Thursday, June 25, 2015

Infra Selfie…

A week has passed of Ramadhan already. Things are going fast, and I'm trying to cope with the new timings. So far my body is doing nice job but it requires more sleep as usual. Anyway, this is the story of my life I presume.
Meanwhile, my timing seems compressed, specially that Ramadhan this year comes in the beginning of summer, which leaves me with few hours at night to do all I can do before trying to sleep (again) to get up next morning for another course of... misery. However, I had some time to do some stuff at least…

Infra Selfie

I've been trying this for 2 weeks; shooting myself (i.e. taking a selfie not with a gun) while using the infrared filter. My infrared filter is B+W with threshold of 650nm, which makes it penetrable by Reds beside infrared. Anyway, this is suitable so far for some shooting using Speedlites.  They are good sources for infrared rays by the way.

In my previous trials, I used some low f-numbers, and hence a shallow depth of field and a blurry image most of the time. I had to lower the f-number (around f/5.3) to allow more light to get in while shooting the 2 speedlites (580EX II and 430EX II) at full power. Narrowing the aperture yielded no image at all!
This time, however, I changed positions and I got the speedlites as close as possible to my face; it is dangerous somewhat - you can feel the heat wave rushing on your skin after each flash strike. At this point, I've set the f-number to f/8 (and I would go to f/10 if I had the chance to). The results were sort of acceptable. I know some people who liked these shots! Future model? Nah... not with this belly.
While processing the set of images, I was reluctant to fix the white balance as I usually do with infrared images. Mostly, I would just use the Infrared profile specifically made for such images and fix the saturation and contrast starting from there without adjusting the white balance. This kind of filter gives a pleasant hue and shade of Reds. Just for the sake of it, I did try to adjust the white balance as on the image above (and that would shift the colors to almost black and white image).
I faced some problems in processing like banding because of the excessive saturation at some point, but at the end I got to find some good shots. My dream now lies in shooting selfies using the Kodak gel filter or something like it, which has a threshold of 1000nm (more opaque to visible spectrum). That would require more flash power! If my face almost got burned for using speedlites at close distance to my face, imagine what kind of setting should be used if I used such filter of 1000nm threshold? Of course, with rising the ISO level too…

Syllabary

I've been working slowly with my Geltani project but at least I did something. Simon Ager, author of Omniglot, seems interested in this script, and thus I'm going to prepare a template for it in order to be displayed on Omniglot. Even though he did send me some ready-made templates to be used, but they don't fit into the scheme of Geltani (Geltani is Chinese-like script). Moreover, the templates he sent me were for alphabetical scripts, while Geltani contains a syllabary system along with the characters (somewhat mimicking the Katakana system to Japanese).

Scan of the syllabary
Click to enlarge.
I've managed so far to adjust and fix some issues with the syllabary system and I think I'm satisfied with it right now. The plan now is to make crops out of this scheme and put every character in a table. It's going to take a really long time I suppose! Probably the best way to do this is to make a document file and then save it as HTML.
What is left now is to re-check the phonetic values for some characters; something I was planning to do all the week but couldn't!

Finale

A lot in my brain right now; sketches, photos, designs. I don't know from where I should start. In the meantime, I've continuing my previous work with re-making old panoramas (specially those from my 2010 trip to Ireland, Co. Tipperary) to try to find more projections.
There is a pending trip to take place in September, to Oman, which would last for around 4 days doing photography projects there with the group, and I'm thinking already of having a real vacation after this trip. Not to Ireland this time, I don't think so, but it's just an idea and I have to think about it fast.
My mind and time is occupied as I'm doing an Arabic blog post about macro photography for Arabic readers - dedicated to beginners. I was hoping to post this one Wednesday but seems the amount of information included and the images needed there would need another week of working out. The only time I work on this Arabic article is when I'm, well, at work. Beside that, I'm trying to do some of the doodles and sketches that I've planned before. Not many pleasant results so far! I didn't like my own work…
So much here and so much there. I feel like breaking everything and just leave it all behind me here. This mind is cuffed to many things. I think not much is left for me here already…

Ag Éirí
(rising)


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Geltani Galore…

Well, this is a quick wrap, since I didn't post anything last week (and in fact I was not going to this week as well!).
Life is going slowly in this heat. Man, I wish I can sleep and wake up and it is winter again. Not much action with my camera lately but I do have some plans that are on my waiting list. Been trying to do some clumsy DIY stuff with a Kleenex box (yes, tissue paper box) and make it as a light modifier for my flashgun (Canon 580EXII), but it was a failure so far. Never mind anyway, it was not a big deal but something to get active a bit. I have other plans in my head now.

