Sine Qua Non
"I want a Toy Story party."
"Yeah. I want a Woody and Buzz party."
"OK, well, maybe when it's your birthday, but is it your birthday today?"
"No, it's not. It's [your friend's] birthday today."
That was the conversation on Saturday as we drove to Chuck E. Cheese's for Jason's friend's birthday party. Jason has been deep into the Toy Story franchise for several months now. We watch one of those movies or another (or, at least, the first twenty minutes) about every other day, and nearly everywhere we go, Jason has to bring one of his Woody, Jessie, or Buzz Lightyear toys with him.
Now, most likely when you hear "Toy Story party," you imagine Pixar-themed banners and tablecloths, possibly a performer in a Buzz Lightyear costume. But what Jason means when he says that is actually that he wants a Toy Story cake. For him, "party" literally means "cake."
It makes a certain amount of sense when you think about it, since Jason's main exposure to parties has been his friends' birthdays, which have always involved a cake of some sort. Before this weekend, every party he'd ever attended had been at a house or a park, just like a regular playdate. And since playdates usually also involve snacks, the cake would definitely stand out as something unique to parties.
The only thing that really surprises me is that he didn't pick out presents as the identifier of a party. Still, he gets presents at Christmas, and the parties at his day care don't have presents but usually do have cupcakes. I wouldn't have thought that such a young person would be able to make connections like that, but it appears that he has.
So, in Jason's world, if there's a cake, it's a party; if there's no cake, it's not. Though, come to think of it, I'm not so sure that's wrong.
Chuck E. Cheese's has changed a bit over the twenty-odd years since I last went there--there's no more ball pit, for example--but one thing that's still the same is the skee-ball. I was hoping that Jason would have fun with that game, but it ended up being a little discouraging for him, as he wasn't strong enough to roll the ball all the way up to the target. Later on I saw a bunch of his toddler friends walking up the ramp and putting the balls right into the holes, but by that time Jason had already moved on to greener pastures.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 800. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened; retouched a dust spot; dodged over Jason's head and shirt.
Thoughts for improvement: I'd like to have gotten a bit better angle, to get the whole target in the frame.
Always Check the Back Seat
I don't really know why the folks at Chuck E. Cheese's thought that putting a grinning Chuck E in the back of this bus wasn't creepy. Is it? I'll let you be the judge of that. In any event, Jason didn't mind (or even notice, really), whatever it might look like in this picture. Actually, this was his favorite ride. All in all, it was a pretty successful first trip to Chuck E. Cheese's, the occasion for which was a friend's birthday party.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 800. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened; curves for highlight recovery; dodged over the interior of the bus; levels to brighten midtones; edge sharpening.
Thoughts for improvement: I'd like to have included the "C" in "Chuck E. Cheese School."
As I was walking down University Ave. on Sunday morning, I happened to look up and noticed the sun reflecting off the windows of this building, shining through the fog. It was such a dramatic scene, I had to stop and look at it for a few minutes before I even lifted the camera to my eye.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/4, shutter 1/2500 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: cloned out a dust spot; cropped; levels to brighten highlights, darken midtones and shadows.
Thoughts for improvement: I don't know, I actually love this shot. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments.
Shortly after I took this picture, this woman--who I thought was way too engrossed in her coffee and headphones to notice me--gave me the stinkeye. I guess if you pick a table all the way at the back of the coffee shop at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, maybe you're looking for a little solitude.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/2.8, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened and cropped; -1 exposure; levels to set black point and white point.
Thoughts for improvement: Would have been nice to get just a touch further to the right so as not to cut off the car in the reflection.
"Jason, did you use the toilet at school today?"
"You did? That's very good!"
"I just went pee pee, not poo poo."
"Still, that's very good, Jason, I am very proud of you."
"And you went poo poo on the toilet just now, too."
"That's so good Jason. It makes Daddy so happy when you use the toilet like a big boy."
"I'm a human being Mickey Mouse!"
The allure of shooting street is largely to do with mystery--the mystery of what I might out there, of what stories lie behind the apparent ordinariness. There's nothing quite like fog to emphasize that mystery for a photo.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/2, shutter 1/800 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened and cropped; curves for exposure and contrast.
Thoughts for improvement: The palm trees sticking up over the railing make that part of the frame look a bit cluttered and draw the eye away from the intended focal point, which is the bus stop.
While Watching Up
"They got married."
"You got married, too."
"I got married?"
"Yeah, to Mommy."
"That's right, I got married to Mommy."
"No, it was a long time ago. See that picture over there? Of me and Mommy looking at each other?"
"That's when we got married. See? Mommy is wearing a white dress and Daddy is wearing a tuxedo."
"Oh... I'm going to get married, too. When I get big."
"Oh yeah? You're going to find yourself a nice girl and get married?"
"Yeah, just like you."
Stay Out of the Water
"Jason, no playing in the water."
"And no touching the water."
"And no getting in the fountain."
"You know what, just step back from the water."
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, in aperture-priority exposure mode. Aperture f/4, shutter 1/400 sec (0 EV), ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened; curves for contrast.
Thoughts for improvement: A little bit wider to get more of the tile and more of his hands and arms would have been good.
Our friends James and Mel gave us a family membership to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for Christmas, and this weekend we took our first trip to check it out. Jason liked the kids' area a lot but, as you can see, he had fun in the main galleries as well. I'm not sure he really grasped the science just yet, but that'll come.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/1.4, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 1600. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curves for highlight recovery and contrast.
Thoughts for improvement: A higher angle might have been nice, in order to get more of the shadows in the frame. The sign on the wall is also a bit distracting.