Thursday, August 21, 2014

Snail...

Activities to the minimum and I'm seriously growing sick of summer here. It was my birthday last Sunday, and to pamper myself a bit I had my last "casual" day - but that didn't keep me away from my duties with Mom of course. Next day directly, had a fight with the security in the damned place I call "work". Not bad for a new year of my life I guess...

Golden Crop

I was supposed to talk about this like 2 weeks ago but totally forgot about it, amid all the fuss in my brain going on. It is an Action which can be installed and used in Photoshop to help on with cropping in various methods; mainly, thirds, golden ratio, golden spiral, diagonal method, and triangular method (which is new to me!).

General view for all the methods posted on top of each other using Golden Crop action.

This action is to help people using Photoshop editions before C6 (or was it CC?). As far as I know newer editions have these methods implemented in the Crop tool. You can download it here from Damian Sepczuk's website. Damian provided instructions on how to install the action and use it, as well as a plea for a donation. I would encourage the reader of these lines to give a little - after using the action I do really appreciate Damian's work and sent out a little donation. He deserves it.
One note though worth mentioning here, that the guide lines (made by paths as in vectors) are flexible and do not have fixed ratio. Stating this, it is a fact that the Golden Spiral rule is based on φ:1 ratio for the frame, while most photos nowadays use 4:3 or 3:2 ratios (in landscape orientation, with WxH order). It might be a good idea to crop the canvas size (by using Canvas Size command, or directly by Alt+Ctrl+C) before doing the Golden Spiral when needed. Usually this is done by changing the height to some value that  makes the ratio to the width equals φ, or the Golden Ratio. Mathematically, that would be:

H = W÷1.618 ;

where H is the height we need to find, and W is the width of the image, and 1.618 is the first few digits of the golden ratio. I usually prefer to work in millimeters when doing these calculations to be more precise (and because dimensions in pixels do not accept fractions). This is only a suggestion of course, and the golden spiral would still work and stretch according to your own dragging.

After 34

Just as it was my birthday, I decided to do some selfies, to be the first self portraits done in my own year; my 34th. As most people in my circle know probably, I was never fond of portraiture; it needs some steep education for me. Anyway, decided to improvise something with my two speedlites (580EX II and 430EX II). I didn't have much options with settings within the room, thus I was forced to make the curtains as my background, and instead of using the usual 50mm prime lens, I had to use my Sigma 70-300mm, at 70mm mostly. Somehow the shooting was easy, but the tedious work was still to be done after upload. The speedlites on the other hand were a dilemma.

Schizophrenic
Sigma 70-300mm @70mm,
f/16, 250-1, ISO200.
Generally, the distance from the camera wasn't a big deal, nor the position was. All I had to do is increase the depth (f/16) and sit the focusing distance to some suitable number (which was between 2 and 3 meters here; ~ 6-9ft), and the position was set simply by standing in front of the yellow flashing light of the timer on the front of the camera. The trick was to place the speedlites. One speedlite was pointed to a car shade (with matte silver finish) on my left, and the second one was bounced off the roof to give some hair light. The location this second light was a bit cumbersome and felt it didn't give much bouncing - thus, I've attached it to a monopod and raised the monopod to the highest to make it as close as possible to the roof. There were some minor changes now and then and the majority of the effect was done in processing in fact and not solely by the speedlites, as you can see in Schizophrenic. Funny thing is, I was holding the car shade here as it fell down before the timer is over and the shot is taken.
Cyborg
My editing drill went further as to create a monster actually! The idea was simply to make black and white image with high contrast, but things developed slowly to be the way you see it in Cyborg. It wasn't planned at all. The green color was formed when I actually gave a slight blue tint for the black and white image, and then used the Selective Color tool to manage the grey level (and probably added some yellow there) and ta da! A monster is born! But I have to say that, in general, the shoot was a failure somewhat because I couldn't manage the speedlites correctly. This is mainly a result of not having a vision for the outcome ahead. On the other hand, there is a problem with light modifiers somewhat, like not having umbrellas and large soft boxes. Anyway, I'm not planning to get those as it is not my field of expertise at the moment. It was fun doing it anyway! And finally there was this one shot which was without any special effect, but the irony is, the light distribution wasn't good, and thus I had to balance it by processing.

TJ

Finale

Not much activities to be seen, and I'm not expecting it to change in the near future with this summer and busy mind. I'm really looking forward to just relax and chill with the increase in disrespect from my workplace. I'm trying to measure up my options with actions to take or possible with other sources of income to make. The scientific community in this country is absolutely a null and dull and worthy of nothing. I can't really find what is so special about my job, and any other administrative job around the place.
All what I'm waiting for now is my vacation, with some worries about Mom's care. I barely can bear with the idea of depending on someone else to do "my" job. Otherwise, I'm just hoping with this vacation things will be rejuvenated inside me, and maybe some of my problems are vanished...




Thursday, August 7, 2014

How do you see it?

It's Idle time here. I gave myself a "vacation" from blogging last week for the Eid holiday. Not much has been going on except for some shots done in the family gathering - and they were not as vibrant as the years before. I, in fact, spent many days in the holiday sleeping for long hours (8 to 10 hours a day!). I guess I'm compensating for all the sleeping problems I've faced during Ramadhan. Meanwhile, I decided to do a little study on some aspect of tone-splitting technique. This study is not scientific in any way, but it is mainly observational to take some notes. I wonder though if there is a way to "scientify" this process after all.

