Tag: San Diego

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The Cats of University Heights: Shadow

The Leica Q has one of the best autofocus systems of any digital camera that I have used (and the list’s long). But when there’s failure, the scale is grand—as was the case yesterday morning where Adams Ave. ends at the overlook adjacent to Golden Gate. I hadn’t planned to stop there, but beyond the automobile guardrail and wire fence, I saw the clear shape of a cat sitting back to me. That put him on the canyon side, which would be a treacherous place from where a human could fall. He contently watched wildlife, mainly birds, with little care about me—although he moved away some when I approached to the side for better sight to shoot. The feline could have been looking out onto the Grand Canyon, for the scale set before him.

The kitty is blurry in every one of the seven shots, even the three where I manually focused. The auto-system stopped at the fence. I did only marginally better for the last capture, before the cat sauntered off. Problem: While only 8:31 a.m. PDT, the sun seared fiercely ahead of a heat wave, compelling me to wear sunglasses that make the electronic viewfinder’s visual focus cues difficult to make out when rushed—as I was. I fumbled to safely put down the protective eyewear, as the beastie waddled off; having stepped partly over the guardrail for better vantage point,  I could have carelessly let the glasses fall away.

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The Cats of University Heights: Levi

Do you remember Pepe, whom this series featured on March 9, 2017? Tonight, while out walking and chatting with some of our great neighbors, I met his housemate, Levi. His owner described him months ago, and I had been on the lookout since for the “shy” shelter cat who is about four years old. Levi came to his owners with a heart murmur and some uncertain problem with his hind end. He often leans forward when sitting and resists being held. I shot a dozen portraits, choosing this one for how he pushes up on his forelegs and for the personality that his mesmerizing eyes express.

Levi lives next door to my neighborhood favorite, Fess, a handsome, cunning Maine Coon. I look for him any time passing his house. Sadly, my other favorite, The Colonel, is gone. The majestic longhair succumbed to “the cancer”, his owner told me last month. I will feature the family’s new cat, Charlie, soon as he lets me make a good portrait. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Still

On June 30, 2017, at 9:44 a.m., as I walked down the alley at Adams Ave. behind Park Blvd. and between North Ave., something statuesque caught my attention. The furball stood so still, I wondered if she might be a stuffed animal. But when I once changed position for closer capture, her head moved to follow. Google Pixel XL made the moment—and a difficult shot for the autofocus system through glass and mesh screen. Vitals: f/2, ISO 55, 1/461 sec, 4.67mm.

There is something savagely voyeuristic shooting outside a window into a residence, even though, as you can see, not much more than a few obvious desk-top items and the cat are visible. There is always risk of reprisal, as a misunderstanding neighbor storms out confrontationally. Fortunately, all was peaceful. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Betty Too

This series seeks to promote one feline on one day and never again. But sometimes uncertainty lurks like a furball under a car, which brings us to what could be a repeat. I give the odds as 50-50 that today’s beastie is Betty, but I’m betting not or there wouldn’t be a featured shot. I met her on Nov. 11, 2016, in the alley behind North Ave. closer to Madison. She rolled around, grubbing attention from a neighbor who knew her.

The cat I call Betty Too (just in case they’re the same) was spotted on June 29, 2017, in a gated apartment courtyard opening into the same alley but closer to Monroe—street at the other end. I had walked down searching for a black cat that crossed the alley; hence how I saw this other blackie, way inside beyond the locked door-gate. I never did find the other one. Betty Too came up to visit, but she couldn’t get pats through the grates. Sorry `bout that, kitty. Like Betty, she is black, was sighted off the North alley, and wears a blue color. What are the chances they’re the same? 

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The Cats of University Heights: Spry

In the alley beyond Alabama going towards Park Blvd., about midway between Monroe and Meade, I spotted a lanky, grey short-hair sprawled on the pavement; June 13, 2017. She slipped away as my wife and I approached, among cars against a garage, resisting me and the Leica Q. The Featured Image shows her hanging on the fence, at least a six-footer and taller than me, following a dramatic leap. She balanced there long enough for four clicks of the shutter. This is the third shot.

Once again, the mirrorless camera’s 28mm, f/1.7 Summilux lens and 24-megapixel full-frame sensor deliver super sharp detail enough for a close-crop. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 6:36 p.m. PDT. 

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Say, What Is That Suspicious White Van?

The photo’s composition isn’t great, but I was rushed to capture anything at all. I spotted this Apple Maps vehicle on the loose today. The poke-it-to-the-fruit-logo-company opportunities are so many, I barely can get any out. For starters, the vehicle clearly was lost, turning down a street that dead ends at a pedestrian bridge. If you’ve ever been misdirected using Apple Maps, imagine the dude driving around with the camera car in similar state. Maybe he’s the blame for your SUV plowing into that lake last month.

Of course, I would see this thing on the day when news orgs everywhere are reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook confirms the company is working on a self-driving car. Yeah, well not this vehicle. Zoom in on the Featured Image and see the bewildered guy in cap who just barely executed a three-point turn without taking out a swath of local walkers (my wife and I among them) and in process making news headlines across the globe. Lucky for him, the LGBT protests against President Trump were a day earlier. Blinded by bright rainbows, he could have plowed into anything, or anyone! 

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Christmas in June?

I spotted Santa Claus while walking in Balboa Park this afternoon. He was out for a stroll—to where is anyone’s guess. An elf helper tagged along, so surely there was some purpose. After passing him, I stopped. Hesitated. Stepped forward. Then turned around and approached Mr. Kringle, rather than let the moment pass. I asked to shoot a portrait.

As you would expect, Santa responded jovially, accepting the invitation. While couching low with Leica Q, I asked about his presence, joking that it wasn’t Christmas in July. He smiled and said something about Christmas being every day for people who keep it in their hearts. Now that is a lovely sentiment. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Stride

Two mornings ago—Memorial Day—my wife and I walked down Campus between Monroe and Meade, when she spotted a grey and white crossing the street. Whoa, two new sightings on the same block about 18 hours apart. The other: Siamese seen at dusk on May 28th. I also ambled to the other sidewalk, and there captured a series of sequential stride shots as the feline approached before turning into a yard (Featured Image). The other is below the fold. Vitals, respectively: f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm; 11:04 a.m. PDT and f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 11:03 a.m. PDT. Both are crops.

For a compact camera with fixed lens, the Leica Q‘s focus and shutter response is fast. Easily, the entire series of shots as the cat approached is useable. The morning was overcast, which I consider to be perfect photography weather. At f/1.7, shutter speed was plenty fast enough to stop motion. Both pics are crops, BTW.