Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mawahb 5 Expo…

A tiresome week had gone and I'm still following up with its consequences - as usual, sleep deprivation. I can call it a successful week with all the positive feedback we received for our booth in the latest Mawahb 5 Expo; and my own panoramas specifically got large base of attention, starting with the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Sheik Mohammed Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah.

Explaining Ludendorffs Wirklichkeit to the minister, and on the far right appears the Kuwaiti actor Abdul-Rahman Al-Aqil. Frankly, didn't know he's there until I got this image from friends!


It was a funny chat, and I didn't know he is a photographer too! Turned out that he is a Nikonian, while I'm a Canonese! He started the chat with a statement:

I saw your photo and I wanted to see this man in person, now I see you're wearing a Canon around your neck, you made me sad. 

Oh well, it was the usual strife between Nikons and Canons! At least I did a job that people kept, keep and probably will keep talking about! Up till that moment, I really didn't know he is a photographer as well. It was a pleasant encounter and the beginning of a robust engine. The only thing that kept me annoyed in the duration of the expo is the quality of the prints we've made, and they are supposed to be printed at the #1 print shop here. In one of my discussions with the people working in that print shop, I've realized that the term "calibration" never crossed the dictionaries of those people, yet.

Quick glance at our booth


In this expo, I didn't run around doing a documentation for the whole place as I did 3 years ago. But simply dedicated my efforts for the stage (and man, what an awful legs' pain it was). I didn't have a good lens with low f-value (wide aperture), but the maximum zoom I could do was with my Sigma 70-300mm, and adding a teleconverter (x2) to double the focal length was another definition for "Disaster!" And because the dark atmosphere, there was no escape but to raise the ISO somewhere in between 1600 to 2500. Most of the shots were taken in ISO2000 in fact. Viewing these photos in small size (and after processing) seems fine, but sure not for printing on a large scale.
Taking shots at this events and specifically from the stage is something somehow important for me personally. This is because I'm not a portraiture fan at all, and while a photographer must expand his horizon to other fields other than his, I find it hard to work with portraiture, mainly because of some introversion traits. Thus, the stage is a suitable environment for someone like me to work on capturing gestures and emotions without having to deal in person with the subject. Needless to say, I don't have to plan anything related to the lighting of the scene; it is just all there waiting to be captured.
Well, the work is not over yet with these photos but I will leave you now with a show of some of them which are processed so far, in hope that you'll like them. Keep in mind that the light conditions beside the lens' conditions were NOT to be appreciated! Sorry for the low quality of the slideshow though; this is the only way I got to upload it here!
Note: Music is Soulmates by Lee Rosevere, and can be downloaded for free from freemusicarchive.


video

  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Expo Break

I'll be busy this week and for 4 days from now with my "daily life" and the Expo with my group. Probably I will have some chance to post a coverage from this event later even though I don't feel like moving a lot around the Expo like before. I will see if I can do something about the stage and the performances there.
As for now, I will give you some rest from my own non-sense and blabbering for a week or so! Till then!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Unprecedented…

Two weeks of upheaval with sickness. Respiratory system infection, and then Conjunctivitis; I was surprised to know that the two are actually connected, as mention in this article. The bright side of the story is a 3 days of medical leave from work, connected to weekend. Not bad. My health still shaky with the tearful cough, but it is the usual story I believe. Coughing always lasts for some days if not months after treatment. I'm not having any medications to treat all of that, just some eye drops and cream for conjunctivitis.

With conjunctivitis. It was redder than this!

With this, and with the closure of Winter's end, seems that my plans to go out at night are somewhat, or completely, diminished. It is clear that my health and immune system is not what it used to be. However, I got myself little boots just in case I need to get a bit deeper into the shore. With this temperature it might not be a good idea to do long exposures here for the level of noise will be something unprecedented, but with more technical knowledge that I've gained along the years, hopefully I'll manage, in case that happens.

Infrolling

Because of the lack of opportunities to go outside at night, I've decided to work more on some infrared shots indoors or in the yard. Some simple experiment. Experiments like this refresh my mind a bit and breaks my idleness with the camera. Thus, I don't necessarily have a goal of achieving a good shot in my mind.

InfraPetals
Canon EF 50mm + 56mm ET, f/16, 4m20s, ISO100.

