Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day 2: A meet with the Jungle cat!

After an eventful first day in the wonderland of Bharatpur, we all ventured in again the next with loads of hope for that day as well. As we had deferred the plan of going for boating for another day we again ended up in having no fixed plan in place. Almost a kind of 'shoot at sight' methodology. For me, I was just recovering from last days extravaganza and for God sake not wanted any more yet again in the morning :).I wanted some time to settle the feeling that I had experienced the last day.

Morning was welcomed by the usual mist and as and when I say a first jackal, I jumped out from the cycle rickshaw and went into the grassland to better its image! Then realised that in fact there were 4 of them. After successful a stalking ended up in having 'none'! But in the mean time found a good flock of yellow footed green pigeons perched on a dead tree.I had never seen so many of them together. Very lovely birds.

When I was back on the cycle, just a few yards ahead Shiv and Pramod were busy in hunting for Spotted Owlet.The rickshaw walas told that there are three of them!

As my luck with these small owlets was not that great, I decided to try my luck again and joined the other two who were waiting for them to show up from the hole in a dead tree trunk. Enjoyed the company with them and as guests we had a Hoopoe and three black rumped flamebacks as well.

By the time the Sun came up on our head we had decided to explore the 'brick road'. As the name says this small pathway is made up using bricks and it forms a boundary between the marshy land and the open scrub forest with a patch of small grasslands as well. The trees grown on both sides of the path way makes it a very nice location.

When we were walking on this brick road we saw something very far coming on the path directly towards us! Initially I thought it could be a Jackal, then Shiv saw this through his 600mm (300mm+2x) and said - "hay...its a Jungle Cat". I was thrilled. All three became statue the next moment, not moving an inch. The handsome came for few feet in the same way and then decided to get away from the road and went towards the marshy land. All three waited for nearly 45 min for it to come back. The wait went in vein.

As Shiv and Pramod decided to explore other possibilities around they have decided to head back. I stayed there...sitting alone silently. After some 5 min, I heard the ducks in the marsh flying away making lot of noise. I thought the Cat might have attacked them. Then the chances of returning to the place where I was waiting for it started looking gloomy. I decided to wait further to try my luck and so kept on was noon and was calm everywhere.

I was feeling the silence and just sitting quietly. Then I saw a mongoose coming in the same way the as the Cat had come. I thought something is better than nothing and kept looking at it through the viewfinder. It looked brave and came quite close before disappearing into the tall grass on my left side.

As it turned away, I just turned my lens view to my right just casually and what I saw made me thrilled.....two eyes....glowing eyes....which are starring at me.... It took me sometime to recover from that thrill and realize what I was seeing!! It was a Jungle Cat! First time in my life I am seeing that close! What a charm!! I went full 'fidaa' on those eyes. It starred at me for some time before it started crawling to the other side of the road! God saved me from fainting after seeing that crawl!!

After having this prize for the day, I realised that it is already 1:30 and we had to get back to the cycle rickshaw where our food would arrive and we had decided to have food at the "Kevaladev Temple' premise. After a round of small rest we went to the watch tower to have a view.

Evening plan was not fixed. I was thinking to try some luck with 'Jackals with Sunset' kind of opportunity. So decided to stick to the main road which is quite good for witnessing the sunset from some points and if one is lucky he will get to see some mammals as well in the foreground.

As my luck was shining that day got some images which I wanted to make. Even though not perfect as I wanted but got some images which made me happy at the end of the day.

Many times I had tried making images with controlled out of focus of the subject either by deliberately focusing on something in the foreground or my manually out of focusing the subject. That evening, when the sun fully set and the light was dim, there were couple of Nilgais around in the grassland and the very soft light was tempting me to try experiment some images which may give a painting like feel. I tries several attempts and happy with some of them where I think it imparts some kind of canvas feel to the image. In the below image the focus on the grass was intentional to make the Nilgai behind it slightly out of focus which gave it a very unsharpen-soft feel. The trees and branches behind along with the grass are imparting a nice mood to me in the image.

All in all a very lucky day for me which gave some unique and rare experiences in the wild...and what made me even more happy was yet again! :)


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 1: Ahh!!.... wow!!....Oh My GOD!!....and Silence!

I hardly slept the previous night due to the excitement and the anticipation for the next day! The day I always wanted to - my first day in Bharatpur. I had built up loads of hopes about that place. About the light, the location, the opportunities that one gets and what I was afraid of was the fact that whenever I went out setting the expectation high, I always ended up a bit disappointed! Thats why I had stopped setting expectations. But this one was irresistible. Without my obvious knowledge the expectations were set within me and I realized that only the previous night when I was thinking about how I am gonna shoot, without actually being there even once! Because of my past bitter experiences I just set those thoughts aside and tried to sleep calmly...but....failed!

