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…

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Galore…

Again, I'll try to wrap this quick. I'm seriously suffering this winter, with lack of enough sleep and the tiresome body, along with some weather conditions; I don't mind the coldness, but there were few rains here and there and the situation was not encouraging to explore the beach at night as I usually do.
Thus, not much was going on this week except for my usual work with shots and specifically panoramas from Ireland trying to do more experimenting with various touches and projection styles. Meanwhile, I devised a plan to invest my time in doing various things at work (since no real work is running). Thus, I dedicate some time to typing an article, and then to read some Irish grammar lessons as much as I can or reading a book, and finally spending the last hour at work watching some cartoons. I know, fancy workplace you might be saying right now but no, it's not. It's filled with stupidity to the neck and what I'm doing is just my methodology to payback and vent. As a rule: I don't respect those who don't respect me.

Now back to the images, and specifically panoramas. I'm trying to keep on the schedule with doing one single image a day, and one panorama day (both from Ireland's collection of 2014). Panoramas specifically had been a target for my "extreme Mercator" methods which I've mentioned in my previous post. There were some interesting results, specially after the help of Mr Photoshop in doing a bit of effects.

An Ais
(the axis)
One of the panoramas, An Ais, was easily shaped into a twirling surreal environment; probably what really helped here is the semi-conic structure of the tower inside. My hardships here, though, were the color adjustments and balancing (it had a greenish shade mixed with yellow).
There is a lot of empty space in An Ais and I was going to crop that down and make a square, but some features would be cropped as well and there was a great chance that it might look unbalanced more. Anyway, I had to exaggerate just a little bit in the twirl at center by using the wrap command in Photoshop and twirling the central points a bit. All that was done in HDR mode before tone-mapping. However, it wasn't always as easy and simple as that.

Gaoth agus Gaoithe
(wind and winds)

Some other panoramas like Gaoth agus Gaoithe were large, and definitely a simple wrap wouldn't work. Thus, the only solution available was to use the Twirl command under Filters menu. However, this command was not available for 32-bit (HDR) mode, nor 16-bit mode. It was all rolled back to good ol' 8-bit. Most of the adjustments were done in 16-bit mode of course, but to do the twirl command, I had to move back to 8-bit mode (which I will use anyway to save it as JPEG). This panorama in particular gained some popularity in 500px and the count went down after a day or so; I will never understand how this website works. Yet, the more difficult panorama was yet to come.

Is é ag titim Ashford
(Ashford is falling)

Along with the extreme Mercator trend lately, I've started also an off-the-center trend, mainly dedicated to tunnel view panoramas and planets. It is an approach to give a more dramatic look to the otherwise dull planets or tunnels, specially if there is no strong symmetry involved. In this panorama particularly, Is é ag titim Ashford, I wanted to add something extra other than just tilting the globe to the corner. Suddenly the idea of moving the clouds occurred to me. The perfect command for this was the Radial Blur, which can mimic an effect of zooming into (and thus adding some depth). The Motion Blur might be capable of that too but here, this command moves the pixels horizontal only without any "focal" point to direct the lines of pixels to. According to Christian Bloch (Blochi), the author of the HDR Handbook, such blurs are more beneficial if they were to be done in HDR format, because in HDR mode you don't control the pixels only, but also the luminance data accompanying them!

Source: Amazon
Well, the challenge here is how to do it? The square panorama after some tilting and cropping, was a bit more than 9000x9000 pixels! Selecting the sky portion was a bit lengthy work to do but it was done with some considerable effort and "eating" around some edges. Even with selecting a portion of the image (almost half of it), Photoshop machine couldn't apply the effect because of RAMs problem. Solution? Switch to the 64-bit Photoshop version. It has access to more RAM space to do the job. The only awkward thing about it is, no plugins are installed to be used for this version. Thus, I had to run this version JUST to do a radial blur! A radial blur of degree 5, took around few minutes to be done here.Saved the file (as PSB) and then back to the 32-bit version and the work was done the usual way; tone-mapping, enhancing, reduction!

