Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hibiscus Addiction...

However I try to take it slowly seems my life pace just doesn't want me to. Having hard time cutting out my coffee habits and drinking hibiscus instead to lower down the blood pressure as much as possible whenever possible. I'm sick of the traffic jams everyday, so I'm having a little vacation for myself. Just one week off work trying to have fun (sleeping) as I like and going out as I like (whatever!). I might even try to go to Failaka and check for other locations here and there in this deserted island. On the other hand, I'm trying to enjoy my time in weekends, pulling myself back to the seaside and the photography there. Now with my Tamron 70-300mm I can sort of aim at birds from, somewhat, conventional distances, like I did some weeks ago with that lovely heron...

The Observer
I was lucky that he (or she!) didn't move and fly away directly. I took tens of images for it while it was moving and this is just one of them. The dusty weather here made me add lot of enhancements in the image (and nope, it's not in HDR technique). Herons are said to keep a constant distance from people, thus every time you get closer they would step further away to keep the distance for their own safety sake. However, seems the rule is not included in the situation here! I was stepping on the rocks and algae in a fast pace with my camera attached to the monopod with its 3 mini-legs spread trying to take some nice position. Another target for my Tamron was the morning sun with its sweet reddish hue in the horizon and the not-so-harsh beam of light. In fact, it was bright, but with minimizing the aperture (high f-number) and speeding up the shutter speed, I was able to catch a simple, yet interesting, image...

If you see the image in a larger view, you will notice some small black dots in the direction of 7 o'clock. I've read once that such black dots, in early morning, can be in fact for Mercury and/or Venus passing over the disk of the sun, but it can be also sunspots probably! However, I have to say that taking pictures for the sun with a normal DSLR is a dangerous trial, because it can harm the sensor severely. Just be careful in case you want to try something like that.
But not only suns, herons and Tamrons would go together, as I was chasing a pigeon with my Canon 18-55mm all the way to the moment of its flight above the ground. The reason I was chasing it actually was not for mere fun nor that I did indeed want to, but it was something completely different...

The story behind this shot was: I was in the Marina Crescent, the opposing side of the Marina Mall here in Salmiyah (area or city, whatever). I was in the exact position that you may check in the link above after taking pictures from the beach, not far from this location. After working on taking pictures for the yachts in the marina some sucker called a SECURITY came to me saying gibberish with "forbidden" at the end (in Arabic of course). I said sure, and walked away with my tools. I knew he was following me with his eyes so I walked to my car not far from the location and put my stuff there except of the camera and my 18-55mm lens, with a fisheye lens in my pocket. In fact, I was almost finished from the location but I just wanted to take a picture of the palm trees reflection on water when this sucker came in! I took a walk trying to get back to my previous position or to the opposite side of the marina to get a better view for the reflection, but there was another sucker roaming around and looking at me as well, hence I knew there was no way around it. On the other side of the dock, on the beach, there was this lonely pigeon walking around so I decided to play with it a bit hoping that this sucker will move away and leave me alone, but after taking all these images for the pigeon, he was still there, so I had to get back home.

However, after this little drama, I did have the chance to use my fisheye once and my 18-55mm another time to take pictures for the yachts and try even a 3D shoot. I'm going to share them here despite all the suckers in security suits who suck and make me sick of this suckering sickening world! (yeah, try to say that again fast enough...)

Yachts Awaiting... (BW,3D)
Yahcts Awaiting... (Color,3D)
Vivid Yachts
Vivid Yachts (3D)

Taking a new venture now with my camera, trying to take 3D photos, but this time, real 3D photos. This is done usually by rotating the object in constant angles and taking a snap at every angle. Supposedly later on, you would need some program to make this "object QTVR" rotating. The more angles, the smoother transition you would get. However, my aim now is not to rotate the object, but to make it "flat".
Unfortunately for me, things doesn't work like it is in spherical panoramas in the big big world. PTGui does not realize surfaces that easily and was not able to connect them to make a flat "peeled" surface of the object, even after putting my own control points to guide it through like blind. Seems there is no escape from doing this manually with Photoshop as it was in the old days when I saw one tutorial about this for doing a profile for a man's face and making it flat like if it was peeled (like an orange). This way you can see all features of the object without the need to rotate it or anything! This, to me, is more beneficial than creating a rotating QTVR. So far, I've failed, but I'm planning to continue with this.
My tools here were simple (in my terms as I didn't have to buy anything). I already have the VR-head (yeah, bought that back in 2009 or 2010) which can be used as a turntable base when disassembled. I looked around and didn't find something better than a CD and some kids' clay. Fixed the CD on the top of the base of the detached turning node of my VR-head with the clay and used some clay on the top of the CD to stabilize my object: A Seashell.
Now, we got some problems here:
  1. The CD's reflective backside might not be good impression in general for the high and wide spectra reflected from it. It's better to be a white or black background below the object.
  2. Because of my laziness, I used my monopod on its 3 tiny legs, which was shaky of course, specially with my 70-300mm macro lens. The turntable itself was fitted on my old tripod. Maybe it's not an issue but I didn't feel like removing my tripod from my car. It is already there for video recording!
  3. Unable to put proper lighting, thus I depended solely on the room's lights without playing around. I can't attach the lights to the tripod and I don't have carriers for them.
One product though is quite useful and it is a complete set (beside having a turntable, it is generally a softbox) can be found from EZcube products here. It's a nice set for serious people, but since I'm not giving much thought about it, I will continue working on what I have. After all, seems as I said before, Photoshop is the one to solve the problem for profiling the object in a flat shape...

