Thursday, January 20, 2011


The long week didn't hit its end yet but I'm already feeling sick of it. I feel lost, aimless, and the most dangerous part is... I feel I can't work on my photos for some long time as I used to. I don't know if this triggers my needs of socializing but for sure I'm not in mood to be around the people that surround me at the current time.
There are, unfortunately, some people that you tend to respect not for character nor for wisdom, but solely for the fact that they are older, but yet as much as you do respect them (because I do really have faith in my own faith and its teachings), they just tend to leave more scars in your mind by sparking more of the painful questions and memories that you just don't want to remember and work hard to overcome. I'm spending my time, as usual, in my room, but maybe more than before.

Lately, I've realized that I might have a real and serious problem. Daydreaming. Or maybe to be precise, Maladaptive Daydreaming. I know that I should ask for some opinion and ask some professionals in the field about it to make sure that I'm indeed having this case or not, but I know one thing for sure now. It is embarrassing. I'm tending to get some vivid images and in fact I thought everything is normal. This had been there since I was 7 or 8 years of age. Started from being with cartoon characters and trying to imagine another scenario for the story, until growing up and being... more serious. The spark for this "consciousness" was the realization that I'm in fact hurting myself. One moment living one beautiful dream, then BAM! Reality. I think this is what has been causing depression in my mood for big time of my life now. Add to that, the embarrassing moments when people tend to ask why am I laughing, or why I'm doing some gestures with my hands (this had been seriously out of control lately) and then I realize I'm not alone, and my answer would be "sorry, I remembered something funny," or "yeah sorry I got some itch there". I've been following news around the net and checking around people who has something like this. Some of them take pills. I don't want to do this now. I hate chemicals. I hate medicines. This state of mind made me somehow abuse coffee beyond my daily limits and intake. Around 3 to 4 mugs a day (preceded by some coffee cups from vending machines at work and a redbull) is not really what I wanted to do with my day. But what you know, sometimes I feel it really helps me to write. Write, write, even if it was a nonsense at all.

Maybe it is not that bad after all. To dream a little bit, maybe? I've been pushing myself to write some words here and there and glue them together, trying to form some sort of lyrics form. Maybe I'm not that successful in lyrical form mainly because I don't play any instruments but within my dreams I was there playing some guitar or a piano, and in fact, usually I have some background music mimicking some already existing song. In one of these trials I've created what I've called The Beggar of Nothingville. Some piece, I dedicate to someone, engulfing that with some meanings in it. Depending now solely on what people might think of it, they say it's a good one. Some people even commented that it might be a song, meaning they did indeed feel what I want to pass through, but of course I'm not sure about the tone. My mind was kind of working on a country style music.

Monday. I didn't go to work mainly because of sleeping problems. My schedule had been a mess. In fact, it somehow solved a problem for me, but of course I had to sign for a "casual leave" the next day. I only have four days a year of this type of leaves, and now I've already lost one with the beginning of the year still. I just had to. I couldn't push myself to raise up from bed at all. Besides, I was supposed to be in some gathering in an open buffet that my boss told me about. I really am not in the mood of socializing that much for the time being. Thus, circumstances came altogether, two in one; sleepy head and unnecessary socializing. Despite the fact that I was indeed going to go to that buffet, at least for few minutes or just stay in one corner to avoid unnecessary questions and remarks.
On this day, I, since I didn't go out to work in the morning, decided that I might have some power to go out on my own and do something outside. Just anything. The house was squeezing my brain out; shouts, screams, yelling and crying... all sort of those beloved sounds. Please note the sarcasm. Sometimes, I seriously think of just getting married to whatever who in whatever manner in whatever shape without any care in the world for a single drop of love in between us, just to live in my own place. Rentals here are like fire and I, alone, can't take it. However, the journey took me to a near by park. Salmiyah park. I worked in that place last week to take some readings in the very early morning with our 12kg device (~26.4lb). I liked some features in the place despite the fact that people tend to be around the place from the very early hours of the morning even before me. Thus, on Monday, I decided to go there and try my luck. It wasn't really something I worked so hard for or planned for. I was just going to be away from the house for some time. The first thing I did was to take a spherical panorama on my monopod. Shaky, but went fine. I've worked on some snaps from that day also and processed them, mainly some cut pieces of a tree trunk laying around the place.