Now, I've officially made another Instagram account for my Ayvarith (@ayvarith) and I'm posting a picture per day so far. I'm starting with the alphabet for the time being. Probably later I will get deeper with themes like "word of the day" or some grammatical issues? Who knows! The cumbersome point here is trying to log-in and out of my 2 accounts and posting here and there (and then re-posting from one into the other).

This is it for now and I wish if I can handle this weekend properly and do further out-goings at night. I just need to think of a proper location. Not counting on my luck here…

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lazy…

OK I admit; I have been lazy in the past week. Well, 2 weeks. That's why no post last week. The temperatures here dropped suddenly with a chilling wind on and off. Truly a bone breaker. Not sure why, but I've been feeling tired and lazy lately to even go out at night in such weather which I like the most. Probably it is the erratic sleeping pattern (which persists even in working days). For this reason, I've been mostly editing and creating new panoramas, besides trying a bit of the new "observations" in the field of panoramas to some of the older panoramas. Moreover, there is one extra observation on the way as well!

An-Mór

I never thought of myself being so interested in such projection style which seemed so boring before like Mercator. The beginning with this projection was (as mentioned in previous posts) was to make a more plausible vertical panoramas because vertical panoramas are "slim" and cropping the sides would do more harm. Mercator was a solution because the vertical perception comes almost in a square ratio (height = width), and occasionally the sidelines make a nice curvature with no need to crop even! However, time had to come to push my views further with an extreme approach.

Ashford Domhanda
(global Ashford)

The beginning was about doing a vertical panorama (again) for Ashford castle in Co. Mayo, but with a twist or a swirl as it was with other panoramas recently. However, this approach didn't work out and I decided to play with the sliders a bit. All to be done was to stretch the viewing window or space to the extreme ends to show the full extent of the Mercator projection rather than compressing it, and the result as you can see in Ashford Domhanda; a global look like those maps which are also made using Mercator projection.
Casadh an tSúgáin
(twisting of the rope)
I was seeking a swirl like this
for Ashford castle panorama.
My personal impression about the implications of such projection style is that it gives sense of grandness, totality, greatness; probably these impression come from the back of my head as I used to see lot of Mercator maps (specially in school times). However, this projection style has one awkward disadvantage, even though a normal result: the stretched and blurred sides and corners. My intentions were to crop these portions out in the beginning, but that would corrupt the overall oval shape of the center, which is to be the main interest. For the time being, I would just call this style as Extreme Mercator. I'm still working on discovering the possibilities here, and specially with old panoramas.
When it comes to old panoramas, I made a trial to do the "twisting" effect again with one of the places I like and taken a panorama from back in 2013: The Arab Organizations Headquarter. Such a place with quite amazing wooden craft and Arabesque and Islamic designs. Anyway, it seems a twist here is not quite that attractive, for various reasons...

El Andaluz Bailando
(the dancing Andalusian)

Generally speaking, the hall is a mess. Despite the fact that it was wide and bears not many obstacles in view, yet it had many reflections, and twisting the panorama that way as in El Andaluz Bailando made some eyes "sore". I sort of came out with a conclusion that to do a twist, the roof of the place must be close and it is better to have the surroundings on the ground arranged in some systematic manner. In the case of El Andaluz Bailando, the roof was too high, and the surroundings on the ground were not giving out a sense of symmetry.

An Solas Sníomhta
(the twisted light)
The twisting effect appears stronger
and more concrete when the roof is at proximity

However, the work was not limited to Mercator, despite being big part of my work lately. The old tunnel projection (the reverse of the planet projection) was a target for some "surreal" editing. It is a surreal projection after all, but I mean here something out of the usual look for such projections. Something off-center.

