Thursday, February 5, 2015

What The Heck?

What the hell is going on??? This winter is just a puddle of murky water which doesn't move! No activity, just a dormant life and busy busy mind and technically like a paralyzed person who can't reach out for his camera. There are good points however in this time of the year but still I didn't achieve what I was aiming for! I didn't go out to do some photography at night; my favorite time, in my favorite season of the year!
Anyway, in the meantime, I've been busy doing some other work here and there (mostly in front of the monitor here) and specifically working on posts for my Ayvarith conlang on Instagram. It's not only to spread the word about Ayvarith, but it is also for me to revive my memory a bit! Needless to say how much I did forget about the Bulughman and how the Geltani is on hold again after doing a tiny progress few weeks earlier. Also, I've been working on exploring some of the old panoramas, specially those from Ireland in 2010 from Cashel and Cahir in Co. Tipperary. There had been some inspiring results!

Manach ag Damhsa
(the dancing monk)

One of the first trial was the Hore abbey panorama from inside the abbey. I chose this specifically because of the architectural features and specifically the ceiling which had some Gothic-like or Celtic-like design and when stretched out it is more likely a resemblance of St Brigit's cross!
I had a theory before that places with ceilings specifically are more adequate for such twisted panoramas done in Mercator projection; I think Manach ag Damhsa proves this fact. This panorama got a lot of positive feedback and my group displayed it in the group's gallery account on instagram (@bpf_gallery). The pillars here really played a great deal in making a swift-looking movement. Without those pillars it would have been probably a dull twist. I've previously done something similar, a vertical panorama for this specific scene, but it was slender and the sides had to be chopped off.
Anyway, these panoramas were done in the beginning of my journey in photography back then and it wasn't really an easy to ask to "redo" them again. There were some awful mistakes and some "smudges" where something went wrong in the exposure for that particular slide or HDR image in that angle; some were treated, some were not, simply because I didn't know what the HELL was going on there!

Ar an Snámh

For example, in Ar an Snámh the already-stitched panorama had somewhat like a doppelganger! The abbey had virtually some shady building behind as if covered by fog. Looking closely, I've realized these were stitching errors. I don't know how it did happen, but I surely had no time to fix all of that. Thus, I've just stitched it and made a small size out of it for display here. it is a nice effect I believe; gives an impression of fantasy and surrealism. Could be a good option for some panorama maybe (specifically those with open top, or those which got no ceiling). Some panoramas, also, showed that annoying problem of color patches which I still don't quite know what causes it, and apparently I didn't have the time to redo all the HDR merging again and stitching again. Thus, the natural option was to convert to B&W.

Gairdíní Crochtaí
(hanging gardens)

I'm not so attracted to this one; Gairdíní Crochtaí in fact never was in other forms to tell the truth. Probably the best to be is just a flat spherical panorama for this scene. To get rid of those annoying colored spots, I had to convert to B&W (and even then I had problems with tones). It was a great deal of work here trying to show some details and hide some, keep some details dark and lighten some. Some patches or zones in the panorama had a smudging problem which was hard to resolve before stitching and after that, thus again converting to B&W was the solution.

Caisleán Seilide
(snail castle)

Further I went on and completely went out of my mind when I was struggling with Cahir castle. One of the panoramas done there (in the main yard of the castle) had a strange problem which could be related to a misalignment maybe: the edges of the castle itself were glowing as if it was a halo effect. It is not a halo effect as this white line is sharp and not fuzzy or soft like the halo effect. I'm completely blank about this problem. Anyway, the idea for creating Caisleán Seilide was inspired as I was moving around with the coordinate system under the planet projection (as usual) and notice how some parts of the castle are longer than the others. The only thing I regret about this panorama specifically, maybe, is that I tone-mapped it in Photoshop. It did a fine job but probably it was harder to make a drama out of this panorama specifically. All of the above panoramas were merged in HDR slides first using an older version of Photomatix, and I didn't bother to redo the merging again to see if these problems would just disappear.

Back to reality. It seems I'm left now with some of the final images I could be working with from my travel to Ireland in 2014. Mostly floral and I got to say, they are mostly cliché. But there was some promising venture in those.

An Ghrian Gorm
(the blue sun)

Many of these shots did need a work in the focal depth; I had to mimic a shallow depth (using Lens Blur) to the background to isolate the foreground better (since my lens didn't do its job well in the very beginning!). It is a really hard work and a painstaking job, since you have to go around selecting the specific areas only that need to be protected (or blurred) before applying the blurring effect. For this reason I do expect many glitches in the original image despite the fine look when in small size like An Ghrian Gorm above. I see this radiating effect of blue and purple pleasing (despite being oversaturated at times), thus I decided to do another one.

Corcra chun Goirm
(purple to blue)

But the real catch was an architectural detail from Ashford castle (or its periphery to be precise). It began as a play, then developed into a serious venture which I'm trying to do over and over again whenever I get the chance for such play.

Stánóir an Óir
(gold gazer)

I have to say that from far away, Stánóir an Óir does look like a person with closed eyes. It started with a half face of the statue (which was on the top of the tunnel entrance leading to the walled gardens of Ashford castle). I did previous edit such a shot and wanted to do something different here but didn't know what exactly. Suddenly the whole "vision" started when I played around with the contrast if I remember correctly; then I thought this is a good chance to concentrate the light in specific areas and darken the rest to make a dramatic look. So it was, and the rest was a Photoshop game. Originally, Stánóir an Óir is just a half face, but then it was duplicated and the duplicate is flipped horizontally and attached to the rest to make for a complete face! Then there was a nose and lips job (yes like in cosmetics) to enhance the look a bit. The awkward point here is that the nose is actually somewhat out of focus but probably not that obvious after all. I had to do sharpening twice or thrice to increase the visual impact, while the golden patches were simply a result of adjusting the white balance in RAW before opening in Photoshop. Thus, a dull white statue was transformed dramatically, first by RAW editing, then by Photoshop. I'm looking now for more instances of this sort to work out my mind about it a bit. I think it is a good chance to vent creativity a bit instead of this dull winter season I'm having.


Things are going slow and sluggish, and I'm trying my best to enjoy my time as much as possible throwing back all the hardships. I'm trying to synthesize a feeling of carelessness deep within me, specially when it comes to conditions at work.
We had a meeting lately and I had to participate and the end result is a bit perplexing. According to one of the members of the committee that manages my workplace said that I did a pretty good job and I should participate more in such meetings when they are due (usually I'm not part of it). This is a good thing because it is encouraging and, well, someone expresses how valuable I am, but on the other hand there is a gloom lurking, as it means more responsibility and a careful venturing in that domain, in a time when all I'm thinking of is myself and my leisure, and doing what I like to do.

Source: Amazon
I'm in the process of reading an interesting book here, which I've brought with me from Dublin's airport, but didn't start reading it except of late. The book is by Daniel Kahneman, and as it says on the cover, Kahneman is a Nobel laureate. Kahneman is a psychologist and discusses many (logical) psychological issues, specially those affecting the general public. I had some ideas specifically about the media, and this man here, a professor, did explain exactly what I perceived in the media under his term: Availability Cascade. I advice everyone reading this now to get this book. Ironically as the title says, Thinking Fast and Slow, I do find myself reading it slowly; probably mainly because the language is English with long passages and entwined terminology, but after all English is not my first language - I guess I should learn fast-reading in English. Saying that, I'm doing some effort as well in learning Irish, at least in writing it for the time being!
I've been running errands in a continuous rhythm by now, every single day. Makes me think of a real vacation as well of doing nothing but sleep and walk somewhere nice. Alas, my duties are always calling for me…

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