Tag: nature photography

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Making Monarch Moments

Surely weather is major explanation: Monarchs are uncharacteristically present this summer. I see more around University Heights than any year since moving our family to San Diego in October 2007. I wondered while walking around the neighborhood: How effective a photographic tool could be Fujifilm GFX 50R for capturing butterflies? After all, composing is deliberate rather than quick, and the Fujinon GF63mmF.28 R WR lens isn’t specifically designed for macro (e.g. close-up) work. I have experimentally used the oversized camera as a street shooter—since acquiring it in February 2019 to replace my Leica M10, which a Mexican wedding photographer purchased from me late last year.

The massive medium-format sensor collects heaps of data, which makes shooting with a 50mm-equivalent prime lens surprisingly satisfying. In post-production, I can crop in close, retaining amazing detail—something that the Featured Image and first companion demonstrate. The 50R is able enough, and more. Question answered.

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Lively Lilacs

My Nana loved lilacs and roses—and both join an amazing Spring bloom in Southern California, following an unusually wet Winter. The lush greenery and flowering plants won’t last long, but their presence—and amazing aromas tickling my nose while walking—along with the weather, remind of home. Light, constant breezes and temperatures in the high teens to low twenties Celsius beneath puffy Cumulus and Nimbus clouds make San Diego feel so much like Aroostook County during Summer. My wife and I call them “Maine Days”, and they are this Spring’s hallmark but without its Down East annoyance: Mud season.

While Annie and I had seen occasional lilac flourishes, we were surprised to find a wall of the purplish flowers—along Mission, going East from Park Blvd.—on April Fools Day 2019. The Featured Image (warning: 21MB file) is the view from below, looking up at the lilacs. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, 63mm; 5:15 p.m. PDT.

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Sanctuary No More

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. 

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You’re So Vane

Late afternoon today, I took a purposeful walk around the neighborhood carrying Leica M10 with Macro-Elmar-M 1:4/90 attached. I had hoped to shoot the first portraits from the lens for my “Cats of University Heights” series. I met no felines, sadly, but some of their prey tickled my fancy around the property at Cleveland and Madison.

I captured the Featured Image  and its companion at 5:03 p.m. PDT. Vitals for the first: f/11, ISO 200, 1/180 sec, 90mm. The other is same except for 1/250 sec shutter speed. I cropped both, but only really edited the second—seeking to make the birds more lit than silhouette, so to speak. 

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Panda a Day…

To renew, or not to renew, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the budget to suffer the slings and arrows of haughty annual fees, or to take leave of a parade of animals—and by opposing end membership? Surely Shakespeare wouldn’t approve, but since he can’t come crying copyright infringement, well…

Our annual San Diego Zoo passes expire on April 30, and “Another year?” is question of the weekend. My wife and I trucked over to the animal refuge this morning and got great value from the hour spent walking about and looking at the beasties. But is that experience enough to warrant another year? 

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Burtech Blues Break

I stand corrected about the water pipeline work, which seemed to reach its mainstay on Jan. 12, 2018. Two days ago, Burtech contractor crews started to earnestly tear up our street, compelling closed apartment windows that keep out noise and dust and, disappointedly, pleasant weather.

My repast has been longer walks, to parts of the neighborhood where the natural sounds of birds, other wildlife, and breeze rustling palm fronds are soothing ambience. This afternoon, while walking down Meade Ave. towards Texas Street, I passed a lone rose rising defiantly behind cement wall, challenging the urban, human landscape’s listless, lifeless incursion.