My first (and second trials) last week were with some small blooms in the yard. Despite the lack of breeze back then, but the shots were not sharp enough, and probably it is for the fact that I didn't adjust the focus (after focusing without the IR filter) to fit the IR range. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens has a marker for infrared re-focusing, even though, to me, it looks useless - because the distance ring is not marked thoroughly but only at specific distances. Thus, sometimes, you must use intuition and approximation in moving the focusing distance over the red dot for IR focusing.

InfraQuad
Canon EF 50mm + 36mm ET, f/20, 4m20s, ISO100.

The second trial that day wasn't any better. Anyway, I'm not planning to upload those to stock websites (or might try to do so into specific ones). The problem with this quadratic bloom is the way it should be cropped to be enhanced. In fact, I've never got myself satisfied with it, but I tried to remove some of the excess lines.
That was a simple trial outdoors. However, the real work was later done indoors when I noticed a vase with withered flowers and roses. It was made ready to disposal so I picked the vase to my room and made a simple setting. Probably the hardest part is moving around with the Speedlite without fixing it on a stand. The space in my room is not suitable anymore, and spaces around this house were taken. Anyway, work started and first it was by using two Speedlites.

Sigh
Canon EF 50mm, f/8,
5s, ISO100.
It seems, as seen in Sigh, that two Speedlites were not necessary after all. The major one was that made the effect was handheld and pointed directly to the dead rose, while the other one was placed on the side and bounced off a metallic-like surface supposedly to light the front. However, this second Speedlite proved to be a major problem when it showed glare on the glass of the vase, and hence I had to spend a considerable time cloning that out in Photoshop!
Thinking about it now, I could have used the second Speedlite to light the background a bit, but unfortunately, I do not have a proper background here, and nothing was behind this vase except the mess of my room! Anyway, it was a lesson learned the hard way. Yet, Sigh gained some Likes after all for its dramatic look. I doubt it is printable or to be uploaded though for the humongous level of noise, despite the short exposure time of 5 seconds only (and both Speedlites were on full power!).

Eski Güzellik
(old beauty)
Canon EF 50mm + 20mm ET,
f/22, 40s, ISO100.
I wasn't over with this subject yet. I liked the idea of some long exposure "indoors" with this infrared filter. The lights in my room are all energy-saving CFLs and those are a bad source for infrared radiation. Thus, naturally, the exposure without any help from Speedlites is going to be a long shot! However, I tried. The estimated time was about 5 hours and 20 minutes! I did it after all in overnight; put things on and went to bed, and tried to sleep with lights on! To my surprise, the camera didn't record the time properly (probably for the unusual time period) - it was recorded was 15 seconds only! The image was bright and good but unfortunately, shaky and the noise level wasn't promising. The shake is surprising in fact, but probably the only explanation for this is the working A/C in my room which delivered gentle vibrations to the set. Anyway, decided to do it again but with a spot light bulb (which should produce quite enough brightness and infrared as well). The result, Eski Güzellik, received many likes and favors as well. It does have some abstract sense with a side of melancholy to it. Considerable work was done to crop it, and then rotate it (and flip it). For some reason which I'm not sure of, the actual positioning was not quite right for me (maybe because of my left-handedness?). I've finally settled down with the look shown here. And that was the last trial with infrared in past few weeks.

The set used for the final shot.

Finale

Well, I would have liked to talk a bit more about the panoramas that were stitched, specifically old panoramas into new suit, but probably I'll leave that for another time. As always I'm having here a time crisis and I've realized that with my systematic time-schedule to work on some of the projects, I did in fact neglect lot of things, and specifically my Geltani conlang. I'm not sure what's the solution to this so far, but I guess I have to give myself some free time first.
I guess, at least how I think it is, I've been indulging myself into projects and stuff to work on just to let myself forget many things in my life. But this is leaving me exhausted and I'm not sure if all of that is really keeping me going forward. It feels numb here. It's hard to feel something anymore...

An Loch Codlata
(the sleeping lake)



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anocht…

It sounds like a slow-paced week here. Probably because it comes after the holidays. Ah well. It's not the first time. People here, most of them in fact, live from one holiday to another, and from weekend to another, and nothing to be called "living" in between. This is the case with me too, but I try my best to keep myself busy with my own projects as much as possible (despite the physical fatigue). I'm still learning the art of "time management".

