Thursday, July 18, 2013


Here we go, and as expected. Ramadhan has arrived and the unneeded stress started along. There is never enough time to do anything. Majorly, the main problem is the after-work nap which takes from 2 to 3 hours and sometimes even for 4 hours, and that makes me awry at night and unable to sleep early as in regular days. People in Ramadhan do indeed make a time shift and sleep late (because working hours are also shifted as well) but for me, I always try to fix my sleeping time as in regular days and never stay late unnecessarily. Now, I need to do that more than ever because Mom's dialysis timing is not changed and I do have to pick her up to there in the same time as in regular days. Moreover, I have to make her something to eat before leaving home (while we used to grab something on the way in regular days). In Ramadhan, it is insulting (and illegal) to eat in public while the whole nation is fasting. Well, we do have a medical permit or reasoning, but still, no need for embarrassment.
I've been to the doctors to check up with my nose and see the reason for bleeding. He said that the capillaries are probably weak and I need to have more vitamin C in my diet and provided me with some method to stop the bleeding as well. Finally, he said if that didn't work, then I have to go back to cauterize, probably by laser (?). I think in this week alone, I've lost a quarter liter of blood just through my nose!

The Dilemma (1)
This week I've been working on an idea for a panorama (and barely did) which I've been cooking in my head for a while. However, unfortunately for me, I'm having technical issues and a sluggishness in my skills. The panorama was taken twice in two different days, and two different lighting conditions, and with two different techniques.
In the first trial, in order to fix the bracketing for the HDR merging later, I've used my light meter and measured the light (incident) from different angles to the camera. There was a considerable gap in the EV values. In the beginning, the expansion of the bracket was from -2EV to +2EV but apparently that some shots were somehow dark and the +2EV shots appeared as if they were taken at 0EV instead, thus I've started all over and made the expansion from +3EV to -3EV. However, the story was not over here.
In the current time and because the memory issues in my old PC, I've decided to work with my (new) laptop as I'm still preparing my new PC before plugging it online completely. Sincerely, I'm so lazy to do all of that and it's connected to my TV at the current time; Not a pleasant view and my room is a mess. However, in my laptop and after merging the RAW files into HDR slides and trying PTGui to stitch them out, it turned out that the slides were apparently dark and PTGui could not find control points at all!
This matter triggered me to do another trial and this time, instead of working in Manual mode and taking light measurements, I've decided to go back to the old methods (tried and true!); Working in Av mode and letting the camera decide for the shutter speed, and I had this occasion to increase the f-number from f/8 (as in the first trial) to f/16, to make sure than things are sharper.
The reason I've decided to do a second session is the assumption that the dynamic range was so wide that PTGui could not assemble some control points in between any two images. However, even in my second trial, Photomatix and PTGui followed with the same behavior: dark slides, and unstitchable panorama. After many trials to install and re-installing older versions of both programs, I've finally came about to some solution and finally the panorama was stitched.

Wooden Hall (trial stitch)

