Long Exposure (Slow Shutter) ND and IR Filter Factor Table

When you use Neutral Density or Infrared filters, the challenge is to get the right exposure, because you cannot see anything from viewfinder. Camera meter reading would be misleading. Solutions: Camera must be on Tripod with Cable Release

  1. Choose Quality (should be Raw), the ISO and White Balance
  2. Compose / focus / take meter reading / note the exposure (f-stop and shutter speed) / take the picture without filter
  3. Check in histogram (or by other means) to see that the picture in terms of composition and exposure are as desired
  4. If satisfied / put camera and lens on Manual / place the filter on the lens / have the same aperture (f-stop) as in (2) / only you have to play with shutter speed
  5. The shutter speed will depend on how many stops to add with filter. This is a matter of trial and error / Follow the filter factor / e.g. ND 1000 will need an increase in shutter timing by 10-stops
  6. Now you check the following Table and depending on what your original shutter speed was without filter in (2) / also the f-stop being same as in (2) / by how many stops you want to increase the shutter / choose seconds, minutes or hrs. from the Table / shutter timing has to be increased (put on BULB if it is more than 30 seconds) / shoot

Suppose, according to my exposure reading in (2), without filter, shutter was 1/60 at f/8. Now I want a 10-stop increase in shutter with filter. / Following the Table, I will need 16 seconds of timing to shoot. If not correct, I have to increase or decrease the shutter stop and accordingly, the shooting time.

© Mahmood Iqbal: May, 2015

ND and IR Filter Compensation © Mahmood Iqbal: May, 2015

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Freedom of Expression or Sheer Hypocrisy

At the outset, let me say this categorically that anyone having a shred of humanity will not resist in condemning the deadly terrorist attack on the journalists of Charlie Hebdo on January 7th in Paris. However, instead of analyzing the ghastly attack from open and multiple perspectives (for which, ironically Charlie Hebdo stand for) whole Western media, with the  exception of lone pieces in New York Times and CBC, are marching on old mantra of freedom of expression.

If there were a freedom of expression, then it has to be absolute. One cannot pick and choose. Why are there laws against hate crime or anything that could make someone uncomfortable as ‘politically incorrect’? One can be put into the prison for denying Holocaust — while there could be different interpretations of that in the history — but no actions can be taken against denying  scientific facts such as climate change (more than 30% of Americans believe that climate change is a hoax and more than 20% still believe that world is flat). One cannot say publicly a fat person fat, but has to be rephrased as physically challenged or a lunatic, only as mentally challenged. One cannot say anything against homosexual or transgender. That is against the law.

But in contrast, one has open license to ridicule Prophet Mohammad, who to the entire Muslims community is the holiest of holy man in the history of mankind and any negative gesture against the Prophet inflicts untold pain and agony. And Muslims are not smaller in number in Western countries, they are in millions: five million alone in France. One can tell all Muslims and their descendants living in the West to pack up and go home and impose a complete ban on future immigration of Muslims. But these are impossible steps to take because the world has become a globalized village and is too much inter-dependant both economically and culturally. Most important, such measures will challenge the very notion of freedom of religion, expression and equality of citizens in the West.

Diversity and multiculturalism is reality in Western countries. The only solution is to be sensitive of religious feelings of minorities, especially of Muslims who are so dominant by their numbers. One cannot be insensitive to such a large segment of the population without thinking about any repercussions, especially when Muslims see double standards and hypocrisy in the western legal system.

Source: https://the-levant.com

Hypocrisy. Source: https://the-levant.com

In the context of cartoons against Prophet, what rational is there to keep millions of citizens under terror (from unknown terror attacks), spend billions of dollars on questionable and illusive security measures (instead of productive investment on education, employment and health), for the sake of allowing a few to satisfy their intellectual gratification in the name of dubious freedom of expression.

In Western media, commentators often say that as Christians or Jews do make fun of their prophets and religions, why do Muslims have problems? One can do anything one wants with his or her religion, it is his or her choice and prerogative. Why should one expect that Muslims should also accept and practice of their liking?