Anocht

I've finally managed to go out at night and do some shooting! Seriously, it does feel like a miracle happened of some sort. Anyway, the trick is not to sleep afternoons, but later, to wake up a bit late! Oh, and to pack your tools and stuff earlier so you won't have to do them on time before going out - this thing can be a real hassle and put you down (specially if you are as moody as I am).
The chosen location is somewhere on the seaside (as usual); a pier. This pier specifically was closed for a long time as far as I remember and only been open some months ago. I paid a visit the week before to see what was the situation there and get myself familiar with it. Unlike the pier in Sharg area (Soug Sharg that is), in which I've worked before, this pier seems busy at night somewhat and doesn't get quiet a single minute!

The new location (red arrow) compared to the Sharg pier (blue arrow).

The first experiment there wasn't of much interest in fact. I got out with 3 shots, and to my standards, they are regulars. The architecture of the pier is not fanciful like the one at Sharg, but I'd say it has a potential. I don't think a panorama is possible there with the busy fishermen out there but it seems quite a place for some long exposures.

Canon EF 50mm, f/16, 20m, ISO100.


The first wasn't good, mainly because of nudging aside to allow people to pass. The pier's passage was narrow so I was forced to move a bit to the left to give some space. However, my aim was to get some "depth" despite the very simply structure. Anyway, can't complain. But probably I should have used a fisheye lens here rather than 50mm lens. I tried to fix the perspective in this image but it didn't work out well, and the trails (probably for planets more than stars) were not abundant (probably because I was facing east at this point). Processing was a compromise between contrasts of various regions. You can see in the horizon some blue flashes made by LED lights that fishermen use in their work, but anyway they were not a problem for the exposure after all. The blue spots on the passage are probably caused by fishermen passing by back and forth (as far as I remember it was dry to reflect anything). Probably this image can serve as a minimalistic one, but definitely not for printing with this amount of noise; which when cleared, will reduce the trails even further.

Midnight Showers
Canon EF 15mm fisheye, f/9, 9m, ISO100.

The second shot was, again, another trial. I had hard time framing Midnight Showers, specially with the dark atmosphere on the pier. I didn't have the time to use the white balance disk so I just fixed the WB value to Fluorescent WB, and all should be fixed later in RAW editing. I had to crop it a lot and because of the curvature of the horizon I couldn't really balance the image (fixing one line tilts the others). Even though I could have processed it in a proper way to make everything smooth and crisp but that would put down the few star trails in the sky. Thus, I've decided to abandon the idea of a "good" print and just processed the image in a way to show as much trails as possible, and cleaned the noise as much as possible. The nice thing about this image (though good in small size but not in a large one) is that star trails did really appear while city was surrounding the place. Probably if I used a wider aperture a bit the lines would be more prominent (but the exposure would be shorter of course). And like many do successive 30 seconds exposures for star trails and merge them later, probably successive long exposures would be possible too! I did that already in fact but in a sense of HDR merging (by reducing the exposure time to half between one shot and another).

Luminance
Canon EF 15mm fisheye, f/9, 65s, ISO100.

The last shot was toward this city this time. The main interest for me was the reflections on the water surface, which seemed like colorful columns. It sounds bad already for not having a book with me to read a bit while long exposures are done but anyway it was a good thing to meditate around and notice such colorful columns of light. In Luminance, the long exposure here is not only essential to achieve the required exposure for a good image, but also essential to smooth out the water surface. The water surface was relatively calm (seen a raging sea around here before) but the small ripples surely can benefit from a little longer exposure like one minute to be smoothed out as seen in Luminance. When thinking about it, in fact in a raging situation or higher tides and quite active ripples, one would need a shorter exposure relatively; at least this is what my experience foretold so far!
With these simple 3 shots, I'm hoping to get active in the last few days of winter before the weather becomes unbearable here. Going out this time was in the spur of the moment; no planning or anything, unlike in the old times when I had to observe the times for high and low tides. Coming to think about it, it is probably time to get back to the old locations along the beach of Salmiyah where I used to take shots in the old times, and this time try to go deeper in a low tide to have some proper long exposures. However, I might as well benefit from having boots!

Twitching

In the meantime, I've began already working on converting what have been previously done and processed of images from Ireland last year into B&W. Not all seem to fit of course so I'm trying to pick specific ones. Most of the time this conversion to B&W comes with a tint.

