Boom Box


What a blast from the past this was! I haven’t seen a stereo like this in years, so you can imagine my surprise when I was biking home from work and saw this old thing lying by the side of the road about a hundred yards west of a drainage ditch. It practically screams 1997 with a CD player, tape deck, analog radio tuner, and even an FM antenna wrapped around the handle. Just seeing this thing brought up all kinds of memories from high school and sitting in my basement listening to music while playing Zelda: Link’s Awakening on my Game Boy.

When I first biked past it was cold and the sun was rapidly setting, so I made a mental note to bring my camera and get a picture of this music machine on the way to work the following day.I figured my Fuji X100F would be perfect for the picture though I thought about bringing one of my DSLRs, but the picture I was envisioning was really better suited to the lens on the Fuji as opposed to any of the lenses I have for my Nikons. I knew I wanted to get a shot of the stereo and some of the surrounding environment, and the Fuji along with my Gorillapod proved to be just the ticket.The next morning the boom box was still there so I parked my bike on the boulevard, got out the camera and tripod, and took a few minutes for indulging in my photography.

To get a really clean image I set the ISO to 200 (I normally use auto-ISO, max 6400 with minimum shutter speed of 1/125) and opened the aperture up to f/2.0, but also activated the ND filter so I could get a longer exposure of 1/2 second. I was hoping to get some light trails from passing vehicles and when I was satisfied that I got the image I was hoping for I packed up, pulled my gloves back on, and went on my way to work.However, while I was looking through the photos I noticed something that I did not expect. The image I envisioned, that of the stereo in the grass with car headlights in the background, was decent but it paled in comparison to the image I ended up selecting for this week. See for yourself:

Do you notice the difference? While the second shot does indeed have a mark of light on the left side, the entire picture feels dull and lifeless compared to the one at the top of the page. Unbeknownst to me, I had inadvertently taken a picture (that I ended up using) with an oncoming car behind me whose headlights were casting a really nice yellow glow on to the stereo. It gives the subject a sense of life and vibrancy that’s totally missing from the second image, and really goes to show how much lighting can impact the overall results of a photograph.

On my way home later that day the boom box was gone, perhaps picked up by a passer-by or maybe just thrown into the trash. Either way I’m glad I was able to capture it for one moment as a fun trip down memory lane.


  1. Rebecca Burlingham says

    Your image shows that lighting is everything.
    Btw, I haven’t seen any boom boxes, but the high school kids are very into collecting vinyl, which means they have record players. My daughter even asked for a cassette walkman for Christmas. They are starting to appreciate the vintage technology, at least the band geeks do.

    • That’s awesome Rebecca! Kids today with their cell phones and Spotify subscriptions will never know what we had to go through to listen to music back in the day, but it’s really neat that some of the kids you know (especially your daughter) are interested in vinyl and tape recorders! :)

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