Vergleichung

Since I've been working in Tone-splitting techniques for some time, I wanted to test some matters related to it. Yet, I'm not sure how to make a scientific and bold approach to such matter, since they are artistic in the first place. Thus, the sole reasoning in this experiment is done by heart and feelings initiated by eyes vision. The task here is to investigate the relation between luminance colors and their usage in tone-splitting process; how would they appear and feel when used as one of the tones in the process. But before going through rummaging, I will talk a bit about the process.

Concept
In the beginning, the general idea here is to use 2 colors: a specific chosen color from part of the image, and its complimentary color. Now, these two colors can be bright and dull sometimes, according to how we see it, but the main question was, how to specify this? What makes a color lustrous more than the other? If we have two complimentary colors, they are just opposites on color circle, and the difference between the two is barely in the Hue value, while Saturation and Brightness (or Lightness) have the same value. After searching around and with the help of the colors websites I have at hand, I've found out that the most adequate tool to compare these two is by checking their CIE-LAB values (LAB for short) - and more specifically, the "L" value (which stands for Luminance).

Portion from ColorHexa website showing the LAB values (in Red). The Luminance value which I've used for comparison between colors marked in blue.

After doing some experiments and comparing various colors, seems my guessing was right: The "L" value is indeed responsible for how "bright" the color is as we see it. So, what now?

Work
The work now was to choose a specific color. In the beginning, I was kind of in dilemma for what color should I choose in each image, as I didn't want to make the whole set is based on two complimentary colors alone - but it should be something of general concept. In the beginning, I tried to use the Average Blur command which makes an average of all the pixels in the image into one color. Sounded a good idea, but unfortunately, the colors resulting from this process were mostly dull and with low L-value, and their complimentary colors have the same characteristics. Thus, I had to do it in the usual manner as I usually do the tone splitting process for some of my images; by picking a lighted area in the image itself and analyze its color, and then pick the complimentary for that color. The two are used then to do the usual job of tone-splitting for the image.
I won't go on with the manual procedure of tone-splitting with the images, but to make things standard as much as possible, the random-picked images were turned into Black and White and using Maximum White preset (which can be found in the menu of the command in Photoshop). This preset sets all values for all tones to 100. Usually in my regular work in tone splitting I would play around with these values to pronounce specific details more than the others, but since I'm going to test several random images here, it is better to make something as a basic procedure.
Now according to these procedures and after picking a color and its complimentary color from the available colors in the image itself, we are in front of two cases, which I called "AB" and "BA" for easiness and affluence, where:
  •  AB: The color of the higher luminance is assigned to the highlights, and the colors of the low luminance is assigned to the shadows.
  •  BA: The opposite of the above; the low luminance color is assigned to the highlights of the image, while the color of high luminance is assigned to the shadows.
Thus, for each image picked here, we have two cases; one for AB and one for BA.

The Images
The images for the test are picked randomly, from various folders and years. Nothing specific was set to be looking for; simply random. The images are below and they are minimized. You can click any for a bit larger view. The total is 12 images.














Observation
After checking for myself with these twelve images (which is not enough in fact), I've made a simple statistical count:
AB preferred:  58.3%
BA preferred: 16.6%
Undecided: 25%

I can't surely say that having a luminance color to be taking the place of highlights is a sure thing, but I would say that with the abundance of highlights in some image, and placing a luminous color when splitting the tones in place of the highlights, that would make pretty much a bright image to the extent that, sometimes, it eclipses the complimentary color given for the shadows - thus, probably in such instances of abundant highlight, the AB type is not advisable. On the other hand, the colors chosen would play a great role, but in this instance it is all the role of taste. Those 25% of the undecided, might be so for compositional factors I presume, or ought to a balance in the overall highlights and shadows in the image, making the eye sight torn in between elements of the image without really residing on a specific element. This is all I could think of in the time being, but sure it doesn't end here. I'm wondering what would the next step be? More experimenting? Notice that all of this experiment, from A to Z, is based on color and complimentary color relation - there are other schemes to be investigated as well. Anyway, for the time being maybe I can put a guide line for myself in the matter of tone-splitting which might go like:
In tone-splitting process, the color of the highest luminance, or "L" value in LAB system, is to be assigned to the highlights, and its complimentary would be assigned to the shadows, providing that highlights do not overwhelm shadows in the image. And that is a starting point for creating and contrasty and easy-to-notice image.
And more testing should be coming on the way.

Finale

I was supposed to have some rest in this month, regarding my workplace which made it easy with the fingerprint attendance process. However, on Wednesday, I've received some letter asking that I should be doing the fingerprint attendance again after being told that I do have a exclusion permit till the end of the month. Such news really rose my blood pressure levels and added 10 more points to the scale of how much I do hate administrators and this workplace specifically. This, specifically, is an addition for really disrespecting this place even more. I just wish it is September already and I'm ready to go away from this trash just to smell some fresh air in Ireland.

On the other hand, I've checked out for another appointment for my eyes examination instead of the one which was during Ramadhan and I didn't attend. Even though it could have been in the next week but I told the nurse to put it some time in November. The appointment is supposed to take place on November 16th. A special date if you ask me!

