bookmark_borderBack to BASIC

I fancied doing some BASIC programming yesterday and wrote a prime sieve in PC-BASIC. It can list primes up to about 10,000 at a decent speed but struggles with larger numbers because of memory and data type limitations in BASIC. Here is a screenshot showing the program and its output.

Besides BASIC, other old computer tech has occupied my time lately. I run a VM with Red Hat Linux 4.2, which I first used in 1997, and code in C and C++ inside the VM. I also switched from the feature-rich GNOME desktop environment to the rudimentary Fvwm window manager.

My explanation for this trend is that I am rediscovering computers as a hobby, now that my new job does not require me to learn about them as an occupational necessity. I can enjoy using old operating systems and programming languages that I could not explore to sufficient depth as I speed-learnt to my present level. Take programming for example— I barely spent time coding in BASIC once I was comfortable with it and instead quickly moved on to Pascal, Clipper[1], Visual Basic, Java, and so on.

I suppose I am in a similar situation with my photography. From lusting for the latest digital cameras, I now take more pleasure from the slow and intentional motions involved in operating old film cameras.

Either it is that, or it is simply nostalgia showing my age.

[1] Clipper is the first language that I used for serious programming. I did my project for GCE O-Level Computer Studies with Clipper.

bookmark_borderPlaying with expired Ferrania Solaris 100 film

This evening I developed a roll of expired Ferrania Solaris 100 film, which I bought on eBay. It was ideal for testing because it had only 12 frames, which I could expose within a single day. In contrast, it usually takes months for me to finish a roll of 36 frames. The flowers that my mother and I planted came in as handy photo subjects, as did the fruit bowl.

These results are decent for a film expired in 2008 and developed with one-year-old chemicals. Conventional wisdom says that I should err on the side of overexposure when shooting film, which I did when the light-meter gave me values that I could not set on the Minolta X300 camera — for example, choosing 1/8-second shutter speed on the camera when the meter gives a 1/10-second reading — but I find the photos are too overexposed.

The same problem is present in some of the photos below, from another roll developed a couple of weeks ago. My Sekonic lightmeter is accurate, as tested with a Nikon DSLR, so I now worry that there might be a bit of shutter drag on this camera.

bookmark_borderThe things we do…

My mother loves gardening. So, during the week she was with us, she never stopped saying that we needed to plant flowers. But we are hopeless gardeners. Once, P put vegetable seeds in a pot, watered them with concentrated grow food, and declared the project a failure. As for me, I am disgusted by wet dirt.

Still, my mother convinced me to do some garden work. Under her supervision, I cut off branches from the solitary Christmas tree that we allowed to grow into a giant problem. She even made me commit the sin of operating a chainsaw from the top of a stepladder. Somehow, I regained my senses and rejected further requests to work at greater heights. But after the effort, I had to admit my pleasure at downgrading the Christmas tree problem to “future concern”.

Then, for two days we watched my mother pull out weeds as a substitute for tending flowers. It was such a sorry sight that we finally relented and went shopping for flower plants. Back home, I forked my good lawn to prepare a flower bed. The next morning, she was up very early to start her gardening. When she had planted all the flowers, she did the same with the lucky vegetable seedlings that had survived P’s experiment.

My mother has now gone to my sister’s, leaving me with instructions for looking after the plants until she returns. Seeing how much she enjoyed tending the modest flower bed, I feel a huge responsibility and do not want to disappoint. So, it has now become an after-work habit for me to stick my finger into wet dirt to check for moisture, to water plants, and to pull out weeds with my bare hands.

bookmark_borderHurting in Bordeaux

I am typing this in Bordeaux, after spending a few hours refurbishing laptops handed back to me by my sister-in-law before she leaves France. She and P are shopping on Rue Sainte-Catherine.

On my last trip to Bordeaux, I was ill — apparently from an unusual consumption of Bordeaux’s fine wines — and spent the last two days in bed. As this trip ends, it seems that I am unfortunate once more: this time, I have a sprained ankle. Somehow, between climbing into bed, after returning from a meal at Alfama, and waking up, I injured myself. I can’t think how this is even possible. The ankle is not swollen, but it is very sensitive to touch and cannot bear weight. Which is why I am cleaning laptops indoors when the weather outside is so inviting.

I hope that I am well enough to visit Jardin Public and Le Lac for photography tomorrow. But, it does not look good, with the pain still felt this late in the day. Never mind the worry of lugging our suitcases on the tram to the airport, I just wish for the chance to enjoy our last day in Bordeaux.

bookmark_borderScratched that itch

The sky looked right for the pictures I had planned for Saint Georges cemetery. I was anxious about going there by myself, because the location is supposedly dangerous. But I have been around Cassis and have driven by the cemetery enough times to know that it is mostly exaggeration.

Still I wanted to not hang around too long. I got out of the car, found the spots to match my visualisations, measured the light, retrieved the camera from the boot, set the camera exposure, set the camera on the tripod, focused, and pressed the trigger button. The pictures came out exactly as I expected.

I then drove to Les Salines to check out the evening atmosphere in the garden. The sky was even more dramatic, and I could not let the opportunity pass. The last picture, from there, was not planned, so… meh.

bookmark_borderBain Boeuf

Bain Boeuf beach has had a nice upgrade. The ground leading to the sea has been terraced into multiple levels, each dotted with benches and shady plants. Vehicle access is now restricted to two parking areas, and there is also a public toilet that seems to be well kept.

The water still isn’t the best for swimming, but the new amenities make the place great for picnics.

bookmark_borderHappy New Year 2023

A friend on Facebook posted a meme depicting this year 2023 as an ominous fog enveloping a wooden rope suspension bridge, of which we can only see the first few uninviting joists. Even if that is an unfortunate reflection of my own mood, I wish good health and happiness to everyone.

* * *

The office closed on 23rd December, and I spent the rest of 2022 recovering from working long hours in the last week. As my one-month sabbatical starts, I want to realise photo ideas, to visit places, to see friends and relatives, and to take care of personal business. Things go slow in Mauritius, so if we don’t manage our time carefully, I might not be able to do everything.

* * *

This blog seems to have taken a photography theme, and I’ll run with it for now—

Over the last week, I played with my brother-in-law’s Canon EOS 40D DSLR camera. It was an interesting discovery. Compared to my Nikon D200, the Canon seems to do more through soft controls and menus, which forces me to take my eyes off the viewfinder. For example, on the Nikon, I can change ISO setting by pressing the ISO button and rotating a wheel until the correct ISO shows in the finder; on the Canon, I have to press the ISO button, then look at the screen to select the correct value. Similarly, to set the timer on the Canon, I have to press the drive button, then look at the screen again to choose the timer option; on the Nikon, I only have to rotate the function wheel to the timer function.

Of course, this opinion is based on my first experience with a Canon camera – and an old model at that. But, overall, it was nice to use a different camera. My nephew, who is all about fashion when he isn’t absorbed in TikTok or Fortnite, wanted some photos. His request was a good opportunity to test the Canon.

* * *

I also took a couple of shots from the rooftop.

bookmark_borderA great week-end it was

I took these photos while we toured the western and southern parts of the island last Saturday. I avoided using the Nikon D300, because it was in the way too much to be fun. Instead, I leaned on my old Windows Phone. (I believe it is Saint-Felix beach in the first three pictures. But let me know if I’m wrong.)

The next day, our rented car was returned to us after its engine was fixed. We drove to the local beach in the evening, and I got to indulge in some proper photography.

Before heading home, my nephew and I had fun doing some light-painting. He was a good sport, running back and forth as my assistant to help me get these photos.