The bigger question is that why one would not be offended by derogatory comment or ridicule of any prophet but offended by someone being called fat or faggot? Is an ordinary person on street holier than any prophet (irrespective of religion)? What kind of twisted logic is that?

The civilized and sensible way of responding to an offending comment or caricature is to respond in kind. But in reality, it would depend on the level of maturity, degree of hurt and the level of tolerance. In case of offending comments, some would respond verbally, some in terms of slap, some with knife and some with Kalashnikov. The issue is complicated and needs a higher degree of expertise to understand the problem. We all know that Muslim societies would need hundreds of years to reach the same level of sophistication, maturity and tolerance as the West.

This however does not rationalize by any means any form of violence and terrorism by any agent against anyone. We just need to understand and realize the nature of sensitivity and flaw of carte blanch application of the law of freedom of expression in a multicultural society, especially when the law has already so many loop holes even on minor considerations.

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Great Photos: Selection from SAHEL

Five photos below are © Sebastiao Salgado, SAHEL: The End of the Road, 1996 (University of California Press).

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 11 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 11 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 15 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 15 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 27 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 27 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 59 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 59 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 105 (1996: University of California Press)

© Sabestiao Salgado: SAHEL, p. 105 (1996: University of California Press)

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Israelis Talking Points on Gaza that No Western (especially American) Journalist Dare to Question

If one watches and listens to the interviews of Israeli spokespersons or so called experts (who are basically Israeli sympathizers) from veteran journalists of  leading networks like CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS,  one feels nauseating and the blood boiling. No journalist will ask hard questions and throw counterpoints to Israeli’s broken scripted talking points: “Israel is a peaceful, humane and the only democratic country” in the region. “We never target civilians and nor we kill the playing and sleeping children.” “It is Hamas which is killing and dropping rockets on their own people and destroying their own infrastructure,” because they are self-genocidal. In other words, Israel’s thousands of laser guided precision rockets are falling in the deserts and oceans or precisely on heads of Hamas militants. Death and injuries of thousands of Gaza children, women and innocent men (which is live on TVs and other media devices) are all our illusion.

“Hamas is terrorizing innocent Israeli civilians by firing rockets indiscriminately”. That is true. In a war against Goliath, what can one expect from homemade crude rockets? Why the West does not   give laser guided precision weapons to Hamas? And then see, where those modern rockets fall: do they destroy Israel’s military assets or instead, kill civilians. If it is later, then blame Hamas.

“Hamas militants and rocket launchers are hiding themselves among civilians in schools and UN designated areas.” Simple question (that no American journalist will dare to ask): how many rockets Israel has actually destroyed in UN-run safe houses where stocks of weapons and rockets were allegedly hidden?  How come no western journalist and/or UN observer were able to find any evidence of their presence in those premises? While there is a clear evidence from all know sources that thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by Israelis’ brutal and indiscriminate bombings. Further, if Israeli’s bombing is so successfully in destroying those stacked and hidden weapons, how come Hamas is still continuing firing rockets?

Hiding Weapons

Who taught the world to hide weapons in mosque/synagogue

To bolster their claims, Israelis cite “three UN sites,” where Hamas’ hidden weapons were found. According to UN deputy secretary on CNN, such Israelis assertions were simply erroneous. Those sites were long abandoned by the UN and Israelis knew them well. Moreover, UN is not in a business of keeping accounts, collecting or destroying weapons.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization.” But Hamas was elected fairly and squarely in the presence of western observers and representatives. In other words, all Gazans’ who elected Hamas are terrorists. Not too long ago, the creators of Israel were terrorists (most notably, Prime Ministers Begin and Samir) as labeled by British, but Britain negotiated with them. Unfortunately at the same time, Britain in collusion with other western powers, carved the biggest injustice in the history of mankind: creation of Israel to cleanse the European sinful souls from Holocaust atrocities.

“Destruction of Israel is in Hamas charter.” The fact is that Hamas wants two states and truce with Israel for next fifty years and then want to determine the next course. Even it is in Hamas charter, it is meaningless without any teeth. No one asks: will Hamas or Palestinians ever become so powerful to challenge or destroy Israel? The fact is that even putting together all human, military and financial resources of that region, hardly anything negative would happen to Israel in any concrete way. Most important, no journalist ever asks: what about Israel’s own charter, where it is written clearly never to allow creation of Palestine as an independent state.