The poor box.
Let's not go about how I made it. Should be obvious.


Ramadhan is here already, so blessed and happy Ramadhan. I can't deny my fear about it though; there shall be a lot of exhaustion more than it is there already, specially with students in college (where I work) are still on their summer classes. It surely means traffic jams galore, and with Mom's dialysis schedule, the situation is not pleasant at all this year. I don't think I would have much time for my own projects till the month passes.

Meanwhile anyway I've been keeping myself a bit busy with my Geltani project and I'm already starting to write a brief about it in order to send to Omniglot. I've sent an example already to the author just to see how it looks (because the look of the script is important if it is to be added to the website). In addition, I'm still fine-tuning some aspects about Geltani, and changing some previous rules.

Transliteration: jewno uwibañwoš', wá núc zing reñy'ču vá zing ča-xungči
Meaning: men are like bagpipes, no sound they give until they are filled.


No need to go on and explain the transliteration and the sounds of these characters. I'll keep it for another time hopefully. As I was rummaging back through my notes about Geltani, I've decided to re-adjust the Genitive case and make it closer in concept to Japanese. I had to look into this matter specifically because I'm planning to name Geltani in its own speakers' tongue as "people of rock." Modeling that on the Japanese (の) [no], the order should be then as "rock-of people." The character which will act as the  Japanese (の) [no] will sound as /xə/ (with IPA "x" sound as Scottish or German "ch").
Genitive character
/xə/
There are other things to refine as well, like the syllabary system that comes with Geltani (something close to Katakana in Japanese). However, I'm trying to keep the language agglutinating (like Turkish) as much as possible. Geltani is not supposed to be a tonal language like Chinese, but it seems I would have to refine the values for some syllabic combinations further in order to make them distinguishable in sound. If that does not work as such, I would probably have to go ahead and hit the tonal approach just a bit.

Goals

Now with Ramadhan being here already, I do have a list of goals, but of course without a specific time table to do them. I'm thinking of seriously stopping the blog during this time until the month is over. But I'm not sure about this decision yet. Some of these goals include:
  1. Doing a B&W panorama out of JPG images instead of RAW (as a challenge).
  2. Doing an Infrared panorama from a bridge (previously done in a normal mode).
  3. Doing more doodles and sketches and convert them to vectors. A project I stopped long time ago was to make a set of sketches about a specific theme and convert them all to vectors and upload them to stocks.
  4. Maybe infrared portrait with high flash pulses.
  5. Staying alive.

Bridge-O-Rama
Where I want to do an infrared panorama.

I've been busy with the group and specifically with some aspects of the website (raising it up after being down), beside working on getting an international recognition for our group (or club so to say). All that kept me a bit busy as well and away from thinking about my camera. But hopefully I'm coming back to this soon.
The past few weeks had been full of headaches and sleeping problems (though I've always had them but the rate was higher this time). Now, wishing I did indeed sign for a leave for Ramadhan already…

Blessed Ramadhan folks…

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MonoContest…

Well, it's finally here! The expo of the Monodrama Festival. Which means I can finally share my pics on the so-called "social" media; and here of course.
However, before proceeding to the slideshow, I have to mention the winners of this contest. The committee only provided 2 places for winners, and by luck, both of them are members in the same group I work with (we worked together in fact).

