Thursday, March 13, 2014


Well, I made the word in the title up out of boredom. However, it is somehow related to the coming body of the post. This week had been somewhat slow. I think this is related to the day becoming longer right now, and the Maghrib prayer (dusk time) which was due aaround 5 p.m., is now due some time after 6 p.m.. I'm just hoping it won't make for shorter sleeping times, as it is already short! Anyway, I got some ideas that had been partially done, in hope that I would continue the trend in the coming week(s).


The winter is slowly disappearing, and along with it the chances for long exposures, specially at night. In fact, last weekend, I've been going out at late night (or should I say before dawn time) aimlessly just to grasp the sensation of the last nights of winter. In Kuwait, the spring is hardly a "spring," and unless it is windy and harshly cold, then no long exposures are feasible because it seems that temperatures above 15oC or 20oC have drastic effects on long exposures and the noise level in general; specially with a camera like EOS 7D.

Canon EF 50mm, f/14, 15m, ISO100.
In one of these nights, I've tried some approach to Kuwait Towers; an area that I deemed as a taboo for some time. With my previous experiences, specially with security guys in some malls (day and night), I thought what makes me approach the towers? Anyway, I had a go with it and this time I planned my visit just one hour or less before the beginning of the twilight of dawn - because this is the time when the lights in the towers and the surrounding area are turned off.
First, I had a trial with Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens but anyway because of the distance and some light sources in the far horizon, the image was really out of composition after all. My main aim at this point was to capture the landscape, but I realized it is a failed attempt because, simply, there is no organization on ground itself. I wanted to leave after this failed trial but then I had the idea of using my 50mm lens and create some abstract with the towers (or maybe a minimalistic approach) with some long exposure, in hope that I get some trails like I did some weeks ago on another side of the beach. The final result, Sternensturm, contained some faint traces of trails but it would need some 100% view to show clearly. This in fact gave me some tiny hope in repeating the same experience but closer to the towers and using a different lens (could be 15mm), but I need to wait and see the weather this coming weekend, as we had some tiny rain showers.


It was about time to do this experiment, which requires somewhat a strong sun. Since I've been around the Towers area lately, I've decided to finally start with an infrared session shoot for a panorama around that place specifically.


The experiment was relatively successful. I say relatively because there are some issues I still need to think them through. The panorama, InfraCuvaitum, took around 2 hours and 15 minutes, literally; from 7 a.m. up until 9:15 a.m., excluding the time for setting up the configuration. The panorama, of course, was not shot for HDR processing, but only single RAW files of infrared images. Because my camera is not "converted", i.e. adjusted to allow more IR, by removing the hot-mirror filter on the sensor. For this, each single exposure in the 36-shot process took a time period ranging from 1 minute to 6 minutes. In other words, the whole panorama was done in Bulb mode; not Av nor Manual mode.This in fact was quite an experience!
During the process, I had many visitors; wanted and unwanted. However, because of the long exposure times, they were not recorded persistently on the sensor. In this panorama however, and because of my location relevant to the towers, I had to refer to the planet projection specifically because, otherwise, the towers would look too compressed and out of features. The only way to enhance the tower's look was to use this projection. The sun was harshly blown out (naturally) and hence I had to cut it out of the frame which distorted the square-shaped proportions I usually apply to such images. The sun's flare is still obvious on the right side of the image though.

This experience taught me something about managing the exposures and working in Bulb mode all the way. Mainly, I had to reduce the time of the exposure as the rotational motion of the camera would approach the areas where the sun persists. All that was majorly done by intuition and it was 90% successful, having in mind that these RAW files will be processed to recover highlights and shades. If this method was applied with HDR intention, at night time, I might be able to somehow reduce the rocketing dependence of raising the ISO up to 800 and 1000! Needs patience though, and calm atmosphere.


This is my new term that I've been using to mark a panorama in 3D (or anaglyph) format. I've been wondering for some time about the possibility of such image because of some paradoxical concepts are involved: while panoramas are supposedly done with the least parallax error, anaglyphs seem to be using this parallax to deliver a 3D illusion to the mind! The solution was simple, and I just can't figure how come I didn't think about it before!

My first "panaglyph"
Click to Enlarge

The concept is, apparently, about creating a difference in perspective. Thus, all what we really have to do is move the camera along some axis to create a change in the perspective. In other words, move the whole set (tripod and camera) to some axis. This simple solution was hidden away from my thinking because I was thinking about the camera's movement alone and I didn't think about the core of the issue: perspective change.
The panorama above is a simple 360o panorama from the vicinity of my home. As you may notice, the separation between the left (red) and the right (blue) layers is increased at he edges of the panorama. However, ghosting artifacts, at least to my eyes, are not persistent even at the edges. If you are looking at this image right now, with 3D glasses (red/cyan) concentrate on the spikes on the top of the door and you will quickly get into the 3D sensation. There are several points though that I've went through and some of them needs more experimentation:

First of  all, and to make things realistic as much as possible, I did  measure  the distance between the centers of my eyes. The distance was about 7 centimeters (~2.75 in). Thus, the displacement of the system should be around this value as you can see from the sketch on the right.

2.  Because we have to displace the system in a straight line for some distance, in any direction, then the center of the panorama, meaning the point that should be at the center when stitching the panorama, must be known beforehand. This is because, this point and angle that will be overlapping (and with the least difference between red and blue fringes). The displacement should be parallel to the plane of that surface or angle, as in the sketch.

3. In the stitching phase, the first panorama is stitched and arranged in the proper manner, then a template is saved from this stitch, and simply applied to the second panorama directly. This is what I've done in the panorama above, but more experimentation is needed specially with a full panorama. I won't be surprised if I get a lot of discrepancies and stitching errors in between the two panoramas.

Now critical questions remain: How would other projections behave under this procedure, specifically the planet projection? Would I be able to coincide an angle other than the one parallel to the displacement? Probably this is hard to do because objects in the planes orthogonal to the displacement direction would change in sizes; either get smaller or bigger. But it is worth a try after all.
Now this is one new field to experiment with - and with summer coming, probably it will involve a lot of indoors capture!


Now, it is the time that the group had been working with Austria's international photography contest and I've been somewhat busy with this issue in the past week; because I'm the one responsible for this account in their website. The payment will be from my own Paypal, and then I'm supposed to receive the cash money. Let's hope the process is done smoothly. The deadline to submit the images is March 17th and I'm waiting for the rest to upload.
I got some interesting messages and emails concerning some of my images, which made me think again about marketing further somehow to some specific users. Not sure how really but I'll try to flip the idea around my head and see where would I arrive. Apparently, even Flickr can be a good source for marketing when used properly! Furthermore, I'm not sure that the outcome would be something more than a reputation at this stage.
Furthermore, I'm trying to get myself a bit immersed in my work business and related matters despite my concrete knowledge about its futility. With the administration, just like the rest of administrations around this country, I'm not an optimist about creating anything useful, nor raising the awareness about our roles as scientists. I live where administrators who barely know algebra and barely write good Arabic are guiding the general assemblies of the working forces. Imagine the outcome...

They say the best cure for a weary mind is work and getting busy. I'm trying my best so far amid my exhaustion and time limits. Yet, I can't help but to get panic attacks, the fear from the future. Everyone is talking about the collapse of this country; people are getting sicker by the day from the deteriorating conditions, and the general control over people's lives by corporate people and estate owners. Life had stopped here almost, and people don't think of having families of their own. More people are thinking of immigration to a better place. With family pressure, I can't help but to worry more and more. Sometimes it does feel like I was born, just to carry out my injuries alone...

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