Thursday, July 14, 2016


Ramadhan has passed, and so did Eid (The Feast), and now I'm back to my normal pace. Well, almost. If you can call my life normal anyway.
As much as it was idle, I had the chance to do some experiments during Ramadhan, and the majority of my work with photography was actually visiting old photos and doing effects or re-working panoramas I've done in the past (mainly from Malta). All this experimenting did actually trigger me to place an order, which I will explain later.

An Ghrian

An Ghrian, the sun, in Irish. I did try to take shots for the sun before (and almost got my sensor fried too!). However, this time it's a bit different, with my converted Canon EOS 7D and an ultraviolet-pass filter. Though I did some trials using my Rokinon mirror lens which I didn't use much, but most of my trials were done with my Sigma 70-300mm plus two teleconverters (yielding a total of 1200mm in focal length). Not only controlling the Sigma lens is relatively easily in terms of focusing (a must-be manual), but also most of my filters (ND, IR, and UV) are circular filters that fit the Sigma lens only (with a step-down ring). As for Rokinon's mirror lens, and despite the great zooming that could be achieved, the fact that filters can hardly be used here made it a dangerous tool and hard to control.

The sun shot with a stack of 4 filters.
Story about it here.

In the process of capturing better images for the sun (and the moon), I came into the swirl of the world of filters and not only for lenses, but also for telescopes and eyepieces, as I was looking for ways to get the desired look (scientifically) and checking probability for finding what I need in other categories; but without the need to get a telescope either.

Taken in UV filter.
The set can be found
in my stream.
In the process of learning more about the world of filters in relation to shooting the sun and astrophotography in general, I've encountered the sad fact that my B+W Black 403 UV Pass filter is not a pure UV Pass filter, but it does leak some great amount of IR. Hence, probably many images I've taken before using this filter specifically were actually formed by IR beams and not by UV spectrum specifically. Nevertheless, some of these were good, and weather in IR or UV, I was able to show some surface features for the sun, even though the usual filter used for such detail is the H-α filter (another filter on my wishlist). After researching a bit further for some way to enhance the performance of my UV-pass filter, I've found out that the only way to do this is by attaching a hot-mirror filter or NIR-cut filter (Near InfraRed). I'll talk about them a bit later, as it seems I couldn't get exactly what I wanted.
Beside the mess, I'm considering seriously to get some 30.5mm filters for the rear of my mirror lens, but that should be on hold for some time now since more important issues must be dealt with.

1200mm, f/128, 0.8s, ISO100.
Using UV-pass filter.
The dot on the sun is Venus.
June 17th, 2016.


During Ramadhan, the majority of work was actually re-working or editing my old panoramas and applying some techniques or effects on them (e.g. watercolor effect). The majority of this work is just to post these images on Instagram later on though. However, I was able to mingle a bit with some older panoramas to discover some new projections that I've never done before to them.

In fact, my work also included some old shots from 2013, like Gruama, which was shot using my then-new infrared-pass filter. It was just a re-process in some different way since I was not experienced back then with such filters (and it was taken with a regular camera). Back then I didn't appreciate the effect much but now I realize that my B+W infrared pass filter with threshold of about 650nm is in fact pretty useful for artistic uses. Increasing the threshold for infrared filters will approach photography more into the realm of monochrome rather than being colored infrared with the typical vivid and pleasant strange color cast. Kodak's gel filter which I usually use with my fisheye lenses has a threshold of 1000nm, and thus chances for producing vivid colors even with my converted camera is next to null; shots are always monochromatic, in between red and blue tints, as can be seen in Dawwar tal Qaddis and Planeta InfraĠużeppi.

Planeta InfraĠużeppi

Dawwar tal Qaddis


 Now to the fun part: new order placed and excitation in the air! Though I wished that I could expand the list of my items this time but all is placed in the wishlist waiting. I have a budget I'm trying not to exceed, and yet I'm trying to educate myself further in terms of filters and some aspects of astrophotography.

Source: B&H.
As I'm limited in terms of the budget, I've tried to limit myself to the very essential items, like this one: CamRanger MP-360 Motorized Pan/Tilt Tripod Head. This tripod head must be one of the MOST wanted items in my list since I'm having hard time controlling my lens when it is zoomed in (specially when it comes to shooting the sun or the moon). Tripod heads available for me now are just impractical, since at large magnification values for objects like the sun or the moon, the object would look to travel faster than it would appear to the naked eye, and I would have to adjust the knobs for the tripod head after each shot to follow up. This head should and is supposed to solve such problem quite easily by controlling the orientation by a cable remote.

Source: B&H.
One of the major items and one of which I've been hesitant to order is the Tiffen 58mm Standard Hot Mirror Filter. The idea was primary about using this filter to aid my UV-pass filter and stop the IR leakage in it. However, checking the transmission curves provided, things would seem shaky with this filter because it does block spectrum in the range of UV as well. Roaming the net around, I've learned more and I've experienced more on how to read transmission charts, but unfortunately, no perfect match for my need was found. Few filters were found with quite narrow band passage allowance in the UV, but the corresponding websites looked weird a bit and I couldn't even place an order! Anyway, if this filter didn't work well with my UV-pass filter, I'm planning to use it normally and directly with my lenses, since it helps on clearing the image and increase its sharpness as I read in some articles; so in essence, it has a clearing factor just like what UVC (Haze, or UV-cut) filters do, but in a different region of the spectrum. However, this is not the end of the story with filter, as the lens itself play a major part in UV Photography, because modern lenses are usually multi-coated for UV protection, and seems older lenses are more appropriate for the task!

Kylemore Abbey

Coming to mention UV-cut filters, I've noticed some bluish streak in the panorama done for Kylemore Abbey in 2014. Even though the panorama is tone-mapped from HDR, yet such bluish haze (in the mountains) might not be removed with HDR technique and would require UV-cut filter indeed. For this reason, I've started to look for gel (or polyster or resin) UV filter to be used specifically with my fisheye lenses. Ironically, I barely used my circular 58mm UV-cut filter!

Source: B&H
Another critical item which I've been postponing its purchase is the ring flash for macro photography. Since I don't delve deeper on a professional level with macro photography, I've thought that such professional ring flashes like Canon's are way too expensive for my simple use. Thus, I've decided to head to something more simple and cheap for occasional usage: Bolt VM-110 LED Macro Ring Light. It comes with various adapters for various diameters, and it uses LED instead of a flash tube. Moreover, this ring flash is universal and doesn't depend on TTL system, thus it works with any DSLR almost as the description reads. Some people would strongly recommend using TTL systems but I'm quite used by now on using manual modes in regular speedlites. Thus, handling this item should not be a problem supposedly.

Beside these major items, I've ordered some cheap infrared polyester filters and other stuff which I might talk about later. Also on the way but from another resource, some Baader filter sheet (or solar filter) to be cut and shaped freely for shooting the sun, and a book about Sumerians (been my fascination for some time). I can somehow consider this to be my own birthday gift to myself, but a bit early.


Up till this moment, my life is undergoing a storm, despite the calm appearance from the outside. Let's not delve into these matters of the heart for now. All I can say for now is I'm urging these new toys to arrive, as soon as possible, to get me started playing around. I need to put my worries onto something; the sooner the better…

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