Thursday, September 20, 2012


Thank you all regular visitors and passer-by's for 10K views for this blog, and also my Flickr!

Here we go with another hectic week. Despite the fact that I've finished my Techniques (2) workshop, I've been struggling still with its last attachments. A homework and an image for a contest. Since the last week there had been a load of images that I've been working with from various experiments and trying to do some homework, and lately been to some ice hockey training session with the group on some training for panning and motion freeze; the sort of stuff you see sports photographers do. Not my thing, but I did it anyway and tried to have some nice time.

Before going to all these details and images, I might as well mention that I've been almost wrecked with my last order from B&H and Amazon. Since last Thursday, my package has been in my US mailbox, and I couldn't pay for its release for some credit card rejection. Finally, and only on next Sunday, I was able to pay and after contacting my bank. Turned out (seemingly) that they locked my credit card for suspicions, as I placed an order in B&H that's worth around KD160! Pay attention please that I've been dealing with this store in the past 3 years, and I've placed orders as high as KD700 before, and NOW they are suspicious for KD160!!!

Anyway, these are the new toys I'm waiting for and I'm really, really, urging to see them between my hands...

Source: B&H
The first item that I'm dying to see is this babe. Perhaps I do have 50mm covered in the range of some of my lenses but here the case is different. This lens works in USM and with max aperture of 1.4 which makes it perfect for isolation and bokeh effect. I'm not into portraiture as you know by now, but this one could push me on trying, and not necessarily with people; I could even use it for some street photography on the go! That's why I want to have it urgently before my travel on October 10th. I was hesitated in the beginning as I was wishing for Voigtländer 80mm f/2, but keeping in mind that my camera is a APS-C type, then 50mm is better than 80mm in the matter of field of view (wider) and we have the f/1.4 case of course!

Source: B&H
The other item from B&H is the ExpoImage Rogue Master Lighting Kit. A special kit to aid with speedlites usage as it includes gel filters and flags (to block the light against certain areas) or snoots and other stuff. I'm not sure though I would take such kit with me when I travel, as I try to make my pack as light as possible, but in all conditions I'll be taking at least one speedlites just in case I would need it for some scenery, and my Vello cord for off-camera speedlite usage. ND filters are a must of course.
Currently, I'm putting all the speedlites kit along with the filters kit in one case (my old 350D camera bag) but I might have to change this soon as well. A new headache on the way!

And then we have the books. I'm going insane at work for not reading any book. I've tried to read some of the old books but I couldn't even concentrate further (because I get bored easily) and I do have a concentration problem already! I've decided to add two more books to the stack and probably take one of them with me when I travel abroad to pass the time.
With this order I've put some pressure on my budget (and credit card) a bit. However, in my work place they have some weird system when it comes to salaries and leaves; they would give the salary for more than a month ahead of time - I couldn't understand this system even though I've been working here for 7 years now. Anyway, hopefully with the next pay, I'll be reducing some hunch from my credit debt hopefully and would be better prepared for the travel. Let's just hope my bank won't decide to lock the Visa card again!

Splash Splash Splash!

It was about time to try out my 2 speedlites for some high-speed photography, but this time without any sound trigger. In fact, I might as well try it out with sound trigger and see if 580EX II can work as a master even off the camera and connected with the trigger. However, before reaching there, the beginning of the whole story is not a trial for high-speed, but a homework I had to do for my Techniques (2) workshop.

Canon EF 100mm Macro, f/22,
38min, ISO 100
As I've mentioned in the previous post, our teacher assigned to us to take a picture of a glass in any one technique of what we've learned in this workshop. After thinking a bit, I've decided to do 2 main ideas: thawing ice, and dropping water.
As for thawing the ice, it was relatively easy to set-up. I was hesitated to light a candle under the set-up (in a specific setting of course) to fasten the thawing a bit, but then I've realized that the blue floodlight setting on top of the glass and somehow close is producing some heat and might work in fastening the process. With the help of 6 stops and a dark room, I've managed to make Refreshen as you can see. In the beginning, I've tried 20 minutes, but I was not happy with the results so I've increased the time further to 38 minutes and changing the aperture accordingly to yield the same exposure.

Lust of Hell
Tamron 70-300mm @161mm, f/36, 30min, ISO 100
The second idea was to have a long exposure of dropping water. The idea was somehow hard to do because I need tools I don't have; some stuff to hang a bottle or something to drop water slowly into the glass. However, this was somehow solved later with some innovation if I should say, with the help of a pierced plastic bag!