Annuli Annum (Rings of The Year?).

In fact, the shots taken from that park (even the panorama) were not that impressive. To me at least. What happened is that I was hoping for some good light in the park with the sunset on its way. Long shadows and warm kind light to my lenses, but seems my notifications were only valid for sunrise, when I worked there in the morning. At the time of sunset, there were barely sun rays falling down on the place. Thus, I decided to look for anything impressive and tried hard later on to do some "action" with HDR rendering. I think all my trials failed or it could be that my mind was not in the mood of creating something, maybe?
To make out something from this piece here, I decided to go on Photoshopping all the way. I decided to mimic, to some extent, the bukkeh effect that my lenses cannot produce. Not at such a distance. So, I made 3 layers and blurred them in different amounts, making the stump blurred a little, while the far tree blurred more, then I blended them in using Layer Masks. I guess my blending was not that precise, because some areas around the edge of the falling trunk here do look a bit sharp. Anyway, I worked hard on the HDR settings just to illuminate the rings of the trunk. The White Balance here was a big problem. I couldn't settle my mind with any color temperature. Finally I decided to go with Fluorescent and give a cold, dead sense to this image.
I'm still working on the panorama I've made that day, and frankly, it doesn't look good for the great difference in exposures between some areas. I've already stitched a flat one and a little-planet one, but need some work on cloning out some areas, the usual, for nadir. Also, I might have to fix that difference in exposures manually with adjustment layers, and of course all the work must be done in HDR mode still before tone-mapping. Memory exhaustion on the way.

Wednesday now. I had a little work-out or an adventure if I should say with a friend that I didn't see in a long time (but chatting from time to time over the net in fact). We went on "fishing" for some shots in a park, this time in Bayan area. Both of us were sick of the laws and regulations and simply, for the lack of nature in this place that barely enables you or inspires you to do something with your camera. Maybe that's why in fact most people in Kuwait tend to go on with the portrait venture, simply because there is not much to snap with the camera and if there is, you would need to get a permission of some sort. This is exactly what happened today when we arrived there. For the first 5 minutes of our snapping, everything was fine. Then the keeper came and asked for the permission from some ministry (huh?) - and of course, we told him that we don't have and we are taking pictures "innocently". He said he would call the "ministry" to ask or maybe just to scare us. However, we continued to snap pictures around and I had one panorama from there without his intervention. It was generally a trial on some architectural photography since the nature there was almost absent except of some trees. I also made a panorama, again on a monopod. The difference here though, last Monday, the panorama I made in Salmiya park was done in a low level (the monopod was completely collapsed down), but this time in Bayan park, the monopod was a bit raised higher than my waist level. Of course the VR-head holding the camera over the monopod would add to the height after all. I'm still working on that panorama.
The single snaps of images varied, and there had been also a little handheld panorama done in a hurry, which can be counted for as a single image regarding its size and ratio anyway.
My friend working on his shot while I took this little panorama 
at his back and blended with vedutismo projection.

