Our kitties Cali and Neko share space on his favorite blankie, in a rare moment of territorial sharing earlier today. I pulled Google Pixel 3 XL from my jeans pocket, and snapped four quick portraits. […]
Dare I present another Alabama Street cat? The thirty-second? Recently, I have expanded my feline photo walks into rarely traversed parts of the neighborhood—like the many dead-end roadways—desperately searching for someplace that can match Alabama’s kitty sightings. Nowhere comes close, and I still cannot explain why.
That said, today’s beastie, whom I nickname Sly, was long sought after—and perhaps only a saddening situation could reveal him (or her). Late-summer 2018, I caught a brief look at the animal as it slinked down apartment complex stairs next door to where live Laramie and Lupe. While presenting glimpses a couple more times, the Siamese proved to be too skittish and quick-moving for my camera. Until yesterday.
Since starting the “Cats in University Heights” series in October 2016, no one has objected to my photographing their animals—until today. In fact, some neighbors have asked me to include their pets. The story: As I approached the multi-family dwelling where Blue and Valentine—both nicknames—reside, a skinny and frisky shorthair walked down the sidewalk alongside a nearby open-fenced yard. As I approached, the putty-tat retreated to the grass. From there, another feline moved my way, and I started clicking the shutter of Fujifilm GFX 50R, with attached Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens.
“Why are you taking pictures of my cats?” a woman calmly, but firmly, asked from behind a home’s security door. She didn’t step out onto the porch, and I couldn’t see her even while looking straight on from the sidewalk. I explained about my photographic project that started two-and-a-half years ago. My demeanour was friendly then, and when asking the name of the kitty whose portraits I had just taken. Gaping silence followed. “It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me”, I interjected, trying to diffuse any tension.
What a surprise! Yesterday, while walking along Mission Cliff Drive, I spotted what would be the fifth feline profiled from the street. The others: Aylin, Cupcake, Fraidy, and Tabby. Being so skinny, the lush longhair looked like a stray. But that impression evaporated with presentation of the bushy—and clearly manicured—tail. This lovely belongs to someone.
The kitty was cautious, not offish, but definitely kept back from any approach. As such, the Featured Image and companion are both close crops. I captured the pair using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. I had manually set aperture before going out and accidentally knocked the shutter speed dial from auto to 1/4000. Yikes! Vitals for both: f/5.6, ISO 1000, 1/4000 sec, 63mm; 11:01 a.m. PST.
The Alabama cat contingent continues, with the thirty-first sighted along the street between its boundaries of Adams and Lincoln. Yesterday, as we walked to Smart & Final, my wife saw a putty-tat scurry among parked cars across the roadway. I pulled around Fujifilm GFX 50R, with attached Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, and approached the building, which is the same one where lives the kitty I call Dizzy. The shorthair retreated to a spot before the apartment complex’s security gate, which access to me was blocked by the mailman filling boxes.
He left. Feline and human regarded one another. A few meows later, the shorthair let me move in close to offer pats and to read the name tag (Mao). Snap. Snap. Two satisfying shots later, a quandary came: Should I let Mao inside the courtyard, by way of the unsecure security door? I pulled slightly open, and the friendly furball nosed forward. I closed in doubt, then let Mao through. The kitty crossed to a stair and climbed to the second level, where home awaited. (I hope.)
Sometimes, I stop where Adams Ave. ends in my neighborhood to see if the Pacific Ocean is visible along the horizon. The location is sentimental—for our long time living nearby; the overlook’s majestic view; and […]
Record rainfall pummels Southern California, as a series of storms continue. In my neighborhood, according to official government weather stats, 3.7 cm (1.45 inches) fell during the Valentine’s Day downpour. Totals for the month, as measured at Lindbergh Field: 7 cm (2.8 inches). That same storm walloped Palomar Observatory with 28 cm (10.9 inches) of rain. Yikes! Rivers overflow. Flooding wreaks havoc in the community Ramona, among others. And nobody uses the dreaded D word (e.g. drought).
The sun shines through puffy, cumulus, cumulonimbus, and nimbus clouds stretching across the horizons upon the wet asphalt, earth, and fallen palm fronds—brief respite before the next storm surges. But the air is chill, and record low temperatures are expected tonight. Already, ice accumulations have led authorities to close both major roads leading into the quaint, mountain community of Julian—where we nearly bought a house last year. Being President’s Day, the town would typically bustle with tourists.
The Fujifilm GFX 50R, paired with Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, delivers outstanding image quality; today’s cropped Featured Image and fuller-size companion demonstrate the camera’s capabilities. Rather than use a telephoto, I prefer to shoot with a prime lens on a camera that can capture lots of detail, allowing me to crop-in, or recompose, during post-production. The 50R is an IQ over-achiever, and its handling and ergonomics suit my shooting style, too.
I encountered the sleepy white beauty along Golden Gate somewhere between Cleveland and Maryland. Snowball—nickname my wife suggested—is the thirty-seventh feline found behind glass (and/or screen) and usually looking out rather than snoozing. The main portrait is cropped from the other, to spotlight the incredible detail the medium-format camera captures. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/210 sec, 63mm; 9:25 a.m. PST, yesterday.
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.
Some kitties pull your heartstrings—to somber notes—as did this black and white seen yesterday along Campus Avenue, at the same property where lives the grey that I call Blue. The putty-tat earns its nickname for the day being profiled and for me thinking when looking at its face: “Be mine”, like the text on one of those candy hearts.
Valentine also has the distinction of being the first cat appearing in the series shot using the Fujifilm GFX 50R, which I received four days ago, and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/70 sec, 63mm; 9:13 a.m. Same for the other, but 1/100 sec.
If you believe the Wall Street Journal (and some other news outlets), “No One’s Making Sweethearts This Year, Crushing Lovers of Valentine’s Day Candy“. NECCO (New England Confectionery Company), the manufacturer behind the confection, closed its doors in 2018. Sweethearts’ new brand owner, Spangler Candy Company, hopes to have production lines ramped up for Valentine’s Day 2020, but existing supplies are limited for this year. Hehe, good thing this stuff has long shelf life.
Given the Sweethearts shortages, I was surprised to see a bowl of the candies strategically placed between the cosmetic and jewelry sections inside Macy’s Fashion Valley. Shouldn’t there be a security guard to protect these precious commodities from smash-and-grab robbers rushing the bowl? I imagine a sitcom plot where an attempted jewelry case robbery is merely a distraction for stealing Sweethearts instead.
Wagering a guess, the shorthair that I call Mewl is a pregnant female. She was needy and noisy—hence the nickname—when my wife and I encountered the kitty along Spalding Place on Feb. 6, 2019. We approached from Madison Avenue through the alley between Park and Georgia, when we saw her walking from street to sidewalk. She turned when I pulled out Google Pixel 3 and loudly and nearly continuously meowed as she came up to us.
I spent some time tweaking the Featured Image and its companion, particularly for highlights and shadows. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 58, 1/1466 sec, 4.44mm; 10:43 a.m. PST. I let Google Photos auto-tune the second pic, for comparison sake. To my eyes, the first is more color accurate, as captured by the smartphone. The other has a more yellowish hue. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 57, 1/1565 sec; 4.44mm; 10:43 a.m.