Archive for July, 2009

30 Days

Another month has gone by.  The new moon this time around met with the sun and blocked her out, completely for nearly 6 minutes all across Asia.  The longest total solar eclipse that the Earth will see for the next 123 years!  If you missed it, like I did, oh well, I guess we will have to figure out how to live another 123 years.

However, every month, the possibility for either a solar or lunar eclipse is there.  At each new moon, the Moon comes in between the the Sun and the Earth, that is why we lose sight of the Moon for a couple of days as it passes in front of the Sun.  At each full moon, there is a possibility of a lunar eclipse as the Earth comes in between the Sun and the Moon.  The reason we do not have two eclipses each month is that the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not in the same plane as the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.  The graphic below should help in clarifying that.

Only when all three bodies line up perfectly on the ecliptic will an eclipse occur.  They are not hard to predict, but they also do not occur all that frequently.  However when an eclipse does occur, it is a big deal and many cultures have placed significance in its occurrence.  But what goes almost un-noticed month after month is the emergence of a new moon a day or so after conjunction.  The beauty and subtlety of the new moon is something that words fail to convey.  It needs to be experienced to really be appreciated.  What is wonderful is that we see twelve new moons every year, so your chances of seeing one are much better than that of an eclipse, and given the conditions, the display is just as impressive.

Shabaan 1, 1430

Sha'baan 1, 1430

A few days ago, a day after the big solar eclipse actually, the new crescent moon made its appearance once more.  Surely its significance was “eclipsed” by the Solar eclipse itself, but it ushered in the Islamic month Sha’baan, known as the Month of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.  It is the month that proceeds the month of mandatory fasting for the Muslims, the month of Ramadan, and it is a month preparations – both physical and spiritual.

Great anticipation builds in the Muslim world once the moon of Sha’baan is sighted, for in 30 days worldly pleasures take a back seat for an entire month. Eating, drinking and marital relations come to a screeching halt during daylight hours and at night, the hours are spent in spiritual endeavors from reciting the melodic verses of the Quran in Arabic as in the first chapter Al-Faitha ~ The Opening to standing in prayer, sometimes for up to three or more hours!  All with the intention of establishing a connection and closeness to the Creator and Lord of our world.  So as this month is whittled away by time and we approach the next new moon it will have immense significance to 1.6 Billion people around the world.  And although the heavens will not put on a show as grand as a total solar eclipse, it ushers in a month long exercise that eclipses most others.

Peace to you all.

~ Youssef

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Full Of Light

The world is full of light.  Blink and you might just miss it.  It is all around us. It interacts with us.  It shows us the way and brings us information and messages which we decipher into understandings.  Its source – innumerable physically.  Some so far away we don’t know if they still exist.  Some so close, the Sun, that what arrives here left only 8 minutes ago.  When we see its light, it is the past.   For at the very instant that a message of light appears to our eyes, the Sun has already moved to a new spot in the sky.

What we see in the sky is the past.  The sun on the horizon is not really there, as it has already set 8 minutes ago.  The world is full of Light, blink and you just might miss it – I did say that right?

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New Photos Released

Six new photos have been released on the Organic Light Photography website. 

The website has also been updated with a new feature that allows you to see the photos super-sized!  Just click on the “details” button below each individual photo in the gallery pages to see them BIG!  The feature is not available for every photo on the website but over time more and more photos will get updated.  The detail of Large Format film is astounding and can only be appreciated in large images.  The photos are even better in person as 16 x 20 inch enlargements or bigger.  Visit an upcoming show to see them.


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From Russia with Color Photographs

The following link to The Empire That Was Russia website was sent to me by a friend earlier today.  It is pretty amazing to see real color photographs of Russia and its people from 110 years ago!  Check out the link on the home page on Making Color Images in particlular.  It describes the process of how the photographer Prokudin-Gorskii used to make them.  That process gave birth many years later to the Kodak Dye Transfer Process that is described by one of my mentors, Charles Cramer, on his website.  These old techniques were revolutionary in the imaging world. 

The color separation method of course is still used in the offset CMKY printing press industry that I described in the 2009 Calendar Goes to Press article.  Each of the four plates that go into the press are color separations like in the dye transfer process – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK – CMYK.  When people today balk about a photograph being “photoshopped” I think they really need to look at the history of image making in general to understand that what the camera captures, and what gets printed to paper and what our eye originally saw are very different. 

As photographic artists we know that what the camera gives us is such a pale comparison to what we actually saw that it is at times disheartening.  Sometimes we can compensate for the shortcomings of the camera in the field.  Sometimes it is in the wet darkroom or in the digital darkroom using software like Photoshop.  And then sometimes there is nothing we can do to salvage an image to represent what we saw.  There are manipulations every step of the way.  In the end however, if we can convey to our audience even a sliver of the experience we had at the time we photographed the scene then we have been sucessful.  So go out and bring back some experiences.

These old processes make me feel like experimenting.  Now where is my old black and white filter set….

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