Thursday, April 14, 2011


Had been a weird week sort of. Flew away so fast and, weird weather too. Just on Wednesday you would see the world in a yellowish cover from the dust and the visibility, I presume, was lesser than 500 meters (~1500 ft) if not lesser than 100 meters  (~300 ft) even! I had to go to work anyway but later on I've been told that the employees and admins left the place already! But I stayed until 1:00 p.m. (I finish at 2) and wow, wish if the streets are like that everyday, minus the dust of course.

Taken from my mobile that day, this short video just to show the dusty weather we had on Wednesday. 
Notice that the meteorology department says "we have fresh air"  (???)

Just when you don't take your camera with you and take videos or pictures wherever you go, all the opportunities seem to be showing up in your face wherever you go and you feel paralyzed. However, after this weather we had a "nice" weather back. Literally nice weather with 17°C (62.6F), like some sweet morning in November here. Our weather does not need a meteorologist, but a fortuneteller.
At home, I haven't been doing much, but only taking pictures of the seashells I've collected in the past few weeks, and working on my own project of "peeling" objects (those are shells from the time being). However, I've worked with some pictures from my visit to the Scientific Center a bit and worked on singular shots for my seashells as well.

Leopard Whipray

Unfortunately, those images from the Scientific Center that were taken at maximum ISO (12800) were so hard to clean and somehow were not so appealing. Even the dedicated profiles for Canon EOS 7D that were made ready for NeatImage at this ISO, were not enough to clean the noise. Mostly, they would clean the luminance grain noise, yet there is a hard-to-remove chrominance noise (color spots) that were desaturated a bit, but not removed completely. Beside, the image looks so soft with lot of details lost.

To over come the chrominance noise in this shark shot, which strangely were mostly concentrated on the outside of the shark's body, I've decided to turn everything into Black and White and keep and shark in color. ProPhoto space seem to push such noise type further and cause a problem for any filtration effort!

Nevertheless, there are some points even with ISO12800 where I worked out some HDR images just for fun. They are bad enough with all the noise, thus I didn't care much about how I tone-map them, so I worked less on giving a realistic look for such an image...
The Aquarium of the Scientific Center
People didn't like this image because of the effect or the high noise level, yet what I believe, noise level should not stop you from using your image in any way possible.

 On the shells side now, I've began using my new self-made turntable mounted on the base of the Manfrotto SPH303. Giving some trials still on how to achieve the peeling look for my shells; trying various shells for now. Unfortunately, the process is tiresome. My first trial was with a shell of highly irregular conical shape (unfortunately I don't have a picture at hand at the moment) that comes with spikes. The first trial was set on 20 degrees for each shot (and the lighting provided was on onside). Because of the spiral conical shape, seems that the peeling process (adding layers with layer masks; eliminating the unneeded parts) was going in a wrong way. Probably for such shapes the peeling must go in circles around the center and not sideways! However, I stopped working with this project and moved to taking pictures of single shells:

My current settings after moving from one side of the room (to my right here) to this position where I stuck Velcro on the wall and on the white board to ease putting on and removing. The desk lamp is used to eliminate the object from the top giving some hard shadow on the turntable but at this point it's not so important. With a macro lens and flash unit, and setting WB: tungsten or fluorescent to balance the hot yellow color of the flood light from the desk lamp, the background looks blue rather than white. Probably, I should stick the turntable to the white board next time.

Ringed shell. I wonder if these rings tell the age of the shell itself?
As you can see, I've been using the turntable itself as a stand post for such shots without using the softbox that I've made at home. The softbox makes soft shadows for your objects and you can surround it majorly with 4 light sources (sides, top and front) and it would give a nice white background. I don't mind the hard shadow here though since it's at the bottom of the object. I fix my objects standing like that with a little piece of children playing clay (maybe you can see a bit of it in the image above at the bottom right side under the shell).
One problem here as well, is the center of the circle which I have to appoint precisely. Common problem I've been facing now while rotating my object is having the object at offset from the center relative to the camera's lens. In macro shots, everything becomes so so sensitive! Too many things to take care for, and shots are better be taken with Live-View on (to avoid the mirror flipping and shaking the camera) and of course, a remote (wireless) is a must
Later, I've picked another small conical shell but not spiral this time, and more regular in shape (horizontal-wise at least), and this time I've set the base to rotate at 10 degrees instead of 20, which means 36 shots for a complete circle. Done this already (in RAW format) with flash unit and flood light on top, and it was a tiresome process as it is. The flash unit (580EX II) got tired of me and needed a change of battery (but I didn't change the battery as I preferred to wait longer for the recharge than change anything in the configuration). The process now is on the go and started it already, but as I said, it is a long process and a tiresome one, and the picture is not ready as I'm typing this. My panorama programs didn't help much in identifying the type of movement here so I have to do everything manually. With 36 shots for the whole body, minus the top and bottom), the transition of rotating shell was smoother (you can see that by moving through the images quickly and you will see the shell as if it is rotating), and also I've dedicated 18 shots to be "welded" on the right of the basic starting image, and 17 on its left, making the starting point in the center. Although the shots are in RAW (18MP) but I preferred to reduce the resolution and work with TIFF-16bit instead. It is slow already like that, so imagine working with 36 RAW files stacked as layers, as they are 18MP!!!

Ayvarith-wise now. I have to admit I was lazy and awkward toward this project but it was for the sake of working with my camera! Anyway, I've removed the "private" status from the Ayvarith transliteration of Alexander's story in WDC. I was planning to remove this status when I add the vocal sample for a narration in Ayvarith for the whole set, but I think this can be done later, as the transliteration is almost ready and the preface is ready with vocal samples to show how some letters are pronounced. You can check it for yourself here. The Ayvarith transliteration is dedicated as a folder by itself. I'm trying to find some time to record the narration, but with this weather and these jams, my body has a swing of moods...

I'm going to post this now and get back to my Italian music session. It's nice to get away from the English a bit now and then...

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