My friend, however, had his own pace, world and story. He might not have the tools I have, but he surely KNOWS what he is doing and what he is catching. In fact we had argued many times about the benefits of actually owning the tools to create the effect you want for an image, and creating the effects with HDR and go completely computerized. He is a pro for the first opinion while I'm for the second. Of course, he is not wrong about that, specially that he talks about official photography contests and what is accepted and what is not, and I have to admit that this approach, I think, does indeed make a successful photographer because, simply, it will gradually build up his knowledge and acknowledgment of his or her surroundings and how to adjust the eye and imagine the final product. Me, myself, did say to him on our way to the park that I tend to see every scene in its HDR equivalent and my eyes simply, analyze the scene for possible HDR-ish outcome. My view of things is different a bit as I don't consider photography contests as a big event. I concentrate my effort on the final outcome; A beautiful scene. Thus, I wouldn't maybe squander my money unless I need a hardware badly to create something (e.g. considering now getting a macro lens). Such images cannot be created simply by HDR or Photoshop or anything like that. You have to own the tools. As for the filters that my friend is trying to get, some of them can be already mimicked. By the way, I do envy him for his "coolness" when it comes to work with the camera. Maybe because of my usual problems with guards and security people, I've made a trend for myself that I always take pictures on the go and feeling always followed or soon I will get kicked out of some place for taking images. This feeling accompanied me in Ireland, even though I'm on a vacation. For my friend, the situation was a bit different. He works in a slow pace and wanders his eyes slowly in the place and picks his shots carefully. Yeah. This is how a photographer should be. I act more like a paparazzi and, no, a paparazzi is not a "real" photographer for me. Not when you work to expose other people's lives (even if they're celebreties, they have their own private lives, don't they?).

One of the first things I've aimed at was the sliders in the playground. As I told my friend, metals are a good subject for HDR making, whether they're shiny, or corroded. In both cases they give the drama you need, or the natural saturation you might want. All what is left is the angle from which you snap your image...

One of the angles (and done lot of them from here)

My friend made me aware of this angle after he snapped it with his 17-55mm lens, but 
with me I went with a Fisheye 15mm lens.

There are other possible ways I guess to play around with those images. HDR got many potentials and simply changing the white balance of the original images can produce astonishing results. I do miss working with ProPhoto though. The vivacity of colors is just unbeatable with ProPhoto and seriously tempting and seductive. I want to blow everything off and simply work in that color space. There is one specific image that I seriously wanted to keep in ProPhoto but I had to put it down to Adobe 1998 space, and then I had to compensate for the lost vivacity with some adjustment layers.

Boards (Waiting for Children)

The fisheye here made the trick of giving the spacious look while this square of wooden boards is lesser than a meter in width and length (around 3 feet). The white balance here was on "Shady" which made the image yellowish generally. It was a game for me, and although I could have changed the white balance while merging the HDR slide originally, I've just left it as it is. Later on though, I had to go on and put some adjustment layers to assist the cold look and add a bluish hue to the scene. The ProPhoto version (not what you see above) was almost direct to the point and I think I wouldn't need to change anything about it (except of some noise cleaning and sharpening), but since I had to change to Adobe color space, the fuss began with adjustment layers trying to compensate for the lost colors. There is another similar shot that I didn't prepare for the same subject but in a different angle.
Left to say now that after coming back from the park (and taking a tour to Baskin Robins!) heading back to work, the usual headache began again. Some visitors checking the place (and believe me please when I say they have nothing to do with my work place nor any interest), and extra fied work on the list to places I don't know anything about (and, I thought it is over by now). Yeah, hit "Bad Day" again. This is the national anthem from now on.

I've finished my fourth album for pictures from Ireland (2010) and already started the fifth one, but the progress is slow. As I said before, I'm kind of lazy to work on it. There are some smal panoramas that I didn't process their images yet into HDR format even to be stiched later. Should I dig more around for more junky places and architectural features to snap with my camera, despite all the regulations that make me sick here? I really need to spend more time behind my camera.

I've been trying to work on my webpage but, lazy again, there was no luck getting some things sorted out. At least I made the "About" page and it's ready to be converted into HTML format. Just some text really. The next step then is to prepare the Fonts download page and create samples for each font. I remember there were 4 fonts in the old webpage... or 3? Anyway, nevermind.

I think I will post this now, and try to get my brain connected with some music and write some poetry or lyrics or whatever it is to be called...

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