Thursday, January 30, 2014


Surprises (or should I say Semi-Surprises) still have a plenty for me to show, and it is yet still the first month of the year.
It is official now. I've been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa by a specialist, after checking all the results of the tests I've done in the past 2 months: Field of View (FV), OCT, and ERG. I'm not sure how did he really read my results without a close-up inspection to my eyes, but he depended, as it seems, on the ERG test result which I've done last Thursday. I'm not sure what's the next step, but anyway the doctor said that he cannot make up for how severe it is. When he asked if I do suffer of anything, I simply replied what with what I feel and what I've seen: Nothing.
Anyway, more about that probably later. I'm somehow happy for this past week for a number of reasons which I'll be talking about below.

A World of Pajero

I've finally had a chance to do a panorama for my new car; Pajero 2014. The panorama wasn't any easier than the one done with my old car, Seat, despite the relatively wider space inside. This is mainly relative to the size of the tripod and the bulky nature of the panorama tools I need to use. This in fact sparked me to think seriously about finding some alternatives somehow.

Pajero 2014

Even though I've stated before that I'm not going to use the parking lot in my work place because I'm disgusted of that place, but anyway I've come up with a solution just to avoid suspicions. That day, however, I had to wash the car and make sure it's clean of dust and I had to remove all the plastic sheets covering the seats (as in any new car). After doing my fingerprint scanning to leave work, I've went to the back of the parking lot as if I was leaving but instead of leaving I just parked there in somewhat isolated spot. The total process (settling and shooting and packing at the end) took me around one hour and a half. During this time there were employees who did pass in front of me and I somehow managed to escape some of them, while HDR technique and merging did the rest of eliminating some of the moving objects that appeared out of control!
The panorama was mainly formed by 3 rows like in normal panoramas with one or two shots for the zenith (but didn't use it later). As for the nadir, it is already a hassle in a regular panorama so imagine shooting this inside a car! I did try, however, to dangle the tripod with the camera and the carrier from the back of the Pajero, but the shots taken were not to be considered "serious"!

A World of Pajero

However, even though it is not a full panorama, the set of images were enough to do some twisting in the projection style as can be seen in A World of Pajero. I think what really helped me here very well in accentuating the colors is using a proper white balance to start with, and this was achieved by using my new Vello white balance disc. From that point, changing colors and vibrancy of colors is, relatively, an easier task.
Even though Pajero 2014 was tone-mapped using Photomatix, yet I find that tone-mapping A World of Pajero using Photoshop CS5 did the job perfectly and with relatively more flexibility than in Photomatix. With the new controls that Adobe provided for tone-mapping HDR images, I think this is becoming a serious candidate and a powerful tool for tone-mapping HDR slides.
I've already printed the flat panorama and prepared it (and signed it) to give it as a gift to the sales person who managed my papers for this car in the nearest opportunity; probably when I go for the first service after 1,500km is passed. This is in a part, can be said to be a "self promoting" somehow, or let's say a free ad. Since I suck at socializing, probably such acts would do me a favor "socially." We'll see about that later...


Now, there was an idea that I've been trying to do for several weeks but I would always lay lazy or exhausted, or simply the weather and timing wouldn't allow me to. This past week though I had to force myself to work despite some health issues. Seems that the coughing syrup worked on making me drowsy in the first night of the weekend, thus I couldn't do much at night, but the second night I had to push myself despite the persistent coughing. Even though I headed to the location late after midnight, I've encountered some annoying "youngsters" who were not of this country. I somehow got pissed off because at the only time I could be there I must bear with such people. Even though I tried to work silently without paying any attention, I've decided to go back to my car and watch the please until they leave - they seemed to be under drugs or high because of something!

Die Kuwaitische Mitternacht

Guess I've forgot to mention that the destination is the Soog Sharg pier (or dock?) which was a favorite location in the past weeks for long exposures with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. This time, however, the measures are different; I'm doing  panorama and to ensure that the luminance is coherent for the HDR merging later, I have to take 3 bracketed shots, and to ensure that the total time for each shot does not exceed 30 seconds, there is no escape from raising the ISO. Even though it's not something new here but my previous record was to work with a panorama in ISO800. This time, however, it had to be ISO1000! This will have gruesome consequences later on...

