Thursday, November 13, 2014


Well, I think I'm going to wrap this quick for the time being. The time to turn back to work is close by and I think my soul is not yet ready for this! My time table and schedules are in a real mess, testified by the traveling luggage case that still laying around on my room's floor! But the real annoyance is yet to come; my first day at work is in fact my appointment day for some regular eyes examination - and I HATE those examinations.


Meanwhile, I'd like to note what happened here as a "miracle." I was almost going to delete all the folders of images from my laptop since I've copied all the folders into my PC. In a glance, then, I've noticed that one folder which contains several single shots and one full panorama was not copied (specifically dating October 3rd). I'm not sure why and how this folder was copied with the rest, but I've noticed the folder of this date specifically had no shots, except for 2 selfies! (yes selfies, self portrait done back in Ireland). Anyway, this is a lesson for me right now as to go through the files and folders after any session or travel, and never to delete any file right away after copying. I think what mainly happened here was caused by the fact that I didn't change the time on my camera when I traveled to Ireland (I did later though) - this affects the way files are organized and to what folders specially if the shots were taken before and after midnight time according to the homeland time (Kuwait's time), while it's not midnight in the destination (Ireland's time), and thus making one apparent session be split in between 2 folders without knowing! The panorama in that folder, on the other hand, is kind of problematic because it was not centered correctly, but that would be another topic to be discussed later maybe.

Processing-wise now. The work with my new arsenal of images from Ireland had been somewhat slow this week; mainly because of the bad sleeping pattern and the busy mind with other things, which made me dull with inspiration and imagination when I work with photos. However, I've got into the second phase of processing my panoramas: surreal projections. Which means, mainly, planet projection beside other stuff.

Táim Suas ag Dul
(I'm going up)
However, my very beginning with the second phase of panoramas was actually a vertical panorama and not a planet projection. Saying this, there is already a panorama that I've neglected on purpose because I can't work my mind with it or decide how it should be, and that is the panorama from the lounge.
Anyway, it is typical of me to do a vertical panorama out of confined elongated places like corridors. The surreal view of up and down in one image just fascinates me (call me a psycho, I really don't care). Here, in Táim Suas ag Dul we can find the typical mistake that I do, always. A non-central position which shows drastically later on when the panorama is stitched (and there other panoramas which got it worse than this!). Despite all the trials to remind myself of the importance of centralizing the tripod on location in relation to a specific feature in the space, I just fail to adhere to my own advice. You can see the effect here clearly in the bad alignment of the lamp in the ceiling and the stair case: you make one straight the other would tilt, and getting them together in one alignment is impossible. However, the dramatic scenery that was done in planet projection brought me some condolences for this mistake…

Beidh Solas Tríd An Dorchadas
(there will be light through the darkness)

The panorama taken in front of the Waterfront, Beidh Solas Tríd an Dorchadas, was my first target for such planet projections where the clouds can be extracted for details. The hard part in processing this image is the color tint as a whole. The blue sky you see here was actually bluer than this but I had to put down the tint a bit just to make it reasonable (fearing "bleed" of saturation). Originally, the sky was white with some dark areas. At the end, I had to achieve somewhat a manual contrast control by dodging and burning specific areas. Of course all of that was done AFTER tone-mapping the HDR panorama. Luckily, I've saved a stitching file for all (or most) of the panoramas that I've done in flat format. Thus, all I have to do is change the perspective and few options and then stitch (no need to go on and create control points and align images all over again). However, the really dramatic view which I really liked is not here, but somewhere in Co, Mayo!

Réalta an Ashford
(star of Ashford)

I really love this panorama specifically, the one taken in front of Ashford castle (and hotel). Despite the fact that it wasn't quite centralized and it has some unbalancing elements, yet the atmosphere and the colors of this location specifically give me delight. Here, I've tone-mapped using Photoshop (like I did with Aughnanure's panorama) just to control the aspect of the sun. No worries about matching the left and right edges of course (i.e. the seam) since we are not going to make a QTVR out of this one. I've already tried to contact the staff by contacting them on Instagram (no response so far as I'm typing this) about using these panoramas - at least for contests. The situation would have been different if Ashford was a landmark managed by the state instead of being a property owned by some private companies. Anyway, I can do nothing but to wait and see!


Well, I've skipped here a lot. Some QTVRs were made but I think not much to be said or done about them, except of thinking of doing a specific page for large format QTVR maybe? Saying this, I look back at all the things that I'm supposed to be doing beside photography but they are on halt so far. Gives me a shiver down the spine.
In the meantime, I've been active with the group in preparations of an expo related to the Book's international fair here, some time around 23rd of November, beside running after Al-Thani contest. Let's hope no fuss this time with the catalogs (we didn't get the previous ones for Austria's contest yet!). But all of these activities don't keep my mind busy enough into other realms still, nor they are able to keep my nightmares away. My life is a real mess for sure and one thing is needed for sure at the moment: to travel again. Alas, this won't be any time soon…

An Caisearbhán Mór
(the grand dandelion)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ar An mBóthar…

This post contains QTVR environment and needs QuickTime to be installed. Please give some time to load.

