Tag: Leica Q

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The Cats of University Heights: Squint

I processed this portrait soon after capturing it, on Sept. 4, 2019, using Leica Q. I cropped, desaturated, and otherwise tweaked the Featured Image—the hope being to create mood that could compensate for shooting situation. Angle to the subject, from the street, and exterior environment looked unbecoming in color and as shot. I then stepped back several months and returned with fresh eyes to decide whether or not to publish. So here we are.

My wife and I walked along Adams around Mississippi, when she spotted the tabby, window warming morning sunshine. Squinty eyes, hence the nickname, is what compelled me to include the cat in the series, despite my misgivings about his (or her) portrait. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 8:43 a.m. PDT.

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Hat Tip to Leica Q

For weeks, I have walked by this hat hanging from a tree along Alabama Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Finally, today, while out and about with Leica Q, I stopped for a shot. The Featured Image is a near 100-percent crop of the companion photo, which is composed as captured. I drew out highlights, but made no other edits. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec, 28mm; 2:27 p.m. PST.

The hat, whether original or cropped, shows the fantastic detail that the Q’s f/1.7 Summilux lens and full-frame sensor combo captures. Beautiful Bokeh, too. The Leica continues to satisfy, more than 30 months later. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Ludwig

While walking down Madison Avenue, beyond North and approaching Park Blvd., I spotted a young man swinging a wand toy before his kitty in a driveway. Hey, the provocateur of this series had to stop for a visit and photographic moment. We spoke. The gent explained, almost apologetically, that he never considered himself a “cat person”, having grown up with dogs. Lest I misunderstood, Ludwig (yes, real name) is the first, and the shorthair has been with its caretaker for about two years.

But there is a backstory. Coincidentally, Ludwig’s original owners of one year were en route for a visit, and the young man wondered aloud if the pet would recognize them after two years apart. There is reason to be curious. Not long after joining his human’s habitat in 2017, Ludwig escaped and disappeared for about 14 days. The furball somehow made way back to his previous residence in Mission Hills. The nearly 5 km journey would require travel down busy Washington Street and possibly even over highway 163. Yikes. Poor baby. His paws were blistered. Once returned to University Heights, however, Ludwig settled in contently.

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The Cats of University Heights: Siamese Twins

On Feb. 1, 2019, as I walked down Monroe where it hugs the canyon behind Maryland, a bonded pair presented on adjoining properties. I captured several portraits, using Leica Q, planning to return for closer-up shots. I would see the chunkier beastie again, doing its business in another yard—and, well, even felines deserve some dignity, if not their owners. No photo.

While preparing to add the Siamese Twins to the series, using the Leica Q portraits, FedEx delivered the Fujifilm GFX 50R camera and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. I intended the medium-frame shooter to replace my departed full-frame Leica M10, which a Mexican wedding photographer purchased four months ago. But the Fuji is considerably larger than imagined, and I strongly considered boxing up without even one shot and returning. 

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The Joy Ride

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. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Shy

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. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Brick

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. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Calm

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. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Shadow, Too

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. 

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Where Did My Leica M10 Go?

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. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Mitsie

Our second featured feline of 2019 is the thirtieth seen along Alabama—on the same block where live Harley, Holiday, Laramie, Lupe, and Precious and where were the homes of the departed Monkey and missing Smokey. I have exclaimed about the putty population density on the street, numerous times, and I know of at least four more cats on the block that have yet to be photographed. But there are others of which I am aware along the 1.5 km stretch between Adams and Lincoln.

I met Mitsie (her real name), one of her owners, and three dogs while they sunned on the cool morning of Dec. 29, 2018. She came to one of her current caretakers as a stray about six years ago, when he lived in Imperial Beach, Calif. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tranquil

I encountered our honorary Christmas cat five minutes after sighting Comfy, on Dec. 12, 2018—also along North Avenue, but closer to Madison than Monroe. I lugged Leica Q, which was the perfect companion for post-production close-cropping; it’s a necessity when shooting wide (28mm) from a distance but easily doable because of the detail captured by the superb f/1.7 Summilux lens and full-frame sensor.

The kitty earns nickname Tranquil for its position, location, and time of day (sunny 2:22 p.m. PST). Vitals for the Featured Image and companion, aperture manually set for street shooting: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm.