Archive for the 'Announcements' Category

Jamaad Ath-Thaani Begins

Just a quick note.  Today ended the first day of Jamaad Ath-Thaani, the 6th month in the Islamic year.  Yesterday was the 29th day of Jamaad Al-Awwal, the 5th month and the critical day for sighting the moon, but it was not seen anywhere.  This afternoon I ventured out with the team to the coast to see it at the end of the first day.  It was a lackluster sunset but with the moon setting near the Pigeon Point Lighthouse along the San Mateo Coastline it made up for it.

Jamad Ath-Thaani at Pigeon Point

Jamad Ath-Thaani at Pigeon Point

Only two months until Ramadan!

Peace.

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After 300

After The Rain

After The Rain

Ten years ago this coming spring I photographed After The Rain.  It was a superlative year for flowers on the Gorman Hills in southern California.  It has yet to repeat the density, the variety and the magnitude of flowers blooming that year and I have returned each year since hoping to see it once again and try to photograph something even close to what After The Rain portrays.

In the past ten years, After The Rain has attracted much attention.  It stops almost everyone who passes by my photography exhibit.  It illicits some amazing responses from viewers as well.  Some have stood before it and just cried, and much to their embarrassment, they look to me and just tell me such a thing has never happened to them before.

From the very first time I displayed this photo as just a small 6×9 inch proof print, it has garnered attention and was purchased readily.  In years past, it was difficult keeping my photo bins filled with this photograph.  Whatever number of prints I came to any given show with of After The Rain, I could very well assure myself that I would leave for home with all of them sold.  It has out sold all other photographs I have ever made and on average over the time since the photo was made is still ahead of any other photo in my portfolio.

Two weeks ago I sold a framed Museum Series sized piece of After The Rain, allowing me to print the 300th print of After The Rain.  Print 300 of After The Rain is also a Museum Series sized piece measuring 20×30 inches and matted and framed to 28×38 inches.  Even though I do not produce my photographs as limited editions, I do number them and reaching 300 for any photograph is a milestone.  After The Rain #300 is my first photograph to reach that milestone and I am quite pleased.

To commemorate this milestone all the photographs on the Organic Light Photography website will be discounted by 25% for the entire month of March 2013.  If you already own a print of After The Rain, congratulations.  If not and you would like one, then there is no better time to purchase one.  Just click on any of the links attached to the name After The Rain and you will be directed to its gallery page on the website where you can make a purchase.

Thank you to all my patrons, collectors and friends who have helped bring After The Rain to its 300th print.

Peace.

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Hearing The Call

Thousands of years ago the Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim in the Arabic), upon the commandment of our Creator, traveled with his family, wife Hajar and son Ismail, south out of Palestine and into the deserts of Arabia to a barren valley known at that time as Becca (today’s modern Mecca).  He left his wife and infant son there and turned around and started to walk away.  Despite the pleas of his wife he did not answer her until she asked him, “is this what your Lord commanded?”.  On that question he answered in the affirmative and continued to walk.  Hajar then replied, “then we shall persevere”.

A few days later their provisions ran out.  Her milk stopped.  The baby started to cry.  Hajar runs to the top of a near by hill, now called Mount Safa, and calls out for anyone to hear her.  She then runs down and to another hill about 1/4 of a mile away now known as Mount Marwah.  She calls out from there as well.  She runs between the two hills seven times calling out for help at each hill.  Her baby, down in the valley is crying and kicking.  Upon the completion of her seventh circuit between the two hills, she suddenly sees down by the feet of her son a spring of water had erupted and water was gushing forth.  This miraculous spring is known as Zamzam, and except for a short time when the ancient Meccans had buried it, it has flowed for thousands of years to this day providing travelers and pilgrims life sustaining water.

With the flow of water in that barren valley, birds began to fly there.  Caravans following the birds also soon arrived.  The great city of Mecca is built at that site.  About nine years go by and Ibrahim returns to visit his family and see the good fortune that was promised would come their way.  He finds a small city has grown around where he left his family.  It was at this time that he was commanded to build the first sanctuary for the worship of the One God and he lays down the foundation of that house.  It was also at this time that he was commanded to sacrifice his son Ismail.  It was this miraculous event where as he was about to draw the blade across his son’s throat, with his eyes closed unable to bear the sight of what he was about to do, hears his young son laughing heartily off to the side.  When he opens his eyes, he finds a ram in the place of his son.

He once again leaves his family only to return years later when his son is a young man.  At this time he and his son raise the house of worship, now known as the Ka’ba, a cubic shaped building.  Its corners are loosely aligned with one pair along the East-West line and the other pair along the North-South line.  Once they completed the house, Ibrahim calls out in supplication that the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth accept the effort that they made.  God replies to him by commanding him to make the call to all humanity to come and worship at that house.  Ibrahim then calls out in as loud a voice as he could.  It reverberated through all the canyons and ravines and every deep crack, and still echos to this day.

In response to that call made thousands of years ago,  on this night the faithful respond: “Hear we are in service O Lord Here we are replying to your call.  Here we are in service, there is no associate with You, Here we are!  Truly all praise is to you, all blessing from you, and to you is the dominion over all things.  There is no associate with You!”

And for the next 9 days, approximately 2 million Muslims of the nearly 1.75 billion on earth, begin to congregate on Mecca to perform the largest annual religious spectacle on the planet – The Hajj.

During the Hajj, Muslims sacrifice their livelihood by leaving it behind, leaving their families behind, their homes and trek out into the desert in worship of the One God, repeating the rites that were done by Hajar, Ibrahim and Ismail thousands of years ago.  Of course no human sacrifices are performed, being prohibited in Islam, but other sacrifices are made showing our devotion to God and our lack of care for material wealth.  It culminates in 9 days on the plain of Arafah 13 miles out in the desert and then back to Mecca on the 10th day where the faithful will circumambulate around the Ka’ba for 3 days during the Holiday of Sacrifice in commemoration of Ibrahim and what he did before they return home.  It is the biggest Muslim holiday of the year, being the second of only two holidays.

The start of the Hajj coincides with the beginning of the 12th month of the year Dhul-Hijjah, the month of the pilgrimage.  The month in the Islamic calendar, as always, starts with the sighting of the new crescent moon, which was seen world round this evening.  Here is the view from Campbell California.

Crescent Moon Dhul Hijjah 1433

Dhul Hijjah Moon, 1433

So to all my Muslims readers, Hajj Mabrur!

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Eid Al-Fitr Mubarak!

To all my Muslim readers, Eid Mubarak. the new crescent moon for the month of Shawwal 1433, has been sighted in several locations in the Western Hemisphere through our vast network of experienced and trained moon sighters. Many confirmed sightings were made this evening. This marks Sunday August 19th as the first day of Shawwal 1433, and the beginning of Eid Al-Fitr.

Stay tuned for a photo of this months moon when it becomes visible here in the San Francisco Bay Area tomorrow evening.

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Crescent Moon News – Shawwal 1433

Today marks the 29th day of Ramadan 1433.  This is the critical day for sighting the new moon which will mark the beginning of Shawwal 1433, Eid Al-Fitr (The Festival of Breaking Fast) and the end of Ramadan this year.  A huge network of people experienced in sighting the new crescent moon has been mobilized across the Western Hemisphere.  Reports will start coming in within a few hours.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is highly unlikely that we would see the moon as the moon sets very soon after the sun and the sky might not darken sufficiently to see it.

Check back later this evening, approximately 8:30 pm PDT for further news.

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Humble Beginnings – Ramadan 1433

I was out last night and this evening in search for the new crescent moon that marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.  Last night, that would be July 19th, 2012, the moon was not seen.  It was only 12 minutes behind the sun and at the same time we had some fog to contend with.  Similarly, the moon was not positively seen anywhere in the world on the evening of the 19th.

This evening was a different story.  The conditions were perfect and the moon was easily seen.  Not that it made much difference, as the 19th was the 29th day of the previous month and was the critical day in determining when Ramadan would start.  However, it is my “thing” to be out there photographing the new moon, so out I went again this evening.

