Category: Sigma

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‘That Would Be a Great Story’

Yesterday, as I arrived for my haircut, the barber walked out of the adjacent grocery store with two lottery tickets in hands. Later, after finishing the masterpiece made with razor and scissors, he boasted about giving me a $1.3 billion cut—referring to the Mega Millions drawing later tonight. I would look dapper in a tux ready to collect the prize, he said.

Well, yeah, if I bought a ticket. But I only had cash enough to pay for the haircut, unless he gave up part of his tip. “That would be a great story”, he answered, telling it and agreeing that I should keep back two bucks to play. I walked next store and bought a ticket.

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Celebrating Chess

If not for the controversy shadowing 19-year-old grandmaster Hans Niemann—allegations of cheating in face-to-face play and confirmed behavior online—I wouldn’t know that the second Saturday in October is National Chess Day. A few hours remain for the celebration but the new, news, and social medias will continue to shine a spotlight on the game, which strangely raises the profile enough to increase interest in more people playing. Oh, yeah.

I haven’t sat before a board in years. My last game was with one of my daughter’s high school peers—brilliantly genius kid who was quite good an opponent. He was a constant winner and so quite surprised to lose to an old fogey like me.

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Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Last week, my wife and I drove out to La Mesa, Calif. to reminiscently walk around Grossmont Center, hoping to beat planned changes that could close many of the stores. Eleven months ago, Federal Realty Investment Trust announced acquiring controlling interest in the outdoor shopping mall from San Diego’s Cushman family. But the new owner won’t become sole proprietor for another three years, which will present a “unique opportunity providing an unencumbered ‘blank canvas’ for redevelopment”.

To my relief, most of the long-time tenants remain, even Barnes and Noble—a marvel of retail survival in the era of Amazon electronic and print book online sales dominance. But missing is what I photographically looked for: Flower beds down the center way separating stores. I clearly remember them, if nowhere else, near the Walmart.

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Kitty is Missing!

I am sentimental abut the animals appearing in my “Cats of University Heights” series and feel fondness for their owners when privileged enough to meet them. Two days ago, after photographing the Alfa Romeo parked on Lincoln, I walked by a house where lives a handsome Tuxedo who was profiled in September 2019. Where’s Kitty? I asked myself, strangely not seeing him sunning on the sidewalk or sleeping on his couch on the porch. This afternoon, I ambled past and saw something startling where he might normally be: On a box a homemade sign stating that “Kitty is missing! Have you seen him?” Oh, how I wish.

His owner is a delightful woman in her Seventies who lives in the house her grandmother bought about a hundred years ago. Generational homes are an increasing rarity—as are people who grew up in the neighborhood. She used to play in the canyons and graduated from San Diego High School. The lady is a gem and kitty was her treasure. I will update this post after speaking with her sometime soon. She’s in my heart tonight.

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Someone Tried to Steal Bruce

As my wife and I walked along Monroe today, a voice called from behind: “Hey, there’s something I have to tell you about Bruce“—not an exact quote but the gist is right. She approached, with her dog leashed and the tabby trotting behind. He was profiled for my “Cats of University Heights” series in May 2017.

Three days ago, someone came pounding frantically on her door, agitated: “Something happened to Bruce”. The tiger tabby likes to hang out and watch the kids at a nearby daycare, and he had stretched out on the sidewalk waiting for them to come outdoors to play. They didn’t, as the place is temporarily closed—along with most other businesses in the city because of state and county orders that everyone should “stay at home” as a means of slowing spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19.

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Why I Returned Sigma fp

Lesson learned: Sigma makes cameras that are innovative but idiosyncratic. As I have often expressed, balance is the hallmark of good product design—whether the physical handing, how features/benefits mesh together, or, most often, combination of both characteristics. For me as an arguably amateur photographer, Sigma DP1 and DP2s didn’t measure up, and I parted with both. Now, many years later, the company’s marvelous full-frame shooter joins them. I ended the decade by sending back Sigma fp and its accessories for refund. Strike three!

Perhaps if I were a videographer, Sigma fp would be perfect. It is tiny, shoots hours of uninterrupted footage, and can be rigged by expansion to need. As a still photographic tool, the fp charms by capturing photos with rich colors and crisp contrast from a 35mm sensor packed into the smallest interchangeable body available anywhere. The rear controls are conveniently and intelligently laid out, particularly those placed below the LCD screen. But, and here it comes, the shooting experience—at least in my hands—disappoints. Like its predecessors, Sigma fp is (being polite) somewhat unbalanced, with respect to end-user benefits and overall device handling.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sparkle

The last in a trio of window watchers—and fifty-second for the series—comes as a surprise to me, since it’s coincidence rather than advance planning. This gorgeous longhair, whom I nickname Sparkle, joins Squint and Poinsettia. She appeared along Campus, between Meade and Monroe, on Dec. 11, 2019. I captured the Featured Image, using Sigma fp and 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 45mm; 3:06 p.m. PST.

The cropped portrait is a compromise composition, to remove the building number. In post-production, I emphasized highlights, increased whites, but pulled back shadows, using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic.

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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.

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San Diego Snowman Dresses Up

What a difference that three weeks make. On Dec. 1, 2019, I shared “San Diego Snowman” adorning a home along Maryland Street, here in the community of University Heights. Since, my walking path deliberately passed by, as I looked for something to return: His black hat that I recall topping his rock-for-brains head before heavy rains pelted Southern California and presumably washed it away. I hadn’t mentioned his missing adornment for concern it was imagined; a false memory.

But look at him now! Stoneman is dapper wearing the topper, scarf, and something else: Smile replacing frown. He’s happier perhaps for Christmas being three days away. I am overjoyed to snag a portrait of his fine wear before rains return, starting overnight.