I'm not sure if this is the idea I had in my mind for the term "vacation". Not that I'm bored, but quite the opposite; I'm overwhelmed. I technically can't have a rest and my sleeping pattern is not helping as well. At least I got to play some of the games I wanted to play.
Processing the images is still going on even though in a slower pace, specially that I wanted to play these games which made me stop the process for a while. But more to come about that later. Most important thing right now is, almost all panoramas were stitched, in flat format. Which means I, now, have to work further with other projections! and I've made some QTVRs indeed, so hope you have installed QuickTime already!


In the field of panoramas, there were some panoramas that I'm reluctant to work with further for various reasons; colors, mood, and even the structure. However, in the next round of panoramas (in other projections other than flat ones), I guess I will re-checking those. Particularly here, the panorama taken from the lounge of the Waterfront B&B. I'm sort of glad though that one of the panoramas, for which I've expected lot of hurdles, turned out to be finely stitched!

An Seomra Folchta
The Bathroom

I was expecting such panorama, An Seomra Folchta, to have problems because of the very narrow space I've taken it in. But it was finely stitched in HDR with the help of a model made out from JPG slides. The detection of the white balance on location with the help of the WB disk paid well here, as the atmosphere inside this small space was mixed, between a bluish tint (hence yellowish WB would be needed) and some hot colors on the ground from the carpets (hence bluish WB would be needed); but all was set just by using the WB disk. The main difficulty in this panorama specifically would be aligning the panorama and making sure that some lines are truly vertical. OK, now to the QTVRs.


Concerning QTVRs, I've been thinking lately if there is another way to represent them instead of the current methodology I'm following. I've had a peek into the matter and seems there are other methods indeed, but probably more rigorous in terms of application; yet they can be useful for viewers of this blog as some of them don't require installing QuickTime. I'm not sure how this would work actually since converting the panorama into a QTVR is already done through PTGui here and the file type would already be a MOV. Need some time for this!

In this QTVR you might notice a mistake. Well, more than one in fact. Anyway, it seems that when I tone-mapped this HDR panorama with Photomatix, I've forgot to tick the "360" option, which ensures that the left and right edges of the panorama are seamless and flow together without a cut. This is one of the problems with tone-mapping in Photoshop; there is no option to make the panorama seamless - not that I'm aware of any anyway! Despite this fact, sometimes I'm forced to use it for tone-mapping specifically as it comes...

This QTVR was made from a panorama which was originally tone-mapped in Photoshop. Fixing the seam here was relatively easy; just some cloning work and I guess it is not easy to notice the seam line when rotating the QTVR. The reason I tone-map with Photoshop sometimes is the fact that I can use curves to establish the tonal values for various luminance levels all around the image, and this is how I worked out the disk of the sun here and made it sparkling instead of having just white bright spot in the sky. Such specific control can't be done in Photomatix, unfortunately. Imagine the power if the two are merged: one application to control the light by curves (beside other methods) AND making sure the panorama is seamless. Awesome!
Left to say I'm kind of surprised for Aughnanure castle's QTVR, because here, I didn't add a nadir point as I was experimenting only about the seam line. However, it was seamless AND PTGui seems to have identified the vertical limitations of the panorama; in old QTVRs, these vertical limits would be black zones if the panorama is not in the format of 2:1 ratio. But here, the viewer would automatically stop before reaching the cut of the nadir point. It was experimental after all thus I left the watermark as is on the image.

Well, there are plenty of other QTVRs but maybe I will keep them for some other time, like Kylemore Abbey's QTVR and the one for the interior of The Waterfront, beside the exterior panorama too. In all of these, and despite the fact that it was easy to clone the nadir image, I've decided to use the classic method of putting a label at the nadir point to identify the panorama and work as a "watermark" of some sort.


Meanwhile, along with the panoramas, I'm doing more single shots in between. Even though people now started to look at me for panoramas and related fields (here at least), single shots, nevertheless, are equally important. The problem, or should I say the dilemma, I'm in is: am I just good because I do panoramas? Things in the group somehow agree with this statement, specially with the upcoming events.