Uaigneach agus ag Fanacht
(lonely and waiting)

Na Riasca Gorma
(the blue marshes)
In most of these conversions, my starting point would be by using the Infrared preset in Black and White adjustment layer in Photoshop. Thanks to its unusual toning, this preset provides a somewhat inspirational kick for the coming steps later on. Some images were tinted with a monotone, like Uaigneach agus ag Fanacht many others, and some were tinted with a duotone like Na Riasca Gorma. However, in general, I wouldn't go with a duotone much right now for the large portion of possibilities and it's quite hard to settle with a combination (beside the different ways available to apply the effect). Images like Na Riasca Gorma was quite familiar in some websites and instagram and was favored by many for the combination of colors (blue and gold), which were complimentary. There were also some panoramas involved in this process but I'll keep them for later probably. My 9th album of images from Ireland 2014 will be completely made out from B&W images of various types (landscape, macro, panorama, ...etc).
Along this trend, there is another line of thought (and it is giving me a headache already!) which is going back to old panoramas and trying to achieve something new under the light of the new projection styles that I've discovered, or let's say noticed. Panoramas from my visit to Staten Island, NYC, are of particular interest in this but I'm going back also to my 2010 visit to Cashel, Co. Tipperary in Ireland.

Hell to Heaven

In particular, the panorama taken from the Grotto are of special interest to me for the particular atmosphere attached to it. Unfortunately here, and for some reason I didn't realize yet, Hell to Heaven was stitched with patches of colors and some smudges (caused mainly by out-of-range HDR slides). I don't remember this thing happened in this panorama particularly specially when I printed it first time and sent it to my friend in Staten Island. Anyway, because of my intentions I didn't really care much about the matter since the overall and the final image is supposed to be small as you see above. Those smudges are hard to notice in smaller sizes and with increasing the sharpness in the image these are reduced. Of course, it was done with the help of Mercator projection and some change in the viewing angle. At the end of the process, a glamor effect was added to enhance the "dreamy" look about it.

Doppelbrennpunkte
(double foci)

However, not only these panoramas from Ireland and NYC were of interest, but even older ones like those taken here, and specifically the gazebo-like structure in Salmiyah, Kuwait. This panorama specifically was involved in many activities, but particularly two activities made it a "top": Mawahb fair, and the luxurious coffee table book printed by Trierenberg circle (sponsors of Austria's International Photography contest). However, in these 2 activities, the same panorama had different projection styles. Now, I decide to go further and try what I've noticed lately with Mercator projection and made out Doppelbrennpunkte. It was hard to decide on what kind of angular view I want to achieve here, but the biggest problem was that this panorama was not perfectly centralized (apparently for the problems in location itself). I settled down with what I call "Extreme Mercator" and centralized the fountain and the the dome (but reversed it so that the dome is at bottom for added surreal effect). The problem here is apparent, with the left side being thicker than the right side with columns stretching out. A friend pointed out the following when he saw Doppenbrennpunkte: Is it possible to make the foci (or centers) of the image in the corners instead of making the panorama twirl around a central point? His question is quite reasonable, and I'm to try that in the coming few days. However, one must bear in mind that the architecture of the place is the one that decides what would be or can be done about the features in it.

Palinopsia

Back to Staten Island with another panorama. particularly one done in the porch of the Victorian (B&B). This panorama in particular was "dormant," meaning not much could have been done about it because of the design of the place itself and the scattering furniture. Anyway, I decided to try the "Extreme Mercator" approach and somehow found some satisfaction when I made Palinopsia. The image looks split in half because of the matched left and right horizontal line meeting at the center (through the roof of course). Anyway, this is not the point I'm putting this here.
The real point about it is, I was tone-mapping (working out the original HDR) this panorama and it did take me particularly long time to achieve the desired look. However, it needed further work in Photoshop to enhance contrast further more and eliminate some colors problems. My first goal was to achieve a status of "fear," "uncertainty," and/or "melancholy" (Palinopsia: visual hallucinations). For this reason I worked in a low-saturation environment and I've increased the portion of black and its shades in the image to give a dark impulse to the scene. This is somewhat a challenge to do because I was trying to achieve a "dark" atmosphere using a relatively happy scene (filled with bright colors in furniture and plants).
Now, to the core of the story. To my surprise, my sister commented on this image saying "the colors are happy" (i.e. the colors emit or radiate a good mood)! I'm not sure how did that come up, and whether it is her only or other people do share this opinion. Increasing blacks and reducing saturation is usually a fingerprint for a psychosomatic atmosphere. Did she concentrate on a specific color in particular and that affected all her feelings about the image? Was it the curves that did (unconsciously) affect her enjoyment about the image without noticing the general atmosphere I'm trying to achieve? Or, is it me that didn't notice the happy aspect of the image? It's quite a puzzle to me. I did tell her that I was trying to make the image "melancholic"; however, no response from her so far, and we didn't talk about it in real. I think some interesting information can be learned in this little experiment!

