This End Up

This End Up

Here's another from the Miramar Air Show this past weekend. This was the only shot I came to the show planning to take, and it turned out more or less exactly as I envisioned it. Now if only I had thought to note what kind of plane it was.

Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 18-55mm DX lens, in aperture priority exposure mode. Focal length 18mm, aperture f/3.5, shutter 1/640, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve to recover highlights and add contrast, burned over the sky.

Thoughts for improvement: It's kind of a clichéd shot, but it still works pretty well. A more interesting sky, or some other element (perhaps a plane flying by in the background) would definitely improve things. Another thing that would have possibly been nice is to use an even wider-angle lens--at 10mm this might have been pretty cool.


This morning on my way to work, I listened to Friday's episode of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, in which the hosts talked about some of their personal pop-culture firsts. I recommend this podcast, by the way, for anyone who likes light-hearted discussion of pop culture and entertainment, especially if you're looking for a podcast with clean language.

In any case, the episode was a lot of fun, and I was inspired to do a short series of posts sharing my own firsts, using the same list they used on the show. Over the next few days I'll cover my first grown-up book, my first favorite movie, my first collection, and my first celebrity crush, but today I'll be kicking things off with my first album.

Now, the first thing that occurred to me when I decided to do this series was that I'm going to have a really hard time remembering the actual firsts for any of them. Music, for example, has always been a big part of my life, but it's difficult for me to find the exact point when my collection branched off from my mom's. I have vivid memories of my brother and I singing along in the back of my mom's car to Jackson Browne, Lionel Richie, Jimmy Cliff, and Eddy Grant when we were very young. Later, the B-52's and Paula Abdul made an appearance, but all of those tapes were my mom's, not mine.

Of course, my current music tastes and album collection largely started in the early 90's and then, as now it was a real hodgepodge. I think my initial set of CDs consisted of They Might Be Giants' Flood, and Metallica's Ride the Lightning, and two greatest hits collections: Glen Miller and Henry Mancini. But even at that point I already had a bunch of tapes lying around--I know I had two other Metallica tapes (Master of Puppets and Kill 'Em All) and Green Day's Dookie.

My first LP I remember pretty clearly: a copy of M.C. Hammer's 2 Legit 2 Quit that I picked up from a secondhand store when my stepdad took me on a trip up to San Francisco. But that would have been middle school, and I'm nearly positive I had a few tapes of my own in elementary school.

I'd like to be able to say that my first album was Weird Al's Even Worse. Certainly that tape was in heavy rotation when I got my first Walkman. Unfortunately, if I'm being honest with myself, I have to admit that that tape almost certainly belonged to my brother. No, my real first album is way, way more embarrassing.

I've been contorting my brain to try to recollect any other tape that might have come first, to no avail. I have to admit it: my first album, the one I picked to be the very first I owned myself, was almost certainly Michael Bolton's Time, Love & Tenderness. I remember listening to it on my headphones in the back seat of my grandpa's truck as we headed out on family vacations, and being mystified at my mom's insistence that Bolton's version of "When a Man Loves a Woman" wasn't as soulful as Percy Sledge's rendition.

I'm pretty sure that in the building of my first music library, Time, Love & Tenderness was followed relatively quickly by M.C. Hammer's Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse.

OK, now here's my challenge to you: I've opened up and shown you the embarrassing depths of my ten-year-old music tastes. I bet none of you can do worse, and I dare you to prove me wrong.

D-Day Doll

D-Day Doll

On Saturday, I and my family went to the Miramar Air Show. On Sunday, we went to a two-year-old's birthday party. I took pictures at both. What did I learn from the comparison? Here's what: things that aren't moving are easy to take pictures of, things that are moving (like kids) are somewhat difficult to take pictures of, and things that are moving very fast (like jet fighters) are very difficult to take pictures of. Especially when you don't know which direction they're coming from and which direction they're going.

Thus, here's a picture of a WWII-era plane that was on display at the air show. One that wasn't moving at all.

Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 18-55mm DX lens, in aperture priority exposure mode. Focal length 28mm, aperture f/8, shutter 1/800 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: Used a curve to set black and white points and add contrast, bumped vibrancy, added edge sharpening.

Thoughts for improvement: It's not bad for what it is, but it would be much better if there were another element to add some kind of tension or contrast to the image.