“Hamas has a network of sophisticated tunnels.” Any society to sustain and run its economy needs free movements of its goods and services. When you seal and seize their activities above the ground, those activities are bound to move underground, but primarily to meet daily necessities and to resist continued occupation.

This war on Gaza started with the pretext that Hamas killed three Israeli teenagers, without any iota of proof. If one looks at recent history, Hamas always capture and keep Israelis as hostage, because as a hostage, one Israeli is thousand times more valuable than that of a dead one. No wonder, independent investigators in future may prove that the tragedy of three dead Israeli teenagers was the product of Israelis own extremists. So they can force the government to unleash terror on Palestinians. And that’s what has happened exactly. In retaliation, Israeli settlers killed an innocent Gaza teenager in most monstrous and gruesome manner and to which Israel admitted.

How cruel one can be. First, Israel warns Gaza civilians in advance to leave their homes and take protections in UN designated schools or premises, done in coordination with Israel. And then Israel bombard those schools together with any object moving or standing. Is it Israel’s goal to kill maximum number of innocents because this way Palestinians are basically sitting like ducks?

Even with Hamas continued rocket launching, question: is it effective. According to Israelis themselves, it has hardly of any material consequences, except psychological terror. Israel’s Iron Dome system, first analyzes target of each launched rocket. If it falls in remote, unpopulated, desert or ocean (that’s what happened in 80% cases) system does not intercept and let rockets to fall. It is only in cases where rockets have possibility of falling on Israeli infrastructure, assets and civilians that the system intercepts and destroy those rockets. And this is abundantly clear by a few dead, injured Israeli civilians and their destroyed property as compared to thousand dead, injured civilians and wonton destruction of their properties in Gaza from Israelis (a hell of) laser guided precision rockets.

It is obvious that people in Gaza have two choices: either to continue to have a daily life of sustained pain, subjugation and humiliation due to Israel’s cruel and iron clad blockade (which has been going on for the last seven years) or to die quickly with excruciating pain but with dignity. It would not be unwise to take the second route. This could better be achieved by all Gaza men, women and children marching together peacefully towards Israeli borders and breaking all the barriers and walls by whatever means they have at their disposal. Let Israelis use their most sophisticated arsenal and best trained (humane) army kill to stop them. And those Palestinians who survive can breathe freely and world can seriously look for a respectable solution. If most Palestinians are dead, the world will see a live Holocaust in circa 2014 through TVs and other media devices.

© Mahmood Iqbal and ipotpourri.wordpress.com: 2014



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Israel the Victim: Why Does World Not See How Humane and Caring We Are for Palestinians

Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, our beloved Prime Minister truly reflects the views of millions of Israelis. We are astonished why the world fails to understand Israeli love and compassion for Palestinians’ recent air strikes and ground attack against Gaza. Simply, to stop Hamas who is bent upon bringing a bigger catastrophe on its own people in the future.

Why the world does not feel the pain and the suffering of the ordinary Israeli who are lately living under the barrage of Hamas’ crude homemade rockets. Though the Iron Dome has stopped 70% of Hamas rockets, the civilians, however, have to run for protection and shelter in case of failure. Imagine the psychological terror that we have to go through daily with the possibility of occasional scratches from flying debris and damage to our property.

Why the world is obsessed with a large number of dead and running Palestinian for their lives and ruined buildings all around them from our laser guided precision rocket attacks. We admit (but also proud) of our military assets, manpower and intelligence, which is most sophisticated, advanced and unparalleled to all the fire power of the Middle East put together.

We have no comments on lop sided war, but it is Palestinians’ own choosing. One can say David and Goliath in reality: stone throwing Palestinians (most of them children and teenagers) against the highly trained army with most sophisticated and deadly firepower. As Israel is marching not against Palestinians’ refugee camps, but to attack an advanced European country.

We are so humane and generous because we fully understand the sufferings of Palestinians. After all, it was not too long ago when we lost six million of our people in Holocaust. And throughout history, we suffered massacre, pain and deprivation from creeds of all kinds in one way or the other. We were displaced from our own land and had to wander thousands of years across the world while we were rightly the owner of the Holy land of Judea and Samaria.