Planeta Mitternacht

One of the gruesome consequences of such panorama under such ISO is, naturally, the hardships with the cleaning process and, with highly distorted projections like in Planeta Mitternacht, the noise level becomes even uglier. To clean the image, then, means you must lose details. Thus, so far, these images are for display only and printing them is not something to think of in the current time - unless I find some other workflow to work with these images.


Obviously, the noise level is harsh in shadow areas. There is a noise layer as well in bright areas like the blue sky for example, but they are not as harsh and "ugly" as those in the shadow areas. Probably, I needed even more time for such exposures to expose the shadows properly! But to do this, I would have, properly, spent 2 hours if not more, shooting this panorama.

Schrein Am Meer
The worst to suffer from the noise.

Working at the pier in fact was not even any easier physically than my previous panoramas done back in 2012 on the seashore. Because of the bulky planks and the gaps in between them, clumsiness in movement which I've been known for was NOT allowed! Any loose clutch or grip on any of the tools I've been using (to screw, unscrew...etc) is definitely not an option, and walking must be done carefully in such darkness because my feet can easily trip in between the planks.

Working with these panoramas now did in fact spark some desire within me to work with older panoramas, specially those from Ireland of 2010, from Co. Tipperary. Under the light of the new vision and the new techniques I've learned so far, probably I could make out something different from these old pieces!


Source: B&H
I've finally received my shipment here and I had the chance to do a simple test for my new lens, the Rokinon 800mm f/8 Mirror Lens (a.k.a. reflex lens). To use it, I have to connect it to a t-mount adapter specified for EOS system. I was lucky that Vello's T-Mount Adapter comes with a small booklet that gives some idea about connecting the camera to a telescope and other optical devices which gives me some simple guidance of what to expect in the future if I need to do more with my camera.
Source: B&H
I've ordered also a Cokin ring adapter to fix my welding glass in front of the lens (which has a diameter of 105mm), but for some reason the ring came a little! Hence, it is hard to completely fit it into the lens but it did some job after all - even though the situation might be shaky. The other hardship here is the fact that I'm not using a zoom lens, but a "prime" lens. Previously, I used to zoom out to find the object and then zoom into the object (be it the sun or the moon or anything else). Here, though, I have to find my way the hard way, and with this shaky tripod system. Things get even harder with adding teleconverters and raising the focal length up to 3200mm! Anyway, I was able to give it a try.

Rokinon 800mm Mirror lens, f/8, 800-1sec, ISO100.

To add to my "good" luck (and please note the sarcasm), since I got the new lens, I didn't have a good chance to shoot the sun nor the moon because of the clouds and few rains. I did have a single opportunity to shoot at the sun with welding glass, but it seems that the nature (and thickness) of the welding glass is a main reason for defocusing. The shaky system probably makes it harder for me to concentrate my eyes and focus properly (and everything is done manually) but it apparent that focusing with the welding glass is harder. As I'm typing this, I'm waiting for my chance to shoot, this time trying my ND filters (and I do need to use a stack of them). Not sure though if they will fit and cover the diameter of the lens. Another option would be to use the gel filters sheet which I still have, and let them down in front of the lens with the help of the Cokin ring. Just some ideas that I need time to test further. These issues, however, are nothing compared to be having a good and dependable tripod right now which made me think seriously of getting a new one from here.


Now it is probably the time to slow down and do as much as possible in the same time. Despite the fact that I'm officially diagnosed for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) right now, I'm just trying to chill and cool down my nerves and go on with my life without putting much weight on my own notifications about my own sight.
I had some ideas before in fact about what if I was a sculptor; probably I can make a monument somehow to commemorate RP and its patients.But since I'm a photographer (or let's say trying to be still), maybe then I can show and do something on the same line? What can I do as a memorabilia for this?

I do have some ideas in my pocket right now, but to do them, some effort is needed, specially if I'm working alone and trying to take shots on my own for my own self. I do have some other ideas not related to RP as well and all is scribbled down on sticky notes. Just need the proper "timing" to work with them.

Maybe I can imagine RP to be an inflicted photography style somehow. I'm not sure how this is possible but probably with some thought and philosophy and meditation, I would be able to reach a solution for how to work around RP, and show it in my work.

I'm not sure what I'm awaiting in this life for the time being. My exhausted mind and body are really urging for a vacation somehow but it's unclear how or when. The only thing that I can do for the time being, is just look for some time to sleep, as much as I can...

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