Uaigneas Lúcháireach
(joyous solitude)
Canon EF 50mm, f/16,
25-1sec, ISO100.
I'm trying not to put all the egg in one basket as they say; whenever there is a sorting out for the group, I do pick up some old files along with the new ones from Ireland. However, chances are still low. I can't deny that there are some fatal mistakes in some images after all. Mistakes that just don't appear for the regular viewer (who enjoys colors and setting more than composition and clarity). However, there are images that did somewhat gain popularity (on the internet at least) but yet they were rejected, like Áilleacht Dhorcha which I've posted about last week.
 On the other hand there were images that I was glad to work with but then it turned out it's all a mistake. Well, I did like the color at least! Uaigneas Lúcháireach here is an example, but maybe I do have my excuse here at least. The boat was moving fast and I had to snap the picture fast before it's gone out of sight! The main problem here is the "guide line" which literally extends from the middle of the frame below to the extreme left side; such a wrong position. In addition to that, the leader said there are some distracting elements which makes it out-of-harmony. Well, my confidence is not shaken yet for this! At least I'm glad I didn't use polarizer here to clear the water which provided some reflection, and the whole atmosphere was mainly achieved by changing the White Balance without sorting to HDR technique. Maybe another version of the scene was better (despite the emptiness)...

Maidin Ghorma Aon (one blue morning)
Canon EF 50mm, f/16, 125-1sec, ISO100

Probably not better here with Maidin Ghorma Aom, but the annoying "wrong" guide line here is removed (this shot is taken before they reach that point). Lot of work here was involved (mainly dodge and burn) to control light and shadows, and specifically approach the image to a silhouette style.

Amharc Éagsúil
(different view)
Canon EF 50mm, f/8,
20sec, ISO400.
On the other hand there were desperate trials to create something out of... desperate shots, to say the least. Images like Amharc Éagsúil for example, were simply test shots in the dark (dusk time), but since the quantity of shots taken this year (single shots that is) is at low, I had to gamble a bit with shots that were intended as tests, like this one. It would have been some nice shot if only there was a full or partial reflection on water, but all I got is clouds and the tip of the house. Thus, to make things interesting a bit, I flipped the image upside down just to make out some interest! Controlling the tones later was just as desperate trial of creating vividness without oversaturating the image. I'm really not against rejecting this image at all. But there was something strange too...

Roimh an Dorchadas (before the dark)
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8, 12m, ISO100.

Roimh an Dorchadas, an image which was on the list for sorting out for future events. There were comments about over saturating the colors but I believe there had been a problem with color calibration in that laptop (wasn't color-calibrated). However, what I consider the strangest comment was "you have better than this already". I'm not sure what was meant by that or what picture in particular was meant here. Maybe Through My Window? But if this was the case, I do consider Roimh an Dorchadas better-looking...

Through My Window
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8, 7m, ISO100.

Yes, the clouds line is apparently better in Through My Window, yet Roimh an Dorchadas has probably more interesting elements in the image itself. The problem with Roimh an Dorchadas is that the air was almost static and hence the clouds didn't move much.


The coffee table book cover
It is finally here! My own copy of Coffee Table book of the luxury edition (2014) of Trierenberg Circuit contest, which contains my own panorama, Ludendorffs Wirklichkeit. The process of retrieving this book was something out of one of those adventure games: tasks, questions, investigations. Still, the case is not over yet with the (bad) post services here, as there are copies of the catalogs that did not reach us yet (supposedly sent back in June). There is a probability that they were sent back to Austria, but no news from Austria still. Many issues were here as why this has happened, like not providing a track number for receivers to see where the parcel stopped, and no phone numbers provided on the parcel so at least we would expect a call from the post service, and yet the post service here, of course, wouldn't do a thing (probably even with a phone number provided).
Ludendorffs Wirklichkeit as
printed in the book,
in a small corner.
I didn't go through the book yet but I do believe there is a lot to learn from other contestants' photos in the field of architecture and landscape photography. Yet, I can't hold my disappointment here. Let aside the fact that my "large" panorama was printed in a small corner (and the colors aren't as vivid as on monitor), the book itself is a demonstration of clear bias for specific "items". I'm not saying photos aren't great, but a quick look through the book made it clear that if you are a portrait photographer, and specifically into nude photography, your chances are dim. Sorry, but it somewhat feels like, and sorry for the wording here - like checking a brothel's catalog. I know what I will get for such a comment (retard, old-fashioned, know-nothing-about-art, ...etc). But seriously, I can't help it. Doesn't seem that you make a woman just a toy of cosmetics in such field of photography? Well, to me it does. On the other hand, other fields deserve some attention more than it is already.