Setting for Lust of Hell
Hope you don't mind the lousy shoot!

Later on though, the plastic bag was out of water in a time of 15 minutes approximately, so the rest of the long exposure ran almost static. At the end, and with some contrast enhancement, the glass retained the red color and yet looked as if it was empty, except for the droplets on the outside. I was hoping to record more movements on the surface of the glass. One of the things that still annoy me is the flare on the edge of the glass because of the floodlight. I couldn't use any polarizer here because of the space and the heat from the floodlight (and I don't have a frame to hang the polarizer).
At that point, the idea sprung up to do some high-speed photography - with the help of an eyedropper. It took me around an hour or even more just to settle down with the positions of the speedlites, and I would say that 3 are even better than 2 in such experiments!


From the hundreds of trials I guess I got those 4 as the best. In particular, Hängend and Tröpfchen were closer to my first aim in the beginning; to have hanging droplet in the air. However, the droplets were caught closer to the water surface rather than being hung in the air in front of the black background. I've used green gels to change the color with the help of Custom WB and biasing the WB to green (i.e. giving a green tint).
One of the hardest aspects in this shot is to decide on a proper f-number and a focus point. After trial and error, I've decided to focus on the front edge of the glass, and then increase the f-number for one stop (to f/5.6), and try to drop the droplets closer to this edge to ensure they stay in the focus range. It is quite a tiresome trial and error process, specially when done by one man alone. This said, there is a lot to be hoping for: C-stands or something similar, umbrellas, a third speedlite - but I'll keep my dreams for now, and I don't even have the space for all of that!


Friday is the family gathering day in my house, and for me, it is a nightmare that I just wait for it to be over all day and night. Last Friday however, I've ran away for lunch in the Marina Mall and keeping my camera bag with me. I didn't take any tripod with me as I was planning for fast session for anything I might see; it is just nice to feel free for once with no heavy tripod dangling over the shoulders!
After lunch however, I didn't know what to snap as taking photos from inside the mall or its surroundings is prohibited (I guess the whole thing is just a private location?). Thus, after lunch I've just started my engine again and went out of the mall, and there on the other side towards the seaside, I've discovered what I call now a secret spot.

Architectural Oasis
Rokinon 8mm, f/11, 250-1sec, ISO 200.
Corrected with DxO

This secret spot is in fact just a tiny portion of a beach with a diameter of around 5 meters only while the surroundings of this spot is majorly made of rocks. It would be dangerous to get down that slope of rocks to reach that spot but it is tempting and I'm planning ahead for some panorama there if possible. Not far away from that spot, with little walk, I reached a place which seems to be a public rest place and a fountain. The design was intriguing so I had a walk around with my fisheye alone and snapped pictures like Architectural Oasis. Even though all my shoots in that location were bracketed, as usual, but only one image after all was picked for processing.

Rokinon 8mm, f/11, 200-1sec, ISO 200.

The place itself is also intriguing for some panorama under the dome in Über. The problem is, in Über I was standing at the edge of the fountain's well (the fountain is not working when I was there), making it a thought-processing task for how to set up the tools over this well, or keep it on the edge of the fountain - and also at what time I would shoot this panorama? Lot of questions and so little time...

Am Zentrum
Rokinon 8mm, f/11, 320-1sec, ISO 200
Unlike Über which was corrected in DxO and the color rendering was fixed to Fuji Velvia, Am Zentrum was fixed for other issues but maybe the colors turned dull as I didn't fix the rendering to Velvia as well. However, I like the composition and the shadows play. Tried to fix the distortion in DxO for more intriguing looks but I didn't get the effect that I was aiming for, so I've decided to keep this one.

Puck Me!

Just as I was waiting for it, the day had come to watch one of the hockey teams we have training on the skating ring, as it was promised by our teacher. My teacher is an expert and an official photographer for the Asian League - and his expertise in such field is superb.
Now, action and sport photography are not my field nor I do have the appetite for such type of photography, but it was something to do after all. It was somehow a relief when my teacher said that in sport photography, it is allowed and accepted to raise the ISO level to some crazy levels!, and flashes were not allowed.