Source: Amazon
Book-wise, I've finally finished the optics book, which was small and old, but HUGE in its content of information. Of course most of the techniques mentioned in this book are, probably, obsolete by now, but the information mentioned here are nevertheless pretty much valuable. The book is direct and highly technical without much theory. I like such books. That doesn't mean I don't encourage reading theoretical books as well, but too much theory without a real scope on how to use such a theory in a proper and physical manner to be beneficial can almost be in vain.
Source: Amazon
Now, I've moved to the next book on the queue line, Archaeology Essentials. According to the introduction, it seems to be a "student" edition, or the type taught in colleges. Sounds good. I've gone through few pages so far and I like it. It is indeed concerned about Archaeology rather than sociological issues like the last book I've read. That book was somewhat a disappointment. I don't think I can finish this book in just a month, thus I think it will be my companion when I head to Ireland hopefully.

For now, I've stopped my extreme macro experiments. I still do have problems in lighting opaque subjects from the front, and I couldn't come up with a proper solution specially with my slow progress and my lessened attention to this matter. For this reason I've decided to stop it for now and think of some real photography to do in the few coming days, when possible.

My life looks like been punched with one big vacuum in the middle. Missing out some elements which are hard to be found any where, any time soon. All what I'm hoping for for the time being is to have one nice vacation. If someone doesn't feel bright about work, and doesn't feel at home in home, where would one go? I wonder...









Thursday, July 24, 2014

Extrema II

Not much is happening this week I guess. Except for some, maybe, panic attacks and fatigue? Well, temperatures are noticeably down these days, but still in the 40osC range. Probably this is happening because of the low traffic congestion during Ramadhan in general. I'm waiting for the month to be over with by next week to gain back my normal pace, and sleep (which then was screwed already!).
I've passed this week trying to find out  a good subject for my new macro "thrill" but didn't find much to do actually except of two substances which aren't much of "wonderful" nature, so to say. I can't deny the fact that I'm still greedy for more in terms of magnification. It would be a wonderful thing to work out with my old microscope (which has x100 magnification capability) and take pictures directly from there. For this reason, I do plan to look for some glass plates which are used to settle the samples for the microscope examination. I believe I can project the image on some white screen of some sort and take a picture then - this is beside the capability of rigging the camera with the microscope with some adapters but this is a costly solution for now I believe and not worthy the time consumption. Better start easy first. Now with the two simple subjects...

White cardboard.

The first attempt was by using a white cardboard or something of this sort. I usually use these as reflectors when I use my flashes. The subject is translucent and not completely opaque as it appears to the naked eye. I was afraid though that the heat from the 80W floodlight on its back with such a short distance would burn it, but things went well after all. The image was taken at ISO800 and for a second or two using Bulb mode. Nothing much to be done with the image anyway, since it is random and no value for colors even, but only a slight noise reduction. Yet, the challenge was not in at this particular moment.

Carbon Pill

The real challenge was to take a shot of this carbon pill (used to resolve some digestive problems). The pill here is opaque and no hope in lighting it through, which means dropping the light from the front. After tiresome trial and error process, I positioned the floodlight on the top with around 45 degrees angle which shined a bit. The problem is I don't have any carrier, so I had to hold the light with my own hands and also fixing the focus (by adjusting the macro rail that carries the sample). Thus, using both hands to do three tasks (lighting, focusing, shooting) was a complete mess. his triggers me to think of some way to carry this light when needed, and also to think of some way to hold the sample in front of the camera since I'm working horizontally now and not hanging the camera vertically like before (as a microscope).

This is all what I could come up with in this week, but there is a lot of work in B&W and Tone splitting on the side. Tone splitting specifically is opening a gate for me for studying colors and their relations with each other, and indeed, I do have an idea in my mind right now but I need to think it thorough to see how to apply and compare the results. The colors websites are opening a new venture and making things a bit easier. My main idea is of the relation between highlights and shadows, and the corresponding colors which are assigned to them in the process of tone splitting. Anyway, this might be in details for another post later.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Extrema…

Well, the matters had officially went into a disaster zone. It official now that I do have a sleeping crisis, which makes my "whole" life is idle. Well, in case I can call it a "life" anyway. Not only I've skipped my eye appointment on 13th, but I had to stop writing my Arabic blog for some time and I'm seriously considering making it on a monthly basis, for the lack of topics so far and the hardship in organizing my thoughts. Needless to say how that affected my other projects as well concerning Languages and Conlangs. All what comes to my mind right now is sleep, sleep, and more sleep.

Extreme

They say we had a "supermoon" this week, specifically on July 12th. It did sound like a good idea to try out my Rokinon mirror lens of 800mm, with two 2x teleconverters (for a total of 3200mm). However, and pardon me, just thinking about working in this weather and heat (even at night) with my cumbersome schedule now, did sound more like a fantasy! And with "fantasy" I mean something to be found in children's book or Hollywood movies.
Rokinon 800mm mirror lens.
Source: B&H
Instead of doing this astro-adventure, I thought for a moment about the possibility of doing an extreme macro experiment with this mirror lens like I used to do with other telephoto lenses before. If we combine 800mm with 2 teleconverters (2x each) then we are assuming that total focal length is 800x2x2 = 3200mm. Now, if we combine a 50mm lens in reverse to this combination, we are supposed to get 64x magnification (3200/50=64). Logically, this is supposed to mean that 1mm dot in reality, should be projected as 64mm on the sensor (or 6.4cm, 2.5in). Despite my trials, the situation was hard to achieve mainly because of the design of the Rokninon mirror lens. This lens resembles the catadioptric telescope in its design and the large difference in the diameter of the objective (the front of the lens) made it hard to combine another lens in reverse. Even though I tried to place the 50mm lens in front of it to some distance and covering the gab with black cloth to block the light. Here, I was working in horizontal manner instead of hanging the camera high up as before and dangling it over the specimen. Anyway, It was hard to work that way and technically nothing was to be gained from such setting. I had to go around it in some way. The answer to the problem then knocked into my brain with Tamron 70-300mm, which is damaged and lying around, and another (useless) lens in my pack; the old Canon EF-S 18-55mm.

