Archive for the 'Announcements' Category

Rajab 1434 Begins

This evening the new crescent moon of Rajab for the Islamic year 1434 made its appearance.  It was a delicate moon and had the company of Venus as it set in the western sky.  A mild evening that at first posed some possible cloudy interference.  But as the sun set and the sky cooled, the clouds for the most part dissipated leaving the Moon and Venus in plain sight.

Rajab Crescent 1434 with Venus

Rajab Crescent 1434 with Venus

It was interesting that Venus was spotted first and was brighter in the sky than the crescent moon was, even though the moon is closer to us and many orders of magnitude larger.  We used Venus as our marker to find the moon, as we knew from an ephemeris that the two would be close to each other.

The moon was first sighted around 8:20 pm PDT and it was primarily in blank sky. I photographed it over the next half hour until it was just about to set.  The photograph above was made at approximately 8:45 pm PDT, as the dark band of clouds added an extra dimension to the scene.

Rajab is an important Islamic month as it helps in locking down the start times for the following month Sha’baan and then the month of Ramadan when fasting begins.  It ripples from this day onward for both the start of Ramadan and its end which ushers in Eid Al-Fitr, the festival of fast breaking.

I feel very fortunate living here on the west coast.  We have the best possibility, and in most cases, the last word on any given day for sighting the new moon each month.  I and my assistants were not the only ones who sighted the moon this evening, I did receive one other report from a long time friend and fellow crescent chaser who saw it as well from atop Mount Tamalpais about 60 miles north of my location, also a stunning location in its own right.  We were atop Russian Ridge in the northern reaches of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

To all my Muslim readers, Rajab Mubarak!

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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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