Finale

At the end, I'm here trying to take life on my own pace. Trying to calm down a bit, and kicking negativity out as much as possible (but it's even a harder job to do when you live in the core of it).
Meanwhile, I'm reading articles and lessons on the web for learning Irish, but of course they are not completely sufficient until they are put into practice but it is a beginning after all. I have to say that reading and teaching myself some Irish did in fact open up gates of knowledge and insight into languages in general, and my own dialect in particular, as we usually speak without thinking why do we say things the way they are but it does sound just right for us that way! Nothing like that happened with me since the creation of Ayvarith. One of the ways I'm using now to force myself into digging deeper into the language and learn more, is translating quotes from Arabic mainly into Irish; this procedure would normally force me to dig the dictionaries and read more to try to achieve the best translation possible.



I'm sure there are a number of mistakes there of course, so I'm just hoping someone would correct me whenever possible. Beside learning the languages I'm keeping myself busy with the images at home and books at work. This workplace must be changed at a certain point of my life for sure.
On the other hand, I've finally extracted something out of my mind to call it a "poem." I can't be a critique for my own works but at least I was able to write something in the whim of the moment, and I called it The Wind of Daisies. Maybe I should specify some special time for such mental processes and write something down. I need to get back to poetry a bit because it is a good vent, and I remember that pretty well from my early 20s. Meanwhile, there had been an interesting offer sent to me to spread some of my images for some commercial benefits. I'm going through it step by step and hopefully it can be a good starting point to the outer world. And I'm hoping this is better than submitting my photos to stock websites. One step at a time. Probably there will be a number of images that I would need to delete from stock websites soon. Hopefully by keeping myself busy, I'll forget a lot of my failures...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Esir…

At some point, it was a hectic week, to the point that I really wanted to give up everything I do and everything I care for. I was in pain last week and I feared it would be some kidney-related condition, but luckily it wasn't. It was just some sore pain because of some cold air absorbed by the body it seems. A regular bottle of hot water and a nap was enough to take the pain away, as advised by a friend. Ironically, woke up from that nap and the pain was gone but a headache started! Let's talk Misery.
In the meantime, the weather is getting warmer (and it's February!) and till now I didn't have the chance to just head out and do something with my camera. For this reason, I'm starting to do some experiments indoors. Such experiments can be done almost at any time (when the idea strikes in of course) and no need to wait for the nightfall. But of course they don't provide the excitement begotten by working alone at nighttime in a chilling weather!

Captive

Esir 1
(Captive 1)
Canon EF 50mm, f/2, 1s, ISO100
IR
The first idea was simple: A rose, inside a small cage. Trapped love? Love cannot be expressed and let out? A love that cannot leave the mind and heart? Name as you like. Anyway, the twist to this is using the infrared filter. Understanding more about the infrared filters and the threshold wavelength, I wanted to do with Kodak infrared gel filter. However, because of the lens decision (50mm), I had to stick to the weaker (low threshold) filter, the B+W. This choice was also reasonable for the time being because I wanted to use my Canon Speedlites here and I suspect that the IR emission from these flash tubes are strong enough to go all the way through an almost-opaque Kodak filter.
Esir 2
(Captive 2)
Canon EF 50mm, f/2, 1s, ISO100
IR

