Thursday, March 5, 2015


It sounds like a slow-paced week here. Probably because it comes after the holidays. Ah well. It's not the first time. People here, most of them in fact, live from one holiday to another, and from weekend to another, and nothing to be called "living" in between. This is the case with me too, but I try my best to keep myself busy with my own projects as much as possible (despite the physical fatigue). I'm still learning the art of "time management".


I've finally managed to go out at night and do some shooting! Seriously, it does feel like a miracle happened of some sort. Anyway, the trick is not to sleep afternoons, but later, to wake up a bit late! Oh, and to pack your tools and stuff earlier so you won't have to do them on time before going out - this thing can be a real hassle and put you down (specially if you are as moody as I am).
The chosen location is somewhere on the seaside (as usual); a pier. This pier specifically was closed for a long time as far as I remember and only been open some months ago. I paid a visit the week before to see what was the situation there and get myself familiar with it. Unlike the pier in Sharg area (Soug Sharg that is), in which I've worked before, this pier seems busy at night somewhat and doesn't get quiet a single minute!

The new location (red arrow) compared to the Sharg pier (blue arrow).

The first experiment there wasn't of much interest in fact. I got out with 3 shots, and to my standards, they are regulars. The architecture of the pier is not fanciful like the one at Sharg, but I'd say it has a potential. I don't think a panorama is possible there with the busy fishermen out there but it seems quite a place for some long exposures.

Canon EF 50mm, f/16, 20m, ISO100.

The first wasn't good, mainly because of nudging aside to allow people to pass. The pier's passage was narrow so I was forced to move a bit to the left to give some space. However, my aim was to get some "depth" despite the very simply structure. Anyway, can't complain. But probably I should have used a fisheye lens here rather than 50mm lens. I tried to fix the perspective in this image but it didn't work out well, and the trails (probably for planets more than stars) were not abundant (probably because I was facing east at this point). Processing was a compromise between contrasts of various regions. You can see in the horizon some blue flashes made by LED lights that fishermen use in their work, but anyway they were not a problem for the exposure after all. The blue spots on the passage are probably caused by fishermen passing by back and forth (as far as I remember it was dry to reflect anything). Probably this image can serve as a minimalistic one, but definitely not for printing with this amount of noise; which when cleared, will reduce the trails even further.

Midnight Showers
Canon EF 15mm fisheye, f/9, 9m, ISO100.

The second shot was, again, another trial. I had hard time framing Midnight Showers, specially with the dark atmosphere on the pier. I didn't have the time to use the white balance disk so I just fixed the WB value to Fluorescent WB, and all should be fixed later in RAW editing. I had to crop it a lot and because of the curvature of the horizon I couldn't really balance the image (fixing one line tilts the others). Even though I could have processed it in a proper way to make everything smooth and crisp but that would put down the few star trails in the sky. Thus, I've decided to abandon the idea of a "good" print and just processed the image in a way to show as much trails as possible, and cleaned the noise as much as possible. The nice thing about this image (though good in small size but not in a large one) is that star trails did really appear while city was surrounding the place. Probably if I used a wider aperture a bit the lines would be more prominent (but the exposure would be shorter of course). And like many do successive 30 seconds exposures for star trails and merge them later, probably successive long exposures would be possible too! I did that already in fact but in a sense of HDR merging (by reducing the exposure time to half between one shot and another).

Canon EF 15mm fisheye, f/9, 65s, ISO100.

The last shot was toward this city this time. The main interest for me was the reflections on the water surface, which seemed like colorful columns. It sounds bad already for not having a book with me to read a bit while long exposures are done but anyway it was a good thing to meditate around and notice such colorful columns of light. In Luminance, the long exposure here is not only essential to achieve the required exposure for a good image, but also essential to smooth out the water surface. The water surface was relatively calm (seen a raging sea around here before) but the small ripples surely can benefit from a little longer exposure like one minute to be smoothed out as seen in Luminance. When thinking about it, in fact in a raging situation or higher tides and quite active ripples, one would need a shorter exposure relatively; at least this is what my experience foretold so far!
With these simple 3 shots, I'm hoping to get active in the last few days of winter before the weather becomes unbearable here. Going out this time was in the spur of the moment; no planning or anything, unlike in the old times when I had to observe the times for high and low tides. Coming to think about it, it is probably time to get back to the old locations along the beach of Salmiyah where I used to take shots in the old times, and this time try to go deeper in a low tide to have some proper long exposures. However, I might as well benefit from having boots!


In the meantime, I've began already working on converting what have been previously done and processed of images from Ireland last year into B&W. Not all seem to fit of course so I'm trying to pick specific ones. Most of the time this conversion to B&W comes with a tint.

Uaigneach agus ag Fanacht
(lonely and waiting)

Na Riasca Gorma
(the blue marshes)
In most of these conversions, my starting point would be by using the Infrared preset in Black and White adjustment layer in Photoshop. Thanks to its unusual toning, this preset provides a somewhat inspirational kick for the coming steps later on. Some images were tinted with a monotone, like Uaigneach agus ag Fanacht many others, and some were tinted with a duotone like Na Riasca Gorma. However, in general, I wouldn't go with a duotone much right now for the large portion of possibilities and it's quite hard to settle with a combination (beside the different ways available to apply the effect). Images like Na Riasca Gorma was quite familiar in some websites and instagram and was favored by many for the combination of colors (blue and gold), which were complimentary. There were also some panoramas involved in this process but I'll keep them for later probably. My 9th album of images from Ireland 2014 will be completely made out from B&W images of various types (landscape, macro, panorama, ...etc).
Along this trend, there is another line of thought (and it is giving me a headache already!) which is going back to old panoramas and trying to achieve something new under the light of the new projection styles that I've discovered, or let's say noticed. Panoramas from my visit to Staten Island, NYC, are of particular interest in this but I'm going back also to my 2010 visit to Cashel, Co. Tipperary in Ireland.

