Thursday, April 16, 2015

Monodrama…

Again, a quick wrap about this week. I've been busy this week (and up till Friday 17th) as I've been working with the group on documenting the Monodrama festival here in Kuwait starting from last Saturday. Many celebrities, local and Arabian in general are attending this festival. It is a good practice and better than being idle with my camera specially with the arrival of Summer (remember, Kuwait has no Spring season!).

The official poster of the event
Personally, I didn't imagine that I would love the shows performed on that stage. They do indeed have a philosophical questioning and impact, and sometimes I do feel like putting the camera on the side and enjoying the show myself. All shows were good (to my taste), though I did skip one show because of the severe headache (which later turned into a migraine as usual); but I do feel somewhat touched deeply by 2 shows mainly: The Story of Yesterday [قصة الأمس], by the renowned Kuwaiti actor Abdul-Aziz Al-Haddad [عبدالعزيز الحداد], which gives a glimpse into the life of the late Egyptian poet, Ahmad Fat'hy [أحمد فتحي]; and the other show was Foreignness [غربة], by the Iraqi dramatist Sami Abdul-Hameed, PhD. [د. سامي عبدالحميد], which speaks about the experience of a man estranged away from his homeland (and I do firmly believe that it does have a glimpse about his own personal life as well).

Abdul-Aziz Al-Haddad
الفنان الكويتي القدير عبدالعزيز الحداد

Sami Abdul-Hameed
الفنان العراقي القدير د. سامي عبدالحميد

Probably these two specific shows do relate to something about my personal life. Who knows. After finishing those sessions I need to sit down and filter out the images, and after filtration I need to pick out those that are supposed to be good shots, for the contest which is related to this event. Frankly, up till this moment, the contest's rules and conditions are still fuzzy and I'm not sure what are the requirements. Generally speaking, I'm having it as a practice and not as a big deal and I'm enjoying my time there regardless of the tiresome and exhaustive posture (standing all the time). The images are mostly taken in an ISO no less than 2000. Hence, I'm not so optimistic about having a good series here. I've been trying out my barrel or mirror lens as well (Rokinon 800mm) but I didn't take it seriously. The extreme zoom and the manual focus (beside the large diameter) makes it hard to follow an actor on the stage with it and re-focus. Hence, most of the shots were taken with Sigma 70-300mm, and sometimes with Bower 2x teleconverter.
Till next week, let's hope I get at least ONE good image of all this mess. There will be some big deal sitting in front of this monitor to delete and filter more than two thousand shots (if not 3K).

Thursday, April 9, 2015

And The Game Continuous…

Again, this should be a quick wrap about the last week, and in fact some of the stuff done before the expo. There had been some work with older panoramas in order to achieve new perspective and projection styles with these old stuff, and some of them apparently paid of somehow! But first, let's see how the game began and going on with the panoramas taken from our booth in the latest expo.

Center View

Left Wing

Right Wing

Probably you have seen these three in case you checked the slideshow in the previous post. Anyway, those were "regular" flat spherical panoramas (with exception to the left wing which is in Mercator format). The right wing specifically was taken at a higher level (almost eye level) in a trial to eliminate the flare reflected on the prints. It did work well I presume, but the situation is not as lucky as this on the other areas like the center and the left wing. This is why I shot these two on low level specifically. I did learn my lesson here though: a low level panorama will compress the upper part severely. As we say here, "every slap comes with a lesson." In order to fix things just a little bit, I made the left wing panorama in Mercator format just because this projection stretches the height, and compresses the width. It did stretch the height of the prints in the upper row just a bit. However, it didn't fix it all. A lesson learned.

Twisted Booth

Then the game begins. Even though there is technically no roof for the booth, but yet it has a slender opening which does act somehow like a roof (let's call it: negative roof!). The perfect environment for a twist! I didn't try this approach with the left and right wings yet, as I believe this projection must be applied in a point that is supposed to be a "centroid" for the place under inspection. Thus, it was applied only to the first panorama taken at the center of the booth. Another twist to the story with a Wide View panorama (or so I do call it)…

Willkommen auf BPF!

Probably the chair at the bottom is a troublesome feature, but at least I tried to keep it symmetric as much as possible as cropping and/or cloning it out is next to impossible! However, as it can be seen from all these panoramas, the first three were actually, in essence, documenting panoramas. Only the last two were "artistic" panoramas, where the appearance of the prints is not a priority - but architecture is.  Despite the simplistic design, the abundance of lines, specifically straight lines, was a general factor to build up a complexity in looks. Seems quite philosophical to me: complexity, grows off multiples of simplicity.

