Thursday, January 19, 2012


Something went wrong this week. I don't know what is it exactly but all I know is that I've been idle and unable to perform well, with my mind or my camera. Well, at least I did something last week (after my last post) with my camera, otherwise, the week was vague. I'm trying to push myself to do some work out, even simple ones, just to activate my body somehow but even that was a fail. Anyway, in the "good news" department we have a new recording available, this time for chapter 4 of Alexander's story. You can check the English version (text only) here, and the Ayvarith version with sound clips here.
Now, let's hope I don't lag behind with chapter five.

I. More Geltani:
The progress with the new conlang and conscript is slow, yet I'm trying to work around it as much as I can. I'm settling my mind here and there about some aspects of syllables and seems I will be deriving a syllabic system out of the original Geltani script which will be dedicated for writing foreign names in Geltani. Ironically, I'm not sure how to write down "Geltan" in the Geltani script! Most probably I would make a name completely different in pronunciation.
One of the real problems that face me right now is some of the ambiguities encountered because of the abjadic nature of the Arabic orthography and script. Abjadic systems (like Arabic and Hebrew) tend to record the consonants alone and add only signs for vowels (in Arabic case, short vowels only are represented with signs and long ones with letters). Just an example from Arabic to elaborate this idea, the possibilities branching from the letters MLK.

MLK [ملك]
Mulk [مُلك]: Kingdom/Ownership.
Malik [مَلِك]: King
Malak [مَلَك]: (he) ruled/owned (Also "angel" in some context).
Mulik [مُلِك]: (he) was owned.

All of these versions of simply 3 letters (and the Arabic language is full of such examples) makes it hard for me to think of a way to go around it when forming words in Geltani based on Arabic. The original idea is mimicking the Arabic letters in form of lines in the first place, but I didn't plan for mimicking the vowels and their signs as well. I'm not sure how to go around such a problem yet, but maybe it lies somewhere between inventing new shapes and symbols and/or creating more sounds for them, or maybe exchanging short vowels for long ones to make the original Arabic word more like alphabetic in nature rather than abjadic. I have yet to think about it.
Another problem on the line is the packing of strokes and whether or not to allow one word to be written into 2 diagrams (or characters). Most probably I would try to fit all in one character as much as possible, because for the time being, and adding some grammatical twist to the whole language, I've decided to let preposition articles to be placed after the word in one line (while the sentences are written vertically top to bottom from left to right).
I'm running to simplify the grammar as much as possible (and that might be awkward when expressing some moods and modes). One of such cases is the conditional (if statements) and the habitual (would statements). So far, I've created a special character for regular and passive tenses, plus the conditional "should". Who knows, I might as well add to the already established characters for verbal words.

The initial design for verbal characters and their divisions. The tense is designated by the number of dots (not the placement of the dot).
Studying possible combinations of both divisions, regular and passive, in order to express more moods and modes.

Other variations of the same characters

II. In Slow Motion:
The beach area was a target, again, to my camera. This time though, although close to McDonald's area where I usually shoot, but it is the first time I land on the sand. I have to admit though that I went there in a hurry and didn't completely equip myself properly (specially with flashlights). The wind was strong and chill but I was determined to work with my lenses AND my ND filters as well. The ND filters caused me another problem but this time I had to investigate after this problem and I discovered that it is something reported widely for Cokin's ND filters. More details will come later on.
The clouds were nice. Not scattered much like cotton balls as I wished but they had nice shapes after all. The first thing was to try my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens with some long exposure before the sunrise above the horizon. The timing here is critical since I don't have any filters to fit fisheye lenses, so I have to time my work with darkness. The best I could get was within the range of 2 minutes exposure after all, and more than that proved to be problematic somehow. To add to my problems, as the time was a morning time and the sun would rise abvoe the horizon, then once you calculate the time required for the shutter, you have to expect that you might get blown highlights because of the gradual increase in the light level in the atmosphere.
However, it did work out well with me in the beginning with my 8mm, and made two shots; vertical and horizontal one.