An Cúinne Geal
(the bright corner)

Frankly, I was aiming at a sweeping movement for the landscape and the house and decided to make the tunnel projection as a starting point. However, things went out of hand a "bit". Why would I restrain myself for centralizing such panoramas anyway? Specially those which do no possess any degree of symmetry anyway! Call me an impressionist, but those curves can do a lot further when moves off the center; Curves = Emotions.
The main problem here is the cropping factor. No, not the sensor's crop factor. Here, the original panorama was 9000x9000 pixels in size (meaning a resolution of 81MP!). However, after some crops to adjust the portions of the panorama and the curves of lines (controlling those with coordinates is hard), the size came down to around 5000x5000 pixels (i.e. 25MP). Such a loss of size. Of course, I can stitch it again with a larger size to crop it back again, but that means more processing power. Imagine this: for a panorama coming down from 81MP to 25MP with such crop, then that means only 30% of the original size is used. If I'm going to do this on the usual size of 8000x8000 (64MP) like most squared panoramas before, then I would need to stitch to somewhere around 213MP in resolution, that would be somewhat around 14500x14500 pixels; this is just to crop it down to the size of 64MP.
Anyway, this is just the beginning, in hope that I would do more observations about this. One of my goals right now is to create something else with panoramas, specifically in a vertical format, but no success so far. All I can say about it right now is, it would be a diagonal panorama!

Geltani Again!

I know, I've been neglecting this project for a really long time and I've totally forgot about doing some representation for Omniglot.com as well.  However, I was working slowly for some time with this project before traveling to Ireland last October and I think I didn't post anything about these "inventions" and additions.
For a beginning, I tried to make a standard set for the "radicals"; those large strokes that contain other glyphs combinations. Usually those radicals are the last letter of the word. I wouldn't say it is a final set, but it is a trial to make it so.

A scan for some of the radicals designed already (from my Geltani notebook). Sorry for the bad quality here; I did barely make it through the technical problems! The asterisk here points to the position of the other glyphs relative to the general (larger) radical glyph.


On the other hand, there had been some tiny approaches to imagine out a general aspect for the grammar, and this was by some trials to form the passives, conditionals and perfectives. Not planning to complicate things here, so the general formula for such phrases would consist of a mix of the verb "to be" in a specific tense, with the original tense marker of the verb itself. This is the idea for now and seems it works (logically!).

Another scan for some grammatical constructions with the verb "to fly" which transliterate as "píj" (pron: peej, with "j" as in "jacket").
The top 2 columns of 4 lines discuss the direct tense (flew, fly, will fly, fly!) on the right column, and the passive form (was flown, be flown, will be flown) plus the modal (should fly) on the left column.
Next line is an example: would have flown, which literally here becomes (fly-will be-was)
Next example: he should have flown, literally here becomes (must-fly be-is)
Last example: would have flown (to...), which literally becomes (... to fly-was be-was)
As seen here in general, it is combination of two tenses of the main verb and the verb "to be"


Beside these forms, it seems that it would be necessary to merge some phonemes or sounds in Geltani when they come successively, like the sounds of "J" (as in Jacket) and "Ch" (as in Church), but I'm not sure yet of this theory right now. I hate to deal with a language like mathematics - this is not the way I learned English (even though it's not perfect anyway!), but it is important to "live" the language and make sense of it. Just get into the flow and only then things would fit into place, and this is what I'm trying to apply myself as I'm going through some Irish lessons online (sadly written and no audio available).
It is funny though how I got into formulating the grammar without even working on representing my work and the script. I've been overwhelmed with many things to do at the spur of the moment which effectively made my mind scattered in all directions.