The Seashell on the CD. The yellow spot under is the clay holding the CD to the rotating base, and also there is a piece of clay under the shell itself to stick it a bit to the CD. Rotating the base was not an easy task as I thought.
Although increasing the amount of angles taken into the camera for the object would make a better transition, but since I'm not apt to make a rotating object in 3D but a flat body of the object, I'm planning to study somehow the relation between the field of view, and the size of the object, and how many angles are needed in minimum to take all the details of the object. This is tricky. Because we are using here lenses of changing focal lengths and zooming plays a role, thus it's hard to tell what's exactly the field of view we got at hand. I know there must be some formulas for this, but for the time being, I will try to stay away from those and hypothesize that the object fills the field of view (FOV). I need a paper and pen now. Back to the old days of Physics. Just imagine how it is useful to see a jar, a can, or even a car, made into a flat image to study all the details and connections at once, like a plan for making a cube! Awesome isn't it?

On the other hand, there had been some work on the other 3D realm; The Anaglyphs. I try to make one every time I get the chance (and I think I will do one for the seashell above). However, last week I got the chance to stay awake all the way to the morning time and headed to the beach for snapping some shots with the sunrise. I was late abit but nevertheless, it did the job and I had the chance to make myself dirty a bit in the sand (or mud?). Yes! Walking on the sand is really awesome! I felt really refreshed, and my footprints proved for real that I do have FLAT feet...

Steps (HDR of course)
This image is taken with a fisheye lens and cropped from the top to make the destination somehow aimless. I was moving my lens here and there, left and right trying to figure out the best way of mimicking the left and right vision in order to combine it all in one anaglyph. It was hard I have to say, as it is normally with a fisheye lens, but at home and after viewing the slides, I made the central focusing point to be the heel print of the first step at the bottom as it was the most stable one with moving the camera few degrees to the right...

Steps (3D)

I don't think this is a really good one though. But a new experiment for me was to take pictures for the junk that was dumped in front of my work place (yeah, we have so much respect here), and believe if I say so, JUNK is not a junk to the camera. When you go for HDRs or even normal images, junk can be a good source for inspiration, really...

Now, as you can see, I don't know what the hell this pipe was used for, oil or gas or water, whatever. But this same pipe, gave me a valuable lesson here. The bad point though (and this was taken with my fisheye lens as well) is that I was focusing to infinity, making near by objects blurred a bit like this pipe here, but nevertheless, the effect is there! Just get your 3D glasses ready...

Junk (3D)
Concentrate on the pipe here. The circular head of the pipe is the center point of focusing (i.e. in layering the 2 images together, not the camera focusing itself). It seems, to me, that one of the good points to make a 3D image is to make the object in a non-dull position, and by non-dull position I mean simply, not into a straight line all the way, horizontally or vertically. Make some movement in your scene; foreground close object and far background or such is the case here with my image, a diagonal line (the pipe) with some perspective look as if it is popping out of the page.
One further point to mention here is that in processing the 3D images, you have to have in mind that after all you will crop the image to remove some excess parts that don't go along with your image, thus the resulting image could be smaller way too much sometimes (specially if it was taken in a fisheye lens).

Now to explain one funny coincidence before posting this. It's an image that I've called Departed. In this image I was aiming to the horizon and the sun with my fisheye lens, forgetting about the footprints that I've made myself on the sand and that a fisheye lens does have a wider FOV. After getting back home I've noticed that my footprints were in the view and cutting them out (keeping the ratio aspect 3:4) would actually minimize the scene so much. Finally, I decided to leave it like that and give the picture a theme... Departed!

My point here is: Whatever, however, your image was, you can always do something about it. That is, if you like to! The real thing now is whether this is applicable in real life or not, or is it possible or not.

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