Journal Entries

APRIL 1 (April Fool’s Day), WASHINGTON:

My mother and I decided to figure out what I would be doing for my personal project coming up next year. After many suggestions from friends in 10th grade, I’ve decided to do something that involves photography. My mother suggested I also tie-in my passion for architecture, engineering, history and world culture.

What a great idea! My mother has to go to an Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, this week and she decided to bring me (and my sister) along. So now I’m thinking that I will find a cool monument or important structure to base my project on.


I’ve been here less than 24 hours and already my Turkish friends are insisting I have my project revolve around Hagia Sophia, a very important monument, to them and the entire Islamic world.


My new plan is to photograph Hagia Sophia and literally re-build it from photos. I plan to take a box, more of a solid cube really, and hollow it out so that I could past my photos on the inside. This way, when someone sticks their heads inside, it would give the appearance of being inside Hagia Sophia!


After meeting with my Turkish friends it was clear that i would photograph Hagia Sophia (Ayasofia). I learned from my guide books (not to mention my old His/Geo classes) that Hagia Sophia is one of the world’s largest and oldest churches. It has been well expanded upon, even changing to a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Byzantine. Unfortunately upon visiting the now-museum, I realized that what I had planned would certainly not work.

I saw that my plan would not work as soon as I entered Hagia Sophia. It was being remodeled! If any of my readers have ever seen the facade of a building being redone, then you know that all the ladders, turkels, uprights, and platforms are ugly as sin. Not to mention the fat that almost the entire dome of the building, well revered for having one of the world’s largest dome’s was all covered! All the same I still took thousands of photos of the inside, but more from a tourist’s perspective now rather than that of a professional. I sadly plodded my way out of the huge doors.

It was then when I looked up, and lo and behold, simply across the largest square you’ve ever seen was seemingly a miracle. My mom ran over to me and had the brilliant idea of doing the “Blue Mosque” instead! Realizing that the mosque I was looking at was the fabled “Blue Mosque” I proceeded across the square.

Reading my guidebook on the way over there i gleamed that the “Blue Mosque” is really the Sultan Ahmet mosque. It is well known for A) Being right across from Hagia Sophia,  B) One of the largest mosque’s in the world, C) Not only is it one of the world’s largest “active” mosques, it is also one of the only mosques to let non-Muslims inside and finally D) It is nicknamed the “Blue Mosque” because of all the blue tiles inside that give it almost a blue hue.

Yet upon entry I still saw that I had a fatal error in my grand plan, yet again! As it is still active, I was only able to access a tiny portion of it, less than 1/3. This meant that i couldn’t get anywhere near the middle, so I had no way to capture the interior in the 3D way that I planned. I hope it still works!


Just met with Mme Luc.  She and I have just finished editing my website showing many of my photos from Istanbul. You can get to it from here: My Istanbul Excursion.


Have now officially heard about next year’s Personal Project. My adviser is Ms. Adhikari, a great History teacher in the WIS Middle School.


Realized that my photo idea will definitely not work. This is because I didn’t use a stitching program, which i did have built into my camera! This means the the overlap of the photos is too much, but not only that, they don’t line up properly. I took around 400 pictures of the “Blue Mosque” but not from the center, as the center was part of the praying area, and I didn’t use the on-board stitching program on my Canon G10. As a result of my ignorance of the stitching program, I effectively can’t use any of the pictures I had taken in the way I had planned.


I have started to think about my project in a new way, As my original plan is not going to work. I have decided to kill the photos + model and simply separate them. This way I can have photos on the website, and perhaps on my poster thing, but not physically attached to my model. So what I need to focus on is building my model, this way i can still show the Mosque from a architectonic view.


Blew off my personal project for a few days, really need to get started, I have almost nothing except for the pictures and a lot of thinking which is not yet realized.


Did nothing this past week, then I realized that I have less than a month. Decided with my dad that before I can build a model, I have to have a plan (a blueprint). Realizing that he is right I decided to go looking for a cross section or a plan of the Blue Mosque.


Can’t find one single plan of the Blue Mosque. Ironically I can find a bunch for Hagia Sophia. I guess the latter is simply more famous. Contacted the MIT and Harvard Libraries. They were both very helpful and emailed plans of both mosques. My dad picked up 2 very interesting books at the library too the other day, one is called “Mosque” by David Macaulay and the other one is a book on architecture. (My father is an architect.)


Very busy with camp, I am supposed to be over there for 7 weeks straight, but i guess that’s not going to happen! Decided to actually make a plan myself using a popular architectural plan drawing program called ArchiCAD 8. I think i’m going to base the plan off of a vague plan in the David Macaulay book. The mosque in the book is a fictitious mosque in Istanbul, but it makes for a great “general” mosque. The ones MIT and Harvard gave me simply aren’t anywhere near good enough. This is going to be very difficult.


Finished (to the best of my ability) the drawings, I’ve spent about 5+ hours a day working on it. That’s 50 hours, more than double the required for the Personal Project.


Decided with my mom to create a website, and ditch the model aspect all together. No need to complicate an already complicated enough project. I think i’m going to create a website where I can showcase my pictures (some of them) and my plans (which are alone a hard enough project, I basically designed a mosque!). The website will eventually grow to become this one.


From France I have started to design and commence making my website. I’ve started uploading some plans and creating two pieces of art, from a Facebook application called graffiti.


Started building website, adding most of the journal entries so far and the about me section.


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