Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maschinen Auf...

What a busy week. It is good to be busy sometimes; it makes you forget stuff you don't want to remember, mostly. The trend of such busy week is still going on and might go on for the next week as well because some group members are going to Dubai in the coming weekend and some responsibilities are flung at me. It would be my first time to organize and be responsible for a field trip to some distant area.
It seems as if this week is spreading seeds of reputation and a renowned name. I'm getting personal invitations and simple requests for occasions related to photography. I wouldn't say I'm on the road of being famous, but it does give a portion of confidence that I needed for some time. Say, would I be reading my horoscopes daily if I do have some support on my back? I wonder...

Blooming Me!
As Mawahb-3 expo is approaching closer and closer, the management of the group realizes that not many fine photos are available, if there is any, for a large number of members in the group. For this reason, my teacher and the leader of the group thought of giving a workshop (workshopS in fact, see Andaluz below) concentrating on geometrical shapes in flowers and their beauty. Personally, I'm not a flowers person but since the topic bears some resemblance and sense of an abstract work, I've decided to join in.

Silhouette in The Heart's Rose
Canon EF 100mm macro, f/16, 500-1sec, ISO 200.

After some advices and a short lecture by my teacher, the work started. He prepared a rose under a monolight with some gobo, but I picked my own rose or flower (which according to my teacher was the most expensive of them) and started  to work on it on my own. What attracted me to this flower specifically is the stems in the middle (sorry, don't know the scientific name for those!). Frankly, I don't know why or how did I forget the ISO on 200, but anyway it worked just fine with the pulses of the speedlite.

Canon EF 100mm macro,
f/16, 800-1sec, ISO 200.
My 580EX II speedlite was connected with TTL cord to the camera and attached with honeycomb grid giving 16o range. One of the hardest parts of all was to fix the flower on some stable ground and up high close to the camera's level, and the only way to do this was to put the flower into the handle of the small bag which carries my speedlites and filters! After that, I was free to move the speedlite around the flower and testing the results. Even though my teacher doesn't recommend using the LiveView feature to do the metering and focusing, I do find this way is really useful and I can almost never imagine myself without it now. With LiveView you can move a cursor to the desired location to do the focusing, and this is much more easier than depending on zones or points in the viewfinder. Metering, however, can be a bit tricky with the rectangular cursor across the display and also the possibility of leaking light rays from the viewfinder that can put the exposure reading off track, but still it can be useful to take readings from various areas in the scene without moving or tilting the camera - that is for comparing the differences in stops and so on.

Die Glänzende Finger
Canon EF 100mm macro, f/4, 400-1sec, ISO 200.

As I've mentioned before that I was moving the speedlite (and changing the depth as well) which yielded some interesting results. It did feel like working in a studio full of diffusers and reflectors but in a macro level! Images like Silhouette in The Heart's Rose for example was achieved by using the petals as reflectors for the speedlite pulse and hence creating a silhouette out of the stems in the middle of the bloom. On the other hand, Harmonie was achieved by using the petals behind the stems as diffusers which also painted the stems in red giving something in between ethereal and a romantic look. Well, some people pointed out it is scary as well! Just worth a mention here that Harmonie is originally in landscape orientation but I felt it's more appealing to make it in portrait position.
Even though we were supposed to exchange flowers and work on each for some time, but the time was limited, and personally after shooting Harmonie I thought I did achieve my purpose for this session already.


Award to BPF
Canon EF 50mm, f/4,
1600-1sec, ISO 200.
Just one image but it has to be mentioned here for it did take some deal of experimenting with speedlites. Last week I've received an award dedicated to BPF group (the group I'm member of) since I was the representative of the group and the middle man between the group and Kuwait University's Cultural Festival last January.
What I really loved here is the wooden texture and its touch (yes, its touch). I wanted to show an image focusing on the group's name (upper white line) while showing fine details for the rest of the shield. After experimenting which consumed a great deal of time, I've held my 580EX II speedlite with a snoot on top of the shield pointing downward, while controlling via wireless a 430EX II speedlite in front of the shield but pointing away from the shield with  reflector in front of it to spread some light on the shield. I guess I achieved the desired look little bit though I wished it to be brighter over the logo and the group's name.

Christmas in Ahmadi!
With the beginning of the last weekend, a friend in the group suggested that we head out to Ahmadi, a town or city down south with around 30 minutes of driving from my place. Ahmadi is known to be a home for many foreigners and citizens who are related to the oil industry. I dare say even that it is a town created and established by oil companies alone!