Finale

Snufkin
The Moomins
Well, I won't be ashamed to say that one of the reasons to be lazy in the past week and this week is the fact that I was busy playing games, and watching cartoons. Old cartoons that is, like The Moomins. Well, I remember this cartoon long time ago (and played in Arabic back then of course and I'm watching this version specifically) and I used to get scared somehow every time it is played because it, simply, looked weird. However, now it gives another feelings when I watch it, specially after knowing that originally this Finnish comic and stories were dedicated to adults with some deep meanings. To me it resembles the simplicity and the life of adventure in simple terms, needless to say the imaginative stories and the countryside framework which fits my mood perfectly. I think my favorite character here is Snufkin. This is the English name of course. I like his role and I think it does have some aspects that I need, crave, or already have. This is not the only cartoon on the list; Golden Cities (or as dubbed in Arabic: Golden Dreams) is next on the queue line. However, I might not start it immediately after The Moomins. I need some time in between to reschedule my priorities!

On the other hand, I've been thinking seriously on having another instagram account for Ayvarith to post some aspects about it since there is no homepage for it yet. Another failure, I know. I have to admit, I do hate building websites! However, this will also mean added pressure, and with the technical problems I do have already with connecting to instagram and posting in it, it is probably better to wait and watch out for the next move. I'm so pressed in time with my photo-processing schemes and duties for the group, as well as my usual daily posts on instagram. In all of this, I'm giving my workplace my back, which I know it does sound dangerous a bit but I can't force myself to respect something that doesn't respect me back.

As I'm typing this, I've received an email informing me that one of my images submitted to HIPA (Hamdan International Photography Award) was qualified after the first round. The image was submitted for the Night Photography category. Meanwhile, my other images for other categories did not pass. The image submitted was Die Kuwaitische Mitternacht, but I had to translate the name into English as per the rules. It is funny that I've submitted my images in a haste just 2 days before the deadline. There was another event I wanted to role into, and also takes place in the UAE, which was an award for achievements done for the Arabic language. My aim was to submit my blog, but I had to back off. I think my blog is relatively new beside the fact that I was not sure of the regulations about electronic contents in that way. I had to let it go for now as I have more important issues to attend to (and ironically one of them is find a topic for my next article for my Arabic blog!).

Die Kuwaitische Mitternacht


Laziness in the meantime comes as an essential part of my life now. I feel that I need it strongly. I just realized that even when I play a game, it comes to me as a "duty" to do and not merely an entertainment to have. I think I've completely lost the definition of "entertainment" in my life…

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hektisch II…

I'll try to wrap this quick. Well, happy new year first, and wish you all who read this (ONLY THOSE READING THIS!), ahem, a creative new year. A year that washes whatever pains that were there in 2014.
Currently, I've been celebrating my own triumph against one of the hardest panoramas that ruined my appetite for panoramas for some time, but now the appetite is all back of course! However, there remains the part where I MUST do the fixes for these newly generated panoramas, including the HDR tone-mapping which proved to be tricky - and we end the show with noise cleaning which proved to be an arduous task.

Casadh an tSúgáin
(twisting of the rope)

In fact, Casadh an tSúgáin is an Irish song title which I was listening to as I was doing the processing for this image, and seems it fits exactly the image's geometry! When I explored the variety of projections I've totally forgot about the usual flat panorama as it looked very regular and mundane. Hence, I've continued to explore the other styles. However, in Casadh an tSúgáin tone-mapping was troublesome and consequently it made for a hard time with the noise cleaning later. The leader of the photography group liked the small version of this panorama, and asked me to include it in the next set of images to be sorted out for future uses by the group (a usual procedure); however, I'm not sure how would the large version sustain the critique with such noise and spots that would need another round of cleaning. In this projection, I've noticed how the close pillars (to my left and right on location) could have formed a straight line. Originally this panorama was 90o counterclockwise but I decided to put it as seen above making the symmetry line horizontal and adjacent to the major pillars - while keeping the corridor up and down to form some sense of ground at least, specially with some of the buildings.

