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The lady who gave me a pound

February 9, 2012

I shared this story as a status update on Facebook a couple of days ago. The responses I got from my friends made me think that I should blog it, so here goes:

It was around 1:30 am on a weekend and I was going back home from a friends place. I was stopped by a lady who asked if she could use my cell phone, so I let her do so. She used it for a few seconds and when she was done she insisted on paying me a pound! I told her that I had free minutes anyway and I don’t want to take any money from her but she insisted saying “take the pound or I might end up hurting some body tonight, not you though! So, please, take the pound!”. At the end I gave up and took the pound and she kept repeating “remember, this was a good thing you did” …. to this moment I wonder why the lady was so grateful; its not like I went out of my way to help or anything.

Any way, the funny part of the story is this: I reached the bus stop to discover that I left all my change in my other pants and I ended up using the lady’s pound to get on the bus instead of walking back home in the cold weather!

Moral of the story? Whatever you want it to be! But I would say: be nice!


The Iron man photo shoot … behind the scenes!

January 4, 2012

Post summary: get a mask, put on a lightstand or a flash to get the glowing eyes effect … for more details and photos read on…

The mask was created from paper by my brother using the “pepakura” method (google it if you’re interested!). I also had a new wireless flash trigger that I wanted to try… see the setup bellow:

A water container tapped to a container filled with water, on the other end I used a wire from a coat hanger, a flash (YN468), a wireless transmitter (Yongnuo RF-603), pieces of cardboard paper and rubber bands to bring them all together. I needed the wire from the coat hanger to bring the mask away from the flash because placing it directly on the flash resulted in a big ugly light spot.

Placed the mask on the flash setup (“on a stick” … got it 🙂 ? ) took it to a dark area, with the assistance of a friend (@iMadiD) and my trustee Canon 450D on f/11, iso 100 and a 1/200s exposure (fastest sync speed for my camera/flash combination) here is what I got:

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Looking at this in retrospect I would have done it indoors … it was windy that night and the mask kept shaking (Madi had to keep it from flying away!), a smaller aperture could easily compensate for any ambient lighting indoors, I tried it!

I hope you enjoyed the most useless photography post ever :)! Use this trick with any mask you can think of … or use your imagination and use other objects, Thanks for reading!

My top 10 artworks and photos for the year 2011

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year people!

2011 was a year full of challenges but it turned out for the best and for that I am truly thankful…

I browsed my photography and art folders and came up with this top 10 list. Its more of a “random 10 list” and I’m sure if I dug deeper into my folders I would have gotten a different list … but I like this one!

So … 5 artworks and 5 photos … with no particular order, here they are:

Smiling down on me

I have been told that “smiling down on me” is a mediocre painting, which might very well be the case. Why add it to a top 10 list? Because it taught me so much! I stumbled upon a bottle of acrylic paint which -at that time- I have never used before. I got myself a brush and a black paper, this was the result and my pencil-only style was changed … forever!

FacebookDeviant Art


Sweet dreams

“Smiling down on me” opened the door for a new experimental style and obviously enough I called it “inverted contrast“. “Sweet dreams” is my favorite in this series, it was technically challenging (again only one color, I didn’t use any black paint) and I actually carved some pattern into the hairs with a painting knife … you can’t see it here though!

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Goodbye Halcyon Days

“I wish I had 5 lives . . .
I would have have been born in 5 different towns,
I would have eaten my fill of 5 lifetimes worth of food,
I would have had 5 different jobs,
And for five times . . .
I would have fallen in love . . .
with the same person”

I’m not a big fan of doing fan art, but I thought the quote was absolutely brilliant so I had to sketch it! The scene is from the Anime “Bleach” episode 141: Goodbye Halcyon Days (if you want to see the scene, follow the YouTube link bellow)

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Amman in Jeans - a beautiful night in a beautiful city

“Amman in Jeans – a beautiful night in a beautiful city” was the first in my “jeans canvas” series; I already have a blog entry and a time lapse YouTube video about it, links bellow if you’re interested!

Facebook DeviantArtBlog postYoutube


Amman in Jeans - An Ammani Sunset

“Amman in Jeans – An Ammani Sunset” was the largest in my “jeans canvas” series; sometimes I wish I added more intense colors to the sunset but I really like the carved windows …. I already have a blog entry and a time lapse YouTube video about this one too, links bellow if you’re interested!

Facebook – DeviantArt – Blog post – Youtube


I just love the colors in this one! I think it was my first day out with the University of Edinburgh Photography Society. We went to the Royal Botanic Gardens  … a gorgeous place indeed!



I went with my friends to the Edinburgh Zoo … came across this white face Saki monkey in the “magic forest” … an open primate house (no bars between humans and monkeys). I was captivated by the sad look on its face!
I later submitted this to the PhotoSoc photography competition … the theme was moods and I didn’t win 🙂

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This photo of the Scottish Monument won me the first place in the “Edinburgh Discovered” photography competition, it also got published in the Scotsman news paper. Full story in a dedicated blog post, link bellow!

