Thursday, October 13, 2011


Here we go, another week with tiresome days all the way. It has been a trend of somehow "busy life" in the past 3 weeks; struggling with my brother going through all the bureaucracy of hospitals, chores, work, and lately lectures for preparation before going to Hajj. As a consequence to this, I didn't have the time to work with my camera although I do have an idea in my mind to work with, and also I didn't record anything for the Ayvarith project, and I think this will be delayed until my return from Hajj in November. November will be also a busy month for me anyway. I can't wait until my vacation starts on October 19th. It is a vacation that will, after all, be busy as I would prepare my stuff for traveling to do the Hajj, but after all I won't have to wake up in the early morning... and also stay late as much as I want!

I didn't do much with my camera as I said earlier, so mainly, my work was to get busy with the Grand Mosque panoramas, and I made a QTVR in some good... compromise let's say; without the nadir point.
I've made another flat (spherical) panorama other than the one that was done last week which was done in a haste. The new one has some adjustments to the blinds and also a better saturation I'd say. Compare!

Mosque Magnam I
Mosque Magnam II

The stitching errors were enormous and hard to fix in the first version while it was relatively easier and lesser in the second. All that with just changing the Blend Priority. The second version was also the base of the QTVR that I've made later, adding a logo (sort of) of my own. Will show this later separately.
This new straight and enhanced spherical panorama, then, was the base of newer stitches in various projection styles. Believe it or not, I spent around 3 or 4 days stitching these panoramas, simply because I thought everything was OK, then it turned out that I've optimized the "Flare" along with the "Exposure" in PTGui. A mistake that wasted my time and made me do everything back again. The Flare option, in the Exposure Optimization section of PTGui,  is the one responsible for producing weird color spots in the panorama AFTER stitching. Everything would look normal on PTGui viewing screen, but the sting comes after stitching! After that I had to stitch it all over again turning off that option and everything was fine, almost.

One of the amazing aspects of such a place as The Grand Mosque is the emphasis on geometrical assemblies, not only in the architecture, but also on the ground; on carpet. The lines of the carpet helped me a lot in making some sort of a fantasia if I should say. Maybe two of the most beloved of these projections to me considering this location were the Little Planet, and the Wide-View...

Flos Lucis (Flower of Light)
Little Planet projection

Orbis Fidei (Rings/Orbits of Faith)
Wide-View projection

The straight lines in the carpet made it perfect for such an illusion, even though it was harder to clone out as it was in case of panoramic work from Ireland; where the ground was random and the VR-head can be cloned out easily. The removal of the VR-head in the wide-view version was relatively easier than other versions, while in the planet projection, I've decided not to waste my time and simply stamped a little logo that says "ألا بذكر الله تطمئن القلوب" (Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest - Quran:13:28). I was lucky to find this phrase in a font called AGA Islamic Phrases, which can be checked with other stuff here. From this font I stamped the calligraphic phrase on a black background. The writing became blue after tone-mapping in Photomatix.
On the other hand though, removing the VR-head remnants was not an easy task in another interesting point. It was another Wide-View but as viewed from the side of the praying hall and not from the back as in Orbis Fidei.

Radii Fidei (Beams of Faith)

I can't claim that the cloning was that perfect, but probably it is less severe when viewed in such a size, but could prove a disaster when viewed on a large scale. The "tunneling" effect of this scene made a very interesting pattern that reminds me of the days when I was a physics student...

Fields of Faith (Argos Fidei)

It was done in the very beginning originally and hence the name was in English first, then I decided to move to Latin with the projections done later. Anyway, as you can see the yellow lines from the carpet make a magnetic field pattern (remember the experiment of the iron filaments and a magnet under the paper?). The broken lines from stitching errors were apparent here and fixing them was sort of easy but not perfect still. Also some weird black spots appeared on the edges after tone-mapping (apparent in the lower portions of the image). I don't know what caused these exactly but this is one of the aspects of the new Photomatix (v4.0); the tone-mapped view is not exactly what you will get at the end when you press the tone-mapping button. Sometimes the difference is so great that you won't even believe that you did it yourself.

In the beginning I wasn't really up to it, but then I figured, with the second trial of doing the flat spherical panorama, that it's worthy of a QTVR after all. The eternal problem, of course, was for the bottom image, or the nadir. Here though, I've cut down the lower portion of the flat panorama (which has the VR-head remnants) and then, instead of doing a completely new slide with  logo of mine (the same as above), I've instead opened the "real" nadir shot and made the logo cover the proportion of the VR-head in that slide. I've prepared this slide with PTGui to bend it and then fixed it with blending mask in Photoshop.
In this mess, I've totally forgot that with what I did, I can actually put the logo BEFORE stitching completely. Because the logo would cover only the VR-head proportion, then the general features of the HDR slide would still, probably with some gambling, be saved and enables PTGui to blend it in the process of making the panorama. I've never thought of this before! I better try it as soon as possible.
Just a comparison for how it would look like when you have a flat logo in a flat panorama (and it's not easy to imagine the general shape and how it would look in a QTVR)...

Mosque Magnam II - Cropped

Mosque Magnam II - QTVR version

Of course there is no point in adding the nadir with all its hassle around the VR-head for a panorama that is supposed to be displayed like that. However, I should think ahead of doing the panoramas directly and cloning originally in the nadir slide before the stitch, might saves me big headaches. I can't believe I didn't think of this before! Damn head...

Now, I'm going to post this for the time being, and I'm going to get busy. Suddenly all the work pressure comes with me getting ready for Hajj. I've received my injections (3 of them I don't know for what!) and I feel like a mesh. I just hope I won't be suffering from fever as a reaction to this. Weekend is coming, yet I'm not sure I will be able to enjoy it...

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