Ibrahim Al-Erady with his shot of the Kuwaiti actress Ahlam Hasan.
First place.
Jassim Al-Saffaar with his winning shot of the renowned Iraqi actor Sami AbdulHameed, PhD.
Second place.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, not all photos from the contestants were printed as we, or I, thought. Thus, one of my most favorite images was not printed and displayed. This shot is from the stage with the first performance (in the opening ceremony), for the renowned Kuwaiti actor AbdulAziz AlHaddaad. The title of the play was The Story of Yesterday [قصة الأمس], which is in fact the title of a famous poem written by the late Egyptian poet Ahmad Fat'hy [أحمد فتحي] (whose role was played by AlHaddaad) and sung by the renowned Egyptian singer Um-Kalthoom [أم كلثوم]. In this scene specifically, the apogee of emotions was at its max, with the poet holding a portrait of his daughter whom he didn't see in years after his separation from his English wife and coming back to Egypt. He was building his dreams on the future and on this scene specifically, Haddaad was portraying how the poet would have been playing with his daughter and singing for her… something that never happened, for his ill luck. I called this shot Tomorrow, as a reflection on the hopes that were built upon an unknown dark future…
Anyway, I've made a short video here with all my shots for the contest. There are other shots of course and processing them is still ongoing. However, the ones in this slideshow, are the only ones that I've included for the contest. Hope you enjoy the show!

video
Music: By Grace.
By: Podington Bear



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Yggdrasil…

This blog post contains a QTVR which uses QuickTime plugin to be displayed. The page might load slowly, and might not be displayed properly on tablets or smartphones. 

Summer is officially here. It is already 43°C (~109°F) at daytime. I wonder how much that would be around "real" Summer? I can't even bear the idea in my mind with getting a splash of melancholy more than it is already.

I've recently finished an eye check-up (last Sunday), which is a regular one done every 6 or 7 months since I've been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Sounds a bit of good news now when the doctor said that the situation seems stable. I do have my problems already in walking around specially in confined spaces, but compared to my eldest brother, I can well take care of myself so far. Probably the Vitamin A treatment is doing its job in slowing down the process of decay of the retina cells. Hopefully!

Success with Mess

I've finally managed to stitch the tricky panorama taken from Al-Hamra tower about two weeks ago. The panorama was tricky because of the moving subjects AND stable subjects in the scene; adding to that, the hardships with moving the remnants of the tripod in some projection styles.

Inside Al-Hamra

Of course, the series must start off with the regular and the most humble project: the flat spherical. The major problem here was with slide 7 specifically (center, to the right a bit). There were major stitching errors in that spot specifically and there was a "gap"; because slide 7 was removed completely. Adding any bit of it would scramble the whole area, thus I had to remove the culprit and try to mend it manually. In a small size it would be fine to look at I presume (and the QTVR looks good I believe). The tripod remnant in this version is not a problem since it is at the bottom, and a simple crop was enough to remove it.

By The Crown

The next "play" was to change the perspective. When trying the little planet projection, I personally didn't like the results, thus I changed my mind directly to see what the tunnel projection would yield. The result was By The Crown. One of the major problems here is the fact that, despite my attempt to centralize everything, but, as usual, things should go astray when the final image is made! I've spent quite a time with By The Crown trying to wrap, mold, and fix the axes to meet my vision. I wasn't lucky in other styles though!

İmparatorun Avlusunda
(in the emperor's courtyard)

Before heading to the little planet projection, I paid a minor visit to the Mercator projection (usually this is one of the "last" projections to explore when I do panoramas). The shape of the straight lines in the architecture and the uneven ceiling of the place did not help in achieving a good twisted panorama, adding to that the fact that the group members do appear in a crucial part of the panorama. Thus, a simple vertical panorama using Mercator format (to have a proper width instead of a slender one) is all I could do for the time being. Yet, I allowed myself to break the normal attitude when tone-mapping the HDR panorama and tried to add more drama to the scene by using "harsh" techniques, so to say., which caused specific halos around some elements in the image.
Yet when moved to the little planet projection style, there was not much to be done in this projection. It did not yield interesting results as much as the tunnel projection did. However, changing the viewing angle in that projection was enough (in fact the tunnel projection is just a planet projection with 180 degrees reversal).