I've spent several days trying to figure out what was going wrong with my (usual) procedure and why things do not work out in the laptop as they do on PC. The panorama above, Wooden Hall is just a trial and not a final image to be submitted to stock sites because of the weird (and usual) blue spots, but I've decided to put it online anyway without any fixes and ask for help about this matter, if there is any available! I'll try to summarize my thoughts here in points:
  1. Apparently, the main problem was in Photomatix and not the (new) PTGui. After installing several versions of both, it turned out that Photomatix v4.0.2 yielded clear HDR slides that are viewable easily in PTGui (any version), but the new version (v4.2.4) was problematic. I'm not sure why this is happening but there were already some issues when I moved from Photomatix v3.0 to v4.0, like the ability to tone-map without opening the HDR slide - a problem I used to encounter with large little planet panoramas, and my way around it was to set the values in v4.0, save the settings and use the side-cart file (the XMP file in which settings are saved) into v3.0 using the batch process facility. The thing is, because of the large file size, v4.0 used to give me a memory error and stops responding when I try to process the tone-mapping at once. Why don't I use v3.0 to tone-map already? Well, it turned out that v4.0 has a better on-monitor representation of the actual image after the tone-mapping is done. When tone-mapping in v3.0 (as far as I remember), opening the image in Photoshop later would yield a completely different image in terms of colors and shades and I would have to work around this with adjustment layers. The situation here is somehow similar in between v4.0.2 and v4.2.4. Advice: Don't always jump on newer versions of any particular software. It is good to try new stuff but always make sure you will be going smoothly with it. Keep older versions in store somewhere, as you might need them at any time!.
  2. The new PTGui (v9.1.6, and I think v9.1.7 is out there) has lot of interpolation possibilities, more than I had in the old stuff in my old PC. Interpolation is the way that a program would interpret or "read" the pixels across the image. The three basic ones were Bilinear, Bicubic, and Nearest Neighbor. Each one of those of course got a specific usage (some of them are explained in Photoshop resizing facility), but in PTGui there are no descriptions about any of them. In the new version, however, the list is expanded further to include Lanczos and Spline (with each one of those got several types). Speak about new stuff to learn and burn the time with!
  3. I've merged the RAW files several times and stitched the panorama several times (and thanks to my fast laptop, the stitching process takes merely 5 minutes for a 10,000x5,000 pixels panorama!) as I was trying to figure out the reason for these blue streaks across some regions in the panorama. My conclusion is (and I've done that before actually) it is more related to the color space, and it might be related as well to some gaps in the dynamic range of the HDR slides; I'm not sure yet. However, merging in different color spaces and stitching the panorama after, proved to me that the blue color spots (you can see them in the image above) were reduced significantly (in saturation let's say) when merging the HDR in a lesser color space as sRGB. Also, the streaks appear more or less around regions were there happens to be some stitching errors. Stitching errors cause such problem? Color space? Dynamic range? All of them? Not really sure, but it is surely annoying. I couldn't edit the panorama and fix it in this laptop mainly because of the size of the laptop and my sluggish movement with it and the display is small already. Thus, I've decided to upload it as it is and might try to fix it later when my new PC is ready.
My world is spinning right now and I have to finish up with this PC and try to hold to my camera again, and work with more panoramas even.

The Dilemma (2)
Well, this second dilemma is somehow to a lesser degree. It is just a dilemma about Geltani and some aspects about it. I've been working a bit with the sounds that are to be used in Geltani and I've figured out that it is almost impossible to avoid repeating some sounds. I've decided here that it is time to introduce some sounds that are unfamiliar to the far east in general, thus giving a touch to alienate the conlang from a typical Asian sense. With these new sounds, like the Arabic ħ [ح], I've decided to add some possibilities for creating dual-consonants and doubling (or stressing) some. Even with those creations, it is impossible as it seems, to provide a distinctive sound for each combination of leading and driving couplet. Would there be two words with similar sounds and different meanings?
In that sense, the scenario would be a mimic of reality of the far east languages, and specifically Chinese and Japanese, where is typical to find one character with several pronunciations and even meanings. However, I don't think Geltani would be close to that level of complexity of the real languages, but it has a comforting effect to think that having a repetitive scheme of sounds for different types of couplets is not really a bad thing, and it somehow mimics the real world to some extent. The characters (or logograms) would be definitely different if, at any chance, two words or more bear some resemblance in the sounds. The question now is, on what basis I should base the driving sounds?

David Schap's book is over with right now, and I'm trying to find something to replace it with from my arsenal of old books. As I've mentioned before, probably I would go through my old languages books.
Many ideas are racing through my mind right now, like having a leave for the rest of Ramadhan just to have my own timing and not to worry about work and waking up in the morning, but Mom's dialysis schedule holds me back from this idea, because the center is near my work place and eventually, the torture won't stop (but yes, I would have more time for myself).
Because of all this pressure, in the work-front and the home-front, all what I'm trying to do right now is to break all the cuffs and find a way out of obligations to work with my own projects and my camera. Feels like being married without a real partner, I guess.
Also, I'm trying to consider some way to integrate myself through the group back again, but without the work load that I used to get. Probably my membership would be changed from special to regular because of the low activity level I'm participating with. There is also a crazy idea cooking in my mind: to write a book in Arabic about the basics of photography. This idea arrived to me looking at the arsenal of the photography books that I have that are all in English, and many people here can't have the benefits of such books despite their love for photography because their lack of expertise in English. It is such a sorrowful thing that a language can stand a barrier in learning. Not sure this idea will go further but it is worth considering anyway!
I'm typing this post and watching TV in the hall, with some show about the Canary islands; It makes me dream of vacations and traveling again. I want to see the world again out there... if only I can find someone to take care of Mom as much as I do...

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