How the world can forget Arabs and Palestinians hostility and continued wars against Israel once we came back to our promised land about 70 years ago. Look at the generosity that we created some rooms for Palestinians. When we took back the House which rightly belonged to us, we at least gave them not only one but two toilets (Gaza and West Bank). They should learn to live within their means as rest of us in this world do.

A few of our own lunatics (mostly Lefties) question the morality and wisdom of our compassion, when we tell Gaza civilians to leave home and go. They question, go but where? Gaza is as crowded as the downtown of New York or Los Angeles. Millions of people are cramped (actually trapped) in a few miles area, surrounded by Israel or Egypt borders and all borders completely sealed.

They further argue that it is not like a typical American family (maximum four people) living in a suburb of a two story house, front and backyard with a total area of more than 5,000 square feet.  Each neighborhood surrounded by parks, parking lots, strip malls and open areas. If anything happens, one can easily take protection and go to a safe area. But this is not our problem. It is Hamas which gets pleasure by inflicting pain and suffering on its own people. (Note that key reasons for recent Hamas rocket launch on Israel as reported in New York Times – stopping payment of salaries to thousands of Gaza civil servants from months because we control the purse, further tightening the suffocating border closures on both sides of Israel and Egypt – are fallacies.)

They forget that before dropping the deadliest rockets and bombs on a civilian population on the crowded and crammed residential apartments and shops, we give sufficient time: announce and drop leaflets an hour ahead in targeted areas, then send text messages, then drop only mini bombs at the roof of buildings. It is only after taking these pain taking measures and exactly after four minutes we flatten the buildings, with the objective of destroying deep underground tunnels where Hamas have hoarded their rockets. What else do you expect from any human being to do, especially those who have faced Holocaust just recently?

Don’t blame us. How stupid and suicidal Palestinians are that despite these warnings, Hamas militants are hiding among women and children in mosques and homes along with their rocket launchers. Why Hamas don’t have a well defined military zone with a regular army and rocket launchers clearly visible as we have. (Tough luck if they don’t have the space, equipment and resources for a regular army.) It is their own choice for living in the biggest open prison on the earth indefinitely and having same desires as that of free people. We will love to provide them all facilities if they decide to move any country who is willing to take them.

The world has no idea how to keep human life record. It considers each human life at par. The fact is that population of Israeli Jew is six million, while of Arab League is 369 million. By July 20,UN reported that 300 people were killed in Gaza: 70-80% were civilians (mostly children and women), but at least 20% (60 in number) were still Hamas militants. World should focus on 13 soldiers we lost. Based on ME Arab population (only Gaza or Palestinian population is NOT relevant for our purpose), we have lost 12.5 times more. Again, we are the victims but world fails to see.

© Mahmood Iqbal and ipotpourri.wordpress.com: 2014

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Unemployed, Educated and Skilled: Is There a Way Out?

In 1786, the cloth workers of Leeds, in northern England started a protest against the growing use of “scribbling” machines or mechanization, which they thought would ultimately lead to deterioration of their livelihood. They were called Luddites or machine destroyer. (More about it in New York Times)

The Future. Copyright: www.forbes.com

The Future. Copyright: http://www.forbes.com

However, after the Industrial Revolution, the living standard of Britain and rest of the West improved multiple folds. Because many workers were not hurt due to mechanization and those who were hurt acquired new and valuable skills over the years. New and improved job opportunities were created for many, resulting in vast improvement in their economic wellbeing. However, we cannot say same thing about the unemployment situation today.

The conventional wisdom has been that “education always pays”. Those who are unemployed are basically school dropouts and unskilled. The higher the education level, the higher is the income and lower is the unemployment rate. Higher education is passport to secured job and higher income. This may be true until a decade ago. But now ground reality has changed. The likelihood of unemployment of higher educated and skilled people could be higher than general population. For example in the United States (which is the bell weather of economic trend of the Western world), the growth in unemployment rate of those with university degrees has been marginally higher: 2.76 fold increase during the last decade (from 1.7% in 2000 to 4.7% in 2010). While the national unemployment rate grew by 2.73 fold (from 3% in 2000 to 8.2% in 2010). Latest figures could be even dismal.