Anyway, far from the book, I'm trying to cope with the busy schedule I'm getting with my group, as we have some activities going on. Majorly Al-Thani contest is a major concern, and despite the ideas for sending prints, but seems it is not a plausible idea by now. The contest ends on November 17th (my brother's birthday as well!), and we barely have time to submit the images online. On the other hand there is even a more urgent matter, concerning some expo here for which the group was personally asked to join in. I'm not sure what kind of expo is this, but the leader is also relying on my panoramas, and gave my number to one of the organizers to discuss the matter (still waiting for that call). Also, months from now, there will be some preparations for Mawahb expo (in which the group will be enrolled for a 4th time). I might get into it if I don't get the burden of organizing the booth or the prints; my time right now doesn't really allow for that!

In the meantime, I'm keeping my thoughts busy as much as possible, but this is not a good thing either. When my thought is active, my consumption (specifically for coffee) is also active. Despite all this activity, there remains something empty deep within. I can't deny the fact that I do feel like being lost; someone who doesn't belong to where he was planted. But I'm keeping on going, in a tunnel that I just can't realize where does it lead, or ends...

Bóthar na Scáthanna
(road of the shadows)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ag Dul (Going)...

It is a torn out vacation! Many things to do and so much little time, and sleep. I think I do need to organize my daily activity for now, as I have so much leisure stuff I "need" to do. Mom's sudden sickness and asthma got the bulk of my time for now, but I see things are kind of getting better (specially after buying an inhaling device to help her). Beside all of that, I do need to get back to the Arabic blog as well and talk a bit about my trip to Ireland. Where is time when you need it…

Ag Dul

Still working with the load of photos taken from Ireland this year. Well, not a surprise that I'm not able to work with lot of these photos. Not disappointing, for after all I had my vacation! But maybe I will find some ideas for some of these shots later on. Probably the most frustrating incidents are those related to infrared shots (specifically done with 8mm), as some of them are not sharp enough and I'm not sure if it was because of the focusing of the (manual) lens or is it because that infrared slide got scratched. This brings into my mind another topic, of how to fix a gel filter easily at the back of Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. I can use, of course, a little duct tape. However, this is not practical on location so to say. Still thinking!

Ag Dul (Going)
Rokinon 8mm fisheye,
f/8, 28m, ISO100.
Probably one of the most beloved infrared shots to me is Ag Dul, which was shot on the bank of the lake not far from the Waterfront. I did already a black and white version of this image and sent in a mass email few days ago. However, the new edit was done with the help of the IR profile I've already made for my ACR. This processes usually tends to shift the general tint from Red towards Blue. The only annoying part about it is the slightly out of focus aspect. Not a big deal in a small size but it is so when viewed at 100% (and of course would be so in a large print). As for the grain and the noise, it is a typical story in infrared shots. Unfortunately, stock websites do not comprehend the struggle here! Anyway, such shots, I believe aren't much of use for their line of commerce.
This bluish streak actually makes the infrared gel filter (Kodak's) more desirable than my B+W infrared circular filter (58mm) because of this effect when adjusting colors. Infrared filters have many varieties depending on the threshold value; i.e. the value of the wavelength after which photons may pass (high pass filter of some sort). However, there is so much to learn about them. I wonder now if I can adapt this gel filter even to those lenses which are supposed to be using the circular B+W IR filter.

Áilleacht Dhorcha (Dark Beauty)
Canon EF 50mm + ET,
f/8, 160-1sec, ISO200.
In one of the weird incidents lately, one of the images which was easily discarded in my first group meeting here, was quite popular in other places. The main reason for the discard is the regularity of the shot I believe as it has nothing to add or no new attraction. This shot, Áilleacht Dhorcha, however, did gain some reputation in communities like Flickr, 500px, and Instagram. Áilleacht Dhorcha was mainly processed (and it is the lowest exposure in a bracket) in a way to mimic the effect of a painting. The main tint of colors was simply achieved by changing the white balance (the original color was pinkish). The rest is the usual job of layers in Photoshop. I do like it personally even though it was discarded from the main stream of reviews in the meeting; The shot gained some popularity in 500px too.

Panorama-wise now, I'm still working on flat versions of the panoramas and didn't start yet with QTVRs or any other projections. This is just a step to manage and control the pace of my work as to not scatter my efforts in various directions. I do believe that I made my mind now of the small "gift" that I should print and send to The Waterfront…

The Waterfront

Probably the blues should have been richer? Maybe. Anyway, I'm still working on the rest of the panoramas one by one and might add another target. The work with panoramas wasn't out of (bad) surprises and disappointments, somewhat. One of the panoramas that I was hoping for more vivacity in its appearance turned out to be hard to be managed and had to put (kill) it down. That is the inside of Inchagoill church panorama…

An Eaglais na hInis an Ghiall
Inchagoill's Island

I'm not sure where did things go wrong, and specially with the halo effect around the edges, but I've tried my best to make it better through tone-mapping but to no avail. Probably it would have been better to tone-map such a panorama using Photoshop, but the problem here the seamless edges; if I want to make a QTVR out of this panorama, the left and right edges must be equal in luminance and other aspects so that the QTVR would be seamless and smooth as one unique view (without any cut in the middle when wrapped). This feature is available in Photomatix when tone-mapping, but not in Photoshop CS5 (so far). I might come back to this panorama to make it better somehow, but not for now!


