Thursday, May 14, 2015


This blog post contains a QTVR which uses QuickTime plugin to be displayed. The page might load slowly, and might not be displayed properly on tablets or smartphones. 

Summer is officially here. It is already 43°C (~109°F) at daytime. I wonder how much that would be around "real" Summer? I can't even bear the idea in my mind with getting a splash of melancholy more than it is already.

I've recently finished an eye check-up (last Sunday), which is a regular one done every 6 or 7 months since I've been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Sounds a bit of good news now when the doctor said that the situation seems stable. I do have my problems already in walking around specially in confined spaces, but compared to my eldest brother, I can well take care of myself so far. Probably the Vitamin A treatment is doing its job in slowing down the process of decay of the retina cells. Hopefully!

Success with Mess

I've finally managed to stitch the tricky panorama taken from Al-Hamra tower about two weeks ago. The panorama was tricky because of the moving subjects AND stable subjects in the scene; adding to that, the hardships with moving the remnants of the tripod in some projection styles.

Inside Al-Hamra

Of course, the series must start off with the regular and the most humble project: the flat spherical. The major problem here was with slide 7 specifically (center, to the right a bit). There were major stitching errors in that spot specifically and there was a "gap"; because slide 7 was removed completely. Adding any bit of it would scramble the whole area, thus I had to remove the culprit and try to mend it manually. In a small size it would be fine to look at I presume (and the QTVR looks good I believe). The tripod remnant in this version is not a problem since it is at the bottom, and a simple crop was enough to remove it.

By The Crown

The next "play" was to change the perspective. When trying the little planet projection, I personally didn't like the results, thus I changed my mind directly to see what the tunnel projection would yield. The result was By The Crown. One of the major problems here is the fact that, despite my attempt to centralize everything, but, as usual, things should go astray when the final image is made! I've spent quite a time with By The Crown trying to wrap, mold, and fix the axes to meet my vision. I wasn't lucky in other styles though!

İmparatorun Avlusunda
(in the emperor's courtyard)

Before heading to the little planet projection, I paid a minor visit to the Mercator projection (usually this is one of the "last" projections to explore when I do panoramas). The shape of the straight lines in the architecture and the uneven ceiling of the place did not help in achieving a good twisted panorama, adding to that the fact that the group members do appear in a crucial part of the panorama. Thus, a simple vertical panorama using Mercator format (to have a proper width instead of a slender one) is all I could do for the time being. Yet, I allowed myself to break the normal attitude when tone-mapping the HDR panorama and tried to add more drama to the scene by using "harsh" techniques, so to say., which caused specific halos around some elements in the image.
Yet when moved to the little planet projection style, there was not much to be done in this projection. It did not yield interesting results as much as the tunnel projection did. However, changing the viewing angle in that projection was enough (in fact the tunnel projection is just a planet projection with 180 degrees reversal).

Παλάτι του Ηρακλή
(Palace of Hercules)

Changing the viewing angle in the planet projection format did in fact yield 2 interesting results as we'll see; with 180 degrees of difference between the two. The first attempt, Παλάτι του Ηρακλή, is probably the most interesting panorama in the collection so far. When posted to 500px website, it was ranked as "popular" in just 30 minutes from posting it. This panorama caused me a lot of headache when trying to fix the axes of the image to make it as symmetric as possible, and removing the remnants of the tripod was a great deal of time and effort and yet it is not a perfect render still - it might look good only in the small version. Here too, I've decided to push the HDR tone-mapping further and try to make a harsh impact on the eye by exposing the black levels and increasing the contrast (and the vibrance of colors too). The tiles of the ground were hard to keep in symmetry and I believe they were not meant to be symmetrical in the first place! I think I'll revisit this panorama soon for B&W conversion or so…


