Another busy week, but nowhere near as busy as the week before.
I had my usual Sunday session with Randy. That afternoon I had a follow-up appointment with Dr Sharbek for my eye. She said it looked fine and I could stop using the eye cream in another week. It looks so much better than before.
I had my second Arabic lesson on Monday afternoon. We learned how to say:
- Good morning/good evening
- What’s your news?
- How’s work?
- Some other basic vocabulary – happy, present (as in ‘here’), absent
- Two new letters (in addition to the first six in the first lesson)
That evening was the final Islamic Art talk at Art Sawa. It focused on modern art in the Islamic World (modern art starting before the end of the Ottoman period [1880-1960s]) and contemporary art. We covered:
- Orientalism (the depiction of aspects of the Middle East by American and European artists and writers) – Interest in Egypt and the Middle East grew after Napoleon’s expedition in 1798. Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) – the most prolific of Orientalism artists, Léon Cogniet (1794-1880), Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928), Henri Regnault (1843-1871) – many of these artists and writers had never been to the Middle East but were fascinated by it.
- Modern art in Lebanon – Kenaan Dib, Felix Bonfils, Daoud Corm, Khalil Saleeby, Cesar Gemayel, Omar Onsi, Paul Guiragossian.
- Modern art in Egypt – Mahmud Mokhtar’s Egypt’s Renaissance, Adham Wanly’s The Singer, Seif Wanly (Adham’s brother), Adam Henein, Mahmoud Said’s Whirling Dervishes.
- Modern art in Iraq – Hafidh al Druobi, Kadhim Haidar’s Martyr’s Epic (reminiscent of Picasso’s Guernica), Dia al Azzawi, Lalla Essaydi.
The speaker said she had many photographs of nudes but wasn’t allowed to show them in her Art History classes!
I had a piano lesson on Tuesday – I’m still struggling with Michael Bublé’s ‘Just Haven’t Met You Yet’. I always feel happy after my piano lessons. I think it’s because I focus on just one thing for that 1 hour – it’s almost like meditation – and it clears my mind of everything else. I need to practise more.
Wednesday was busy as usual. I had a session with Randy followed by my Arabic class. In our third session we learned:
- Adjectives and how they need to be masculine/feminine/plural according to the noun they’re describing
- Possessive pronouns
- How to ask (and respond to): What country are you from?
- Numbers and how to ask ‘What’s your phone number?’
- More random vocabulary – tomorrow, book, late, busy, boy, girl, car
I think having learnt French and Spanish is definitely helping, especially when it comes to following grammatical rules.
That evening I had my last meditation class. We went over some meditation techniques and talked about whether meditation had helped us at all, and so on. I’m glad I did the course but I haven’t done as much practice as I’d like since then.
I was working all of Thursday and had dinner at The Ivy that night. It was Jumeirah Restaurant Week and several restaurants were offering special deals. We had a three-course meal: I opted for the lobster bisque to start with, the sea bass as my main course, and the cheese for dessert. Everything was delicious but my main course was tiny. Of course we also had wine with our dinner and then hung out at the bar for a few more drinks after dinner.
I was home all day on Friday and most of Saturday. On Saturday evening I went to a seminar called ‘Phone-ography 101’ at Gulf Photo Plus in Al Serkal Avenue. It was all about taking photos with your phone and I was amazed at all the things you can do with it! I thought it would be about how to get good shots, but it was a lot more technical than that. There was a panel of three photographers who take most of their photos with their phones. They talked about apps, postprocessing and gave us some good tips. Did you know that you could:
- Swipe the camera from the lock screen for easy access?
- Release the shutter with the volume buttons on your earphones?
- Lock exposure and focus by touching the screen?
For panorama shots there’s an app called ‘360’ – it lets you create 360-degree images – and it’s free.
To get the effect of streaked backgrounds (panning) – tap the screen where your moving subject is and hold your finger on the screen as you move your phone along with it. The subject stays in focus while the background turns into streaming colours. Genius!
For shooting – there are so many apps available and most of them are free downloads:
- ThirtySix – this takes 36 photos and then develops them as a contact sheet.
- Pro Camera – can control white balance, ISO, focus and exposure.
- Hipstamatic – I was fascinated by this. You can download it for free, but you can buy add-ons depending on what you want. You can buy different virtual lenses, virtual film – and the app will even show you what your image will look like depending on what you’ve selected. One warning though – we were told that it uses up battery life pretty quickly.
- Gorilla Cam – this has a self-timer, can take up to 60 pictures in burst mode, and has a time-lapse function.
- Camera + – you can light your scene using the camera flash light, has a self-timer and stabiliser
- KitCam – similar to Hipstamatic for various lens simulations.
- Fast Camera – similar to Gorilla Cam and good for discretion in street photography (it takes photos while your screen remains dark)!
- Slow Shutter Cam – this also takes photos with the screen remaining dark and is good for night photography.
We were shown how to attach your phone to a tripod using a Glif, how you can buy actual lenses for your phone, and even underwater cases.
There are also several editing apps which we were introduced to:
- VSCO Cam
- Cross Process
- Square Ready (free)
- Hipstamatic (again)
- FilterStorm – similar to Photoshop
- Wood Camera
- Krop Circle (free) – this enables you to crop photos into shapes
- SnapSeed (free)
- Pic Stitch
- Image Blender
- Average Camera Pro
- Synth Cam (free) – useful for night photography
I was actually blown away by all the things you can do with just a phone. All three photographers worked with iPhones but many of these apps are available for Android phones too.
One of the most useful tips I got was that I could set up my phone to transfer my photos to Dropbox automatically. Now as soon as I’m connected to a wireless network, my Dropbox is updated with any photos I’d taken since the previous syncing. It’s always best to connect with wifi as files can be large and exceed data limits rather quickly! No more emailing photos to myself and saving them on my computer (or plugging in my phone to my laptop and transferring them).
There were no surprises with the sharing apps available:
And where can you get these photos printed? Well…
- Printstagr.am – based in California.
- Blurb – to create books and albums.
- InstaCanvas – to print on canvas (you think?).
- Coastermatic – to print on coasters.
Some other general tips?
- Take as many photos as you can but don’t share them all.
- Experiment with apps.
- Find your own style.
- Follow photographers who inspire you.
- Learn how to use light to your advantage.
- Charge your phone on the go when using Hipstamatic.
- Be ready!
I learned a lot in those 2 hours – things I never even knew existed!
I went home and had a relaxing evening…
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