Stern von Licht
Canon EF 50mm, f/1.4, 125-1sec, ISO 100.
It Snows in Ahmadi!
Canon EF 50mm, f/1.4,
125-1sec, ISO 100.
We don't really celebrate Christmas in here (not officially), but Ahmadi was lighted up with decorations made of light patterns in shape of miniatures for the celebrations of the national day (mainly February 25th and 26th). It was one heck of a night and an absolutely fantastic spot for night photography. If only I could head there on my own I might have tried my luck often there. We had our share though from the annoying people and hooligans but around 1 p.m. it became relatively quiet.
We spent around 2 hours taking shots and experimenting on only one road, and we were leaving the place we noticed prettier scenes even but it was time to leave specially after getting a pin penetrating my shoe and sticking to my foot! This incident was the end of our journey that night and we had to leave. I didn't go to the doctor to get any injection (tetanus?) but my foot feels just fine right now and as I'm typing these words, the pain is almost gone and I don't limp as I used to when I first got the injury. Well... just in case you care anyway!

Star Spangled Kuwait
Canon EF 50mm, f/1.4, 25-1sec, ISO100.
Candy Clock
Rokinon 8mm, f/3.5, ISO 100.
One of the significant features in Ahmadi's general design is the light miniatures in every roundabout you go around. I think it works so good as a land mark! Other areas in Kuwait would resemble just one big maze for their roundabouts within the area.
One of these roundabouts did fascinate me the most though; it was one with a small clock tower which carried lighting tubes and lights were going on and off like a running fluid. A long exposure for this clock tower didn't give much beauty for the lighting conditions there, thus I've decided to go on to the roundabout itself and do some HDR shooting right in front of it. There was a total of 6 images taken in a range of -6EV up to +2EV. Despite the usage of a tripod that was flattened almost to the ground level (and I had to clone out a portion of the leg out of the image), yet the image on 100% zoom seems to be shaken and because of the long exposures taken here, the merged HDR had lot of noise specially after tone-mapping, and some portions looked shaky as if the camera was shaken. I don't remember any staggering wind that night despite the cold weather! The final result is, after all, an image that looks like a sweet candy in small size, but not suitable for printing as I believe.
Too bad I won't be able to go out there this weekend because my friend is going to Dubai with the rest and I have yet also to process some images from that night that I haven't touched because of the events that followed after that night!

It was place that I could spend my week taking photos inside without being bored. The ideas in that place are just, simply, abundant and there is a chance in every moment, in every corner. That place was called The Arab Organizations Headquarter (AOH).

A La Luz
Rokinon 8mm, f/8, 10-1sec, ISO 100.

As part of the efforts by our leader to increase the amount of publishable works from members of the group, as I've stated before, more activities are on the run, including a trip to Dubai this weekend. For him, it was easy to gain access to the AOH, as he said. "I just needed to do a phone call," he stated! This is the good thing about our group - not only we're trying to do the best we can, but also we are under the leadership of a renowned photographer that got access to many places I wouldn't even dream of.
As soon as I heard about the plans, I've prepared my VR-head and made it ready for panoramas. As soon as I got into the place, my mind was completely boggled for all the fine crafts and the handmade wooden decorations along side with the Andalusian style of architecture. It was indeed a dream! However, because of the time limit and the practicality needed (along side with cautions and precautions for walking around such a paradise!) I couldn't just walk and do panoramas wherever I settled with my tripod. Thus I've just wandered off to take some shots from various locations.

Anti Gravitatis
Canon EF 50mm, f/1.4, 320-1sec, ISO 400.

One of the first locations to be visited was the reading hall or library. Once I got in there, my teacher told me to be careful for the high contrast around the elliptical stairway because there is a light fixture on top (in shape of a chandelier). I was looking for such structure because I was thinking of some sort of a shot for some long time now - an abstract shot with an 8mm fisheye lens from the ground level of the stairs. First, I've used the tripod but it was not so flat and the framing was not appealing much, thus I had to use my hand and lay completely on my back and take few shots, most of them are shaky. I was planning for HDR merging because of the high contrast but A La Luz was made from a single shot while the others were shaken and unclear. This experiment sparked some ideas for improvising something or making something already to handle such low-level shots.
When I wandered into other rooms, I've found a fountain with some faucets that were somehow a good target for a long exposure. However, I've found out that however stops I add to the shutter speed (with the help of ND filters), the water's outlook does not change drastically despite the speed of the water, thus I've concluded that the turbulence in the water waves or currents (including changing directions) is essential to long exposures done for the water to show some dynamic attitude for the image. Otherwise, The long exposure image would look just like Anti Gravitatis which was taken as a test shot from the very beginning. And by the way, when Anti Gravitatis was taken and then viewed on monitor back home, the image was not in portrait position as it was taken originally (this is because I turned the rotation option in my Canon EOS 7D). However, I liked its look and how the water is like flying in the air!