The final setting. Teleconverters and not shown here.
Click to Enlarge.

I didn't want to use my Sigma 70-300mm here. It's relatively new and I didn't use it often. It has a better glass quality compared to the cheap Tamron, but I don't want to risk it in such setting. According to calculations, Tamron at 300mm plus two x2 teleconverters should yield a total of 1200mm. When combined with 18-55mm at 18mm in reverse, then the magnification should be (supposedly): 1200/18=66.66x, or approximately 67x. Meaning, 1mm dot would be projected on the sensor as 67mm (6.7cm, 2.6in), which is slightly more than what has been calculated in the previous proposed setting (of 800mm mirror lens and 50mm lens in reverse). This case was easier to be done as you can see from the image above. I had to spend some considerable time trying to improvise a way to hold the sample in this experiment and to provide a strong light source at its back (I tried to cast the light from the front but to no avail). Focusing is pretty delicate so I used the macro rail to move the sample in some way, and I ended up using the Bulb mode and managing the time empirically without doing any calculations. Just trial and error. Maybe with some considerable time, I can enhance this setting.
Manfrotto telephoto support
Source: B&H
The good thing about the horizontal position is that the weight and the pulling force on the camera's body (the lenses consequently) is significantly small, while the whole system was carried by Manfrotto's telephoto lens support. Usually it is a problem because in many occasions this support would make moving the focusing ring (or even zooming) cumbersome, but it's not a problem here because everything is set and the lenses are not supposed to be touched. The only thing to change here is the macro rail distance to move the specimen. I had some problems with the rail itself too, since the screw to move the rail was knocking on the lens' front - but the focusing required kept this screw away from the front for some considerable distance. Anyway, that doesn't mean it might not be a problem in the future!

Results

The results were not much of artistic nature nor a clear variety. But it's a beginning. Probably if the lenses' qualities were better the images would have been better? Who knows!

Sun Side
Shade Side

Shooting in RAW is absolutely a must here. Using a remote and a portable monitor is also a must. In using Bulb mode in the camera, the LiveView (which is transmitted to the portable monitor) mimics the light conditions a bit to see through what to focus on, but this is of course in no way the final result to be expected - Bulb mode is about arbitrary timing. This is one of the benefits for working in Bulb mode in such a situation because using other modes like Av would make it hard to mimic the light. ISO-wise, I think it's hard to expect something below ISO400. Long exposure can be done but it's not advisable I'd say - we need to do shots fast relatively to avoid any sudden shake.
It is a common practice in (regular) macro to use a stop around f/8 and more to gain some acceptable depth of field. Here, however, I don't think this rule of thumb holds - in fact I'm not even sure if a higher stop would do any good, but anyway I used the highest f-stop possible. It is recorded as f/72 but this is a false reading because Vivitar's teleconverter doesn't communicate information with the camera's body. Thus, by re-calculating the f-number under the new focal length (1200mm), the value should be around f/128. You can see from the images above that even such depth is not really strong enough which makes me suspicious about the usefulness of raising the f-stop here. If using a low f-stop would yield almost same results, then it might be fit for this experiment to allow more light in and make my life easier!!!

φ

Been some time trying to polish some simple mathematics in my brain. I didn't use my brain in a while! It had been a while now as I was trying to find some relation between the rule of thirds (ROT) and the rule of golden spiral (RGS) in terms of the difference between the two "power point" in both systems.
One of the major difficult points here is that the two systems are adapted for different ratios of frame. Previously, I've worked with a frame of 3:2 ratio, as it is the ratio usually adapted for most cameras nowadays. However, it was a bit cumbersome in terms of some mathematical identities, thus I've decided to work with φ:1 ratio and adapt the results I could get as an approximation. Numerically, the (3:2) ratio is equivalent to 1.5, while (φ:1) ratio is equivalent to 1.618, meaning a difference of around 0.1 unit; I guess something that can be neglected.


In the beginning I had to use an approximation for the power point in RGS, which I've found in this page. As can be seen in the page, the power point or the center of the spiral can approximated by two diagonals: one for the whole frame, and one for the smaller rectangle after rectangle rabatment (marked with the blue line). The ROT is marked with red lines. The segment I'm seeking here is SG and the angle θ. One of the good points about having such ratio for the frame is that the ratios AB:AG, and AG:AB is equal to the golden ratio: φ. This postulate makes it easier to do some mathematics here. Well, not going to list everything done here, but it turns out that:
  • The angle (θ) is equal to -31.72o. The negative sign is to mark it as going under the x-axis. This angle would of course change by changing the location and perspective (in relation to the x-axis); it would be positive if the power point under inspection is the top right one, and it would be 180±31.72o for the left side.
  • The segment under question, SG, is approximately equal to [(φ-1)√(1+φ2)], or it can be marked as [φ-1√(1+φ2)]. This is because (φ) as a numerical value is equal to (1.618), and consequently: (φ-1) and φ-1 are both equal to approximately (0.618). Going further with more decimals seems unnecessary in this occasion.
  • Numerically now, the segment SG is approximately equal to (1.176), or expanded little bit it would be (1.1755).
What I'm hoping for is to use this simple information item in various settings, like in the camera's LiveView for example, or in Photoshop itself, even though I heard that newer versions have several systems implemented for cropping. I'm not sure how I'm going to do this, specially in Photoshop, but it surely needs a lot of experimenting with various photos. Another interesting method would be the diagonal method, which was developed (or discovered) by the Dutch artist Edwin Westhoff. The Diagonal Method specifically is well suited for 3:2 frame. Would be interesting to see this kind of grid available for work in the coming generations of digital cameras.