A Trial With Panning
Tamron 70-300mm @148mm, f/5,
60-1sec, ISO 2000
The main aim of training there was to gauge our levels for panning and freezing the motion. It is cool to talk about it or see it in other photos, but to do it, that was one heck of a struggle, specially with the lighting conditions in the arena. I was changing between Tv and Manual modes, and changing the lenses between Tamron and Canon's 100mm macro, but I've settled finally with Manual mode and Tamron 70-300mm.
The key features or the guideline to stick to during such session is to use AI SERVO focusing mode, and High-Speed drive mode. Meanwhile, the ISO is to be fixed accordingly whether you would be using Tv or Manual mode. One of the first advices from our teacher is if you are going manual, meter the shirt of the player and start fixing your options from there. This is mainly because of the way that reflective metering in the camera works, and how white spaces trick such meters into pulling the whole scene into the shades.

Ice Hockey Field
Rokinon 8mm, f/8, 1sec, ISO 500

Frankly, I didn't even know we have a hockey team in the first place, but anyway as I was going there for the first time in my life ever, I've decided to take most of the gear, specially the VR-head in case I would be doing a panorama there. The location, however, as you can see from the image above was not much suitable for such panorama. As I told my teacher, the most proper place for a panorama in this place would be in the middle of the field! Which is unthinkable of course. Anyway, I had to rejoice myself with some fisheye shots like the one done above and I've slowed the shutter down to 1 second to record some movement in the field and make it plain white. These movements however were more apparent when I started to fix the contrast by Curves in Photoshop and the field, originally, was blown out.

Hockey or Fresbie?
Tamron 70-300mm, @168mm,
f/4.5, 1600-1sec,
ISO 6400
Maybe one of the hardest aspects of working here is to hold the camera in portrait and try to do some panning or freezing the motion as well. Needless to say of course it is even hard to expect in which corner the action would be! In a regular game play, you would know that the action is where the play-item is (.e.g ball or puck), but in a training like this, the players were moving randomly to my eyes (not necessarily random to their own order).
Now after all of this, I've came back home with more than 800 images and I have to sort through them, as, of course, not all of them would be good to be published. These images with high ISO are always good to look at when small in size, but I would not think or imagine of one of those images to be in a large print at all!
The astonishing part in this experience, however, was the ability of my Tamron to focus relatively fast under AI SERVO mode. I've always put my Tamron lens behind and I would call it only when desperately needed and usually I'd work with manual focusing (even in this event I did do that for some time). However, when I turned it on Auto-focusing (as I was using Servo), I was expecting the typical delay in response and in focusing, but that didn't happen. The lens coped well in following the players' movements and adjusting the focus accordingly with relative ease. Anyway, I don't completely neglect the "luck" factor, or maybe the focusing distances are close together that the lens had no problem changing between the focal planes.


Some time ago, specifically in last Ramadhan if I remember correctly, I was invited to attend a seminar by a photographer who works for National Geographic. He was Iranian and I beg your pardon because I don't remember his name right now, but his first name was Reza (or Ridha, both transliterations are valid [رضا]). He talked about his experience all over the years and how he went through all of these war zones, like the Soviet-Afghan war, Balkan war and so on, and he did variety of other types of photography. You can check out more about him in his website:; if you do get an error, please refresh and hopefully you will be there.Now, during the seminar, one of the audience asked about the methodology, or how does he work with his camera and does he try to append to the common rules of art and photography (e.g. law of thirds). His reply sparked something. Reza said (not word to word):
"... we think about these rules as the only way to do art because we studied and brought these concepts from the West. Thus, we tend to think this is the only way to do it. Actually, it is found out that we as orientals, we tend to see things around us in terms of loops and not thirds as artists in the west always suggest. However, I just tend to capture the moment and make an image and I don't think about the rules - it is like second nature..."

These words opened my eyes to two things: First, most of the books I've been reading are from authors in the west, which makes their styles and aesthetics under an oriental perspective, questionable. Not something about right or wrong at all, but about effect and look and am I not supposed to do things differently? Secondly, what are the loops he was talking about, and how come loops can be a guide for composition!?
After questioning my teacher about it, and digging out some information myself, I've introduced myself to the new concept (to me) of the golden spiral. Well, for artists, I believe, this concept is nothing new. To me it is and I was wondering how it works. In fact, checking back on some of my images, probably I've been using this rule unconsciously!

