Tag: San Diego

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The Cats of University Heights: Dusk

One of Leica Q’s best benefits is its dual-focus system: auto and manual—the latter of which uses a mechanism similar to the German camera maker’s pricey rangefinders. There is a dedicated focus ring and adjustment knob around the lens, which when activated, cause the electronic viewfinder to magnify the shooting subject and present visual cue—green “peaking“—when in focus. This feature is particularly handy because: the lens is wide-angle (28mm); the f/1.7 Summilux glass and 24-megapixel full-frame sensor capture so much detail that cropping-in can replace a telephoto; but when shooting wide, with multiple objects, the auto-focus system can hone in on the wrong one.

On May 28, 2017, as I walked down Campus, midway between Meade and Monroe, I spotted a Siamese not seen before. I lay down on the sidewalk to capture the moment. Since the kitty was so still, I took a few extra seconds to switch to manual focus. Interestingly, as dusk settled, none of the auto-focus shots were right. The Featured Image is spot on the cat, in this close crop. The original, which is below the fold, gives actual perspective and illustrates how much detail the Leica Q captures. Vitals: f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm. Time: 7:12 p.m. PDT, about 40 minutes before sunset.

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The Cats of University Heights: Daniel Tiger

My Leica Q mistakes compounded on May 26, 2017. Earlier in the day, I forgot to change the shutter speed from the previous night’s shooting. Later, the battery died during my attempt to photograph an approaching short-hair. Doh. Who isn’t smart enough to read the charge meter in the display? Hel-l-lo? Joe? Anyone home?

While I fuddled with the camera, the kitty rolled around at my feet. Time wasted, I barely got out iPhone 7 Plus, before the furball sauntered off into the middle of the street—Louisiana, a few houses back from Monroe. Featured Image vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/634 sec, 3.99mm; 6:29 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Peso

I am a pitiful Southern Californian resident—for not speaking, or reading, a word of Spanish. Fortunately, Google gave my linguistic handicap a little boost yesterday evening, when encountering the large-pawed beast who is our featured feline this cool Caturday. Walking down Monroe from Park Blvd. towards Texas Street, I heard a furball meowing on the other side of a tall hedge at Georgia. I rounded the corner and peaked inside. The beastie came running out on the sidewalk to greet me.

The number of owned street cats without collars surprises me, but this friendly brute was an exception. As he rolled around for pats, I looked at his tag, which gave a phone number followed by “Gracias” on one side and “Mellamo Peso” on the other. I may be ditz-for-non-English-language brain but nevertheless recognize “Thank You”. But the other, I assumed was a first and last name, or perhaps a nickname. I whipped out iPhone 7 Plus and Googled “Mellamo”, only to discover that it means “my name is”. That caused me to resume petting with one hand and lifting the tag with the other; maybe I misread, because who calls their cat Peso? Crazy thing, makes sense. He is one big boy, and the name translates to “weight” (or so says Google). He is Maine Coon size but leaner. 

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‘Edna Scissorhands’ Cuts Me Quick

Sometimes stupidity is a bad habit—or that’s how I feel about making immensely idiotic mistakes mishandling the Leica Q today. A camera with manual controls demands that the shooter be smart enough to check the dials between outings. Last night, while hunting for subjects to add to my “Cats of University Heights” series, I set the shutter to 1/125 sec. Couple evenings earlier, motion blur spoiled several potentially good portraits of a black and white that I call Fraidy and another not yet featured. Because the digicam’s auto-mode had preferred low ISO and slower shutter speed, I chose what seemed right for late-yesterday’s lighting.

