Thursday, February 20, 2014


Another week is passing here with a dormant activity on almost all levels of my life. I'm not sure what is it really, it is just that deep feeling of tiring mind and body. Despite my trial to do some photography but I failed with an honorary degree. Maybe I will talk about that later.
My niece is out of the hospital now. According to the doctors, it seems that she was inflicted with the herpes virus, and probably her teeth are suspected for such low immunity (adding the effects of thalassemia) to the virus and enabling the virus to the reach the circulatory system that easily and up to the brain. Thank God she is fine by now, even though with a dozen of medicines and antibiotics. Just to imagine such a little girl is suffering all of that at such an age makes me hate my life already.

Well, let's see what I've done in the past 2 weeks, if there is anything that I could have done better anyway...


After getting my Rokinon mirror lens, I didn't have much chances in the past weeks to try it well, but I did enough to see its effect on lunar and solar photography. The solar part, in particular, was a cumbersome experiment which I will talk about in a while.

100% Crop
Rokinon mirror lens (800mm) + 2 x2 teleconverters, f/32, 100-1sec, ISO800.

The first real trial for the lens was directed to the moon. since I got the lens, the moon persisted on not showing up in the sky; if it is there then it's cloudy, or simply the setting time is prior to sunset itself. Anyway, let's not blabber about the "good" luck I've been experimenting this lately. I've finally captured the moon here and it's shaky as you can see above because of the great focal length (3200mm in total), and the wind was persisting that night. The crop above is a portion of the image which is not resized.

Sonne IX
Rokinon mirror lens (800mm) + 2 x2 teleconverters, f/32, 8000-1sec, ISO100.

The next test was aimed, of course, towards the sun. In fact, the sun was the main inspiration to get such a lens after all! However, you might have noticed that the ISO was relatively high in the moon's shot and it is low in the sun's shot, naturally because of the light level difference between the two. Ironically though, the sun's shot, to me, was harder to achieve for a number of reasons:
  • Sun's position in the sky which forced me almost to raise the camera at 90o.
  • Facing the sun and not being able to cover the camera with
LensCoat as I did with previous shots. The LensCoat is useful to cover my head as well while working with the camera's LCD, giving me shelter against the harsh sunlight. The diameter of the mirror lens and the fact that the camera was placed on Manfrotto telephoto lens support made it impossible to cover the system with LensCoat.
  • Cokin's adapter ring (105mm) is bent (!) and could loosely attach to the front of the mirror lens.
  • Focusing with the green welding glass proved cumbersome (it doesn't give a sharp focus after all) thus I had to try placing ND gel filters sheets in front of the lens (as Cokin's square ND filters are smaller than the diameter of the lens). This highly affected the quality of the light and increased the cumbersomeness of the movement of the camera and lens (specially with some wind blowing).
  • Despite the stack of ND gel filters, I still had to use the fastest shutter speed (8000-1sec)  for my camera and still it would be somehow a bright image.

  • Source: B&H
    I've used around 11-stop of ND filters in my sun shot. Surprisingly, the shot became desaturated. The blue color of Sonne IX might be typical for images processed from IR shots done before (by swapping channels) but in this instance all I had to do is increase the vibrance (and no channel swapping is involved). In the first instance the image was almost greyscale in appearance. I was thinking for some time about using the gel filters for general long exposure shots with other lenses instead of the Cokin square ND filters because staking Cokin's would yield a magenta tint to the image, and here with gel filters it did give an unexpected result. However, desaturation is way better than a magenta tint, from my perspective at least.
    The cumbersome situation with the filters made me rethink about the so-called Rear Filters which are supposedly fitting for T-mount lenses like this mirror lens. On the other hand, there is some hope in developing some way to fit gel filters easily into such a system by placing the filters on the rear end of the teleconverters instead of the rear of the mirror lens. However, this needs some revision as the structure of the teleconverter's rear is tricky a bit. Also one of the things that I need to work with is to innovate some way to focus this lens without touching intimately to reduce the shape as much as possible. For the time being, I might be using some rubber bands and clips!

    100% Crop of the sunspot.
    Now back to Sonne IX which surprised me with the existence of two sunspots (each spot is composed in a pair of poles in fact, meaning they appear as 4 dots). On the smaller version, the focus sounded fine, but of course as we approach in to view the 100% or the real size of the image we can see that the focus is not sharp enough. That's good enough though. Previously, using my Sigma and two x2 teleconverters (yielding 1200mm), the sun would appear as one big disk in the frame. Now, however, using a mirror lens with the same teleconverters, a quarter of the sun fills the frame, giving a good zooming in for the sunspots at hand. The crop you see here is for the sunspot at 5 o'clock in Sonne IX above.


    I've been trying hard in the past 2 weeks to push it further with my night photography. However, the exhaustion and the lack of interest in most of the locations available made me almost idle. Now, in the coming few days, I have to work as much as possible and as fast as possible because winter is vanishing, though slowly. After all, I've somehow succeeded in only one shot which took me some time around 45 minutes to do.

    Ad Borea
    Rokinon 8mm fisheye, f/8, ISO100.

    The location is an old one in fact. I've previously took a shot in this location, with the same lens, and also in one winter night. The difference here is the shot was taken under the roof of the structure (gazebo?) rather than away from it. Also, Ad Borea is in fact a tone-mapped image from a HDR slide. The sequence of the shots was started at 16 minutes exposure and ending at 30 seconds, which one stop difference between successive shots.
    One of the embarrassing moments is to discover, after returning back home and uploading the images to the PC, that there was some trash on the left side that the darkness made it hard to see back then. I had to spend some significant time trying to manipulate the image (after tone-mapping) just to remove the trash from the scene. At the end, the only plausible solution I had in mind is to copy the table from the right side and fit it on the left!
    Now this location can be inspiring for some panorama work but I need to check my options first in that location.


    I had some ideas sketched down on pieces of paper. Unfortunately for me, all of them do involve some portraiture work. Since I don't have a model, I have to try it all on myself. Of course, this is not an easy task, to be a model and a photographer for yourself in the same time (in fact it is never advised to be so). My room is in clutter; with all the gear splashing in the place. I've tried for several days to catch a decent portrait, but my trials were to no avail on both fronts; posing and lighting. Guess my face is simply not photogenic and doesn't encourage on more creativity with the light! I've decided for the time being to just abandon these ideas and keep on going with something else. Portraiture is a nightmare.


    With the lack of books in the current time, I'm trying to spend time (specifically at work) reading off Wikipedia, which is not a good source of information but it would do the job for general knowledge I'd say.
    On the group's front, we are now in the phase of sorting out images to enroll in Austria's international photography contest and I've been given the responsibilities of uploading the photos as in the last year. Not sure how much I will get involved with the group for the time being, but surely I have to be careful in this field. Otherwise, I would slip into a twirl of responsibilities loads beside caring for Mom and the house, and my own projects with my camera and other things (Geltani specifically). Sometimes, I do think that I don't need a vacation from home and work only, but even away from my own camera.

    My work is passing through some upheaval in the current time; we don't really know what is going on with the administrative body of the college. Things seem to be in chaos, and more suffering for us, the scientific staff in this place. Day by day, I feel the screws are getting loose on my nerves and I might explode at any moment, with any one. My worries are even extending further on the home front, with some family members being into some hard times (other than my niece).

    I have to say that I'm literally losing my faith in everyone around me. I firmly believe that no one out there would really help me with anything, however simple may it be; I have to take things on my own and with my own hands; always. "Don't I deserve some love?" had become a stabilized bell-ringing question in my head at all times.

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