Hell to Heaven

In particular, the panorama taken from the Grotto are of special interest to me for the particular atmosphere attached to it. Unfortunately here, and for some reason I didn't realize yet, Hell to Heaven was stitched with patches of colors and some smudges (caused mainly by out-of-range HDR slides). I don't remember this thing happened in this panorama particularly specially when I printed it first time and sent it to my friend in Staten Island. Anyway, because of my intentions I didn't really care much about the matter since the overall and the final image is supposed to be small as you see above. Those smudges are hard to notice in smaller sizes and with increasing the sharpness in the image these are reduced. Of course, it was done with the help of Mercator projection and some change in the viewing angle. At the end of the process, a glamor effect was added to enhance the "dreamy" look about it.

(double foci)

However, not only these panoramas from Ireland and NYC were of interest, but even older ones like those taken here, and specifically the gazebo-like structure in Salmiyah, Kuwait. This panorama specifically was involved in many activities, but particularly two activities made it a "top": Mawahb fair, and the luxurious coffee table book printed by Trierenberg circle (sponsors of Austria's International Photography contest). However, in these 2 activities, the same panorama had different projection styles. Now, I decide to go further and try what I've noticed lately with Mercator projection and made out Doppelbrennpunkte. It was hard to decide on what kind of angular view I want to achieve here, but the biggest problem was that this panorama was not perfectly centralized (apparently for the problems in location itself). I settled down with what I call "Extreme Mercator" and centralized the fountain and the the dome (but reversed it so that the dome is at bottom for added surreal effect). The problem here is apparent, with the left side being thicker than the right side with columns stretching out. A friend pointed out the following when he saw Doppenbrennpunkte: Is it possible to make the foci (or centers) of the image in the corners instead of making the panorama twirl around a central point? His question is quite reasonable, and I'm to try that in the coming few days. However, one must bear in mind that the architecture of the place is the one that decides what would be or can be done about the features in it.


Back to Staten Island with another panorama. particularly one done in the porch of the Victorian (B&B). This panorama in particular was "dormant," meaning not much could have been done about it because of the design of the place itself and the scattering furniture. Anyway, I decided to try the "Extreme Mercator" approach and somehow found some satisfaction when I made Palinopsia. The image looks split in half because of the matched left and right horizontal line meeting at the center (through the roof of course). Anyway, this is not the point I'm putting this here.
The real point about it is, I was tone-mapping (working out the original HDR) this panorama and it did take me particularly long time to achieve the desired look. However, it needed further work in Photoshop to enhance contrast further more and eliminate some colors problems. My first goal was to achieve a status of "fear," "uncertainty," and/or "melancholy" (Palinopsia: visual hallucinations). For this reason I worked in a low-saturation environment and I've increased the portion of black and its shades in the image to give a dark impulse to the scene. This is somewhat a challenge to do because I was trying to achieve a "dark" atmosphere using a relatively happy scene (filled with bright colors in furniture and plants).
Now, to the core of the story. To my surprise, my sister commented on this image saying "the colors are happy" (i.e. the colors emit or radiate a good mood)! I'm not sure how did that come up, and whether it is her only or other people do share this opinion. Increasing blacks and reducing saturation is usually a fingerprint for a psychosomatic atmosphere. Did she concentrate on a specific color in particular and that affected all her feelings about the image? Was it the curves that did (unconsciously) affect her enjoyment about the image without noticing the general atmosphere I'm trying to achieve? Or, is it me that didn't notice the happy aspect of the image? It's quite a puzzle to me. I did tell her that I was trying to make the image "melancholic"; however, no response from her so far, and we didn't talk about it in real. I think some interesting information can be learned in this little experiment!


At the end, I'm here trying to take life on my own pace. Trying to calm down a bit, and kicking negativity out as much as possible (but it's even a harder job to do when you live in the core of it).
Meanwhile, I'm reading articles and lessons on the web for learning Irish, but of course they are not completely sufficient until they are put into practice but it is a beginning after all. I have to say that reading and teaching myself some Irish did in fact open up gates of knowledge and insight into languages in general, and my own dialect in particular, as we usually speak without thinking why do we say things the way they are but it does sound just right for us that way! Nothing like that happened with me since the creation of Ayvarith. One of the ways I'm using now to force myself into digging deeper into the language and learn more, is translating quotes from Arabic mainly into Irish; this procedure would normally force me to dig the dictionaries and read more to try to achieve the best translation possible.

I'm sure there are a number of mistakes there of course, so I'm just hoping someone would correct me whenever possible. Beside learning the languages I'm keeping myself busy with the images at home and books at work. This workplace must be changed at a certain point of my life for sure.
On the other hand, I've finally extracted something out of my mind to call it a "poem." I can't be a critique for my own works but at least I was able to write something in the whim of the moment, and I called it The Wind of Daisies. Maybe I should specify some special time for such mental processes and write something down. I need to get back to poetry a bit because it is a good vent, and I remember that pretty well from my early 20s. Meanwhile, there had been an interesting offer sent to me to spread some of my images for some commercial benefits. I'm going through it step by step and hopefully it can be a good starting point to the outer world. And I'm hoping this is better than submitting my photos to stock websites. One step at a time. Probably there will be a number of images that I would need to delete from stock websites soon. Hopefully by keeping myself busy, I'll forget a lot of my failures...

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