Now that I'm back, I'm trying to regain some foothold on some aspects of my life, specifically those related to "social" activities to some extent. The group I'm a member of is working on preparations for Al-Thani photo contest and the sorting process is still going on. I'm thinking of joining in some workshops within the group as well in fields that are, usually, not in my immediate interests; e.g. sports photography.
Meanwhile, after stopping for several months, I'm back to uploading 500px website. I'm not sure really how special or what is the deal with it, but within the circle of the group they do talk much about it (as if being a circle of professionals). The irony here is that some images that were rejected in the group, do have their own fans on 500px! This said, I got into the trap again of renewing my Flickr account again (to Pro) despite removing my Paypal info long ago from the website. Just discovered that the Paypal info were there (again) somehow. I do realize now that having such Pro accounts in any website of this type isn't a big deal after all. Statistics? Sure, they might be important for some to some extent, yet I do not think it is worth the money. If, however, it is a group of photographers sharing a gallery online, it might be worthy to pay for such services. This is what I think.

I've been also trying to get back to poetry somewhat. I still need something to leak my feelings into. The poetic engine is not as greasy as before when things come easily, but I'm planning to try from time to time, or at least put on a specific time on my schedule to think of some words to pen down. This is not how it used to work though. However, the initial result was The Red Leaf. The biggest problem, in my case at least, is that feelings are there, words aren't.


I'm here now, trying to fill my life with things I'd love to do before I go back to work in mid November. It is not an easy task though, I tell ya.
For starters, Mom got ill out of a sudden; probably allergy-related condition. At least this is what I hope for her, so that by time things get adjusted. I have to do inhaling procedures for her (and she feels better by now at the time of typing this).

Then, there are some of the chores that I have to do, specifically checking out what happened to the parcels sent from Austria, containing the catalogs of the members (of Trierenberg Circuit's contest) and my Luxury Edition 2014 (where one of my images is displayed). I don't know why they still send to my home address even though I've changed my address to my UK inbox; the post services in this country are down the drain. Beside these chores, I do have a plan to go back on educating myself with Gaelic (Irish) a bit. It is a hard language, even harder than German I'd say, but it would be fun to try maybe! This tempts me to talk about all my projects that are on standby! So, I better stop at this for now...

I've said earlier that I'm trying to get a foothold in my life; but until that is done, this heart is going to be swinging in between the matters of life. It does feel like walking a tunnel, with no light burst at the end. Sometimes, it is but a dream, to let someone know how you feel…
Anyway, better start cleaning my camera now.

Uaigneach 's Ag Fanacht
Lonely, and Waiting...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

i dTús (In the beginning)…

Well, I'll try to wrap up this quick. This is my first blog post after coming back from Ireland and so much to be done still to get back to my normal rhythm. I still have problems with sleeping pattern - well, I always do, but this time it is far more an upset pattern. I have some chores planned which must be done in the morning time, and because of that I'm kind of paralyzed and unable to do them; because I prefer to sleep.

In the meantime, I've been working with a slow pace through some of the images and panoramas. For the time being, I'm doing just flat versions of those panoramas, and later I will twist them around and make QTVRs out of them too. I'm now living a dilemma too, as I've downloaded some games that I need to play as soon as possible, before heading back to work in November! On the other hand, I do need to work on the photos I've taken in Ireland. Many things to do to spend the rest of the vacation with, but unfortunately my body is not helping.

Work Arbeit Obair

I'm preparing now to send a group of images from my trip already through email, as I usually do. However, these images were done during my stay in Ireland and most of them were posted here in this blog, in posts I've written during my stay. Most of them are in B&W as well. I do need some time now to organize the email and send it over.
Meanwhile, I've been working randomly somewhat with the new photos, and depending solely on strikes of inspiration. Taking a photo on location, even in a place like the Irish countryside, is not the epitome of inspiration still. For me at least. A lot of inspiration and work is to be done later in processing.

Áit an Leipreacháin (Place of the Leprechaun) - IR
Canon EF 15mm fisheye, f/8, 3.3min, ISO400.