The moon was easily seen and a thought suddenly occurred to me.  For the longest time as I can recall the moons of Ramadan have appeared in a lack-luster entrance.  Quiet, humble and just there.  Suddenly it all made sense to me.

“Oh you who believe, Fasting has been proscribed upon you as it was proscribed on those who were before you so that you might increase in piety” ~ Quran.

Piety, this month is about piety.  Piety is never flashy.  Its not glamorous or forward or vain.

Its about humility, being patient, reserved, and quiet.  This evening it was quiet out there.  Few people, mild temperatures, slight breeze, very unassuming.  The moons of Ramadan have arrived showing us the very qualities that this month is designed to foster in all of us.  I am in awe.

Ramadan Moon

Ramadan Moon

To all my Muslim Readers – Ramadan Mubarak!  Make use of this month to come out as humble and pious as the moon.

To all Peace.

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Sha’baan 1433 Starts

This evening ended the Month of Rajab by the completion of 30 days.  Sighting the moon was not a necessity and yet it is still enjoyable.  Even more so with an afternoon like the one we had today.  Absolutely perfectly clear skies, moderate temperatures up on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking a fog covered coast and the San Francisco Bay.  The conditions were perfect for sighting the new crescent moon.

Sunset was at 8:31 pm PDT and by 8:41 pm I saw the first glimpses of the moon. Incredibly faint, it faded in and out of my sight for a few moments until it became stable.  By 2o minutes in, it was a vivid white streak and an ever increasing colorful sky.

New Crescent Moon of Sha'baan 1433

Sha'baan 1433

This moon marks the beginning of the month of Sha’baan 1433 AH.  It is an important month that precedes Ramadan and is a month of preparation mentally, physically and spiritually.  To all my Muslims readers, Sha’baan Mubarak!

Peace to you All.

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Black & White Spider Awards – Nominee Selection

Choices

Choices

I just received notice that “Choices”, the photo above, was chosen as a nominee in the 7th annual Black & White Spider Awards.  This is an international competition of black and white photography that is judged by industry’s preeminent names and taste makes.

From among 8,223 entries this year, I entered only ‘Choices’ and it was picked among the 875 nominees in 14 different categories.   Here is what was sent to me:

Dear Youssef,

CONGRATULATIONS on being a Nominee at the 7th Annual Black & White Spider Awards with:

 

Nominee in Nature | Choices

 

8,223 entries were received from 72 countries and your work received a high percentage of votes overall. Certainly an achievement, well done!

 

The Awards Jury represents the industry’s biggest names and tastemakers who reviewed the entries online before making the nomination shortlist and honoring 180 title awards and 875 nominees in 14 categories. The Awards could not have wished for a better group of professionals to work with.

 

We will be promoting your nomination through our international network and PR campaign.

 

Congratulations once again on being a Nominee and we wish you a most successful photography year.

 

Best regards,

Basil O’Brien

Creative Director

If you are interested in seeing what “Choices” was up against the results are at the following link. Black & White Spider Awards.

Just thought I would share.

Peace

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2nd Place Awarded

This past weekend my work was awarded 2nd Place in the photography category at the Conejo Valley Art Museum Art Walk.  I don’t put too much behind contests as the results are so dependent on who is judging, however it was nice to gain the recognition.

Second Place Ribbon

2nd Place at Conejo valley Art Walk

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Taking The Stage

Annular Eclipse of May 20, 2012

Annular Eclipse

On May 20th 2012, the Moon and Sun came together in a show that did not disappoint.  However, it was the Sun that took center stage as it was the object of occlusion that was to produce sights that few have seen.  It was an exhilarating event that did produce the excitement promised.

However, the eclipse of the sun could not have happened with out the moon.  This month’s eclipse eclipsed the fact that what took place was the conjunction of the moon and the sun, an event that takes place in every lunar cycle.  Conjunction marks the moment when the moon passe directly between the Earth and the Sun. Most months the Moon’s plane of orbit places it either above or below the Earth’s plane of orbit around the Sun and thus an eclipse of the Sun does not occur.  Yet each and every lunar cycle brings a conjunction and the birth of a new moon.