The second, or the opposite angle for Παλάτι του Ηρακλή, was named Yggdrasil. Originally I was thinking of something related to spiders, but it crossed my mind that Yggdrasil is more interesting! Yggdrasil is the tree of life in the Norse mythology. To add a twist to Yggdrasil, I've added a Photo Filter to the original HDR panorama before tone-mapping. It was a magenta tint filter. However, I have to say I somewhat regretted this decision, as working with the panorama later on proved to be harder than I thought and the tones were problematic. I'm seriously considering re-tone-mapping this panorama without this tint. Anyway, it did reach the "popular" status in 50 minutes after posting it to 500px website. Removing the tripod remnants from Yggdrasil was relatively easier compared to Παλάτι του Ηρακλή, but it did take a long time as well, and discrepancies did occur in that area later on when tone-mapped and processed. The visual impact was sealed with sharpening the panorama with a bit of overdose. In this panorama, I couldn't hold things in a square format as it was with Παλάτι του Ηρακλή before, because some features at the bottom were not adding much to the scene (and cropping from the sides a little did help eliminate some stitching errors and avoid me the hassle of fixing them). These are the panoramas done from that specific location so far…
QTVR-wise, there was only one QTVR of course, since it is all about one panorama. Again, when making a QTVR right now, I don't have to worry much about the nadir point. I've started to adapt the logo approach at the nadir point mostly right now. However, because of some recent developments, I'm thinking more about changing the style in which I represent my QTVRs on the web; even though it might takes up some learning curve in the field of coding and webpage development…

The difference aspect here though, is the fact that I didn't render the QTVR at the size of 400x300 pixels as I usually do for this blog - but it was rendered here in a larger size and the window is fixed at 400x300 size; I think this way is better for representing the details better in such a small space. At the bottom of this QTVR you can find the information about the location.


In the past two weeks I've been ignited again to have a peek into Chinese and Japanese, specifically after my follow up with an old cartoon: 三国志 (Jap: Sangokushi), or Romance of Three Kingdoms; a famous work of Chinese literature made into an anime.
Digging further into the names of the characters and trying to understand more the tonal system used in Mandarin Chinese, made me sweep through the language as a whole and specially some of the sounds and notations used in the Pinyin system to note down Chinese. Some of these sounds used in real Chinese are not implemented in Geltani, but I did add some Semitic sounds already to Geltani which made it a Sino-like language with a Semite touch. Some of these sounds are: voiced and voiceless alveolo-palatal fricatives. I think applying the tonal system is out of the question here since this would complicate the matters further, but it would be nice to understand AND comprehend the tones by hearing them in spoken manner. I know, things like that sound natural to a Chinese person probably, but as an Arab, tones are used to distinguish a style of speech (as in most languages, e.g. in question or sarcasm), but to use tones solely to distinguish meanings is pretty much a harder task for someone without trained hearing. This ignites in me a question of whether or not such languages do help, naturally, their speakers in musical endeavors. Would someone learning Chinese get, by nature, the capability to distinguish musical notes more easily? Is learning Chinese easier relatively for someone who deals with musical tones?
Anyway, there might not be a space for extra sounds in Geltani already, but I think it is worth some consideration. I do have some plans regarding some revision for the Geltani - and I know, I've been saying this for long now, but most of the processes regarding this project are mental and not noted down! I think I must start building a webpage for it soon and send it over to Omniglot and see what happens.
By the way, probably I should stop using the "semite" and "semitic "notation by now since lot of people, as far as I know, are reluctant to use them because they are remnants of the Orientalists who based their classifications upon the Bible majorly, and less on scientific evidence. However, in Arabic books that I've encountered so far, some authors tend to call this language group as Arabic / Arabian languages or Ancient Arabian languages sometimes, referring to the fact that most of those who speak such languages, specifically Akkadians (the first Semites to arrive in Mesopotamia and lived along side with the Sumerians) were immigrants from the Arabian peninsula, and hence it is logical to call such group as Arabian languages as a whole. Anyway, in modern Western styles, such group is called mostly Afro-Asiatic languages as I reckon.


Feeling a bit down since I couldn't accompany the group to Dubai this week to attend PhotoWorld Expo. Too many things on my plate that I couldn't really afford to go and come back just for 3 days. Anyway, many positive feedback are coming already and I'm glad that they've made it as the only Kuwaiti corner in the expo.
I've got visiting visions in my mind about writing some short story of some sort (many topics crossed my mind actually), beside writing poetry as well. Yet, when I look at the time I do have and all the things that I must attend to, makes me scared to even think about adding one more task into my daily scheme and schedule. For this reason, I might have, at some point, to give up some of my time that I do spend here in front of the PC and processing images, as well as dwelling on some social medias aspects, to pour that time down on other sides of my own self. 
Meanwhile, I'm trying to re-collect myself; my judgements, actions, reactions. Many things to go through in my life, as I get more isolated. Sometimes, leaving and relocating yourself in some far away places might be the only solution available, to gain some respect that you deserved in a long time…

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