivals assert that cost-cutting streamlining of postal operations and recent slowdown of mail processing are evidence of his interference to steal your vote.

It’s non sequitur. One thing has little to do with the other. Donald Trump is a longstanding critic of the USPS as it exists today—way before the brouhaha about mail-in ballots—and there are legitimate concerns that existing postal logistical capabilities and various states’ voting rules will lead to electoral chaos. But as a political maneuver, Democrats have whacked a hornet’s nest of emotional attachment to mail that already stings the President.

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Who is Watching You?

Be not fooled. We live in a surveillance society. I am not paranoid, nor even freaked by this startling situation. I merely take for granted that someone, somewhere, is watching—perhaps from a business’ security camera, household door webcam, or citizen’s smartphone.

Occasionally, though, surveillance severity surprises me. And I wonder: From what is the watcher afraid—or, worse, what is he or she hiding? The Featured Image is one example. I frequently walk by this house and marvel because the windows are so appealing but typically blocked by blinds or curtains. Who lives in such darkness? Vampires? On Aug. 18, 2020 something else rapped my attention—and I can’t say whether or not newly added. Look at those industrial-size security cameras. Yikes!

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The Cats of University Heights: Alvin and LB

On Christmas Day 2016, I met Comet, Herman, RomanWillow, and their owner as she let the kitties run about for a few hours. The woman had lived in a studio apartment for 19 years. But a few months later, she and her pets were gone. The property owner decided to renovate the entire complex, ahead of haughty rent increases. That’s the sad state of San Diego affordable housing: Tenants paying less are evicted before improvements are made to woo residents willing to pay much more.

Three-and-a-half years would pass before I would see any felines frolicking about the same open courtyard: June 20, 2020. My wife and I spotted the shorthairs as we walked by. I stopped for some quick shots, using Leica Q2, before chatting with the owner, who said the Siamese is Alvin, and he calls the Russian Blue LB. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 250, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 9:36 a.m. PDT. In my rush to capture the moment before the cats moved—and they did seconds later—I failed to see the open mail box door encroaching on the frame; removing it majorly determined the edited composition.

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The Incident at Texas and University

Last night, as I pulled into Pizza Hut’s parking lot, a lady driving a SUV blocked my way. While plenty of spaces were available, she chose to wait for one right in front of the store. There, a most ramshackle man lean-lifted a walker—one without wheels—slowly advancing between the painted lines towards the sidewalk. He was so weather-worn and browned from the San Diego sun, his race wasn’t identifiable. There are people who panhandle and pretend to be homeless, but not this gent. He was beaten down and bent over,  pushing snail-like forward. He genuinely lived on the streets.

Eventually, he cleared past, and the lady parked, allowing me passage to do likewise. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, the Hut only allows one customer to enter; others wait outside. By the time I advanced on the door, the chonky SUV driver had gone inside and a petite younger woman stood before me. While waiting, I observed two unexpected happenings.

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Carport Lettuce

This morning, my wife and I scampered down an alley behind North Ave., between Madison and Monroe, to look at new construction—a rapidly rising multi-unit building that replaces what was once a charming house with lovely yards front and back; before bulldozers leveled the lot.To our delight, further along, we discovered a suburban-style lettuce patch that someone is growing in a carport. How clever!

Like the Urban Pumpkin, the leafy plantation joins an explosion of garden projects throughout San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. This summer’s sowings are  unlike anything that I have seen in nearly 13 years living here. Could it be that people stuck at home because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic are using the time to garden? Perhaps some people (rightly) worry about supply-chain disruptions and food shortages savaging the country later in the year. Whatever the reason(s), inventive green thumbs are hard at work growing crops in unexpected places.

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Flickr a Week 30: ‘Bengal Cricketers’

The week goes to a street shot not for what it is but for what it isn’t: The choice selection from the Photostream of Pietro Tranchida. While week-worthy, self-titled “Bengal Cricketers” isn’t the best example of his art; the eye-poppers are designated All Rights Reserved, and this series only uses images that are released under a Creative Commons copyright.

That said, there is much to like about the sporty pic—for bokeh, clarity, composition, sense of motion, and the camera used: Leica Q, which is not typically an action-associated shooter. But, hey, capable hands work wonders. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; Sept. 20, 2017.

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Flickr a Week 29a: ‘Talking’

Day 217 of my 2015 series went to Pedro Ribeiro Simões for “Finally The Expected Photographer Arrived“. He returns with self-titled “Talking“, captured on August 15 of that year using Leica M9. Half-decade later, actively posting to Flickr, which he joined in June 2005, Pedro still shoots with the same rangefinder. Vitals: ISO 640, 1/180 sec, 50mm. Pedro’s moment is the Saint Clair garden, Lisbon, Portugal—the city and country where the economist resides.

The street shot takes the Sunday spot for punchy contrast, vivid colors, and what it represents in 2020: The past. Mask-wearing and “social distancing” drastically change how citizens interact in public. Imagine, for example, six-feet separating each person seated. We won’t see scenes like this one for some time. 

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COVID California: No School or Anything Else for You

Yesterday, which was when I captured the Featured Image, Los Angeles and San Diego school districts announced that students would not return to classrooms next month as previously planned. Kids will study online instead, as they had been since late March when Governor Gavin Newsom essentially closed California in response to the so-called pandemic. Also yesterday, he issued new orders that start a second statewide shutdown. Most indoor activities are prohibited; no more church services, shopping mall extravaganzas, zoo visits, gym exercising, barber haircutting, restaurant eating, or bar hoping—among many other activities and the business operations providing them.

There is nothing like the art of understatement. From the LA-SD joint statement: “This announcement represents a significant disappointment for the many thousands of teachers, administrators, and support staff, who were looking forward to welcoming students back in August. It is obviously an even greater disappointment to the many parents who are anxious for their students to resume their education. Most of all, this decision will impact our students in ways that researchers will take years to understand”.