Durch
Before the expo (and after it) there had been lot of work as well with older panoramas in a trial to squeeze out more looks and ventures. Even those panoramas with apparent stitching errors, like Durch which was taken from a pedestrian bridge, was target. Probably the stitching errors are forgiven here a bit? In fact, this bridge panorama was one of the first panoramas to try out "twisting" with by a mistake (as I was changing the coordinates of the projection). However, I still had to try something with Mercator format (Mercator had been my favorite for a twisting effect right now). The result can be seen in Durch. In the beginning it was almost symmetric (along a vertical axis) but still the look was a bit "less dynamic"; it was good, but less dynamic. For this, I moved the central point a bit and made it look like a slider or a swift moving object from top to bottom. Adding to that, the colors had to be changed to give out a dramatic look and impact. Gothic look? Maybe. With some arabesque design that would be such a weird combination I presume!

Leathchruinne
(Hemisphere)

I even rolled back to some older panoramas from my visit to Ireland, Co. Tipperary in 2010. Specifically, one of these panoramas was of interest for me: The yard of Thronbrook House, in Cashel. This is where I stayed back in 2010. It can be categorized as a regular landscape panorama with the addition of the house. I did many projections before (planet, wide view, you name it) for this one. However, because of the open space, I doubted this would be good in a twisted Mercator panorama (like our group's booth above); you'd need a straight features and not an open space for this type of projections. Anyway, the idea was totally different here, but done before. The hemisphere style, or the elevated surface style. In fact, this style stems out from the planet projection with a little change in the "pitch" value (pitch: the vertical angle at which the camera is pointed, as if you nudge your head for "yes"!). The interesting point comes then after with the edit I've done to this panorama specifically…

Leathchruinne (B&W)
(Hemisphere)

I've asked if the B&W version or the colored version is nicer, and I got a response from an Irish (more than one actually) and said they prefer the colored one, because the B&W version is "terrifying"! Somehow, I can say I did succeed! Here, of course, it is a B&W version but with tone split between orange and blue.
However, I do find the combination of orange and blue is quite plausible in such situations with "dynamism" when tone splitting is done (both compliment each other on the color wheel). In the other hand, there must be an element that added to the emotions, other than the colors alone. In any photo, we generally face two main aspects: colors, and composition. For this reason there is a common saying that goes like: B&W photos neglect color and make the viewer concentrate on the composition. Probably I can say that the position of the clouds and the curve of the horizon added much to the dynamic appearance of this shot, and with the removal of colors and adapting only a duotone, it had some direct impact on emotions. I think if I want to put things in some formula that would be: clouds + curve = dynamism + emotions. Yeah, sorry. I like to put math in everything I see wherever I go.

And away from Ireland, and back to Failaka, which I should plan some trip to there in the near future, I hope. Along with the trend to make out something new from something old, I've re-visited a really old panorama: the Ghost Bank.

The Ghost Bank

I believe I've extracted enough already from this panorama. The destruction makes it a vivid target! Anyway, it is the time to do a vertical Mercator for this one, but yet I don't feel quite satisfied yet and I do feel there is more to be done with this panorama. If I remember correctly, there was no Wide View panorama for this one. We'll see about that…

Dunkel unter dem Licht
(Dark under the light)

Again, even with Dunkel unter dem Licht I did have a problem with centralizing the roof. It seems that this would be my eternal problem! Anyway, the patterns of columns and windows in this shape aren't quite "interesting" but yet some people liked it anyway. The blue hue and shades in some areas are caused by originally taking the shots with Fluorescent WB if I remember correctly. I had to put the saturation for the blues down a bit though, for it was like a color splash rather than a lighting effect.
There are other panoramas that I'm experimenting with right now but I might keep it all for the next post.

Finale

During the past expo, a weird conversation occurred with one participant. I remember this conversation particularly because of a "paradox" or so it seemed to me. I was explaining how some photographers' brains used to work and I went like:
Some photographers got an eye for details wherever they go because this is how their minds work or programmed, while some others, as of me, like to see the general shape or picture, and for this reason I adore panoramas.
The paradox here lies in some idea that I had plans to achieve and do (though never fulfilled so far), which was about implementing the idea of Retinitis Pigmentosa (which I suffer from) into my photography. If I think about it, I do usually see the usual work here is to be done in macro level where details are abundant in a small area relatively. However, I did state already that I do like the general view and I'm fond of panoramas because of that. This passion about panoramas, seems to be a reflection from my disease; in other words, I do like to do panoramas because my eyes are limited in vision.
The difference between the two ideas here is, the former is a result of conscious thinking about implementing the idea of RP. The latter is a natural given (or so it sounds with me). Which way to go? Well, for sure I'm not giving up my passion for panoramas. Yet, I do indeed have some passion for the macro world but to extreme levels, and it was just an experimental phase. In between the two, probably I should find a balance.

In the meantime, away from this "psychological" venture, I'm planning to get a bit of an "exercise" with some activities with the group in various activities not related to panorama making. The first target would be a "monodrama" event. Supposedly the target is not complex since it is a single performer acting on the stage. Yet, I do not have much faith in my Sigma lens, but we'll see. I'm not sure what's the lighting conditions will be there. I'm not sure though if I can completely do the whole course of events but I shall try. I need to break the routine, and the tiresome body…

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?