Job hunting. Copyright: www.redorbit.com

Job hunting. Copyright: http://www.redorbit.com

Therefore, higher education is not the answer of present day reality and future trend. Schumpeterian “creative destruction” is considered distinctive feature of modern technological world. New technology would create unemployment. Those unemployed and new entrants in work force would pick up new technology and become employed; and this process would continue. But in reality, it would create large disruption and pain to many in the society. Moreover, it is not a guarantee that new technology would always be able to absorb existing unemployed and those who joined the work force recently.

Further, more and more jobs are now shifting towards East (notably to China and India). What started as off shoring low skilled and labour intensive manufacturing jobs a few decades ago, now has crept up to production activities that need high skill and higher education. In fact, even high-end service sectors (like law, accounting, medical technicians, research, and university learning) are no longer immune. These jobs are moving to India and other Asian countries.

More over the education and skill that once used to be developed with years of schooling and experience, can now be learned with a few months of video tutorials by using plethora of soft wares and computers especially in areas like photography, web and book designing. There is no need to go to school for a formal education. As a result, there is a glut of people with required skill and training in many technology based areas, resulting in un- or underemployment and lower pay.

This could also be a blessing in disguise. Those who got unemployed can easily and quickly learn new skill using latest soft wares and computers, but their job and income prospects would not be the same as before. Their employment would not be as secured and pay would be low, because many others are doing the same thing.

So is there a way out?

Unemployed- Please Help. Copyright: www.blogging4jobs.com

Unemployed- Please Help. Copyright: http://www.blogging4jobs.com

The fact is that globalization is a reality: there has been quantum progress in technology, mass transport and communication. There has been shrinking of differences in knowledge between the two world with opening of high learning institutions in developing countries, mass usage of computers, soft wares and internet. As a result, the arbitrage or large gap in employment and earnings of people in the West with similar education and skill in the East can no longer be sustained. Those production activities and jobs which were once the monopoly of the West (for which they could charge premium prices), does not hold any more. There is hardly any job that cannot be replicated in the East at the fraction of the cost. Therefore, economic welfare of the general population in the West is at stake, except one group: the owner of capital and industries.

The glaring example is growing gap between masses and the rich in the United States. Globalization and offshoring has become a boon for multinationals. They can move factories in the East, produce most stuff at the fraction of the cost and sell them to masses in the West (because they still possess high purchasing power) at cheap prices, and keep the large difference as profit in their pockets. In the process, they can especially benefit from relaxed corporate taxation regime (because of their decades old lobbying activities in Congress and Senate).

What hope is there for an ordinary citizen in countries like the United States? Not much. We need to be realistic. Technological progress, globalization, outsourcing and off shoring cannot be stopped or reversed, but corporate taxation system and taxes on rich can be reformed by raising rates, closing loopholes, strict regulations and forcing them to pay their due shares. And politicians in Washington can successfully do it, if they have nerve to implement.

When you devise a corporate tax system where companies would be obliged to pay taxes in the jurisdiction where the very income or profit is generated, companies would have not much alternative than to pay. Factories which are located in the East are basically for production activities, not for consumption. People in the East do not have sufficient income to purchase goods produced for the West. Therefore, lion share of profit of the multinationals are generated from goods sold to the people in the West, and now they have to pay taxes if the system is reformed.

If capital owners threat to move their headquarters and financial record keeping, let them do so. What jurisdiction on earth can provide them the opportunity to generate such a high level of aggregate profit and income than the United States?

The collected taxes can then be spent on improving the wellbeing of general population who has been hardly hit with the shift of global economic gravity. Additional funds can be allocated in developing niche areas and innovation in activities that address challenges of new and emerging economic environment. More emphasis can be placed on vocational based training rather than degree based higher learning.

© Mahmood Iqbal and ipotpourri.wordpress.com: 2013

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What Guns Have to Do in Cities?