Herculis Cuniculum
(tunnel of Hercules)

Next on the list was the tunnel projection, Herculis Cuniculum. This one had even harder work done to it and yet it is suffering still, in the original large version at least. The main problem here was to cropping and distort to ensure some degree of symmetry. Anyway, it seems I did achieve some degree of symmetry along the central vertical axis but not the horizontal one unfortunately; and this is what you get when you screw things up on location with symmetry and centralizing the tripod in the middle of location! The noise level here was significant but not troublesome as much as it was in the previous projection with Casadh an tSúgáin, which is something I don't understand so far, but probably it is related to the degree of distortion that each projection bears. The main nuisance in this panorama specifically comes from the night sky and the buildings of the city; those are the main sources for the high noise level.

Planeta Laternis
(planet of lanterns)

At the end we have the typical planet projection, Planeta Laternis. Originally, this panorama was 90o clockwise. However, it did seem to be more balanced with keeping the buildings of the city up, while the corridor would spread left and right. Anyway, the rotation process was done later, after all the fixes and the trials to "gain the symmetry" back with a lot of distorting processes. Since I didn't shoot the nadir, I had to fill the space of that block with a solid color and seems it fits perfectly (after adjusting the hue and saturation to match its surrounding tiles). All of these adjustments of course were in HDR mode and before tone-mapping, but the hardest part was to distort such a large file in HDR mode and make it fit specific proportions and perfectly centered. For this reason I mostly do large stitches because I know I will crop them a lot later on, and the good thing about Planeta Laternis is that the edges (where the roof of the corridor itself lies in this projection) contains not many interesting details beside some stitching errors; Thus, cropping this area out was a big relief and a solution which shortened the processing time significantly.

How my Photoshop looks when working with these panoramas.
Notice the guidelines all over the place to ensure a symmetrical distortion and cropping.
click to enlarge

Finale

One year is over now and a new one coming even though I don't care much about it. After all, generally speaking, I'm not supposed to celebrate it! However, I do wish all readers a happy new year with all the best wishes to be fulfilled within.
My plans for now is to use the winter to my advantage as much as possible and go out at night often. I know when summer comes, it's all but a dead season. I just hope my body would cope a bit further with this, specially with the hectic life style and responsibilities thrown on my way.
As for my plans for the new coming year, all what I want for the time being is, to be more careless actually, and have further fun. Lot of fun…

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hektisch, a panoramic story…

One word: Hectic. The week was so in fact, but this word describes more precisely the panorama that could not just give some easy time to be done. Been three weeks trying to fix this issue, and I won't be mistaken if I simply called a "panoramic adventure!" However, it was a case worth of a study, thus I'm hoping to dedicate this post for this panorama alone. I've made 3 trials already with this panorama and despite the hardships I'm having about it, I don't think I will be going there again to do it a 4th time!

The Beginning

The story begins not the in the current time. The idea of doing this panorama was actually planted in my head long ago before I even travel to Ireland at the end of September. Many factors were holding me down, but the number one factor was: Summer. The second factor was the security guys around the place. This place, Soug Sharg (Sharg Market) was specifically a scene of some confrontations in the past with security guys; day and night. Doing a panorama close to that place (and I guess belonging to it) might get the beehive disturbed. These two main factors held me back, and the rest was left for the proper timing and the capabilities of the body.
After coming back from Ireland in mid October I got busy with many things, and I need some time to settle my mind on how to do this panorama. I paid first a visit; just a plain visit without anything in hand, but simply walking around the place. Of course, the visit was nocturnal by nature, as this place actually shows more beauty at night with the "lantern" of lights glowing then. I did simple shots of this location long time when I was a beginner in photography and I did indeed, back then, made a simple vertical panorama for the face of this corridor in the outdoors. This time, however, the story was different.