Cosán na Síoga
(The Fairies' Path)
Canon EF 15mm, f/8,
6min, ISO500.
Here we have an example in the image above. Áit an Leipreacháin is an infrared shot taken in the gardens of Ashford castle in Cong, Co. Mayo. What was really inspirational to me is the composition and the geometry of the path, but it takes another dimension in processing, specially that it is an infrared shot, which makes the image float; i.e. no right or wrong about how colors are perceived. This fact, encouraged me to add my own touch further outside the environment of the RAW file, by adding some glamor and motion blur to have the image resemble what I presume as "mystical". With this, I can state that inspiration is not just one instance. One thing can attract you on location, but the completion of the story is when you edit it yourself (i.e. develop the negative). Yes, I know this approach might be quite a contradiction to the purists' views, but this is how my mind work; it is a split mind.
Canon EF 50mm, f/9,
25-1sec. ISO200.
In the case of infrared shots things might be afloat because of the nature of the shot itself, as infrared is no "real color" after all and sometimes you get the freedom of twisting the tones to your liking. In regular shots, on the other hand, the attack would be even fiercer and the opposition is stronger with any editing you might have to do (by purists that is). In images like Sunken, thanks to be given first to the polarizer here which made it possible to eliminate the top two tires (tyres). This image was shot in brackets to merge as HDR. However, one single exposure was enough to get most of the details out of it (remember to work in ProPhoto to get the maximal limits from the histogram). With this, there was something missing. Contrast. But I've increased contrast already, and nothing was interesting about the image still. What I admired on location was the composition (talk about abstract and contemplative approach), but this is not helping here with a dull image and apparently converting to B&W was not a choice. The way to do this was to increase the saturation instead and create a contrast of colors and not tones. The colors were there, they just needed a push in saturation. The result was a contrast between two complimentary colors: blue and yellow.
There are a lot of images done so far, and each one has a story of that sort. That's why my progress is slow for the time being; because I do talk to myself when processing each image.

As for panoramas, I've done a number of them and all in flat format so far. Later, I'd be doing the rest of the tricks on them and the QTVRs. The nadir point for some of these panoramas were easy to fix, but I did prefer cutting them out along with the tripod head in order to fix my own label later when I do the QTVRs. This would be better to show information about the scene for the viewer, I believe.

One of the best so far, in my opinion that is, is the panorama taken from the front of Kylemore Abbey (on October 8th). It had some problems, but the centralization of the configuration on location paid well. And despite the fact that people were filling the place, I didn't have much problems in aligning the images, fixing vertical lines (by adjusting the pitch value in PTGui), and keeping the panorama tidy without any trace for any humanoids!

Mainistir na Coille Móire (Kylmore Abbey)

There was a minor fix to be done though, which is my shadow in the panorama. It was a simple cloning process and could have been done in the origin slide before stitching; but I was so much excited about this panorama specifically that I've decided to stitch first! I think a planet projection for this panorama specifically would be a great render!

The Waterfront (IR)

One of the painstaking processes with these panoramas is finding the control point specially in a panorama that combines outdoors, and infrared. Because infrared filters with uncoverted cameras (i.e. adjusted for IR reception) make the exposures pretty long even in a sunny day. The result is a blank sky almost even if it was a cloudy day. For this reason and after days of trying out my luck with The Waterfront (IR) I had to neglect the idea of adding the top and bottom rows of this panorama and get satisfaction with only the basic mid row. Story did not end at this actually, as some stitching errors remained and, later, much work was needed in Photoshop to add contrast with dodge and burn. It would be a shame to leave this panorama without any work; I've spent around one hour or more under the rain working on it on location! However, the weirdest of panoramas is still to come...

An Taobh Istigh an Waterfront
(Inside the Waterfront)

The weirdest of problems occurred with a panorama taken inside the Waterfront. It was apparent from the beginning that I surely need a model for control points (made from JPG files) in order to apply it to the HDR slides and make HDR panorama. However, to my surprise, the JPG panorama itself was a mess and the computer could not stitch it properly. It was one meatloaf of images! After some work on analyzing the mistakes (and using the "mask" option for the first time for me), it appears that the patterned carpet had a great say in this mess, where the computer merged 2 far and unrelated images on the basis of the pattern in the carpet!
Things began to become easier when I used the "crop" tool in PTGui itself to restrict the generation of control points on the mid zone of each image. In the final result there was still some work to be done to correct some broken lines, but this is a daily soup by now!

I'm now in a dilemma and thinking which of these panoramas I must print and send as a gift to my host, Mary Welsh. Probably I shouldn't decide by now until I work on all panoramas from the Waterfront.


