Thursday, May 28, 2015

Recoding the DX Barcode for Automatic Film Cameras

The Nikon D80 is my primary digital camera, but I carry a Panasonic LX-5 when I need a more compact option. For example, when trail running, the little LX-5 is an awesome solution, one that enables me to document the scenes and experiences on my runs. I've carried a DSLR in a fanny pack before, but it's a bit cumbersome on longer runs.

My “go-to” film camera is a Nikon FM2 SLR. This has been my primary camera for the last few years, as I've been shooting film almost exclusively. I yearned for a "film LX-5" option -- for times when I wanted to shoot film, but didn't want to carry the FM2. I used to carry an Olympus Stylus point and shoot on backpacking trips back in the 1990's, but I hadn't shot it much since then. I dug through my boxes and brought the old Olympus out of retirement.

The Olympus Stylus is a fully automated point and shoot (i.e., an idiot camera), which doesn't allow the photographer any control over the settings. In addition to automatically setting the aperture and shutter speed, it reads the DX barcode from film canisters and automatically sets the film speed. This last feature caused me some heart-ache because I like to shoot Ilford XP2 Super 400 B&W film – and the film likes to be over-exposed by a stop. Shooting at box speed (ASA 400) usually yields muddy shadows.

Google to the rescue!

I searched the Internet and found a solution. Basically, I could modify the DX barcode on the film canister, so the camera thinks it's loaded with ASA 200 film instead of ASA 400 film – and it'll then over-expose the film by one stop. To do this, I followed the procedure at this website. Using a pocket knife, I scraped away the “black” areas in the barcode that needed to be removed and used black electrical tape where it needed to be added.

Here are a few photos from the Olympus Stylus, shooting Ilford XP2 Super 400 at ASA 200. Recoding the DX barcode seemed to work well. This would also be a great option when pushing film. I typically shoot Kodak BW400CN with the camera set to ASA 1600 and have the photo lab push process the film by two stops. If I ever wanted to shoot BW400CN in the Olympus Stylus, I would need to modify the DX barcode, so the camera thinks it's ASA 1600 film.

Trail near Maguire Peak in the Sunol Regional Wilderness

Trail sign near Maguire Peak in the Sunol Regional Wilderness

Future PGSL softball star

Thursday, May 21, 2015

PGSL Storm - 2015 Senior Division Runner-up

The sun traversed the evening sky, seeking shelter behind the Pleasanton Ridge; signaling the end of another day and the conclusion of another softball season. It's been less than twenty four hours since Storm played Adrenaline for the Pleasanton Girls Softball League (PGSL) Senior Division championship and I lay in bed, with feelings of pride, happiness, and sadness. We lost to a better team last night, but I'm proud of the way the girls played this year. The Storm always played hard, displayed great sportsmanship, and never quit.

The softball season, like life nowadays, seemed to pass by so quickly. I'll miss the excitement of the games, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and most of all, working with the outstanding young women on the team. I'll especially miss the high school seniors who graduate this year and will be moving on to tackle new challenges. I hope they take the positive life-lessons learned during their years in PGSL softball and use it as a foundation for future success in life. Sportsmanship, teamwork, dedication, hard-work, striving for success, and gracefully accepting defeat are a few of the important lessons softball (and all team sports) instill in our young women.

I'm already looking forward to the Spring of 2016. Another season will bring a fresh set of faces and a new set of personalities. After a few post-game beers last night, the head coach and I agreed to lead a team again next year. I can't wait...

2015 Storm - Second Place, PGSL Senior Division

The girls after the game. Win or lose, we wanted them to enjoy the championship game. I think we succeeded.

The Seniors: Mallory, Bianca, Lauren, Megan, and Jenny

Lauren played solid softball all season.

I loved the way the team bonded during the season.

Megan pitching in her final PGSL game.

Morgan was one of two Freshmen on the team this year. She has a bright future ahead of her.

Megan, Kennedy, and Kami.

Jenny and Megan.

The ASA umpires do a great job....when we agree with the call. ;-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Self Enlightenment

"You never know where enlightenment may come from. Be always open, on the lookout and ready for it. Usually it is a click, something which falls into place after a long time of gestation. The most unexpected event or person can trigger it off."

-- Robert Muller

After fifteen years of slaving away at a large telecommunications company, they rewarded me with a pink slip and a generous severance package. As a “glass half full” type of person, I saw this as an extremely positive event and an opportunity to pursue a new direction. The first few weeks of “freedom” were spent outdoors, hiking, running, and cycling. Removing the stress and strain of the daily grind provided the opportunity to clear my mind, and focus my thoughts on the right path ahead.

After weeks of thoughtful reflection, I finally understood how I wanted to fill the blank pages in a chapter waiting to be written. With great clarity, I determined I wanted to get back into the government sector, serving our country, and contributing to her security and defense. During my fifteen years in the corporate world, I often longed for the camaraderie, mission focus, and feeling of accomplishment I experienced during my time in the Air Force. While I cherish my experience in the private sector, my days of chasing the buck are hopefully over. I hope to work for an organization that makes decisions based on the needs of our country, rather than the need to meet quarterly revenue targets. I want to work for leaders looking out for our nation's security, rather than executives looking out for their own personal wealth.

It may take some time and perhaps some patience, but I hope to secure a new job that provides greater meaning to my existence. In the meantime, I will focus on the important tasks at hand – coaching my daughter's softball team, running the local trails, hiking, and catching up with old friends.