The location under inspection,
right behind Soug Sharg's Marina.
The difference comes in many aspects: the time, the size, the intent, the procedure (the erratic part of the whole story). In this plain visit I had to check if there is a chance to do a centralized panorama in this place. The answer was positive; there is a distinctive center for the place. The lights in the place would provide sufficient light for simple exposure timing in case of catching up with the architecture of the place. However, long exposure is needed if the sky is to be given some color and not keeping it simply dark. Hence, HDR comes to the mind naturally. However, for the factors I've mentioned before (i.e. security people) I had to think thoroughly to work as fast as possible and hence "real" long exposures were not an option naturally, neither metering the light on location to find out a proper intermediate value (and it won't work because the difference in luminance is far greater than 2 stops).

Versuch Eins

The first trial was a failure by nature. I went out too late to the location thinking that too late is better to ensure not much activity around (people or security). One important point was forgotten here: lights are automated, and they switch off around 4 a.m.; Ironically, this is something I used to know from last winter's experiments with long exposures on the beach but my mind was completely absent.
The result was, a short trip, to say the best. In fact, I spent a significant time trying to centralize the set to make it in the center as much as possible. With places like this, symmetry is of the optimum importance and I had enough already with my left-handedness temptations, where everything looking normal to me with the naked eye is, in fact, tilted or skewed to some direction and not perfectly central. For this, my work was greatly done with the LCD of the camera. Shifting the tripod around was not an easy job too - moving a heavy set just for few centimeters with some delicacy is never easy, specially with the tripod been extended to its full length, as I was trying to have a slightly upper view than the normal level of the eyes.
After doing all of that and all this back-tiring work, I started to shoot. But first, I had to make one shot using the white balance disk to set it as a reference point for the camera's white balance point. The work then started and as soon as I reached the 4th angle in the process (and that would be at 120o), the lights simply turned off, leaving me in the dark. It was a mixture of anger and disappointment, naturally. But I guess I can blame myself because I should have been more attentive to such matters from previous experience.
Settings used here were f/9 (while using the hyperfocus principle), and bracketing (of exposures) to merge as HDR slides later.Metering here was set to Evaluative, which is meant to measure the light from different areas in the scene and then evaluate an average for the different zones of the scene, and naturally some exposures took 30 seconds already (because of the camera limit to this time in Av mode, otherwise it should have been longer).

Versuch Zwei

The second trial was set the week after the first. This time I've decided to head earlier than the previous time, and that was around 1 a.m.. Again, centralizing was essential and did take some time to do. The white balance was still saved from the last trial and the aperture too; all I had to do is shoot. This time, however, the tripod was lowered to around the chest level for easy control and viewing. No nadir (bottom) shot was taken as I would need extra work and careful planning for such a shot so I had to neglect it despite the fact that it bears a significant detail in the tiles underneath the tripod. I thought that I will manage to get over such a problem later. Almost same settings were used, except that metering was set to Center-Weight (thinking that the light areas are greater anyway from those dark areas in between).
Back home the surprise was on its way to shock me. It is regular practice for me now to work with modeling; i.e. using simple JPEG images to stitch a correct model of the panorama and apply the mold of this model on the HDR panorama, since the stitching program (as of lately) doesn't recognize much details from HDR images. To my surprise, the computer made a pizza out of my panorama!

The pizza made by the computer trying to stitch my panorama

I did not really understand what was going on here. Why did that happen? Did I miss some angles while shooting? Even optimization (i.e. correcting control points) did not work on fixing this "Pizza". I even tried to use Black and White images to make the model but the same issue occurred - a pizza! The thing is there was no problem generating control points at all (except for one or two slides beside the zenith slide and this is normal).
Investigating further down the road of making a panorama, the natural culprit to be suspected first here is the rotation axis, which if not picked out right, can cause the parallax error - an error that is a nightmare for panorama makers. Checking on some numerical values with a little research about the matter, I've found out that my camera and lens combination was indeed under a shift - This is my first full-panorama to be done after coming back from Ireland and apparently the VR-Head had some screws loose and there was a shift in the arms which I didn't check thoroughly.
Checking the images on computer to see if there is really any significant shift in virtual spaces between objects in the scene (when camera is rotated) I did indeed notice a really tiny amount of shift and change (e.g. the small green barricades and their background had some relative motion with respect to each other), but I was skeptical about the seriousness of this shift - Was really enough to do such a disgusting shock to my eyes, and even squander the computer's mind to the limit of losing control in that way?!!! Anyway, the shift of the rotation axis was fixed according to the numerical values I've obtained online and I was ready for a third trial.