That One
Canon EF 50mm + 12mm tube, f/1.4,
25-1sec, ISO 400.
Enlightened Curves
Canon EF 50mm, f/1.4,
100-1sec, ISO 400.
After settling in a place above the reading hall (seems to be a cafeteria or a reception area) and doing a panorama there (see below), and after having a break with a cup of coffee and a chitchat with my teacher, I've resumed shooting at some details of the miniatures and the fine wooden work like That One and Enlightened Curves. These two images specifically were supervised by my teacher. In That One, I've decided to use the 12mm extension tube along with 50mm lens to reduce the minimum focusing distance and I was surprised for the magnificent isolation of that piece of the rail. I can almost say that even in regular circumstances and under f/1.4 this would be hard to achieve in such a way. Anyway, the image was good as my teacher said but it does not have that touch of light that makes it special, and he's right. So, he guided me to my second shot, the Enlightened Curves. In a hurry there were some long exposures for a fountain outside as night befell us already, but the framing was done in such a haste and apparently, the final results could not be adjusted properly. They might be a subject for some work later on though!

Panorama and QTVR

The day I've received the news about going to AOH, I've realized it is a significant chance for a panorama, and the first thing I would grab was my VR-head. Even though I didn't see the place before but my friends who had been there before assured me that it is an architectural gem and a good spot for panoramas.
When I got there, I started to wander around and in fact I've found 2 suitable places for panoramas just at the reception place inside! But if I was to start to work on panoramas in every location I'd get to see, I would not give a chance for single shots. Thus, I continued to wander around taking photos until I arrived at a place just above the library (and can be reached from different entries) which was, as I believe, the cafeteria. Such a vast place with Andalusian designs in marble and wood; it was an architectural heaven!

Tiempos Andaluzas

The wooden decorations were intriguing indeed. I still need to test my lenses against these structures but unfortunately, I had to leave, naturally!
When I started to settle down in this spot, I've started to take general readings from my lightmeter in incident mode. I was going in a circle around the tripod and camera set and pointing the lightmeter towards the camera as I was circling the tripod and measuring the light at different angles. It is the first time I apply this, since I usually prefer shooting my panoramas in Av (aperture priority) mode, which specifies the shutter speed automatically for me. Now, I'm working in a completely (M)anual mode, and I need a starting point for bracketing my exposures for the HDR technique. After completing a full circle around the tripod, the average reading was around 61/3EV, corresponding to something around 1 second at f/8. By the way, f/8 is one of my own personal favorite f-numbers when doing panoramas because I can easily gauge the depth manually on the focusing ring of the Canon EF 15mm fisheye lens, and next comes f/16. Thus, bracketing the shutter speed for HDR in the range of -2EV to +2EV would be something like: 4-1, 1, 4 seconds respectively.
In this panorama, the zenith (topmost) shot was not hard; the ceiling had enough details to be stitched easily within the rest of the slides. The nadir, as usual, was a big problem.
I didn't bring extra tools with me to take the nadir (and I was standing on some tiles with decorations) thus I had to improvise something. I've tilted the set a bit (and almost fell to the ground!) but back at home when stitching, this method proved problematic and not suitable enough; probably my shot was far away from being flat. However, I had to render the QTVR putting my logo after all, after a long fight with the stitcher!

for a larger version, you can download it here

The Hanging Andalusian
One of mistakes that I've done while doing this panorama is picking such a location between two distinctive features, making the flat version of the panorama having two focal points, or two points of interest for the viewer: the fountain, and the wooden decor. However, I was afraid that if I situated myself behind the fountain I would lose some details from the decoration itself. Hence, I've decided to work on a vertical panorama in which both features are aligned vertically. It still might be competing for interest that way, but usually in vertical images the eyes would scan the view from top to bottom!
Yet there is more to work on with this panorama, and more points of view that might be intriguing still. All of that, beside working with other images taken from Ahmadi last week, and from AOH as well. All of that and more to come probably after Saturday's trip to a reservation down south. I'm not the kind of person who shoots for wild life but it is something I have to take care for with other members.

Here I am again, busy all over again with projects and barely have the time to think of my personal life. Can be good and bad in the same time. The heart is swinging in the current time; it says something, and the mind says something else - isn't it always like that?
I've been thinking a bit about Geltani and trying to complete some aspects about it but with such a fuss of projects and the pressure with the group I couldn't really collect my thoughts about some aspects. And still the problem of ambiguity in between words of similar letters and different meanings persists. I've collected my leaflets on which I usually write down my thoughts about the Geltani conlang, and brought them all back home with me so I would stay, hopefully, calm and meditate into them and think of something. On the other hand, the chart of sounds for Geltani is still not complete, and the syllabary system for writing foreign words is not thought of yet. I'm surely lagging behind with my ideas and achievements - it does sound like a time for a vacation to work more, rather than a vacation to rest...

No comments:

Post a Comment