Medieval Etiquette
Now, my sole burden and work in real life is to get back to the humdrum of the daily life in Kuwait, with all its nerves burning. When I go out in a vacation like this and come back, it usually feels lonelier deep inside, and estranged somewhat - like I see the things for the first time; needless to say the mood swings that hit with every encountered problem. Probably that's why I do feel Ireland to be a second home? One thing I do miss from here is the food actually! Not say the food is bad there, but I can't eat meat outside. Anyway for the reasons mentioned before, as soon as I arrived, I did deliberately drive into some jams trying to get my engine greased and ready to work. This is beside my chores.
Probably you've noticed that I'm using Irish to entitle my images this time (which is a practice I've been following for some time). This actually awakened in me the love for the Irish language (Gaeilge) again, after stopping teaching myself for years. Now, things are easier I presume; the language is wide spread and many people know about it and the resources are available. Probably I should give it a try once more.
Wish I can do the same with matters of the heart though…

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I'm here now, typing this from the Travelodge hotel in Ballymun, Dublin. It's kind of weird here to live without AC but only a heater - while the window doesn't permit much cold air in, and permits lot of noise from the main street. Anyway, it is just one night and I'm off.
I think I will be heading to the airport early. My flight is around 11 a.m. but I will check out from here around 8 a.m. and who knows what kind of traffic jams waiting on the road anyway.
As soon as I arrived here I had to get some deodorants from a pharmacy adjacent to the hotel (lucky me!), as my socks and shoes and about everything in me just sucks big time after yesterday's adventure! I'm going to use those deodorants with them and hopefully it will work, temporarily at least.
Tomorrow is the goodbye day to Ireland...

Slán Éirinn, beidh tú a mheabhrú i gcónaí

Monday, October 13, 2014

Inis an Ghaill...

Wow! What a day! I'm so tired now that I can barely write this. Worse though, I can't have a nap before I finish everything for tomorrow; mainly packing.
Today I've head to Inchagoill island (Irish: Inis an Ghaill), which happens to mean "island of foreigners". I'm not sure why it is called like that, but surely I was like a stranger there today! As I've jumped on the boat I've got my camera ready already before hopping in, and fitted my Sigma 70-300mm lens and started to shoot as the boat was ravaging through the lake. It would have been good to use a polarizer in such situations but the shake of the boat would absolutely make this addition useless and helpless. However, I did take a number of images, and I won't be filtering them out probably.

Same house on the banks of the lake shot 5 years ago. This time in close up!

Upon reaching the island, of course we docked and headed down. My "guide," named Patrick, told me where to go: just follow the path. And he headed to other side in front of the dock (there was a rocky dock made) and he said he will be waiting there. Sure I said!

Where I landed. The trees (scotch fir trees) were Patrick headed waiting for me.

The entry to the church.
I followed the path, got lost for a while, but then I've found the church "complex"; well, if I can call it so! Anyway, I did take some shots from outside with 50mm (because it has the largest aperture I have already and helps with shallow depths when needed). My main interest was the designed gateway, which was so narrow for my, and my bag to pass through! After snapping those shots, I started right away setting up my tools to do a panorama outside just in front of the gateway. I'm expecting problems in terms of the exposure and showing details in the sky. Also, seems that using Daylight WB was not the proper choice, but that problem can be easily fixed later on. Strangely, this WB made the ground and some areas of the scene a bit bluish instead of yellowish as it usually does. For this reason, after that point, I had to use the Shade WB.

Things went great in the beginning; panorama outside, panorama inside, and then things started to get a bit wicked. Finishing from this location, it was time then to head to the Coffee House. I got lost again, and luckily I got back to the path again, from which I reached the church. Found some workers on the island (they were there when I landed and started my journey on the island). I asked for directions and they just told me to follow straight in that path. Strangely though, when I asked them about the coffee house, they don't really realize it, but when I describe it as "that little building on the top of the hill" they reckon the building and told me where to go. Again, on the way, I was about to get lost, and then found a gentleman who guided me further and turned me back to the church (apparently I was going in circles) and from there, he told me to follow the path and he left me at a certain point. From that point and on, it was one heck of a way to that building!



Strangely, forgot to take a general shot for the coffee house with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. However, I started my work directly with a panorama from the outside. I was thinking of doing a panorama inside this small building, but I neglected the idea for two reasons: One, not much details inside that would make up for an interesting panorama, and two, the buzzing sounds of flies, wasps or even bees. Whatever was there, the buzzing sound was really loud inside! On the top of the coffee house, there was a nice view, but again, it wasn't suitable for a panorama. However, I did take some shots for the stairway with my fisheyes. Now, the adventure is about to begin...