Παλάτι του Ηρακλή
(Palace of Hercules)

Changing the viewing angle in the planet projection format did in fact yield 2 interesting results as we'll see; with 180 degrees of difference between the two. The first attempt, Παλάτι του Ηρακλή, is probably the most interesting panorama in the collection so far. When posted to 500px website, it was ranked as "popular" in just 30 minutes from posting it. This panorama caused me a lot of headache when trying to fix the axes of the image to make it as symmetric as possible, and removing the remnants of the tripod was a great deal of time and effort and yet it is not a perfect render still - it might look good only in the small version. Here too, I've decided to push the HDR tone-mapping further and try to make a harsh impact on the eye by exposing the black levels and increasing the contrast (and the vibrance of colors too). The tiles of the ground were hard to keep in symmetry and I believe they were not meant to be symmetrical in the first place! I think I'll revisit this panorama soon for B&W conversion or so…

Yggdrasil

The second, or the opposite angle for Παλάτι του Ηρακλή, was named Yggdrasil. Originally I was thinking of something related to spiders, but it crossed my mind that Yggdrasil is more interesting! Yggdrasil is the tree of life in the Norse mythology. To add a twist to Yggdrasil, I've added a Photo Filter to the original HDR panorama before tone-mapping. It was a magenta tint filter. However, I have to say I somewhat regretted this decision, as working with the panorama later on proved to be harder than I thought and the tones were problematic. I'm seriously considering re-tone-mapping this panorama without this tint. Anyway, it did reach the "popular" status in 50 minutes after posting it to 500px website. Removing the tripod remnants from Yggdrasil was relatively easier compared to Παλάτι του Ηρακλή, but it did take a long time as well, and discrepancies did occur in that area later on when tone-mapped and processed. The visual impact was sealed with sharpening the panorama with a bit of overdose. In this panorama, I couldn't hold things in a square format as it was with Παλάτι του Ηρακλή before, because some features at the bottom were not adding much to the scene (and cropping from the sides a little did help eliminate some stitching errors and avoid me the hassle of fixing them). These are the panoramas done from that specific location so far…
QTVR-wise, there was only one QTVR of course, since it is all about one panorama. Again, when making a QTVR right now, I don't have to worry much about the nadir point. I've started to adapt the logo approach at the nadir point mostly right now. However, because of some recent developments, I'm thinking more about changing the style in which I represent my QTVRs on the web; even though it might takes up some learning curve in the field of coding and webpage development…
 


The difference aspect here though, is the fact that I didn't render the QTVR at the size of 400x300 pixels as I usually do for this blog - but it was rendered here in a larger size and the window is fixed at 400x300 size; I think this way is better for representing the details better in such a small space. At the bottom of this QTVR you can find the information about the location.

Revision

In the past two weeks I've been ignited again to have a peek into Chinese and Japanese, specifically after my follow up with an old cartoon: 三国志 (Jap: Sangokushi), or Romance of Three Kingdoms; a famous work of Chinese literature made into an anime.
Digging further into the names of the characters and trying to understand more the tonal system used in Mandarin Chinese, made me sweep through the language as a whole and specially some of the sounds and notations used in the Pinyin system to note down Chinese. Some of these sounds used in real Chinese are not implemented in Geltani, but I did add some Semitic sounds already to Geltani which made it a Sino-like language with a Semite touch. Some of these sounds are: voiced and voiceless alveolo-palatal fricatives. I think applying the tonal system is out of the question here since this would complicate the matters further, but it would be nice to understand AND comprehend the tones by hearing them in spoken manner. I know, things like that sound natural to a Chinese person probably, but as an Arab, tones are used to distinguish a style of speech (as in most languages, e.g. in question or sarcasm), but to use tones solely to distinguish meanings is pretty much a harder task for someone without trained hearing. This ignites in me a question of whether or not such languages do help, naturally, their speakers in musical endeavors. Would someone learning Chinese get, by nature, the capability to distinguish musical notes more easily? Is learning Chinese easier relatively for someone who deals with musical tones?
Anyway, there might not be a space for extra sounds in Geltani already, but I think it is worth some consideration. I do have some plans regarding some revision for the Geltani - and I know, I've been saying this for long now, but most of the processes regarding this project are mental and not noted down! I think I must start building a webpage for it soon and send it over to Omniglot and see what happens.
By the way, probably I should stop using the "semite" and "semitic "notation by now since lot of people, as far as I know, are reluctant to use them because they are remnants of the Orientalists who based their classifications upon the Bible majorly, and less on scientific evidence. However, in Arabic books that I've encountered so far, some authors tend to call this language group as Arabic / Arabian languages or Ancient Arabian languages sometimes, referring to the fact that most of those who speak such languages, specifically Akkadians (the first Semites to arrive in Mesopotamia and lived along side with the Sumerians) were immigrants from the Arabian peninsula, and hence it is logical to call such group as Arabian languages as a whole. Anyway, in modern Western styles, such group is called mostly Afro-Asiatic languages as I reckon.