After setting up the two speedlites and trying out some directions, I did settle down, as usual, with my most favorite technique: the unidirectional; mainly for its dark aspect and harsh contrast yield. Beside the position of the speedlites, we have the framing problem which actually proved to be difficult because of the low level of the tripod. Hence, I've decided to approximate the look and then complete it with cropping in Photoshop. I did take several shots, changing the settings or the direction a bit. However, at the end only 2 were chosen from the set, and they produced 3 images (so far).
Esir 3
(Captive 3)
Canon EF 50mm, f/8, 250-1s, ISO100
IR
Esir 1 and Esir 2 are actually made from the same RAW file, from a single shot. However, the difference between both is mainly the Clarity indicator when processing the RAW file. For Esir 1, it was fixed on a high value (but lower than 100%), while for Esir 2, the Clarity was reduced somewhere midway between 0 and -100%. Both of these shots were taken at a relatively shallow depth of field (f/2) and I tried my best to aim the focus on the rose itself (synthetic by the way!) and keep the bars of the cage out of focus. In addition to that, Esir 1 had undergone a channel swab. Esir 3, however, was made from a completely different shot (which was taken almost at the end of the session that day). In this particular shot the depth of field is increased (increasing f-number). By this, I was trying to reduce the luminance in the scene by the speedlites (and killing the ambient light still with faster shutter speed). The reason for that was just to add more dark mood into the shot; Things would change later anyway because of the fixes that must be done; generally, the white balance. Of course the bars of the cage now are sharper and clear.
Among the three, probably Esir 2 is my favorite one, for its softness in general and the mystic luminance. Esir 1 has a special touch to it as it looks as a sketch somewhat. Maybe Esir 3 is at the end of the list but yet it has some good contrast there I presume. I think the crop I made to Esir 3 wasn't fair. Despite the black and white look, the images do have a tiny blue tint to them and of course this is obvious in Esir 1 where channel swab (red and blue) have taken place. Just to note, the word "Esir" means "captive" or "prisoner" in Turkish, as well as in Arabic (أسير).
On the queue, there are other ideas that I will try to implement, including using glycerine and using the Kodak gel filter (of high threshold) in this experiment, but I have to figure this one out and see if I can use my 15mm fisheye lens in this little macro-like experiment!

Dubh agus Bán

Beside working on old panoramas with new ideas for new projections, I've started already the black and white trend with my recent pictures from Ireland. Of course there were some of them that were already processed as B&W images already but this time I'm digging for another dimension within the stack of colored images. Probably I'll make a separate album for black and white images from Ireland 2014 trip and make it ready for mass-mailing in one of these days.

An Teach ag Deatach - BW
(the smoking house)

Some images, like An Teach ag Deatach, were completely astonishing even to my own eyes that I can't imagine them back in colors. This image in particular (taken on my way to Ashford castle, and seems in a town named Maam within Galway according to a commenter), was a favorite for many on several online communities. This image had its own hurdles though and I had to use dodge and burn on many layers to adjust some areas. Even though it might be good in a small version but I doubt that it would be good on a large scale print.

Roimh an Dorchadas - BW
(before the dark)

As the case with An Teach ag Deatach, tinting is usually used with most B&W images, and at times tinting in a way if splitting tones is also used like in Roimh an Dorchadas. However, unlike my experiments before with splitting the tones, I've decided to make it light and not necessarily based on any color schemes (e.g. complimentary colors). The process is still going on, and it is not mainly restricted to single shots only. But to be done with panoramas as well.

Oldies

After getting an initiative from a punch of new perspectives or projections in recent panoramas from Ireland, I've started visiting old panoramas, specifically those from Ireland 2010 (Cashel and Cahir in Co. Tipperary) and Staten Island (2012).

Oriental Lights
Staten Island, NYC.
It's too early though to see what's the future of these oldies, but it was fun to work on few of them this week. Specially that I'm having hard time being able to go out and shoot. Winter is almost over by now (if not already).
One panorama in particular was interesting to me is the one taken inside the Chinese temple of the Scholar Gardens in Staten Island, Oriental Lights. In this panorama, not the projection (which I didn't apply before for this panorama) that attracted me specifically, but the lights. Since the original panorama is in HDR (and I had to merge it all over again and stitch it all over again), and since there are some gaps in the luminance range, I've decided to NOT show the details in every part of the scene. Specifically those areas with high level of highlights, the entrance and the windows (up and down in Oriental Lights). Thus, the work was done in the HDR mode here to mimic the outside light coming into the scene through these features (and some delicate work a bit was needed around the pillars). I think it is more normal that way and gives a more mystic look as it should be. Nothing a soft brush can't do!

An Eaglais Ghlas - BW
(the green church)
From recent panoramas from Ireland, An Eaglais Ghlas from Inchagoill Island was a target for this trend and also split toning. In splitting the tones, I picked mainly deep green and deep blue to mimic both the green cover in the original image and the sky (and this is after using infrared preset to convert it to B&W). This is not the first panorama to be converted to B&W in fact, there is one already which was done some time ago and right now it was picked by the group leader to be displayed in the coming exhibition of Mawahb 2015 next March. That panorama was from the forest near the Waterfront in Oughterard which I've made into various projections before.