Fortunate is the one who had the opportunity to witness the physical conjunction take place on this current lunar cycle, for most months it is an invisible event.  The moment the Moon passes that conjunction the moon is born and the angle between the Moon-Earth-Sun, known as Elongation, begins to grow until it is large enough that light from the Sun will start reflecting off of the Moon and the surface of the Moon becomes visible to our eyes.

Last night it was the Moon’s turn to take center stage and reveal itself as the fine crescent that it is when it is a new moon.  On a first day, the Moon is not visible before sunset and in most cases it will not be visible until close to 4/9ths the time between sunset and moonset.  Many factors are involved in the visibility of the new crescent Moon after conjunction. Elongation, Moonset lag time after sunset, Percent of the Moon’s Illumination (also known as the Arc of Illumination), its Altitude at the time of sunset and the Age of the Moon past conjunction.

Last night at sunset the Moon was about 25 hours and 45 minute old.  A very young Moon.  It had an Elongation of only 12°, a value that is below the accepted 15° that is needed for easily seeing it and it was only 1% illuminated, the actual minimum that is needed to be seen.  At best it was going to be a difficult moon to see even with perfect sky conditions.

When I arrived last night at my normal viewing location atop Russian Ridge  just west of the SF Bay Area at 2300 feet above sea level, the sky was not looking good.

Sunset on May 21, 2012 from Russian Ridge

Sunset on Rajab 1, 1433

The horizon was nearly completely covered in high clouds obscuring the sky and almost any hope of seeing such a young crescent moon.  To make matters worse, this new Moon was to mark the beginning of the 8th month in the Islamic Calendar, Rajab, a hallmark month, and one that is critical in establishing the beginning of Ramadan just two months away.  For a new Moon sighting to be accepted according to Islamic Jurisprudence, two adults must witness the new crescent Moon as a naked eye sighting without any optical aids.  I was just one man, who could only coax his 12 year old and 6 year old daughters to accompany him.

It was not looking good.  Nonetheless, I waited, scanning the sky back and forth, referring to an ephemeris for guidance as to where in the sky the moon should be.  I looked, I measured, I waited.  The light was fading so I decided to do the Sunset prayer up there on the ridge.  Once finished I continued to look.  Text messages were filling my phone quickly with questions asking if the moon had been seen.  My only reply, “stay tuned”.  I only knew of one other person out looking in our area and even though he did say he would meet me up on the ridge it looked like he was not going to make it.

As the optimal viewing time approached I looked even harder, but to my disappointment the area I needed to be clear, where the Moon should be was obscured by clouds.  I decided to just start taking photos of the sky in the vicinity of where the moon should be and then later after I returned home I could examine them closely for any tell-tale signs of a crescent.  It would not count as a sighting but I could still check.

Just then my eyes caught a glimpse of a thin white curved line just poking out of the clouds.  I looked harder and to my utter amazement it was the crescent Moon! It was exactly where I thought it would be hidden behind a thin gray curtain of moisture in the sky.  My daughters rushed over and asked where it was.  I pointed it out and my eldest saw it immediately.  It was 8:53 pm when we made that first sighting, and I pointed the camera at it and started to photograph.  In between the shutter releases I would reply to the text messages in the confirmation of the sighting.  It was still not a valid sighting as I was the only adult, a situation that I have fallen into many times in the past, especially for the month of Rajab.

All of a sudden, in the twilight, I heard some voices.  I looked back to see it was my friend and his family.  They arrived just in time.  I called out to them to hurry before it sets.  They came up to me and I pointed it out and all but one of his younger sons could see it clearly as it continued to sink closer to the horizon.  We had a confirmed sighting and my demeanor changed instantly from contented sadness to jubilation.  I can’t remember a sighting event where I was so happy to have another adult with me to establish a positive sighting.

The Crescent Moon of Rajab, 1433 (May 21, 2012)

Rajab 1433

This Moon was only 26.3 hours old past conjunction.  One of the youngest moons I have ever had the pleasure to see and photograph.  As thin as this moon was it most definitely took the stage last night.

So to all my Muslim readers, a Rajab Mubarak!

Peace to You All!

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