Finishing from the coffee house, now it is time to go back to Patrick. All what I did is just follow the path down the slope (and had a fall on the way). At one point, I reached what seemed to me like a dead point - no way further with trees filling the way. All what was there is a small outlet leading to the beach area, which seemed to be my only way out! So I did.
The beach was really rocky. REALLY. I can almost say, no sand is there but rocks. Rocks filling the shore and I had to walk on them. I didn't know my location but my pace was slow now and hurtful because of the twisting feet. A tripod on my shoulder, a bag on my hand, and backpack on my back, with a camera around my neck. I even used the tripod (with VR-head attached to it) as a cane to help me go through the rocks. At this point, I realized I'm on the wrong side of the island, but it's too late now to go back. I had to continue and "survey" the shores until I reach the dock!

Map of Inchagoill island (from Wikimapia) and the red circle is supposedly where I got lost I presume, but I'm not that sure about it.

After passing through some muddy ground and dipping myself in water to avoid some branches (heck, I've broken some branches with my shoulders even!), I've reached a maximum point of exhaustion. I literally tried to rest a bit on the ground but the weight of my body and my tools didn't help and I almost fell to the water if it wasn't for me catching the ground with my hands. My head started to twist around, and apparently I do need some glucose in my blood for now! In this journey I was so exhausted to take pictures but at certain point (and before I get so dirty in the mud!) I tried to a simple shot here.

On the rocky beach. It was at this point that I've realized I'm on the wrong side, because the dock is opposite to this piece of land of high scotch fir trees (check 2nd picture from the top).

After all, I made it! With all that exhaustion I did reach Patrick and we had a laugh together! It was a little adventure but surely a refreshing one. The amazing thing here is, in the beginning you feel miserable for getting wet, but when you get extremely exhausted, you would really enjoy the feel of water in your shoes! Later on the boat, the cold air and the splashes of water drops against my body did really help me cool down and enjoy the ride, but this time, I had to go on without taking photos on the way back - and that gave liberty for Patrick to speed up with the boat unlike the slow motion in getting to the island form the Waterfront. What a day.

All of that now came down to some loss. I have to get a new tripod as soon as I reach home because my tripod lost one of its rubbers in one of its legs, and my VR-head lost one of the screws; luckily it was the 3/4" screw designed for larger cameras and not the 1/3" screw which fits my camera. Now, I have to post this and start to arrange my things in order to leave the Waterfront tomorrow. Goodbye for now, and probably this might be my last post in Ireland...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Foggy Dew...

And yet another board game played with the weather! It was a real surprise to wake up this morning with mist filling the atmosphere, and I was barely able to see my own hand. It was apparent that my trip to Inchagoil island is to be canceled. However, it was a plan that whenever the fog is dispersed there is still a chance to reach the island. Anyway, instead of waiting, I've decided to head out and shoot in the fog.

In the middle of the marshes.
This time I've headed to the right side of the lake in front of the Waterfront, and technically, this means getting wet. What I like about shooting in foggy environment is the mysterious atmosphere surrounding it. However, in the marshes there are a lot of twisting to the feet, as well as dipping in the mud which would leave you exhausted for a simple 5 meters walk (well, that's a bit more than 15 ft); Needless to say how hard it is to extract things out of your own backpack without really putting the backpack on the ground (to avoid making it wet and muddy). All that increases the strain on the muscles! Follows then, some infrared shots as well.

Infrared shot with Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. Notice the line of the sun, with an exposure of around 13 minutes.

It seems, however, that the infrared gel filter suffered enough scratches and probably the images produced won't be sharp enough. I just might have to make another one with special additives to make it easy to use with this lens. It is interesting that such long exposures done with this filter, like the image above, can produce interesting results with the sun!
In general, I've used my 50mm and my fisheye 8mm lenses the most, but there were some simple shots with Sigma 70-300mm. and, just for a change and experimenting, I've tried my pinhole. Surprisingly, despite being equaled with f/222 (i.e. very narrow aperture), the exposure done in this shot in the fog was just merely 2 seconds long under ISO 100.

The pinhole shot.

What I don't understand here, is the fact that the image is supposed to be sharp, because of the narrow aperture. However, the images done with my pinhole are not sharp or close to being sharp at all! Probably it has to do with the distance between the subject plane and the image plane (i.e. the sensor). In using the pinhole, and in order to frame correctly, I've used first my 50mm lens and framed the image, and then replaced it with the pinhole. However, using the LiveView, I was able to see the scene (even at ISO 100) with the pinhole on. Turned out that the pinhole field of view is a bit wider than that of 50mm (normal) lens.

After this little muddling in the mud, I've ran inside the house and my host told me that the boatman would still be able to pick me if the fog disperses before 3 p.m. local time. However, being exhausted and wet, I've decided to postpone this trip till tomorrow, Monday - which is my last day in here. Ironically, in less than hour after this conversation, the fog did disperse indeed and it is a shiny weather again like it is summer. Yep, Irish weather did it again...