Easnacha - BW
(ribs)
before adjustments suggested by the leader


Finale

In hope that more peaceful days are to come yet I'm not sure this is the case we have here. I'm not sure what is the finale of this. I'm seriously out of words and all I want to do for the time being is to stay silent for days if not months. Alas, this can't be done in this crazy world I'm living with. For once I thought I'm getting sick with this country and the people around me, but seems I'm seriously sick of everything, and everyone, worldwide.
I'm spending my days reading and teaching myself a bit of Irish Gaelic not for a thing but this seems to be the only way for the time being to increase my brain activity, and somewhat forget my problems and failures. Why doesn't the world leave me alone?


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pains...

Seems I'll be having a rest for this week and maybe for the next week. I'm having some pains that I'm suspecting to be kidney-related. I'm not sure of anything yet, but surely this pain is draining me from power even further more than it is already. I didn't check out with a doctor so far, and probably I will try to do a remedy on my own myself. I got to say, I hate doctors, specifically here. However, if the pain persisted, I guess there won't be any escape from going to them. All what I'm hoping for in the meantime is for this to be just some pains related to exposure to cold air after a shower or a minor inflammation which is not kidney-related.
I have been working with some panoramas (old ones) and trying new geometries and made up some new perspectives. Hopefully I'll post them next time I can type this. Till then...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What The Heck?

What the hell is going on??? This winter is just a puddle of murky water which doesn't move! No activity, just a dormant life and busy busy mind and technically like a paralyzed person who can't reach out for his camera. There are good points however in this time of the year but still I didn't achieve what I was aiming for! I didn't go out to do some photography at night; my favorite time, in my favorite season of the year!
Anyway, in the meantime, I've been busy doing some other work here and there (mostly in front of the monitor here) and specifically working on posts for my Ayvarith conlang on Instagram. It's not only to spread the word about Ayvarith, but it is also for me to revive my memory a bit! Needless to say how much I did forget about the Bulughman and how the Geltani is on hold again after doing a tiny progress few weeks earlier. Also, I've been working on exploring some of the old panoramas, specially those from Ireland in 2010 from Cashel and Cahir in Co. Tipperary. There had been some inspiring results!

Manach ag Damhsa
(the dancing monk)

One of the first trial was the Hore abbey panorama from inside the abbey. I chose this specifically because of the architectural features and specifically the ceiling which had some Gothic-like or Celtic-like design and when stretched out it is more likely a resemblance of St Brigit's cross!
I had a theory before that places with ceilings specifically are more adequate for such twisted panoramas done in Mercator projection; I think Manach ag Damhsa proves this fact. This panorama got a lot of positive feedback and my group displayed it in the group's gallery account on instagram (@bpf_gallery). The pillars here really played a great deal in making a swift-looking movement. Without those pillars it would have been probably a dull twist. I've previously done something similar, a vertical panorama for this specific scene, but it was slender and the sides had to be chopped off.
Anyway, these panoramas were done in the beginning of my journey in photography back then and it wasn't really an easy to ask to "redo" them again. There were some awful mistakes and some "smudges" where something went wrong in the exposure for that particular slide or HDR image in that angle; some were treated, some were not, simply because I didn't know what the HELL was going on there!

Ar an Snámh
(afloat)

For example, in Ar an Snámh the already-stitched panorama had somewhat like a doppelganger! The abbey had virtually some shady building behind as if covered by fog. Looking closely, I've realized these were stitching errors. I don't know how it did happen, but I surely had no time to fix all of that. Thus, I've just stitched it and made a small size out of it for display here. it is a nice effect I believe; gives an impression of fantasy and surrealism. Could be a good option for some panorama maybe (specifically those with open top, or those which got no ceiling). Some panoramas, also, showed that annoying problem of color patches which I still don't quite know what causes it, and apparently I didn't have the time to redo all the HDR merging again and stitching again. Thus, the natural option was to convert to B&W.

Gairdíní Crochtaí
(hanging gardens)

I'm not so attracted to this one; Gairdíní Crochtaí in fact never was in other forms to tell the truth. Probably the best to be is just a flat spherical panorama for this scene. To get rid of those annoying colored spots, I had to convert to B&W (and even then I had problems with tones). It was a great deal of work here trying to show some details and hide some, keep some details dark and lighten some. Some patches or zones in the panorama had a smudging problem which was hard to resolve before stitching and after that, thus again converting to B&W was the solution.

