Thursday, April 21, 2011


Tiresome and a sad week, and the dust made it worse. After struggling with time and having hardships to pick "my" street cat to the vet, just few minutes before writing this I got a phone call from the vet to tell me that he died, after vomiting blood all night. One more thing to lose in my life... he was an animal... but sort of listens to me humbly even though he didn't reply back or show emotions... but at the end he used to listen. He used to lick my toes all the time. I always wondered why...

R.I.P. Tiger

I will try to get over it. For now, I have to think of coming projects with my camera. I got one project done almost perfectly, that was the peeling of a seashell...

Peeled Seashell
I say almost perfect, because the bottom of the shell was not added here, and the shell was somehow awkwardly positioned on some clay to make it stand in a right angle. Almost. The merging process was a tiresome but not as much as before (the angle of rotation was set to 30 degrees here instead of 10 degrees like I did last time, making 12 images horizontally). For this reason I had to cut the bottom somehow to remove the yellow clay piece that was used to fix the shell. I think I should not have added the tops as well since I added the topmost part (as you can see on the top of the left side). Well, one more experiment to learn from. The non-uniform shape of the shell helped me I guess to merge the different angles with not much easy-to-see errors I would say. Right now I'm planning to do the same process with a more regular shape: my old lovely censer...


Like the previous shell, I've fixed the angle of rotation on 30 degrees, but this time instead of using the regular 80W plain flood light, I used a blue flood light, on the top. My main point in the beginning, actually, was to take a single shot after all, trying to find some good contrast between the blue light and the reddish body of the censer (or purplish) and the red interior when the candle is on, but I think I made it better than I thought myself. I didn't have this effect in my mind. Despite that the above image is a HDR composed of only 2 images (at 0EV and -2EV), yet, the single shots did not differ much in shades. The only thing I made it into HDR here is to control the light of the candle and reduce its luminance solely without reducing the exposure of the image, and HDR-way is more convenient for controlling the luminance level. Will work soon on a peeling effect for this censer as well.
However, this was not my first trial to play with lights, or as some call it "light painting". I did try something but it was not successful as I wished, but after all an image was produced and some people liked it already.

The Swedish Shell
Svenska Snäcka

The image here is in fact a tone-mapped HDR, which I worked hard with Photoshop to enhance. Thus, I can't really call it "light painting". In light painting, you are supposed to work majorly in Bulb mode (that is opening the shutter and closing it as you wish). Here it was so hard to do that because of the time I did it in, and because of the strength of the yellow light was much greater than the blue one, and it needs very precise timing to turn off one light and light the other AND not overexposing the image. I got rid of all of that and simply worked in HDR format. Photoshop was needed to enhance the contrast and pronounce the faint blue color more, and to remove (by cloning out) the clay piece that was holding the shell stand still.
Light painting is an interesting art with the camera but surely needs lot of practice and sensing your own camera sensor. Most probably ND filters would be needed here to control the exposure and avoid overexposing your image like I did here. It's a long story I need to work with some time later. Light painting is not necessarily done in Bulb mode of course, but this is usually the way it is done because in Bulb mode you have infinite time to work with until you close the shutter by yourself, while other moods like (M)anual and (T)ime (v)alue would limit you to 30 seconds maximum for a single shot. I remember though in my old Canon 350D, the Bulb mode was integrated within the (M)anual mode, but in Canon EOS 7D, it is a separate mode.

Now and then I would get back to the images I took from the Scientific Center, and trying to get away with the noise level in most of them if not all. It is like an arsenal for me now after I stopped working with pictures from Ireland for some time now. Of course, not much HDR there to be done in these images but with ProPhoto color space (which unfortunately do not adhere to lot of websites like Photobucket and MostPhotos), a set of vivid colors can be extracted, with the noise of course. RAW file processing sounds fine when it comes to colors and contrast (but not always), but noise-wise, it's never enough, specially with a noise level of ISO12800. For this reason, not all images were (to me) applicable to be submitted online, excluding MostPhotos of course where you can upload almost anything above 5MP in resolution.
Nevertheless, RAW files got some nice features beside the color-related options, like Clarity. Clarity is an option that partially controls the sharpness of the image. Control this option carefully and you can have an amazing effect to your image. Notice that the sharpness here is not like the sharpness that would be fixed by dedicated plugins or by the RAW editor itself, but it is simply controlling the outer edges generally. You can make a "dreamy" effect by reducing the Clarity to some specific amount (depending on the image of course). One of the amazing things I've encountered while "playing" with this option while working on my Scientific Center images was this one...

The dotted fish
still looking after its official name!

In this image, increasing the clarity did literally increase the size of the black dots on this fish (which I don't recognize its name yet!), while reducing the clarity, the black dots became smaller (with the dreamy effect a bit). I decided to reduce the size of the black dots here to not make it "bulky" looking.
With these images from the aquarium, even when HDR was possible, I consider checking the RAW files and try to get something out of them. HDR is well-known for producing grains in the images even with low ISO (and sometimes it is hard to clean later even with dedicated noise filters). The thing after all is, what is your mood? Worry about the noise later on...

Abyss (RAW)

Abyss (HDR)

In the previous two images for the aquarium in the Scientific Center, I was really fluctuating between the two. I like them both. I like the RAW version for its mysterious look, and I like the HDR version for its vivid and enriched colors (and pronouncing more the sun rays in water). Notice that this (bracketed) image was taken at ISO12800, thus despite the smooth look in a small version like this, in large format it really... sucks big time.

Let's leave photography at this point though. I got lot of images that I've prepared but I can't put them all in here at the moment, but maybe when I need to talk about some specific topic. Working with these photos made me lazy about my Ayvarith project now. I completely forgot about it! The last thing I did was to simply make the Ayvarith transliteration of Alexander's story into the public (with sound examples only in the preface). On the other hand, I'm trying to dedicate some time to read this book I got last month and just started to read it, and typically, the only time I have is, at work (how ironic)!

The Playful Brain: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind
The Playful Brain
reading on process!
The book is about solving puzzles to enhance various functions of the brain. Very interesting and amusing, and there are lot of practices or "training" to enhance various skills. So far, I'm still in the first part of the book which talks about Memory. There are some practices that I need to dedicate some time to do though, if I'm to be serious about my brain! Since when I was anyway? However, there is a nice website connected to this book:, which contains some amazing videos and news.
Time to post this for now, and have a moment of silence over the lovely cat that passed...

Indian Threadfish (Alectis indica). Local name: Udhaimy

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