FacebookFlickrBlog post


I was walking down the Royal mile (Edinburgh,UK) with a friend and for some reason I couldn’t get any good photos … then I noticed that the outline of the buildings to my left could look like a palace! So, a faster exposure to get the colors in the sky and silhouette the buildings gave me this!



Sunset at the Citadel, Amman, Jordan. This is arguably the most beautiful place in Amman and the citadel has a large stretch of empty land that would make a very fine park with spectacular views … unluckily though this place has limited access hours and you can’t enter at night unless there was an event going on …

That’s it! Happy new year everybody 🙂

My First Photography Win: The “Edinburgh Discovered” Photography Contest

November 22, 2011

The Scottish Monument ... my wining photo

I don’t get to blog that often … but if this doesn’t get a blog post I wonder what does!

To be honest I have never expected this win … when they called my name for the first place I was astounded: my photo? me? As I walked up and shook hands with Professor Timothy O’Shea (the principle of the University of Edinburgh) I said: “wow … this is really happening”!

My photo was a long exposure photo (130 sec at f/14 & ISO100) of National Monument of Scotland on Calton Hill, I really liked the photo when I first took it so I submitted it to the contest! Later on I regretted this decision because I discovered that photos of this monument are so many: people have shot it from so many angles in so many different times that someone somewhere is bound to have taken a similar photo! This is why I was genuinely shocked when they called my name for the first prize … I only have one explanation for this: maybe I some how captured a “newcomer’s fascination” with this photo?

I’m trying to turn this into a good story and almost every good story has a moral and this is what I learned: “trust your gut; listen to your first instinct!” here is why:

When I first took this photo I remember tweeting this:Image

However, few days after submitting this photo I looked into those “pillars” I took a photo of and found out that they were called the “Scottish National Monument” and many, many people have taken photos of them! I remember saying this to my friends:

“I have submitted the most generic photo ever … I wish I have submitted something else!”

Lesson learned…

Finally, I would like to conclude with this: I have seen so many photos with amazing technique and composition; I deeply respect the photographers who took them and I would have been glad to see any of them get this prize! Luck was on my side this time and my photo is by no means “better” than at least a dozen other photos I enjoyed that evening.

Update 25/11/2011: This photo has made its way to the Scotsman newspaper today!

The Scotsman 25th of November 2011 Scottish perspective P.36-37. Caption: The Scotsman's Jane Barlow selected this image of the National Monument on Calton Hill by Mohammad Hirzallah as winner of Edinburgh University's annual photography competition.

An owl in jeans!

October 4, 2011


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This one took me around 6 hours over 3 days, I saved some time by using a “secadic medium” which makes acrylic paints dry faster … very useful with the thick layers I keep on adding!

Materials: acrylic paints on a “jeans canvas”; I got the denim from an old pair of jeans and pasted it with an “acrylic wall size” to a wooden board, I primed it with 2 more layers of the wall size.

I really like how it turned out but looking back at it I wish I left some empty space for the denim material to show out rather than over-painting it.

That’s it for now, I have some other jeans canvases that you can find here if you’re interested:

Finally, please share! If you think this work is any good please help giving it some exposure, thanks 🙂

My Entry to The UNICEF Photography Award: Could a Camera Capture a Happy Childhood?

August 16, 2011

Vote here !

(My photo is here)

The competition wants us to answer the following question:

How can you reflect a happy childhood through your lens?

I thought the answer should be kept simple and I simply had my camera around when this photo presented it self … I won’t use words to answer that question: my photo should!

I’m not asking you to vote for my photo; vote for all the photos you like and enjoy!

Update (17/08/2011):
I contacted the organizers to inquire about the judging process: the 10 most voted photos will be judged by an independent committee … may the best man/ woman win!

An Ammani Sunset (Amman in Jeans)

August 13, 2011

Its been 3 weeks since I posted about my first jeans canvas (check it out here) ! Today I present my second Jeans canvas which I finished more than a month ago & exhibited at Café des Artistes in Amman … I finally got to work on the images and videos to upload them, enjoy!

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In my previous post, I discussed some technical details. The basic technique is similar but this one is much bigger, I chose to “carve” the windows instead of only painting them and each layer is made of multiple stacked folds of denim (to give a more prominent 3D effect – or so I intended at least). If I could re-do this the only thing I would change is using more saturated and darker colors for the sky!

Like many of you requested: the time lapse video is much shorter this time! Last time I time-lapsed 6 hours of work into a 5-minute video, this time 25 hours of work are time-lapsed into a 1.5-minute video + 1 minute for  intro and outro.

That’s it for now! If you have any questions or critiques about the technique feel free to drop me a comment bellow or on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks 🙂

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