Finale

Feeling a bit down since I couldn't accompany the group to Dubai this week to attend PhotoWorld Expo. Too many things on my plate that I couldn't really afford to go and come back just for 3 days. Anyway, many positive feedback are coming already and I'm glad that they've made it as the only Kuwaiti corner in the expo.
I've got visiting visions in my mind about writing some short story of some sort (many topics crossed my mind actually), beside writing poetry as well. Yet, when I look at the time I do have and all the things that I must attend to, makes me scared to even think about adding one more task into my daily scheme and schedule. For this reason, I might have, at some point, to give up some of my time that I do spend here in front of the PC and processing images, as well as dwelling on some social medias aspects, to pour that time down on other sides of my own self. 
Meanwhile, I'm trying to re-collect myself; my judgements, actions, reactions. Many things to go through in my life, as I get more isolated. Sometimes, leaving and relocating yourself in some far away places might be the only solution available, to gain some respect that you deserved in a long time…

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ham(b)ra…

Still feeling like a compressed can of soda. So much to do in this week and I barely have the time to brush my hair before going out even (literally). The coming weeks aren't free any further I presume.
Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the gallery of the monodrama festival to be established, so that I can publish my shots further. It is supposed to take place around May 25th. Still a long time if you ask me. On the other hand, there is an eye check up appointment waiting for me by next Sunday, and I'm completely feeling uneasy about it. I need a 2 weeks vacation just to do what I "have" to do and what I really "want" to do. Well, Let's make that 3 weeks…

Ham(b)ra

Al-Hamra (or mockingly: El Hambra!) is one of the longest buildings in the city here. The group managed to make a deal with whoever is in charge to let us in and do some photo shoot inside. Originally, this "trip" is not related to my current class with the group which is about B&W photography, but however, it was a good practice there and our teacher asked us to do some B&W shoot in there.

A map of the location. The blue marker points to the tower while the red one points to the mall itself. The green marker points to the shadow of the tower on the ground; compare to other shadows!

It was my first time in that building and I have to say that I did like the architecture there in general, yet it doesn't sweeten my eyes as much as a typical traditional architecture (i.e. Islamic so to say). However, the lines and shapes were abundant and in fact I spent my whole time mostly in one location trying to extract abstracts as much as possible from there. Needless to say that my burden of tools was heavy and didn't allow for easy movement from one place to another. Other members of the group were roaming the place and did have way much better shots than I did in fact. All settled in B&W. No tint.
In the beginning, however, there was a panorama for the place which I tried my best to make centralized as much as possible for a perfect symmetry. Anyway, because of the movement in the place and the presence of the group (and passing people a bit) it turned out to be a troublesome panorama and I do need quite a time to fix the slides together. With any luck, I might be able to post it next week here!

The main whole where most of my shots were taken.
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8(?), 15-1, ISO100.
Interestingly, I fixed the tilt when editing the RAW, yet my teacher exclaimed about the presence of the tilt still!
The Ceiling
Even though most shots were taken in exposure brackets as for merging into HDR later, but only one was picked for the edit. Also, everyone agreed that the light conditions (specifically outside) were not proper for the session (hence the extremely bright windows shown in the entrance hall above). Though I don't mind the brightness and I think they add to the contrast, but still they say some details or lower level of light must be there. On the other hand, since the images were shot in RAW, and despite using the Monochrome Picture Style my Canon camera, yet Photoshop does not identify such styles. The images would still show up in color. Thus, the images you see here are in fact "converted" to B&W by the RAW editor. Nevertheless, we were supposed to use the LiveView feature in our cameras to aid in forming a perspective of the B&W image we are about to make.
I did my reading about the B&W photography some long time ago and what I taught myself is in fact what has been taught in this class so far; it is all about patterns and light (thus, abstracts are a good approach in this field). The whole idea is that you forget about the color and concentrate on composition, because it is the pinning factor for your image. You take off colors simply to make the viewer concentrate more on the emotions and the shapes involved in your photo. For that, and keeping this in mind, I wouldn't have to use the LiveView much to imagine my shot, but after all it is a good practice. One's eye should be able to predict the outcome of the B&W already by looking directly to the nature of the subject and the lighting about it, and not its colors.

