Thursday, June 6, 2013


I can't help but say, it is one weird week that has just passed me by. Despite the fact that I've stopped my fasting, in hope to continue by the beginning of the month of Sha`ban, yet I did feel tired excessively with some weak body and dryness most of time - talk about acting as a sponge.
On the other hand I was able to work with my camera just a little bit. I've made up ideas already from brainstorming my mind with the help of some of the websites I've mentioned in the previous blog post, but not all of these ideas are technically available for the time being, or maybe too much time consuming with my hectic schedule in the meantime. Mom is still taking much of my week, and despite some previous talk from the doctors that the dialysis time might be reduced in the near future, I can't see any of that happening soon. With this load, some problems from home are added. They usually call them Domestic Problems but in my case I'd rather call them a Jungle Survival game by keeping my dignity in this house. I've already started picking Mom to and from the dialysis center (before that I used to pick her from there only) because Mom is not happy to go with my sister in the morning in the traffic jam rush. Thus, she decided to go with me from now on in very early hours in the morning to avoid the high blood pressure that my sister causes her on the way to there.

Die geltanische Sprache
I hope you don't mind the German subtitle for this topic here. I'm not a German speaker myself but probably this is how I would write the adjective geltanische if I was German!
However, during this week I didn't put much thoughts on paper with Geltani, but mostly it was some work of thoughts in the mind and having mental notes about some drawings of the characters. In the meantime I'm having problems assigning phonic values for some of the characters. I didn't go through the syllabary system all over again as I've promised myself I would do this week. The major change in the syllabary system is about some characters' drawings and not the phonic values given already.
The language do sound, at the current time, a mix of an Arabic base with an English flavor in terms of general aspects; mainly when it comes to the feminine and masculine cases. However, I do have to work on the phonic values for lot of the combination of characters together and the situation is even more critical when it comes to diphthongs, that is the combinations of 2 vowels, or we might even face cases of more than two!
I'm trying to systemize the combinations of phonetics but I'm not sure yet that this would work. The only thing that would prove the usefulness of such approach is the excessive trial and error, with a pen and paper!

In the past few weeks I was trying hard to take a silhouette shot of my brothers depicting the evening life in a typical weekend here. Yet, despite its simplicity, I had to abandon the idea mainly for the cooperative attitude from the family members (and please note the sarcasm here) and then the unavailability of some suitable background or backdrop to represent the idea of an evening gathering. Majorly, I was trying to use some features in the guests room but this was a bad idea because it did cast a shadow and that complicates the matter further raising the necessity of using two speedlites (or even more) rather than one as I was planning. With more speedlites, then you'd need more light modifiers, and in my case, I don't have plenty of those.

Silhouetted Mother I
Canon EF 50mm, f/11, 250-1sec, ISO200.

Thus, just to keep up with the idea, I've decided to use Mom as a model! Yes, she's more flexible and the idea is simple enough and doesn't need much acting like I had in my mind when I was planning the silhouette shots with my brothers. It is just a profile or an outline of the head. To do this, I've simply placed Mom in front of a green curtain that's already there, and of course I had to use a green gel on my 580EX II speedlite, otherwise the color would get messed up; adding to that a reflector on the speedlite to spread the light to a larger area with a soft approach.

Silhouetted Mother II
Canon EF 50mm, f/18, 250-1sec, ISO200.

I've taken here two shots (close up and further away) just in case (and I was thinking somehow in a marketing venue as such images can fit into the stock sites for specific topics). Communicating with my speedlite, however, had to be done remotely without a cable, which means I'm stuck with the sync speed (250-1
sec). The speed was fine however as the lights in the room were not too strong and not so demanding to be killed out. The only change between the several shots was the aperture and this is how I controlled the intensity of the speedlite reflecting off the curtain. I don't quite remember why I've fixed the ISO to 200, but probably I've forgot it like that from the previous session! The noise level after all is not quite dramatic and was easy to smooth out, specially with such style of images not having so many colors.

Freeze Me!
Few days later after doing the silhouette shots of Mom, I headed to do another shot that I've been thinking of for some time and trust me if I say, I had to force myself and my mood to do so! The sole subject of this experiment was a glass vase brought to me as part of a bouquet by the group when Mom was still in the hospital back in March.

Pouring Down
Tamron 70-300mm @92mm,
f/16, 5000-1sec,
I have to say that the vase is really seductive for many experiment, but the preparations to do such experiments is really exhaustive to myself, specially when preparing the props. The fact that my older sister wanted this vase too, made me do something, anything, just before the vase is taken away!
I've placed the vase on a table which has a glass surface in the center and placed my 430EXII speedlite below the glass. In typical situation I would actually place the speedlite light on the sides but I just wanted to do this experiment here, specially with the hardships involved because light is refracted through the glass table before reaching the subject. I've placed a white screen as a backdrop and in the beginning I've placed 2 black boards on the side (to emphasize the edges of the glass in a bright scene), but then however I've realized they are not necessary.
If you see the info in Pouring Down, you can see that I've used a telephoto lens (Tamron) while the shutter speed is 5000-1sec; quite faster than the sync speed. Thus, a cable is required to control the speedlite but with a telephoto lens, I need some distance away from the vase. In this case, I've used the Vello cable I have (which extends only 2 meters, hardly) and connected it to the 580EXII to control the 430EXII and enable me to use high shutter speeds above the sync speed. This is in case you were wondering why I did use 430EXII under the table in the first place and not the 580EXII. In the beginning, the master speedlite (580EXII) was turned off and it was set to control the 430EXII only, but then I've decided to turn it out and help me with the front little bit. It did make a little enhancement though and probably not a big deal, but I've kept it on.