Racing Heaven
~100 seconds

Race of Heavens
~120 seconds

The clouds' race is more obvious in the landscape orientation (naturally since it shows more and wider view of the sky), while the first one probably is good in the contrast between the sky and the sand.
Both images were fixed from distortion by DxO Optics Pro. This software got the option to fix the distortion without cropping (to keep the aspect ratio of width and height) and hence it gives more stretching effect on the sides and I think it is a good thing for long exposures of this kind. Notice in both shots here, the sun didn't rise yet and it was relatively dark on location.
After being done with my fisheye lens, comes here my EF-S 18-55mm lens, which is the widest thing I have right now which I could use filters with. The sun here started to show a bit, or let's say the sun rays, but the darkness was diminishing slowly. For now, although I do use metering by camera to judge how many ND filters I would need, but I got somehow a grab of sense on it. Not firmly, but a bit. I directly used 3xND8 filters (that is 9 stops: 3+3+3). One minute exposure was enough but as time was progressing, it came down to 30 seconds exposure which made the scene that I want. However, I got the same weird problem again, which eventually I've discovered that it has nothing to do with the white balance, but rather it is the make of the ND filter itself.

The scene directly from RAW file.
30 seconds exposure.

As seen, the scene is reddish and I used to get this many times in my trials with long exposures. They say a good ND filter would NOT give such a result and the colors should remain with no change, at least virtually. However, some mending process did the job to some extend the scene was recovered; but the question is, is that useful every time I take a long exposure with those filters?


I have to say though, despite the apparent "malfunctioning" of such filters, I do like the reddish look indeed. But maybe not this time.

III. Re-Visited:
The panorama taken 2 weeks ago from a deep point on the beach was something hardly can be done again (although I'm thinking about it seriously). For this reason it was hard for me to satisfy myself with what I've done before about this panorama. I felt there is more to be done.

Nox Salmiyah

Planeta Ignis

In the previous formations done with this panorama particularly, the white balance was not changed when the HDR was made out of the shots. The white balance was Daylight back then. However, with me having RAW files, I have the flexibility to change the white balance significantly.
From previous experiments with the night sky on the roof of my own home, I've realized that Tungsten white balance works better with such atmosphere. It simply adds some magic. But first, I had to recombine the whole set of images into HDR slides and setting the WB to Tungsten. It was then time to work with PTGui again, which was not an easy process (spent around 2 or 3 days trying to fix some images in their places).


Personally, I did like it better than the previous two. In this shot however, which looks like a single shot with a fisheye lens, I've used the Mercator projection in PTGui; a projection style that I don't use much and to me, it doesn't differ much from the cylindrical projection except in some stretch in some areas (the height specifically). However, I think the Mercator projection here helped on curving the horizon upward and forming a shape of Earth's surface from outer space.
Hence we conclude, a change in WB can change the mood and feel of the image completely.

IV. Waiting...
Finally, I've placed some orders for some books and simple stuff for my camera. Things I've delayed for long until now and I think it's time to have them. This year will be starting with some heavy debt on my credit card but I need to. My plans for a vacation seem to be delayed for now and I'm not sure I will be traveling this year even. Traveling to me is more than a vacation in fact; it is a time for photography.
One of the most important items I'm waiting for right now, is something that would supposedly can solve the matter of long exposures with my Canon 15mm fisheye lens: Gel Filters.

Source B&H

Supposedly it is a pack that contains four  1-, 2-, and 3-stops filters of each. Frankly, I'm not sure it will fit in the place of the filters at the back of the fisheye lens, or would I have to cut it (as I've been told before) but I'm going to try something new after all. The thing now is to try to use such thing, if possible, with my other Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens.
Another set of gels was ordered but not for lenses this time. They are supposedly to fit my flash head in case I need to change the color cast of the flash head. No plans for using them now, but they would expand my options and might create new ideas in the near future.

Source: B&H

Finally, on the "tools" section, we have a bracket that will help me to place the flash a bit away from the camera or on the side, while still carrying it along with the camera.

Vello CB-500 Dual Shoe Bracket
Source: B&H

Now to the books section. I'm waiting for 3 books, but one of them is not about photography, but about some old passion inside me that is still burning; Archaeology.
I've stopped reading about archaeology for some time, but I felt that I have to get back now and kindle this passion again. Too bad I couldn't study this field in my early days. Anyway, the book is entitled: Forensic Recovery of Human Remains: Archaeological Approaches.

On the other hand, there two photography-related books:
1. The Photographer's Guide to Making Money: 150 Ideas for Cutting Costs and Boosting Profits.
2. Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography.

As you can see I'm sort of dedicated to understand the flash unit more and how to control the light. Let's hope this field is digested with this little mind of mine, because I did find it difficult before to "paint" an image with light in my mind. Quite an essential capability if you want to deal with portrait photography in the first place.

Well, I've put so much in this post for now. Hope you didn't get a headache going through all of this. It's time for me to put it down, and hit the sack. So much headache involved in doing this blog... gosh!

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