Golden Spiral

So, I've decided to check further of my possibilities with this rule. You see above a typical golden spiral. When composing an artist is supposed to put the point of interest in the center of loop or the spiral. By the way, without going into much details and mathematics, this type of spiral is also connected to the Fibonacci series (for further information check out wikipedia here).
Since the spiral can start from any corner then we do have 4 distinctive positions (just like it is with the law of thirds).

Four spirals combined

Now, what if we combined the points of interests together with the law of thirds and check for a comparison, to see what are the main differences in spaces between the two?

Points of interest in the spiral system (in red dots) against the points of interest of the thirds system (green squares).

It can be a bit of philosophy in work here. As to why both cultures do see things differently, this is something hard to answer. We begin our studies and our comprehension of the space around us in terms of the Cartesian coordinates (i.e. the XYZ system), and boy didn't we have horrific days in physics because of this! Then we upgrade our view of the world around us gradually as we encounter more shapes and more situations when the XYZ doesn't work or doesn't make things simple; thus we came out with ideas for other systems, like the cylindrical and, the more general, spherical coordinates. At least this is what we have learned in schools here and this is how we started to measure the volume and the mass, starting from XYZ up to spheres.
But now imagine, there is a system that gets you directly to a curvatic world without passing through the hassle of the XYZ or the Cartesian coordinates (or rectangular coordinates as it is called sometimes). Can we say that the orients did indeed understand the complexity of life forms in earlier stages before the West did? I'm not sure, but it is worthy to stand still and think about it.
Notice, how the points of interest in the spiral system (red dots) are pushed closer to the corners of the frame. Does that signify a look to life? Spatial freedom? Is it possible that such mental attitude to the arrangement of the surroundings is a direct consequence for the type of living conditions? Europeans usually were packed in cities while in the orient people were more rural even when they lived in cities and in proximity to each other. Or was the whole thing related to the elements available in each culture in the surroundings and nature?
Personally, I've noticed myself being more inclined to nudge things to the corners further thinking of applying the law of thirds, while the law of thirds stays in the vicinity of the center point (i.e. closer to that point). I generally don't see an effect on the arrangement or the composition alone, but also in the shape or the general move in the image. There are certain images when applying the law of thirds is more applicable, probably because the scene is generally arranged in a rectangular way, or rectangular layers, or rectangular shapes. In other instances, the spiral rule might be more applicable mainly because of the pose of the model for example, or the shape of the subject (imagine an image of a rose!). Anyway, I will try hard to enjoy my photos without thinking much about these rules; they got a time of their own in the future, I hope!


Now, in the coming weeks I'm supposed to prepare for my travel - of course that means buying stuff, and printing stuff and, plan some stuff. It is common for workshops within my photography group to be finalized with some contest for the best photo taken with one of the techniques taught in the workshop.

Tamron 70-300mm @300mm
f/36, 90sec, ISO 100
Unfortunately, I was not prepared properly for this contest so I had to work fast the day before sending the image to the group's organizer. Of course my pick of technique for this was the long exposure since I'm already in love with it. I had many ideas but unfortunately most of them require working at night time, and by then it would be too late (and exhaustive). Thus, I've decided to work in the afternoon that day, in the secret spot that I've talked about before. I did some trials for 5 minutes but unfortunately the noise and the water movement made the images taken inappropriate, thus I had to take the least effort and do something about it at least - thus I've zoomed into some rocks in the corner of the spot and recorded an exposure for 90 seconds, with the help of 6 stops (2xND8 filters). Typically, the filters gave out a tint, and it was fixed when RAW editing later. I think I should think of calm water instead of raging one if I want a cotton-candy effect!
I've sent the image already to the organizer and no news so far.

Now, after all the fuss, I'm hoping for a period of tranquility. As my travel time comes near, I'm becoming wary of it. The stupidity in the world doesn't stop to astonish me with new events. Makes me wonder, why do we respect all, but none respect us?
At home, I'm becoming more and more isolated. Sometimes talking to myself is the only break from isolation I could get, beside daydreaming. I've realized keeping your sorrows to yourself is far better than letting them out and get a face-turn - because then you will be shocked to the fact, the none did care...


  1. Great post! First of all congrats on the 10k mark! Then I really like your pics and the experiment you made! I love the filtering and will try to do some myself. I really like taking pics at bike competition and panning is a must! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks a lot dear and good luck with your filtering :)