Critters Fuji Photo

Slumber Time

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We stumbled into an unexpected nighttime ritual—thanks to a free product sample—of giving Cali and Neko a can of Fussie Cat food to share. The local pet store cashier calls the stuff “crack for cats”, and I wonder how true that might be. Because both longhairs devour with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. In the Featured Image (warning: 44MB file), Neko naps following his Fussie feast—and that’s more from disappointment that he didn’t get more than from digesting a hearty meal.

The portrait is the first photo taken using the Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format camera. Yes, yes, composition could be a whole lot more pleasing. But being the first image, I got to share, even if it isn’t the ideal keeper. Vitals: f/4, ISO 5000, 1/60 sec, 63mm; 11:05 p.m. PST, yesterday. High ISO performance impresses, and I held the camera still enough, despite the slow shutter speed and 50R’s size (It is huge).

Living Photo Society Storytelling

The Joy Ride

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Classify this story in the category of surprising Sunday dramas. Painters have been working on our apartment building and parking their lift truck along the street. Around 11:45 a.m. PST, I saw some stranger climb onto the lift and start it up. While he wore yellow utility belts that gave the aura of authority, his presence was suspicious, because: Neither he nor his buddy was one of the three painters; his companion drove a nondescript white utility truck, while the painters’ vehicle is branded and red; and he initially fumbled around like someone unfamiliar with the controls.

When the dude unparked the lift, I wondered: Is he stealing it? Off he drove down the street, with his companion following behind in the white truck. This is my neighborhood, it’s a sleepy Sunday, and I am more curious than a cat. I had to follow, first on foot and then by car. The pair drove about 1.8 km (1.1 miles) through University Heights to Rhode Island Ave., which is nearby an area called The Point and overlooks a canyon leading into commercial area Mission Valley below.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Shy

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Happy Caturday! Meet our thirty-sixth behind-the-window watcher, whom I have seen several times over the past few weeks. During the portraiture session a couple days before the Featured Image, a young man returning home said that was his kitty, Shy, looking out. None of the shots, taken with Google Pixel 3, precisely auto-focused on the shorthair.

But on Feb. 3, 2019, with Leica Q, I could manually focus just right. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 11:14 a.m. PST. Shy lives in the same apartment complex as Honey Bunny, who was the 11th cat to appear in the series. Shy is number 244. BTW, Veruca lives on the same block, along Meade.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Brick

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Feline sightings along Panorama are infrequent. Among the 243 profiles since the series‘ start in October 2016, this is only the third from the drive that horseshoes to Adams Ave. at both ends. Brick—nicknamed for the wall behind—joins Herbie, the Love Bug and Roadie. Will there be more?

Few months ago, I saw the black shorthair in the same vicinity before it disappeared into the bamboo along the canyon. Brick presented once more, finally, briefly in a yard on Jan. 30, 2019. I used Leica Q to capture the Featured Image, which RAW DNG file underwent extensive editing to emphasize highlights, pull back shadows, and boost whites to make the dark fur more visible. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 9:38 a.m. PST.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Calm

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While walking down Mission Avenue on the afternoon of Jan. 19, 2019, I came upon a handsome feline sitting on cement-stone steps in statuesque repose, unfettered by passing people, cars, or dog walkers and their beasts. The kitty surprised, as I hadn’t seen him (or her) on the street before. She (or he) presented on the several following days, on the same property and others.

The shorthair earns nickname Calm, for demeanor. I used Leica Q for the Featured Image and its companion—the latter on the 21st. Vitals, aperture manually preset for street shooting: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/60 sec; 28mm; 4:20 p.m. PST. The other is same, except for ISO 100 and 3:13 p.m.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Shadow, Too

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For years, I have wondered about a house on Monroe Avenue, around the corner from where live Luci, Maven, Night, and Peso because of the kitty decorations in the yard. This morning, while passing by, my curiosity met the cat: the series‘ thirty-fifth behind-the-window watcher. Initially, I stopped to gawk but not to photograph because something felt a little too intrusive about the setup and my peering inside from the sidewalk behind the lens.