I should have sorted out my mistake this afternoon in San Diego’s South Mission Hills neighborhood. My wife had taken me on an outdoor expedition to two close-by destinations: The Spruce St. Suspension Bridge, which crosses a deep canyon in Banker’s Hill. Edwin Capps designed the pedestrian walkway, completed in 1912. I stupidly shot no photos there. Doh. From the footbridge, we drove to the “Edna Scissorhands” (e.g. Edna Harpertopiary garden on Union Street, where distracted by two cats, I turned attention first to them without checking the shutter—dumb, dumb, considering I took time to turn the aperture to f/5.6. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Fraidy

A combination of circumstances complicated capturing today’s featured feline. On May 20, 2017, early evening, I walked down Mission Cliff towards Trolley Barn Park, where movie “ET: The Extraterrestrial” would be shown on a humongous air-inflated screen. At Park Blvd., a skittish kitty skirted across my way around a parked car. I got down low and looked for the flighty beast. Problem: I couldn’t make out anything in the viewfinder. The Diopter Adjustment knob moved out of place, so I shot blind so to speak.

The other problem is about software intelligence. I switched everything to auto, to compensate for the viewfinder problem. But the Leica Q didn’t adjust the settings for my shooting situation. The cat briskly moved to my flank across a front yard to a second car (the Featured Image) then over another lawn and onto the sidewalk, trotting away. Vitals: f/1.7, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 7:32 p.m. PDT. Many of the other shots are 1/60 sec. Auto-set higher ISO and faster shutter would have made a better moment. There are reasons why the camera has manual controls. But blinded, I didn’t see what needed correction. 

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The Camel

For one of her birthday activities, my wife Anne wanted to ride the Skyfari Aerial Tram across San Diego zoo. We walked back through the park to the exit, despite detours due to massive construction of new habitats. Among my favorite animals: Camels and llamas; if you have never read my absolutely true llama story from 1980, please do!

Norwegian designer and photographer Martin Fagerås inspired me to even attempt a camel shot because of this brilliantly captured moment using Leica Q, which I also carry. I came across his Flickr when looking for shooters using the amazing full-frame compact. Obviously, I couldn’t compose anything as compelling as he did, particularly at the zoo. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Haiku

What a surprise. Nearly across the street from where I spotted the Tortoiseshell for the first time on May 15, 2017, a grey and white tiger-tabby greeted my Mrs. and me four days later. We visited the ever-friendly Haiku (real name) where Cleveland Ave. meets Golden Gate. I shot the Featured Image using Leica Q. I cropped the original DNG, for composition, before exporting the JPEG from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Vitals: f/7.1, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, 28mm; 9:13 a.m. PDT. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tortie

I am amazed whenever discovering a never-before-sighted furball so close-by to my apartment. This tortoiseshell made my acquaintance from a distance late-afternoon May 15, 2017—one block away, on Cleveland just past Madison before the overlook. She sat on a doorstep waiting for someone to let her in. From the empty driveway, it’s a guess the owner hadn’t come home from a day at the job.

The Featured Image is the second-to-last of 13 captures, and I debated about choosing this one because the kitty’s distinctive bob-tail is obscured by bushes. I captured the moment at 5:35 p.m. PDT, using Leica Q. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm. The pic is close-cropped from the original, which shows the yard and the next (I shot from the sidewalk). 

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The Cats of University Heights: Bruce

Last week, driving up Texas Street—one of the neighborhood’s major boundaries—road work compelled my wife and I to go home by way of Monroe instead of Madison. I sat in the passenger’s seat; a woman walking a dog accompanied by a cat riveted my attention. At home, soon as Anne pulled over, parked, and stepped out of the Honda Fit, I slipped into the driver’s seat and sped away to capture a portrait of the handsome, fluffer-tail cat walking the dog on Monroe. Of course, after pulling to the curb, and walking about several streets, I couldn’t find the beast—or his owner. But the Fujifilm X100F was ready.

Ten minutes later, I abandoned the hunt and started to drive home. Damn, I had gone one block too far and passed a doorway just in time to see the dog-walker, her mutt (that’s affectionately meant), and the feline disappear into an apartment (or perhaps duplex). I noted the building’s address number and nearest cross-street (Alabama) for future scouting. Last night, on my second day twlight’s attempt looking, I spotted the handsome furball waiting for his master’s return. Oh yeah!