Tag: nature photography

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Lemons and Oranges

Winter, or what I call late Summer, is when citrus trees bear luscious fruit in Southern California. Consider this lovely lemon tree that greets residents of quaint cottages along the Alabama-Florida alley. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a charming retreat, tucked away and lush?

But bring your high-paying job. Charm isn’t cheap in San Diego, given rising real estate costs. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,095, according to Zumper (about which I am largely unfamiliar). When I last cited the company’s data, February 2021, the median was $1,810. Yikes! Two bedroom: $2,895.

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Leave It Be

Wet weather welcomed the last week of the year, here in San Diego, with sporadic rain showers. Today, for awhile, the sun emerged from behind scattered clouds and I took advantage for several, desperately wanted […]

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Red Flower Monochrome

For the third day in a row, the Featured Image comes from Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:01 p.m. PST, today. I used the camera’s dedicated Macro mode, which is activated by turning a ring around the Summilux lens.

I spotted the red flower—with, if I recall rightly, white stamen and yellow pistils—while walking along Arch Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. The water droplets drew my attention, and I figured Why not black and white?—being no other choice really.

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Tiger Moth Caterpillars

While walking along Louisiana today, Annie and I came across two of our neighbors tending their flower garden. Gracie, one of the “Cats of University Heights“, belonged to them before she passed away at age 19. Seeing my camera, the wife turned my attention to three caterpillars munching leaves.

I immediately exclaimed “Woolly Bear caterpillars!”—for their colors and fuzziness. But the resemblance ended there. My memory is a larva with orange band in the middle and black at both ends. If I rightly recall, and please correct me if mistaken, that caterpillar eventually becomes the Isabella tiger moth.

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A Rose by Any Other Name is Gone

Following “The Tree Tragedy” that destroyed the provider of shade (for us) and food and refuge (for birds and squirrels), I was ready to give notice and move out of our apartment. One problem: In December 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom essentially closed down the state for the entire month in response to a reported surge in SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases (e.g., positive tests for infection).

But Spring (e.g., Early Summer in San Diego parlance) brought more birds than any other year—many flocking to a hedge nearby our assigned parking space. Across the street, they, and other animals, used the mighty date palm as a majestic habitat. But South American Palm Weevils infested the tree, which the city destroyed in late July. The bugs are not indigenous and removal of infected palms seeks to slow their spread.

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Juicy Fruit

I frequently see Loki, who was profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series, jump onto a fence and into a yard where he doesn’t live. Two catio captives, nicknamed Jester and King, call home the place right next door. Today, while walking by, my wife and I saw something else on the fence—the owner’s generosity. Don’t you want one? C`mon, confess! The persimmons sure look delicious.

What I initially missed, and Annie pointed out, is the tree bearing the fruit. It towers in the blurred background of the Featured Image. The companion provides context, by focusing on the leaves and hanging persimmons, but would be meaningless without the first photo.

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Cluck, Cluck

When my wife and I walk past the home of Daniel Tiger, we sometimes hear chickens—could be along the side of the building or perhaps the backyard. Today, we saw one of them pecking about the frontage. I pulled out iPhone 13 Pro for some fast shots—and, of course, the bird repeatedly turned back-to as I clicked the electronic shutter.

The Featured Image is one two usable head-in-view portraits. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/122 sec, 77mm; 9:46 a.m. PDT. The telephoto range of the third lens is a welcome change over earlier models’ 52mm. Before going out, in camera settings, I flipped the switch enabling Apple ProRAW, expecting that would be the format for today’s captures. Nope. Unbeknownst to me, the user must tap RAW on the touchscreen to truly turn on the feature. Frak.

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Rascal

A few months ago, my wife reported seeing a skunk in our apartment complex courtyard in the wee hours when still dark. I’m a night owl and she’s an early bird. A few weeks back, I saw the stinker skulking along where mulch meets cement, foraging for something. He or she, sometimes a pair, returns for nearly nightly excursions—and I worry about an untimely, unfortunate encounter with one of the other residents. There are 18 apartments and anybody going in or out—that includes late-night Uber Eats deliveries—could scare some stinky spray.

Before bed, I make last rounds to ensure the apartment is secure—for example: locked front door; gas burners off; water faucets shut. Around 12:15 a.m. PDT, today, when closing up, I spotted our striped friend, whom Annie and I call Rascal, sniffing about. Quarter-hour later, I pulled out Leica Q2 and shot several photos through the dining room window. At ISO 10000, they’re grainy as all heck and not really recoverable.

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The Hitchcockian Moment

I count more than 70 birds in the Featured Image, captured by Leica Q2 on Sept. 25, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:20 p.m. PDT. I came upon them while walking along Adams Ave. at Boundary Street on my way to Pet Me Please in Normal Heights. What you don’t see: There were even more of them across the way—the majority on a roof ledge and utility pole wires.

The previous afternoon, unseasonably torrential rains and thunderstorms roared through San Diego County. Flood warning alerts pinged my iPhone XS every few minutes. The official precipitation total here in University heights: 1.4 cm (.56 inches) at 5:15 p.m., after about an hour of heavy rainfall. The next morning, crows and pigeons pecked all about from fresh food washed into clumps and (presumably) fallen from trees (e.g., fruit, insects, and more).

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A Macro Moment with Leica Q2

The days are plenty when I consider trading in Leica Q2. Being beholden to a fixed-focal-length lens—even as magnificent as the camera’s 28mm f/1.7 Summilux—is a tradeoff when I can’t get close enough to a subject. But versatility abounds, holding me to the all-in-one shooter—like precise manual focus or Macro mode, which I used to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 1:16 p.m. PDT.

One of our car‘s windshield wipers broke, so today we drove to the auto-mechanic in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood. The plan: Annie would drive home to University Heights, while I would walk for some extra exercise. I passed by the richly-pigmented orange and yellow flowers about a half block from the service station. The cropped photo is from a single shot taken. Anticipating the light breeze, I held my breath and waited for several seconds of stillness to click the shutter. During post-production, I throttled back the contrast and pulled out the highlights.

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Desperate Hunter

About a month ago, I heard some commotion a few streets away and a woman yelling loudly to someone else: “It’s a coyote!” The location is far enough away from a canyon to be surprising. Over the weeks that followed, my wife observed occasional Nextdoor posts about additional sightings—mainly between Alabama and Louisiana either along Madison or Mission.

This morning, as Annie and I walked on Louisiana approaching Mission, she spotted a coyote strutting down the sidewalk on the other side of Madison moving towards Adams. We followed. The animal’s left rear leg was clearly injured, and the skinny beast hobbled on the other three. When she first saw the coyote, it was under the magnificent tree that I shared with you in June 2021.