But before reaching the cross street, I turned about. As I lifted Leica Q to manually focus, a couple walking dogs passed behind me. The gent gleefully yelled: “Oh, that’s Shadow!” To which, I asked: “How do you know?” “We know the owner”, he answered, adding that there is a companion cat named Charlie.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Ruff

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Heavy rains gave way to summer sun this fine Caturday, as temperatures topped 21 degrees Celsius. I hauled out for a late-morning walk, with intention of calling my sister who winters in Florida. Her line went straight to voicemail. I rang my (last living) uncle, instead. Yikes, he prepared his Northern Maine homestead for impending heavy snow and possible power outage. About 15 minutes into the conversation, I asked that he wait while I used Google Pixel 3 XL to capture several quick portraits of a handsome dark grey shorthair sitting beneath a propped window and looking out through the screen.

The Featured Image is the second shot of four, taken along Meade Avenue not far from where Teach lives. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 67, 1/7813 sec, 4.44mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. Thirty-fourth behind-the-window watcher to appear in the series, the cat earns its nickname for fine white ruff.  Read More

Critters Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Monarch

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Black kitties are the most difficult to identify, particularly from a distance. Our newest inductee was spotted on Sept. 15, 2018 in the same yard as Skull, the fourth feline to participate in the series (October 2016). Next door, at the Butterfly House, another Halloween cat, Wink, made an appearance nearly a year later (August 2017). Are they all the same, or three different shorthairs? From the various photos, they look distinct enough to me. But who can say?

The Featured Image is one of the last captured with Leica M10, which I sold a few weeks later. Last night, someone bought the other of my two Leica lenses—90mm / f4.0 Macro Elmar—which I used for this portrait. The Blackie earns nickname Monarch, for location seen and timing of this profile; keepers of the butterfly refuge recently relocated to Hawaii. Vitals: f/4, ISO 200, 1/90 sec, 90mm; 6:29 p.m. PDT.  Read More

Digital Lifestyle Gear Leica Storytelling

Where Did My Leica M10 Go?

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I never expected to part with Leica M10 six months after acquiring it. But such was the circumstance on Oct. 5, 2018. So shocking the suddenness, I waited three months to explain. The camera was my dream shooter—a magnificent manual rangefinder that fit my personality. Problem: Too often I couldn’t focus fast enough, or with appropriate precision. Perhaps another six months of use and practice would have made perfect.

But my wife and I were looking at possibly moving from San Diego to Julian, Calif. So serious our intention that we had put down an offer on a house, where we went for formal inspection that fine Fall Friday. Thinking about living in the mountains in nature, I couldn’t imagine using the M10. For the wild woods, autofocus and telephoto lens would be better. So I had posted the camera for sale, with intention of replacing it with a Fujifilm mirrorless.  Read More


Sidewalk Art

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Some people look up at the sky and see creatures in the clouds. In ever-sunny San Diego, head down is best view, if for no other reason than doggie do-do rudely left behind. What else awaits there? Some other passerby imagined a bird in the broken cement and added just the right flourishes so that unimaginative folks like me would see, too—and be amused.

I shot the Featured Image along Adams Avenue between Arizona and Hamilton in the North Park neighborhood, using Google Pixel 3. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 63, 1/3906 sec, 4.44mm; 1:36 p.m., Jan. 11, 2019.

Photo Storytelling

Sanctuary No More

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I started more closely watching what the Wilcox clan calls the Butterfly House—a lush Monarch (and other creature) refuge along Maryland Ave., going down the hill from Meade. A major culling of plumage made me wonder if the residents might be leaving. Yep. Last week, I passed by as a moving truck was loaded. Three days ago, I spoke with one of the tenants. They’re Hawaii-bound, and the future of the mini-wildlife habitat is uncertain. Much depends on whomever resides there next. The longstanding caretakers, who contributed much to the neighborhood by way of their overly-committed gardening, bought a house and acre of land on the Big Island. Their tending will be missed by many.

For a small sense of what will likely vanish, please click through to the “Cats of University Heights” profile of Wink, laying low in the middle of the magnificent front yard. Incidentally, two other felines—Flower and Skull—were previously profiled in the adjacent properties on either side of the Butterfly House.  Read More

Apple Google LG Mobility Music

Thanks, Tidal

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Concurrent with the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 kick-off and other Day 0 announcements, music streaming service Tidal updated its Android app (hehe, sorry iOS users) to support Masters. Oh, yeah, baby. Gimme, gimme. Tidal unveiled Masters, in licensing partnership with MQA, two years ago during the same tech gala.

Abandoning Apple for Google products during summer 2018 meant my giving up Tidal Masters, which until today were only available on the macOS and Windows desktop apps. Because Chrome OS supports Android apps, I can now listen to Masters on my laptop, not just smartphone. You can, too (if not an Apple device user). Read More