Finale

Here I am, just waiting for the month of Ramadhan to pass. It's not something weird to happen in fact; I do suffer from insomnia and sleeping problems all year long and it doubles every Ramadhan almost, but the thing is different now with extra annoyances at work, and a tiresome body. I think this is what they mean by "getting older".
When this is all over, there is so much to do as well. Schedule a new appointment if possible, and prepare for my travel. Though I need such a travel to rest my mind a bit and enjoy my photography, I do wish if I was accompanied by someone. Someone special...


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mono, Duo, Tri, Quad!

One third of Ramadhan is gone by now - and things are tightening on my schedules and life pace. I literally spend most of my time sleeping or trying to catch on my sleep; specifically at work! Even though I used to fast before Ramadhan already, Ramadhan becomes an issue. Always.
For this reason, I didn't have much to do with my camera, but I did some experiments eventually and some of them are still on going.

Duo

In the process of doing more studies with the tone splitting technique, I've re-visited a mode provided in Photoshop, along the RGB and CMYK; the Duotone mode.
This mode in fact provides several modes in it: Mono-, Duo-, Tri-, and Quadtone. Each mode provides a specific number of tones to be implied to the image and in that sense, it is a step further from tone splitting. Further more, for each tone, the control of the "amount" of the tone is a bit decisive.

The Duotone mode window in Photoshop. Here, Quadtone is picked from the menu,
allowing for 4 colors to be mixed.

There are some awkward features for this mode of course, like the fact that to convert the image into it, you have to pass by the Grayscale mode first. Thus, converting directly might hinder the user cuffed with the tone distribution before doing Duotone. Probably it would be better to use the Black and White adjustment layer first to control the tones and THEN convert to Grayscale mode - this is if it was necessary of course. It seems, however, that controlling the tones in this mode is actually a control of the levels of "ink" for printing this image itself. This is what I perceived when I did a little research online about this mode. This makes it harder to control, unlike the easy way to do it in the RAW editor or by laying out layers in a Photoshop process - because in this process or in the RAW Editor, the thing under control mainly is the distribution of the tone to highlights and shadows, and its intensity.

Doppelganger
Duotone: Shamrock Green, Black.
One of the interesting features as well is the Overprint Colors, which is somewhat like a control for how to interpret the merging of two tones together. Of course it's going to be a tedious task in case of Quadtone (4 tones) but it's worth the study to gain more perception of what related colors could do. This is a nice instance for using Colors Schemes, which are groups of related colors that can be found and deduced using many websites like ColorHexa and ColorHexCode. Such groups can be, for example, analogous colors, or tetradic colors. The other awkward feature here is that a file done in Duotone cannot be saved in a proper common format, like JPEG or even TIFF. It must be saved in one of Photoshop's own formats like: PSD, PSB, RAW and EPS. Note here that "RAW" is not the conventional camera RAW, but it's Photoshop's RAW format (which I don't exactly know how it works or what is it). EPS is a vector format, while PSD and PSB are the usual conventional Photoshop Document format. Here, Doppelganger, was done in Duotone using a color named Shamrock Green (Hex: #009E60) with Black. To save the image for displaying it here, I had to roll back the mode to RGB and save the image as JPEG. This, I think, produced some artifacts and banding (specially in the background in the blurred green plant area). Controlling the curves of tones for each tone of those was really a rough job to do with delicate observation to see where there are issues of banding and such. That was only for two tones, so imagine the work for a quad!

Luster

My sole work this week with the camera was to give it a try and do some commercial-like shooting for this piece of jewellery which I got for my niece for her coming birthday on the 23rd. The piece is silver-made and this put on a bit of dilemma on the choice of the white balance to work with.

Right: Flash WB. Left: Fluorescent WB.

Most of the people whom I asked did actually pick the bluish tint. However, one or two persons picked the adjusted or corrected form (i.e. Flash WB) because this shows and emphasizes the blue stone in the middle. They have their point of course. I decided to work with the blue tint but I've found myself working more with the adjusted level because it gives more luster to the metal work and it gives more shine (beside contrasting the blue stone of course).