Versuch Drei

For this trial, I was already tired of going to that place (and it had a non-pleasant stench to it), thus all what I picked was my tripod with the VR-Head, and my camera. This time I didn't wait for the weekend to come, but I did it in the middle of the week as my sleeping pattern was disturbed (after some headache issues which forced me to sleep afternoons!). All settings were already set (including the white balance from the first trial 3 weeks ago before this third trial). This time though I've returned to the Evaluative metering.
Back home I've converted the images directly to Black and White slides (thinking that colors can add to the confusion in connecting and stitching the images of the panorama) but again, to my surprise, the modeling process didn't work and just like in the second trial, the computer made a pizza out of my panorama! And again, the optimization process did not yield any useful result.

My third trial's pizza!

At this point I've realized that the shift in the rotation axis was not the only problem in paly here. There was something mysterious going on!
In a desperate move here, I've tried to apply templates (i.e. models) from other panoramas not related to this one at all. Specifically, I've tried to apply a model file for a panorama that I've somewhat faced some problems like this with: an taobh istigh an Waterfront (inside the Waterfront).

An taobh istigh an Waterfront

I have to say it was the first time I try such an approach; applying a model of completely unrelated panorama to another. Yet, the results were significant! However, the stitching errors did prevail and were hard to fix too.

Some of obvious stitching errors (and some were cropped from below) after trying to apply models not related to the same panorama itself. Just to note, this approach was done with the panorama done in the second try.

At least for this point here, I was able to discover the other projections and how well would they do and the results were astonishing (but not to be published now). This made me more eager to solve the matter of this mess. Despite the promising look of this approach but the main problem is that optimization cannot be done to correct for such stitching errors, and those stitching errors would need significant time to be fixed, if they were flexible enough to be fixed anyway!

Versuch Vier

At this point I was tired of the situation and really, really did not think of going further. There must be something related to this issue other than a simple physical attribute such as a shift in the no-parallax point and axis of rotation. Thus, my 4th trial now is to be done completely digital and on computer.
Despite the stress (yes, it was a real stress) the accompanies such unexplainable results when a panorama-making process goes erratic for no obvious reasons, I tried my best to organize my thought and work.

In the beginning, a general check up for the whole set of images yielded a fact that there is no problem in generating control points, and yet, optimization gives the "very bad" indicator. This usually means really bad control points (points connecting between two images) - that is, some points do not match or simply very distantly related. Anyway, after deleting these bad points, some images were left with no control points at all. In other words, complete images here were a major reason for the whole upset in the "pizza"! Now what to do?

First approach was to divide the work: dividing the panorama to 3 zones and work on the control points for each. I've reloaded the images anew, and canceled the repeated shots (those at 0o and 360o, keeping just one of them instead of the two). Then, I've generated (manually) control points between each 2 images in the first set of images which compose the middle zone of the panorama. At this point, optimization for this set of images alone was "good" or "very good" and them middle zone virtually out of stitching errors so far!