Hanging
Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8(?),
50-1 sec, ISO100.
After a while, the group decided to head up, to the 60th floor! Later I was thrilled to know we were supposed to head to the 80th floor but the security people disagreed with that and the maximum height we could head to is the 60th. I was tired already and in fact I wanted to go back home at that time but the group insisted on going up and have a look from there. I have to admit that the view is marvelous, and probably would have been more eye-catching if it was the evening time with the lights of the city glimmering over the landscape. Anyway, my first shot up there was actually of me lying down with my legs stuck to the wall, as you can see in Hanging. Of course, this shot was actually turned upside down for the purpose of "visual impact"; so to say. My teacher liked the idea but said it needs some work (the image itself suffered a heavy cropping as well, as it was taken with a fisheye lens). I'm not sure what extra work needs to be done here but I agreed to bring the original RAW file to the teacher to see for himself. I've removed the empty space (at the bottom of the image) since it doesn't serve the symmetry much.

InfraCity
Canon EF-S 18-55mm, @34mm,
f/10, 25s, ISO100.
The final shot from up there was a landscape shot for the city in portrait, using the infrared filter. In the beginning I had some trials with Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens, and the Canon EF 15mm fisheye lens, but all yielded improper proportions and the distortion was not highly appreciated in fact. Thus, I decided to head back to the very old (and shaky) 18-55mm lens; i.e. the kit lens. The infrared filter in use here was B+W's circular filter, which has a threshold of 650nm; meaning it does allow some visible light to seep through. It would not be possible to use the gel filter with such a lens (which has a threshold of 1000nm). For this reason, despite using ISO100, the exposure was relatively short (25 seconds only), compared to longer exposures in such situations when using the gel filter. Anyway, the shot isn't typically B&W but in processing such images the image would turn to B&W somewhat with a tint, and can be converted to pure B&W after all. Even such short (relatively) exposure did help in showing the clouds on the move. I guess an exposure of around 40 seconds or 50 seconds would be enough to give some good lines for the clouds' movement. Yet, the infrared filter did in fact help on adding contrast and to show the clouds more clearly (no polarizer was used in here). Still, the amazing point which I don't comprehend still, why the teacher sees a tilt in the image despite my fixes for the horizon line in the RAW editor! It is probable that this is caused by the barrel effect for such lenses. I tried to fix this type of distortion manually but the image was highly stretched at the bottom and turned out-of-focus-like; thus, I've kept it as it is.

Alarming

In all that mess, I got an unexpected (bad) surprise, when I realized some of my lenses were malfunctioning in a weird way. Mainly, the Canon EF 15mm fisheye lens, and the pretty old 18-55mm kit lens. I wouldn't be worried much for the latter, but the former lens is pretty important for my work with panoramas.
I'm not sure what's the deal here. However, the lens seems (or looks) dry. The autofocus function works fine, but when it is turned manual and I try to re-focus, the ring would rotate without the distance indicator turning with it. I would have to press and rotate several times to make it move. This doesn't make for a precise work if you ask me, but thank God it works, for now! Does it need some oiling? Is it a problem of some jamming in the inner mechanism? I'm not quite sure. I'm glad that the autofocus function seems to work without a hassle; for now.
These problems makes me think of seriously updating some of my lenses. Maybe it is a time for another wide angle lens (rectilinear this time and not a fisheye). Anyway, such dreams on hold for now, with the financial situation being shaky and the future is quite blurred.

Finale

It seems that every time I try to recollect myself and establish some time management - everything would fall apart. I've been neglecting lot of aspects in my life... and lot of projects. Namely the Geltani conlang which had been on hold for a pretty long time now. Maybe I should transform some of these projects to be worked with when I go to work; that useless place which gives me no value, nor respect.