Close Look
Sigma 70-300mm @180mm,
f/6.3, 250-1sec, ISO200.
In the beginning I was planning to take a picture of the whole earring, but then I realized that this approach would take up the fine details of the craft done to the silver itself. Thus, I moved on to using a telephoto lens, namely Sigma 70-300mm, with the help of extension tubes to allow me to stay close to the piece (closest focusing distance for this lens is around 1.5m, or around 5 ft). I admit, my work was pretty quick and filled with errors, like not cleaning the piece (you can see the blue stone being dusty little bit). The background is a black cloth (which I got back to do some scanography experiments) and from which I hung the earrings. This background is not suitable but I had nothing better to use; the texture was pretty annoying and could not be removed. A black metallic surface would probably be better.
The work of the speedlites (580EXII and 430EXII) was experimental, and at some point I used the on-camera flash as well to give a frontal light to shine on the blue stone specifically. Not bad I believe, but I didn't achieve still what I was aiming for: a gem sparkle. I think I had here a conflict of interests; a wide aperture to blur the background, while I do need a narrow aperture to achieve a sparkle effect. I gave up that idea anyway. Light from 580EXII was concentrated using a mesh on snoot, while 430EXII was reflected off a shiny surface (car windshield shade). When all was set, I decided to add some light from the front (and the position of the 580EXII with the snoot was changed repeatedly), this was done by the on-camera flash with a slight power. All work was done wirelessly; obviously I was lazy to use some wires here and there! After all, there was no need for it really - it would be essential if I wanted to go beyond the sync speed of 1/250 seconds. Only then, a cord to connect the speedlite and the camera is essential.

Silver x Blue

The interesting experiment was still to come. I decided to go extremely macro and placed 50mm lens with 20mm+36mm tubes. The significance here is that I managed to take 3 images in vertical order and then merge them like a panorama (in PTGui). I'm not sure if I can say it is a macro panorama for this though! Since it was just an experiment, I didn't take the whole jewellery piece into consideration but merely some portion mimicking an abstract sense and feel.
For some time, a software, namely PhotoAcute, is used to process several images to produce on high resolution image (beside other uses). Even though it is still a useful software, but in this process of taking several images with some distance and stitching them, the resolution of the overall image was boosted from 18MP (if we assumed the same framing) to around 26MP, and if I managed to take more shots, I believe it would be boosted more. The only problem with this method is the movement of the camera itself; If things are to be done in a proper manner, something should be automated here or systematized: either the camera movement, or the object itself. In my shot for Silver x Blue, the camera was moved slightly up and down with the use of the central column of the tripod; sluggish movement but did the job. If I was to take more precise images at such macro level, I would probably try to do it in a different way. The final image is composed of 3 shots, with 30 seconds each, and because no speedlites were used here, there was actually some slight green tint caused by the surrounding walls as it seems. Some editing reduced this tint and, again, despite adding a slight blue cast but with contrast and other edits and adjustments, the silver turned almost neutral like before. Glamor effect helped on showing some luster as well. All what is left, is to hope this shot is to be considered for addition into some stock websites!

Twirl

I've been trying, for some time, to study the relation between the rule of thirds and the golden spiral concept in terms of the placement of the "power points" in each system. This is to help me with framing with the camera, which doesn't have a spiral system but only a regular grid and a rule of thirds grid (in its LiveView mode). The main point here is to find a basis for the difference between one power point in one system and the other.
I have to say that I've failed here so far, and probably I have to polish my geometrical concepts a bit; didn't use those much since college days! Anyway, there is one key difference between the two and for which I had to rely on some approximations, and that is: the golden spiral rule depends on a rectangle drawn with the golden ratio (given the symbol φ), while the rule of thirds as it is in the camera, based on the ratio of 3:2. I'm not sure yet what kind of results I'm trying to find out but I'm still working on it and hopefully I can share some thoughts about it!

Finale

I have here some appointments that I guess I have to skip. Clinics should really stop giving appointments in Ramadhan - the schedule is just unbelievable. I think I will re-schedule this appointment (supposedly to be on 13th) and I hope it won't clash with my travel to Ireland; otherwise, I have to cancel, again!
My reading process is going slowly as well, and despite this book being small, it surely is rich in information! I'm glad I bought this book really. However, it needs some careful reading still to gain a firm understanding of how optics work. Too bad that I can't do the experiments mentioned practically myself, thus I have to depend solely on my imagination for this matter. There is a book about archaeology still waiting for me and, if I was lucky, might take it with me to Ireland to read at any point.

Everything is going slowly here. Needless to say how my life goes as well anyway. Dying to head to Ireland by every single passing day, where I can have some fresh air, and some clear mind and some more photos and nicer weather. The air is getting heavier to breathe here. I get a wave of panic from time to time but no obvious reason but simply like that. It's annoying. It's a killer.




Thursday, July 3, 2014

Back to Abstract...

Sluggish and slow; this is how my life is going right now amid such heat and fast. Despite the fact that I do fast before Ramadhan itself, but Ramadhan timing and schedules always keep me far away from catching up with activities, as I try as hard as possible to keep my timings constant as in regular days.
I've also discovered that I do an appointment with the eye doctor in July 13th. Naturally, I have to give up this appointment and plan for another date. I've been told to go and change it as of nowadays, but even that is hard to do; with my duties to care for Mom's dialysis trips and arranging and taking care of my own business with my own projects (which are really important for me now more than work itself), I find it hard to just go there - needless to talk about the "crappy" conditions in that place and the shifting in working hours during Ramadhan. I go to work in early morning as in regular days, which makes everything slow for my own pace with life; everything else would start hours after the regular working hours.

Back to Work

Because of the idle time with my camera lately, I've been working mostly on old pictures and experimenting with tone-splitting as can be seen in previous posts. However, I decided to take my camera to work for some days just in hope to capture something (beside the trash that decorates the entrance).
Nothing much to be expected from my work place except for abstracts. I believe the fact that I've been sick of this place lately makes my eyes really not responsive to the environment in that place, but I had to try anyway.