There were many shots to test the light first and settle down with a certain type of lighting. I've made some light patterns because of the refraction that would look nice otherwise, except that I needed a plain background in this situation. After all is set, I added some dishes soap inside (you would think it's beer!) and set up the motion trigger. This is my first time to use the motion trigger. I have to say here that it is bulky and not quite the easy-to-handle thing. The motion sensor (with a long cable from the trigger body to the vase) was not easy to be placed to track the motion of water that I was going to pour down. How ironic it was when it triggers my body movement when I was going to the vase, but as I move my hand to pour down the water into the vase the trigger, sometimes, wouldn't respond. After some trial and error, I've finally made something right.

One of the failed trials at 1000-1sec.
Notice the movement blur.
Click to enlarge.
You might think about the high ISO here? Well, as I was trying to pour water down I did capture some amazing water texture and movement, but unfortunately, most of them were blurry. I've realized then that 1000-1sec shutter speed was not enough, and/or the depth of field is not deep enough. For this reason, I've poured down the water out of the vase (which was full after some trials) and filled it again with soap, and then worked again on fixing the light and this time with 2500-1sec shutter speed, but I've changed my mind quickly and made it 5000-1sec to ensure the freeze in motion. If I have more speedlites, I might as well have gone further than that speed! However, because of this change in aperture and shutter speed, I've realized that I must raise the ISO as well. The subject is here is not complicated and I thought that cleaning the noise in post-processing won't be such a hard task to do (specially that the experiment took a place in a cold environment and excessive chromatic sensor noise is unlikely).

After my experiment with the glass vase in Pouring Down, I think I've realized why I used to run away from using flashes or studio equipments in general and loved the free life of an architecture photographer, along side with doing abstracts and landscapes. Setting up a specific set, be it a tabletop or some studio is really an exhaustive process for me and by the time I sit behind the camera I think most of my power is gone already. More over, the fact that in architecture or landscape I deal usually with a light that is already there and all I have to do is control how it looks to my camera - this is quite easily done compared to the completely controlled environments of tabletop photography or studios in general where you have to imagine everything almost and do a lot of test shots before doing the actual work.
There is probably another problem that I have to put up with, but this time it is all inside my mind. This problem revolves around the processes in my mind and how my mind works in general when it comes to space orientation and organization. I'm not sure if this is a serious problem or not, or if it is somehow linked to a psychological problems as well or not, but I do have hard time setting up some configuration from scratch without having any clue about where to begin. Suppose you provide me with an empty room and some pieces of furniture and just ask me to arrange it for you freely - this is something that would be so hard to do from my side because I, simply, can't recognize what freely means in this context. I have to start up with something to build on my hypothesis of the space and how it should be arranged; say for example, how the sun rays get into the room from the window, if there is any, and how I would imagine some furniture pieces against such rays and then try to imagine a specific purpose or relation between the sun rays and the furniture pieces, and then and only then, my mind would start to arrange the objects.
Now, I reflect on such thoughts and how my processing goes with my photography projects and workflow. It seems it is pretty much the same, specially when it comes to tabletop and studio environments. I just can't make up my mind out of a free point in the space. Working with architecture is much easier when all I have to do is frame a previously configured set rather than do the whole thing by myself!

Source: Amazon
I'm still on reading my Lens Design book which far way too complicated than I thought and it is probably not so practical if I keep reading this without a practical trials or at least some visual aids to help me understand the mathematical formulations inside the book which describe many aspects about the lens (mainly the errors and aberrations aspects).
In the meantime, I've been active for a while on Instagram with all its hassle, but I'm lurking trying to catch photos of people (ahem, females) to edit. I didn't do such activities in a really long time now. Some people might thing that photoshopping or editing the photos is some kind of cheating, specially when it involves fixes. Well, I deal with art. Not all my edits are fixes in fact. Lot of them are simply artistic retouch and somehow a sway from reality at times. I feel the need to do such edits just because it endows my eyes with some beauty that I've been missing for a long time around me. One of the problems though in editing such images is that most of them are taken with phone camera (naturally) and the nature of the color space and the noise level is very questionable and vary significantly. I've seen great faces and great poses, with great facial features (mainly the eyes, I'm fond of those) but unfortunately, the low quality disturbs most of those, second comes the background or the nature of the light in the scene.
There are some ideas of ordering some new toys, but not sure what they will be exactly, but I'm still consulting my budget about this matter. Probably more details in next week's post, hopefully!

Strangely, I've been lately moved around following some foreign music, from Greek, to Uyghur, to Turkish and it keeps on rolling! I think I'm compensating for my inability to have a vacation and travel by listening to foreign music and dream; daydream, that is. Just like how it was in the old days when I was a kid, when my family used to visit only specific places, while I kept dreaming of the big world and couldn't see some of it until I reached 29 years old.
I'm living day to day, without really knowing what will happen the next day or what are my plans. Pressing hard to work my mind on photography projects yet the efforts are humble so far. Makes me ask myself more often, do people still got portions of their feelings, and does anyone out there who would really feel what burden I carry on my shoulders. Most likely, the answer is well-known and no need to state it. Einsamkeit ist ein Killer. Aber mit jemandem nicht versteht zu sein, das ist ein ewiger Folter.


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