Caisleán Seilide
(snail castle)


Further I went on and completely went out of my mind when I was struggling with Cahir castle. One of the panoramas done there (in the main yard of the castle) had a strange problem which could be related to a misalignment maybe: the edges of the castle itself were glowing as if it was a halo effect. It is not a halo effect as this white line is sharp and not fuzzy or soft like the halo effect. I'm completely blank about this problem. Anyway, the idea for creating Caisleán Seilide was inspired as I was moving around with the coordinate system under the planet projection (as usual) and notice how some parts of the castle are longer than the others. The only thing I regret about this panorama specifically, maybe, is that I tone-mapped it in Photoshop. It did a fine job but probably it was harder to make a drama out of this panorama specifically. All of the above panoramas were merged in HDR slides first using an older version of Photomatix, and I didn't bother to redo the merging again to see if these problems would just disappear.

Back to reality. It seems I'm left now with some of the final images I could be working with from my travel to Ireland in 2014. Mostly floral and I got to say, they are mostly cliché. But there was some promising venture in those.


An Ghrian Gorm
(the blue sun)

Many of these shots did need a work in the focal depth; I had to mimic a shallow depth (using Lens Blur) to the background to isolate the foreground better (since my lens didn't do its job well in the very beginning!). It is a really hard work and a painstaking job, since you have to go around selecting the specific areas only that need to be protected (or blurred) before applying the blurring effect. For this reason I do expect many glitches in the original image despite the fine look when in small size like An Ghrian Gorm above. I see this radiating effect of blue and purple pleasing (despite being oversaturated at times), thus I decided to do another one.

Corcra chun Goirm
(purple to blue)

But the real catch was an architectural detail from Ashford castle (or its periphery to be precise). It began as a play, then developed into a serious venture which I'm trying to do over and over again whenever I get the chance for such play.

Stánóir an Óir
(gold gazer)

I have to say that from far away, Stánóir an Óir does look like a person with closed eyes. It started with a half face of the statue (which was on the top of the tunnel entrance leading to the walled gardens of Ashford castle). I did previous edit such a shot and wanted to do something different here but didn't know what exactly. Suddenly the whole "vision" started when I played around with the contrast if I remember correctly; then I thought this is a good chance to concentrate the light in specific areas and darken the rest to make a dramatic look. So it was, and the rest was a Photoshop game. Originally, Stánóir an Óir is just a half face, but then it was duplicated and the duplicate is flipped horizontally and attached to the rest to make for a complete face! Then there was a nose and lips job (yes like in cosmetics) to enhance the look a bit. The awkward point here is that the nose is actually somewhat out of focus but probably not that obvious after all. I had to do sharpening twice or thrice to increase the visual impact, while the golden patches were simply a result of adjusting the white balance in RAW before opening in Photoshop. Thus, a dull white statue was transformed dramatically, first by RAW editing, then by Photoshop. I'm looking now for more instances of this sort to work out my mind about it a bit. I think it is a good chance to vent creativity a bit instead of this dull winter season I'm having.

Finale

Things are going slow and sluggish, and I'm trying my best to enjoy my time as much as possible throwing back all the hardships. I'm trying to synthesize a feeling of carelessness deep within me, specially when it comes to conditions at work.
We had a meeting lately and I had to participate and the end result is a bit perplexing. According to one of the members of the committee that manages my workplace said that I did a pretty good job and I should participate more in such meetings when they are due (usually I'm not part of it). This is a good thing because it is encouraging and, well, someone expresses how valuable I am, but on the other hand there is a gloom lurking, as it means more responsibility and a careful venturing in that domain, in a time when all I'm thinking of is myself and my leisure, and doing what I like to do.

Source: Amazon
I'm in the process of reading an interesting book here, which I've brought with me from Dublin's airport, but didn't start reading it except of late. The book is by Daniel Kahneman, and as it says on the cover, Kahneman is a Nobel laureate. Kahneman is a psychologist and discusses many (logical) psychological issues, specially those affecting the general public. I had some ideas specifically about the media, and this man here, a professor, did explain exactly what I perceived in the media under his term: Availability Cascade. I advice everyone reading this now to get this book. Ironically as the title says, Thinking Fast and Slow, I do find myself reading it slowly; probably mainly because the language is English with long passages and entwined terminology, but after all English is not my first language - I guess I should learn fast-reading in English. Saying that, I'm doing some effort as well in learning Irish, at least in writing it for the time being!
I've been running errands in a continuous rhythm by now, every single day. Makes me think of a real vacation as well of doing nothing but sleep and walk somewhere nice. Alas, my duties are always calling for me…