What could be better to celebrate my dad’s 79th birthday than something he might see loose on the family farm? Stephanie Young Merzel delivers, with self-titled “Intimacy“, which is a keeper for clarity, color, and […]
Today, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—aka COVID-19—claimed an expected victim and long holdout being one. For the first time since its humble 1970 inception, San Diego Comic-Con will not happen as planned (July 23-26). The event joins the County Fair and a multitude of vertically-oriented industry conventions as Novel Coronavirus casualties.
For me, SDCC 2020 already was a non-event: Like the previous two Cons, I failed to secure a pass during Open Registration. For San Diego, which economy depends on tourism, the non-event pandemic is catastrophic. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, tourism is the “second largest segment of [the local] economy”, employing approximately 200,000 people—or about 13 percent of the jobs across SD County. “It is vitally important to the economic health of the region”.
Self-titled “Selfie” easily takes the Sunday spot for character, clarity, composition, and expression (of the subject and his artistic presentation). Chris Bird used Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens to capture himself, on June 22, 2016. Vitals: f/13, ISO 200, 1/180 sec, 35mm.
In February 2014, Chris joined Flickr, where he posts a vibrantly, intoxicating Photostream. His website is as dynamic.
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.
The Leica Q has one of the best autofocus systems of any digital camera that I have used (and the list’s long). But when there’s failure, the scale is grand—as was the case yesterday morning where Adams Ave. ends at the overlook adjacent to Golden Gate. I hadn’t planned to stop there, but beyond the automobile guardrail and wire fence, I saw the clear shape of a cat sitting back to me. That put him on the canyon side, which would be a treacherous place from where a human could fall. He contently watched wildlife, mainly birds, with little care about me—although he moved away some when I approached to the side for better sight to shoot. The feline could have been looking out onto the Grand Canyon, for the scale set before him.
The kitty is blurry in every one of the seven shots, even the three where I manually focused. The auto-system stopped at the fence. I did only marginally better for the last capture, before the cat sauntered off. Problem: While only 8:31 a.m. PDT, the sun seared fiercely ahead of a heat wave, compelling me to wear sunglasses that make the electronic viewfinder’s visual focus cues difficult to make out when rushed—as I was. I fumbled to safely put down the protective eyewear, as the beastie waddled off; having stepped partly over the guardrail for better vantage point, I could have carelessly let the glasses fall away.
Grey May descended yesterday, as persistent clouds preceded expected weekend rains. As my wife and I trudged up Maryland Ave., not far beyond Morla the tortoise’s house—but across the street—Anne spied in an alley a cat perched by a woman sitting on a ledge talking to another neighbor. The lady explained that the all-outdoor furball responds to name BeBe, or nothing. The animal’s mother is a feral grey tiger-stripe that no longer breeds (she was fixed). The daughter had one litter before her operation.
BeBe accepts food and attention from people whom she knows. As I am a stranger, she shot round a car when I approached. But she stayed to the side rather than scurry beneath, allowing me a dozen shots while not moving too close to her. Vantage point is important. I like to get down low, and she let me. The Featured Image is last among the 12, captured using the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens at 4:56 p.m. PDT, with Classic Chrome simulation set. Vitals: f/4, ISO 200, 1/140 sec, 55mm. The portrait is straightened and cropped but not enhanced.
Yum. Yum. Moment captured on April 23, 2017 at 6:03 p.m. PDT using the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens, with Classic Chrome simulation set. Vitals: f/4, ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, 55mm. The birds are […]
As my wife and I walked up Maryland Ave. late yesterday afternoon, something hiding in the flowers caught my attention—and I missed the perfect portrait when the meower came out to greet us. The Featured Image isn’t from the feline’s first approach but second, when she temporarily moved up the steps, before coming back to the street for more pats. Vitals: f/3.6, ISO 200, 1/1700 sec, 35.6mm. I captured the moment using the Fujifilm X-T1 and XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens at 5:59 p.m. PDT, with Classic Chrome simulation set.