The same approach was done for the lower and the upper zone of the panorama (excluding the zenith point) with varied degrees of optimizations, but all were good so far! The tricky part now was in connecting these 3 zones together, as the panorama now was divided to 3 perfectly-matched zones! Thus, I've went on generating control points (again, manually) between vertically overlapping images in between the middle and the lower zones, and then again from the middle and the upper zones. It was tricky here as when optimizing any two sets of images after adding the control points, the third set gets corrupted and out of sync. Needless to say here there was a great deal of work regarding other options and properties needed to be controlled, mainly the Blending ratio for some slides in the lower zone. The situation was settled when I optimized the whole set of images from all zones; optimization then yielded "not so bad" - which was good for my purpose here at least and the three zones were matched with minimum of stitching errors. The zenith slide (topmost) was then matched with some images from the upper zone and optimized alone. Things look relatively perfect now except for few minor stitching errors AND some smudged zones resulting from luminance problems when merging into HDR (which is a resultant related to the exposures making up the HDR itself). Those are not a big nuisance for the time being but I guess they can be dealt with later.
Anyway, there was a minor problem of keeping the pillars at vertical lines which proved to be problematic. The beauty of the place is in fact in the vertical straight lines and such twist and tilt in those pillars is not a good compromise, so to say.

A model stitch. Notice the tilt of the pillars; some are slight and some are strong. Of course beside the other stitching errors.

This convergence of vertical line does effect the visual strength of the panorama as well as the ability to centralize the panorama and achieve a good symmetry (remember, the main reason for picking this location is the symmetry!). Trying to fix this problem with the usual approach (changing the roll and pitch angles) did not yield a proper solution to this problem. Thus, I've decided to go through the middle zone and assign vertical control points and some horizontal control points. These are special type of control points that tell the computer that such lines are (and should) be perfectly vertical or horizontal, of course depending on specific features in the scene. Thus, most of the pillars in the middle set of images was a target to this addition of control points, and optimization was done once again to apply these changes. The results were a joy to my eyes!

A final test stitch. The arrows point to the stitching errors and smudges caused by HDR problems. Compare the tilt of the pillars here with the black and white model above which was made before adding vertical and horizontal control points.

All what is left now is to apply this model to the REAL thing: the HDR set of images itself. After that, there will be a long journey through the different projection styles and the different tone-mapping (and each would need some degree of fixes of course).
I can feel the steam venting out of my brain. I've finally settled down with 3 weeks of work-failure-work relationship here! I have to say, I do consider it an adventure nevertheless.

Thoughts and Conclusion

The question now remains: Why did that happen? What went wrong here? Despite the simplicity of the situation, yet this panorama persisted in its stitching errors (even with the final results), and despite the reality that there was indeed a shift in the rotation axis away from the no-parallax point of the lens (Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye), yet fixing such problem did not bring any practical enhancement to the situation. This made me think of some points here that might have caused this problem and some of them if not all are kind of uncontrollable (to me at least):
  • Moving shadows. Because of the abundance of light sources on location there were multiple shadows in the place beside my shadow of course, which was moving and probably did appear in more than one slide. 
  • The symmetry of the place could be a culprit despite being the reason sought for creating this panorama. The resemblance between two images which are NOT related to each other could have possibly (just possibly) trick the computer on thinking that these two images ARE related. Hence, control points were generated to two unrelated images making a pizza out of the situation!
  • Just like the moving shadows, reflections on the ground might have a minor role here in "baffling" the computer and tricking it into generating what I might call False Control Points
  • By now, it is very common that repetitive patterns in the space do undoubtedly produce stitching errors; Galore! Thus, I was not really surprised to see stitching errors in the lower zone of the panorama where the tiles make a lot of lines crossing each other.

Finale

Well, after this long story (and hopefully not so boring one), I'm just glad and happy to see such an achievement. I didn't get such a feeling of accomplishment for a while (even though it wasn't far back behind when one of my panoramas was displayed in a luxurious coffee table book!).
I dedicate this post to "some" people who thought the work of photography is simple a deed of Photoshop and playing with the camera, specially when it comes to panoramas. I just hope this post would open the eyes to the hassles that we, photographers, must put up with just to come out with something - and most of the time, it is for our own satisfaction and no one and nothing else. For those work already with this venture of photography and reading this, I hope it is of some benefits to you all out there. There are some details that I couldn't mention here of course, but I'm sure you can figure them out on your own!

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating it, 
or as the Irish say: Nollaig Shona Dhaoibh.