Tag: leica x1

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Fatman Returns

In February 2014, a researcher from The Graham Norton Show contacted me about licensing one of my costumed portraits from San Diego Comic-Con 2010. She explained: “Our terms are all media worldwide for 5 years, and we would normally pay £175 (about $285) for these. We would pay upon usage of the image, and I would be able to let you know on Monday whether it has made the final cut of the show. If it is included, then we will arrange payment. Would you be happy with this?”

My reply: “I love the show, and, of course, you have my permission to use the photo—and the terms are agreeable. Can you let me know if the pic makes the cut and, if so, when the show will air?” The photo did indeed make the “final cut”, and I was paid for the privilege.

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What If I Had?

On Nov. 6, 2010, in Ocean Beach, Calif., I came across some vintage Leica film cameras, cases, and lenses for sale at an antique mall. Back then, I had little understanding about the bigger brand or the real value of older gear, even though shooting the X1, which interested me more for being an excellent all-in-one, fixed-Prime lens shooter.

Nothing in the display case sold for more than $100, if I rightly recall. I considered buying something but passed, which is unfortunate. Collectors pursue classic Leica, and the Leitz Photographica Auction is one of the places they go to spend sometimes tens of thousands to millions of Euros. Now I doubt anything so valuable was available on that November day nearly 12 years ago. But there might have been something that I could use for film photography, even if that required some manufacturer restoration. But I saw nothing more than old cameras that happened to be the same brand as my own.

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The Cutest Kitten Ever

While rummaging an old external hard drive, I came upon some unprocessed, unpublished photos of our long-lost Kuma. Here, he nestles in the blinds of the sliding glass door of our old apartment days after he joined our household.

The Featured Image comes from Leica X1 on Sept. 17, 2010. Vitals: f/4, ISO 250, 1/30 sec, 24mm; 3:27 p.m. PDT. Portrait is composed as shot.

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Mission Valley, a Dozen Years Ago

For reasons only guessed and not remembered, on July 16, 2010, I stopped at one of the University Heights overlooks and pointed Leica X1 at Mission Valley below. The view is much changed 12 years later, as apartment and condominium construction has transformed the horizon.

Dramatically more development is ongoing and the number of projects increasing. In autumn 2019, San Diego City Council approved a plan to add 50,000 more residents to Mission Valley by 2050, bolstered by the building of even more high density housing.

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For Kuma

This afternoon, I made a ceremonial walk along the paths and places Kuma used to go. Ten years ago today, around 6 a.m. PST, he looked up at me quizzically before slipping under the apartment building’s back gate. I let him out an hour earlier than typical, into darkness and without accompanying him into the alley as usual. My eyes never met his again. Kuma vanished.

Sixteen days later, San Diego city workers recovered his collar from a nearby canyon. The inference was clear: Coyote, as we suspected about Priscilla—a neighbor’s kitty that similarly disappeared 12 months earlier. She inspired his adoption.

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I Got the Golden Ticket

My wife and I cannot find an escape destination from SoCal. The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic proved to be massive interference—from “stay-at-home” shutdowns to insanely rising house prices as newfound work-from-homers fled the cities for more affordable areas that we also considered. Perhaps we were too compliant Californians and locked down when getting ahead of the escaping herd would have made more sense. But we still search, with hopes of vamoosing this year.

That raises question: Will I be around for San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition, which is scheduled for Thanksgiving Weekend? I ask because—oh my fraking luck—the SDCC overlords blessed me (“praise be“, as they say on Handmaid’s Tale) with opportunity to buy a pass during open registration today. How could I refuse?

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Tipped Moon

How odd. I posted the Featured Image to my Flickr nearly 11 years ago but never here. The street shot harkens back to my first Leica, the X1—a fixed-lens digital compact that I could (barely) afford at the time. Vitals: f/5, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 24mm; 7:05 p.m. PDT.

I purchased Leica X1 as a self-birthday present, and the camera arrived after on July 13, 2010. I captured the photo three days later. Manual controls and high IQ (image quality) beat my expectations. But with the economy in crisis, we had money troubles as Christmas approached—compelling me to sell the X1 and luckily for only a few hundred dollars less than I paid for it.

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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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Missing Kuma

Five years ago, Jan. 15, 2012—also a Sunday—our Maine Coon, Kuma, glanced up at me quizzicality before shimmying under the back gate and into oblivion. We never met eyes again. I still feel guilty about his loss. The cat and I had developed a bond of trust, which I betrayed by letting him out at 6 a.m, into darkness—alone. Typically, he left the apartment an hour later with me as see-him-off, down-the-alley companion. Sixteen days later, city workers found his collar in a nearby canyon, leading us to believe that a coyote got our bear, which is Kuma’s meaning in Japanese.

The 18-month-old Maine Coon and I were constant companions in our apartment building’s courtyard, where I often wrote news stories on my laptop. I have fond memories of Kuma coming and going, slipping under the back gate. Even now, I still look for him when walking up from the alley or along the street when returning home. I no longer work outdoors, because it unsettles the other cats, Cali and Neko, which want to come out, too. 

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Itsy Bitsy Etsy Shop

On December 1, my wife started selling handmade bead necklaces at Etsy. It’s something we discussed for a long time. She’s new to Etsy, but not me. I have long been early adopter of online services. For example, I opened my Yahoo account in 1996, I rented my first Netflix DVD in 1999 and in 2006 I joined both Facebook and Twitter. I opened an Etsy account in July 2006 to purchase for my daughter the Amigurumi Flowery pink bunny rabbit with matching bag. It’s pictured below without the bag; photo taken today. My teenager still has the handmade animal four-and-a-half years later.