The day marked the first return to service for the digital camera. I boxed up the X-T1 and posted for sale on Craigslist twenty-nine days ago, after seeing selling prices for new hadn’t budged from $1,699—despite release of the X-T2. I decided to recover some of my investment, being satisfied enough with the Fuji X100F received on February 28th. About an hour-and-a-half before our couple’s walk, a potential buyer from Orange County contacted me. He wondered about the X-T1’s condition and probed on price, seeing as mine was so high ($1,100 in prime condition). He surprised me. The bottom had fallen, and I hadn’t seen: Adorama, Amazon, and B&H all are discounting the mirrorless-and-lens kit by $500. As such, no one, if anyone, would buy from me for even $900. It’s pointless giving up so much value; it’s a wonderful shooter. I unboxed the kit, attached Hard Graft Atelier Hang Camera Strap, and updated the body’s firmware to version 5.10.
Last night, a calico that I had been looking for since Oct. 29, 2016 finally appeared—about the same time of day and different location on her owner’s porch. I shot the Featured Image at 6:52 p.m. PDT; 10 minutes before sunset. The portrait is straight from the Fujifilm X100F; no post-processing (and big file at 13MB). Vitals, with Velvia film simulation: f/2, ISO 200, 1/90 sec, 23mm.
I met the couple who owns “Veruca”—or “Rukie”; the name will mean something to anyone who is familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She is five years old and not a big eater, despite from some vantage points appearing to be overstuffed. One of the caretakers calls her voluptuous.
Today, UPS delivered a new toy, from Wolfe’s Camera—my first acquisition there, because everywhere else was out of stock (backordered)—via Amazon. I had originally ordered the Fujifilm X100F on announcement day, Jan. 19, 2017, from Adorama, but foolishly, and accidentally, cancelled on February 16, when the digicam was supposed to release (turned out to be a week later, instead). For now, the new Fuji is companion to the X-T1, which will take secondary street photography role, as I shoot more frequently.
Passing of my father-in-law, who required lots more care than either my wife or I would admit, means more available time for other things. Creative endeavors top the list. Additionally, eye surgery last summer rejuvenated my vision, renewing interest in amateur photography and returning me to professional writing. The X100F will be a documentary tool supporting both efforts. That’s not to complain about the X-T1, which is a fantastic dSLR-like mirrorless—to be used whenever I need interchangeable lenses (there are three in my camera bag).
In nearly 10 years living in San Diego, I have not seen such lush, inviting foliage as visible this Winter—or what I call late Summer (the other two seasons are early Summer and mid Summer). Typical yearly rainfall is 25 cm (9.9 inches). Through yesterday’s massive storm, totals exceeded that amount, or more than 150 percent the annual average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Eh, so much for the Southern California drought.
Forgive my botanical ignorance, regarding the Featured Image, the leaves are from the tree adjacent to the stairs leading down from our apartment. I couldn’t resist a quick shot as my wife and I headed out for an afternoon walk, using Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/80 sec, 35mm. I had set the camera for street shooting beforehand.
I lied, but not deliberately. One year ago today, I wrote: “Apple Lost My Heart to Google in 2015“, explaining that “my mainstays at the start of 2016: Chromebook Pixel LS, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Huawei Watch. I abandoned Apple and there are no plans to return..I will write more about Google in 2016 than previous years, because of the benefits I see. As for Apple, the company had my heart for the longest time. I challenge CEO Tim Cook to win back my adoration; skeptical I may be”.
By March, however, Apple won back my business with little effort, and I gave up the Google lifestyle. Transition back to the Orchard started with a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro: 3.1GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, purchased from DC Computers. Three reasons: 1) I believed Mr. Cook’s privacy promises, all while my concerns about Big G information collection increased. 2) I found the visual acuity of Apple fonts and user interfaces to be far superior to Google’s, which helped compensate for diminishing reading vision (later recovered through eye surgery). 3) Google’s platforms proved inadequate for easily recording, producing, and publishing the Frak That! podcast, which is available on SoundCloud.