I've been trying as well to push myself to write some poetry. There is one finished weeks ago but I didn't happen to post it here; I called it Marbhna Croí (lament of heart). I guess in the process of making one poem you should simply lose yourself into it to the limit of talking non-sense sometimes. If we think with some sense, I guess the poetry-making process would be in halt. This would be another venture that I need to look at further, as it is, like the rest of my projects, been forgotten.

I'm trying hard to keep myself on the optimism side, but things seem to be going downward on every corner. Here, and every where I look. At times, my streak of loneliness seems to be a grace and a virtue, but it does strike back suddenly just like a cancer plaguing the heart and mind. Trying my best to work and indulge myself in work to the limit of exhaustion and fatigue; yet nothing is achieved or not much of it is, and we are back to block number one - time management failure. I need a rest from the world…





Thursday, April 30, 2015

T-Shirt, Anyone?

They have been rough 2 or 3 weeks. Starting from the monodrama festival, to processing the images and submitting them to the contest, and ending with the current situation of sleeplessness. Unfortunately, we are supposed not to expose our images which are submitted for the contest at least till the time of the expo and the gallery of these images, which would fall by the last week of May! Thus, I wouldn't want to risk leaking some images here! However, there is one show specifically that I think I would be able to share some shots from. I wanted to include the snaps from this show into the contest in the beginning but it seems most of the snaps were not properly focused, beside the decor didn't help much (it got into the way of the composition of most shots) - while cropping would be severe.

This show was entitled Al-Jazzár [الجزار], i.e. The Butcher. I'm revisiting the snaps from this show to extract more if possible. There is always hope in shaky images when it comes to a small size view; accompanied with good deal of noise reduction and added sharpness. These two operations are easily done with not much loss when the image is in a small size (both images were taken around ISO2500). However, for the contest I've been told that the minimum resolution was 7MP (but later after submitting I've been told it's 2MP), so I started to minimize down to that limit (after cropping) and try to work on cleaning and enhancing. Some images were as good as 12MP (down from 18MP) after cropping, yet I had to sacrifice all of that for the easy processing. Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the results of the judges. The leader of our photography group is one of the judges as well and hence he did not help any of us in picking the proper images as we usually do with him before contests.
However, since judging was supposed to take place last Saturday, I happened to ask him later about the results and he said the process is ongoing still and it is taking a long time because of some technical problems (mainly concerning the TV on which the images are displayed). All I can do is wait! Meanwhile, I'm just digging these old photos and converting some to B&W with and without tone-splitting, or revisiting the snaps taken from the latest Mawahb expo (Mawahb 5), and even the former one, (Mawahb 3), which was held in 2013.
The t-shirt snapped from the website.
The actual name for the panorama
was Oriental Lights. However,
for cultural reasons, the name
was changed to Enlightement,
which is the name given to the
horizontal format of this panorama.
Click to enlarge.
Meanwhile some good news are coming along the way! It is finally here! A t-shirt bearing my own panorama printed by Worthwhile Wears (Instagram: @worthwhilewears). Well, I didn't imagine myself doing an ad campaign but here you go! You can get it from their website here. I'm up to see if they need more shapes and styles of various panorama in my arsenal.
Also, it happened this week that I might have actually gained my first customer over to do a commercial panorama. I wouldn't have gotten to that without the help of the founder of our group, since he has been long in the business and made various connections. It is a cautious step forward, as we are trying to build a portfolio, and establish a line of business not well-known in the area around here. My technical mind on the go right now as I'm typing these words, as I'm trying to figure out the possible hardships on location and putting forward a plan to solve them. However, some failures in the future seem to be a must in such field, because this seems to be the only way to learn! I can't deny that it does bear some stress along with it in the process, but I think it is the only way for the time being to maintain a value of myself instead of stinking myself in a stupid workplace that I've spent 6 years of my life just to get a certificate to work in, and then treated like a janitor.

Summer is already starting to scorch my body, announcing a boring season, and an annoying one too. I didn't put any plans yet for any traveling abroad, but first I need to do some official papers, and  I can't help but to act lazy in such weather. I've been sleeping my weekend, literally, instead of going out at least once (usually on Fridays). I need to spark myself somehow to do all of that work… oh Winter, how much I miss you…



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).