Raumzeit
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8, 500-1sec, ISO200.

One of the places most visited around my workplace is one corner which I've shot many times, and even tried to do a vertical panorama in that place. This time now, I've tried to shoot at this corner with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens at f/8. The distance to the wall from where I was standing was less than a meter, if not half a meter (~3ft, ~1.5ft respectively). Even though the shot was in portrait orientation, there is one option in Canon EOS 7D which enables the user to turn on and off the automatic rotation of images, and this option is turned off because it can cause me some problems when doing panoramas, specifically for the zenith and nadir shots. Thus, when I sorted out the images later on, it seemed to be that Raumzeit is better to be in landscape orientation instead. The term Raumzeit translates as "space-time" and it is a term used in physics in relation to the principle of Relativity. Without going deep into this matter anyway, the curves lines looked like a curve in space-time. coordinates as they usually picture it in scientific books. Probably the shot could have been better if only I could elevate myself to the mid point and thus making the left and right proportions almost equal in fading to the sides.

Ad Solem
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8, 40-1sec, ISO200.

Walking away a bit and not changing the lens, I've noticed the trees on the front of the building - they have been always there but never noticed them in details like that before. The branches were twirling slightly and almost made an impression of a palm and fingers facing upward. With the sun lurking in between the branches, I thought that the best thing to do to emphasize the curves of the branches is to shot them with a fisheye lens like Rokinon's. To give an idea of how thick the branches were, just notice the reduction in the shutter speed (I was working in Av mode) between Raumzeit and Ad Solem. Stabilizing my hand and body wasn't a big a problem after all even with such a slow shutter speed.
Because of the close distance here, the base of the branches were actually out of focus (and it was hard to notice in the viewfinder anyway), thus, and beside the fact that the image needs some cropping, I chopped off the base and tried to center the sun in one of the power points of the Rule of Thirds. This image incited me to study the relation between the rule of thirds and the golden spiral rule. It needs some mathematical engine boost though.

Scanography II

Been some time now since my last experiment with my scanner. I have to admit that I felt a bit down knowing that the depth of field is quite shallow for my scanner; something a bit essential. When talking about a shallow depth of field, it is in fact something normal in scanners in general, but there is a new generation of scanners that uses LED and that calls for a thinner glass layer (to help on more compact design) and it is in such scanners that the depth of field is even shallower and not tolerable to a single millimeter. I assume the perfect depth of field for scanning (in arts) is something around 2mm - this helps on giving a 3D impression for the settings made upon the flatbed of the scanner.

Blasen

However, it occurred to me to try something with the glycerine potion I've got recently and didn't have much time to try it out. I was just trying to see how would a liquid look on the flatbed surface when scanner. Since glycerine has a stronger surface tension than water, it would retain a better spherical shape than water droplets. But first, I had to cover the surface with a transparent sheet for protection (kitchen wrapping sheet here) for protection, and remove the scanner door to avoid it being slammed down on the droplets. Also, I couldn't cover the scanner with a black cloth to block the light, thus I've just realized an easy solution that struck me as how I didn't think of it before! Simply, work with lights switched off!
Initially, I wanted to draw a Smiley with the droplets but the surface tension was so strong that a line of droplets could not be sustained. Anyway, it was a just a trial and I scanned that way. The end up result, Blasen, made an interesting abstract look, not from the droplets, but from the wrapping sheet itself. However, the droplets provided some interesting reflection as well and specially those tiny bubbles beside the large ones - I'm not sure of this is also possible too with water droplets. Another try is needed!

Finale

This is my humble trial this week to do something out of my mind. The conditions around me sound to counteract my efforts to be active. Yet, I'm on the go to try and try as much as possible despite my tired body. My schedule seems clogged with things to do - and at the end I end up doing a little of everything.
Looking forward to Ireland, to release some stress and have some fresh air into these nostrils and a slower pace of life. That, however, doesn't change the fact, that all will be done alone...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hexachromatic…

Turbulent time here. I'm trying so hard to push myself to work on various projects, and probably the only one project I'm advancing through is my other Arabic blog for photography beginners. Ramadhan will start by the next week and I have to say that it seems I'm not ready yet. The heat plus the creativity block on my side would make this Ramadhan not an easy time to pass. I even had some urge to write poetry, but words are betraying me often and pouring them to a piece of paper or to the Notepad is not an easy task anymore. Camera-wise, it's the same. Not much of ideas. The best I could do is visit my old arsenal of images and convert them to Black and White with some experimentation of Tone Splitting.

الله

I've acquired lately some amount of glycerine (a.k.a glycerol) which is sometimes used instead of water as droplets when taking shots of still life with "dew" on leaves and such. Glycerine is pretty beneficial in such instances because it has a good Surface Tension that holds each drop in a good spherical shape, beside its viscosity which allows it to be stable on the surface of a smooth leaf; unlike water drops that tend to slide easily down. My experiment, however, is something totally different to such shots.
Glycerine is also special in its optical properties; apparently a drop of it has more magnification power than water drops would have, and this property was inspiring somewhat. I wanted to use a drop of glycerine as a magnifying factor, but the problem is, inspiration was missing. The last thing I could think of is using a drop of it to magnify the holy word.