Same old story: a lone 20 year old gun man, stacked with four high power semi-automatic rifles, entered to an elementary school (Newtown, Connecticut) killed 20 children and 6 of their teachers in a very short span before shooting himself when police arrived. This story has been repeated so many times, but what happened in terms of any concrete measure to stop this kind of carnage. Nothing! Zilch!

Toxic Mix: © 123rf.com

Toxic Mix: © 123rf.com

Because Americans have fundamental rights, protected by Second Amendment to keep and bear arm, without realizing that they are living in a different epoch. They don’t need assault weapons to protect themselves from invaders or their own government or to kill chicken, turkey, bore, or cow for tonight dinner, at least in cities. We all have moved away long time (about 100,000 years ago) from the hunter-gatherer society. Most important, Americans project themselves as the most civilized people in the Western world, but in reality it is a black spot.

By the way, if “We the People” can change the Constitution with Second Amendment, why not make the Third Amendment. Stating that now on Second Amendment is expired or only such and such clause of It with these restrictions are applicable. The rest are null and void. Especially, given the fact that “We the People” can change or reinterpret the Holy Bible with changing circumstances, why not a Constitution. The one which is written by fallible men and not given by God.

Carnage: © thejunction.net

Carnage: © thejunction.net

See the statistics, which is alarming: some 300 million civilian firearms now in circulation or nearly one for every adult. Guns kill 30,000 Americans each year. International studies have shown strong correlation between more firearms and higher number of homicides. American murder rate is roughly 15 times that of other wealthy countries. Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries.

However, just like in the past, the present hue and cry of Newtown massacre will become a storm in a tea pot. Hardly there will be any change in American behavior in terms of concrete measures. Politicians, officials, experts and media will all play their routine song and dance and then everything will become normal as nothing happened; until happens again and then same drama would be repeated.

Americans don’t realize that the biggest terrorist organization is sitting among them right inside the United States. It is the National Rifle Association. Its stand on protecting and promoting assault weapons (including one with grenade launcher option) in every inch of the country has resulted in death and maims of its innocent citizens more than total fatalities of Americans in all wars and terrorism. But no politicians can question the stand of NRA: both parties have sold their soul for the regular financial support from NRA.

Happy Shooting: © ammoland.com

Happy Shooting: © ammoland.com

Gun worshippers in America very proudly and repeatedly say: gun does not kill people. It is people who kill people. This argument is so flawed that one cannot resist but banging the head against the wall. The same day as the tragic Newtown shooting, a Chinese man stabbed 22 children in a school in the province of Henan without a single fatality. And it took about ten times longer for law officers to arrive at the scene in China than in Newtown. We all know that both offenders like most others in the past were lunatic: nothing new. But ultimately it is the gun which kills people. The more powerful is the gun, higher is the carnage. It is not rocket science, but let me repeat. The same lunatic holding a stick will cause less carnage than a knife, than a pistol, than a high power gun, than cannon, than a rocket launcher…

The bottom line is that in any civilized society no gun (whether it is legal or illegal) should be allowed in cities except for the law enforcement authorities. Period.

Bigger the Better: © caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com

Bigger the Better: © caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com

Those city dwellers who want to hunt, naturally they have to go to remote areas. And guns would be stored in a close by police station. Each gun will have a chip tag just like a luggage during air travel. Computer will follow and monitor the movement of that gun. The moment it crosses the defined hunting boundary, warning will go on and authority will cease the gun. The culprit will have no option than to forfeit the right of possessing the gun again. All cost associated with registration, the chip tag and monitoring the movement of the weapon has to be borne by the gun owner. Just like we all have to bear the cost of registration, licensing and insurance of owning a car; and so for owning a gun. Those living in remote areas where hunting is part of their livelihood would be exempted from the cost or would receive a rebate like HST credit.

No one has provided the evidence that gun saves life. For the sake of argument even it saves life, the question is what is the tradeoff? Will a civilized society tolerate massacre of dozens or saving a few. The answer is clearly “No”. Even a fool will not accept such a bet: certain death of dozens of innocent by guns with the possibility that gun can save a few lives with the remote probability that actually it would happen – is lunatic.

© Mahmood Iqbal and ipotpourri.wordpress.com: 2012

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