Allah
Canon EF 100mm Macro+2x Bower teleconverter,
f/5.6, 320-1sec, ISO200.

First, I had to prepare the setup, which was simple in fact but since it was on the ground, there were some problems with the level of the camera and also how to set up the Speedlite 580EXII. On the Holy Book, I've placed a clean acrylic sheet and then put on a drop of glycerine on that. The rest was experimenting and changing the position of the Speedlite. It was hard and in fact, I never did take a good image that I really liked (not even the one above). However, I tried, and ironically, the property of the liquid that I liked the most, proved to be fatal the most; as it caused severe internal reflections and would cast a pretty dark shadow. I had to carry the camera by hand and shoot since I didn't have a low level enough, and I was sort of surprised to be able to focus at such close distance. The handshake wasn't a problem since I was shooting with a relatively high shutter speed  Many shots were made and I have to say I'm still not quite satisfied, but for the time being, this is the best I could do.

Trial

As you can see in Trial, which is one of the images made in that experiment, in the beginning this was the initial position and framing but it did feel wrong. Probably I just tend to place the subject on the left side because of my left-handedness in general. Anyway, as you may know, the Arabic script goes from right to left, and such positioning for the droplet was cumbersome somewhat. Thus, I had to change the framing and place the drop on the right side to go along the direction of the text (I think this is what they call the concept of "nose room") as it is the case in Allah. Ironically, I do like the appearance and the glossy look of the drop in Trial but unfortunately, the position wasn't right. Changing the perspective later changed everything and no perfect positioning for the speedlite (with modifiers) I could think of.
I'll stop at this, and probably think of something else to do with such droplets, and I'm already doing some "brainstorming" to try and think of some ideas to use such droplets. Most of the time, I do get these crazy ideas, yet, no way for doing them...

Hexachromatic

As I've stated before, I'm still working on turning some images and panoramas into B&W and with tone splitting techniques. By coincidence, I've encountered a very useful website: ColorCodeHex.

ColorCodeHex Snapshot.

In this website, you get to learn a lot about colors. In fact, X-Rite which provides the calibration tools for monitors and such, provides a software along with the set to help on calibrating or viewing and studying colors (specifically under different lighting when required). However, this website is different in its wealth of information provided and easiness of use, despite the fact that you cannot check the cast on a color under specific light temperature (color temperature). With this website, I've decided to do some experiments with splitting tones beyond the regular "complimentary colors" combinations.

Golden Hide
B&W + Tone Splitting

One of the experiments done here is with this panorama from Staten Island (back from 2012), Golden Hide; for The Grotto. What really pronounces this image more is the sharpness (I think it sort of makes it like cut of wood). However, to split tones for this image, I've used some shade of green (picked from the trees in the original image) to be for the highlights. For shadows, I've decided to use ColorCodeHex to know what options I have, and thus I picked one of the analogous colors provided after entering the main color's hex code. The term "analogous" means a color shade that is adjacent to the major color under inspection on the color wheel. My remarks? Well, it helps on making a major tint for the whole image as it is indeed a simple one tint but with the shadows tones under control, we can have more options in lighting and darkening the shadows - this can't be done in general tinting processes. The tint just paints the whole image. I can say that using an analogous color is a delicacy. However, the analogous color is not necessary of the same shade of the major color; it can be a color of the same color temperature but not really of the same shade. That needs more experimenting.

The Temple
B&W + Tone Splitting

Then I got to try the other concepts provided by ColorCodeHex, like the concept of Monochromatic Colors. Monochromatic colors are supposedly colors that share the same hue of the original color but are different in other values (saturation and luminance). In this panorama, also from Staten Island, The Temple, I've used one shade of yellow as the major color for highlights (picked from the lanterns hanging in the original image) and using the website I've got to know its Monochromatic colors set. From the set, I've picked the darkest to be the tone for the shadows. This way I could help on adding contrast even though I did use Curves later on to put on a little contrast too. Maybe the difference between the usage of the two classes of colors is not that obvious, but in practice it proves to be so, because Monochromatic colors class provides a wide range of colors but under the same shade (or hue), yet the class of Analogous colors provides adjacent colors similar in temperature mainly but not necessarily the shade, and hence it opens a gate for some creativity work and experimenting. My work with B&W and tone splitting is far from being over!

Geltanic UDHR

I had a chance to fix some aspect about the UDHR in Geltani and also record it. I just hope the plugins works correctly for listening here!



The sound might not be a high quality though. I really had some hard time saying some of these syllables, specially nasals. However, I think it's late now to adjust these values and I better get on moving and just train myself to say these hard combinations!
On the other hand things are going on slowly in the field of Geltani. One day I have to set up a proper document to be sent to Omniglot. Things will be handwritten though. I have to tighten the grip as well on some grammatical features and some words that still make discrepancies because of the basic wording in Arabic. I better begin writing down some rules about those!

Finale

Here I am, with my Irish visa granted and just waiting for September to arrive. I'm worried, I can't deny that. I'm even more worried because of all the events in this area.  I do ask myself sometimes, do not we deserve some peace of mind for just a month? One month of peace is all I'm asking for...
Ramadhan is coming next week and I have to say that I don't feel prepared yet despite all that fasting I did before. My time becomes always compressed in Ramadhan. I do wish if I'm just not here at this moment... somewhere far...
Now another week is coming, and another struggle to work on something and achieve something in my life. An endless process, accompanied with an endless eagerness...