6:15 and my cycle wala Birender Singh was there with two of his friends who will be with Pramod and Shiv. These cycle rickshaw walas are very knowledgeable people and Ganesh had told me that Birender is one amazing guy when it comes to spotting and identifying a specie. After a couple of days I came to know that he has an experience of 17 years in birding and by then I had already realized his immense knowledge about that place. So, after having a cup of costly tea (in-fact very costly !!) at our hotel we hit the road towards the entrance and it was lovely misty. I always enjoy mist a lot. For me it open up hell a lot of opportunities to do many kinds of images. Its tough but I enjoy it.

After taking the tickets to enter the park we hit the main road and it was looking surreal. The Sun was just coming up and the misty atmosphere was adding to the mood a lot. I was lost. I had no idea what to photograph! Spent some time feeling the moment, then decided to take the camera out and it was then I realized the temp was around 6-8 deg! My hands started freezing before I freeze any moments in my camera :)!

Before moving forward tried making some images of the morning mist with Sun but as it was my first day most of the experiments were not worth sharing! Decided to dedicate a full morning on one of the next mornings only for landscape and abstract compositions as the strategy for the day was cover as much area as possible just for the sake of seeing the place and then deciding on where and how to spend the rest of the days.

After few yards got an opportunity to make an image of the Rose Ringed Parakeet with the crescent moon behind it. Made some experimentations but not very much satisfied with the result. The problem was, by the time I realized the opportunity the sun was going up fast and the light was getting bright very fast. So I had very less time to experiment before the crescent moon just vanished in the bright blue sky.

As Birender was telling me that it is the time for the Jackals to come out and we can expect Jackals even on the road, the very next moment we spotted a brave Jackal coming on the road. Self and Shiv jumped out of the cycle and got alerted to make some 'into the lens' kind of images of Jackals. It came nearer, nearer and nearer and went just beside us and all the time it had kept an eye on both of us and we were glued to the TTL (through the lens) view before it came too close for our lenses to focus! Phew! What an experience to start off the day! I had never seen a Jackal till then and what a way to see the first Jackal!

The beauty about Bharatpur and the fact that I love the most is that you can go on foot almost anywhere around as if the place is your backyard and it is this which allows you to make the images with different perspectives. I love this place more then any other only because of this. The light will be fantastic till 10:30 in the morning and till 12:00 you can easily shoot with good light. The light starts becoming soft and wonderful from 2:00 itself and the evenings from 5:00 onwards is more than sufficient to go MAD! Yes I literally went mad that day when I witnessed the golden light of the evening.

After spending some good time around Sapan Mori lake we had our lunch at around 1:30PM. Birender had bring the lunch for all from the hotel we stayed and we had some rest in the noon around the Keolodeo Temple! "Keolodeo"?? What kind of name is it?? And it is a Hindu temple!! I always wondered about these questions! the name surely doesn't sound like that of a Hindu GOD, but then it is a temple! I was totally puzzled from many days. Finally that day I came to know that the temple is of "Keval dev". And those British people who ruled the area called that one as "Keolodeo" for their ease of pronunciation!! Shame! But happy that I got the answer.

Afternoon plan was to search for Sarus!! Last days scenes were still fresh in my mind and needless to say i was excited. We set out to look for them around Kadam Kunj and Hans sarovar. The light was getting better and better and it was then the cycle wala of Shiv waved his hands to come fast as he had seen a pair of Sarus in Hans Sarovar area..... It was a slightly marshy land... After making some images from distant we three decided to spend the whole evening there itself and planned to approach the bird. Shiv was the first one to step into the marshy looking lake and it was not as marshy as we thought. Easily walkable it was.

Our strategy was not to have the eye contact with the bird and to move closed when the pair was busy eating something from ground, may be some grains, shoots and insects which they often eat....slowly...slowly and very slowly we approached inches by inches and the male always kept an eye on us and allowed female to graze without any fear! We were waiting for both of them standing heads up but they were doing that on a rotation basis! Damn!! :) We held our nervous and approached slowly and directly towards them. One point came when the whole bird was just filling the whole frame. Stepping any further would either cut its toe or head in the frame!! I couldn't believe my eyes that we were so near!

We three all decided to take the converter out and shoot from bare 300mm lens! What an opportunity it was!! We did the same by going couple of feet more close! The birds seem un-disturbed and kept on feeding. Then we decided to take another challenge! To go back without flying them away! The birds are very sensitive to brisk motions irrespective of the direction! So it takes almost same time to go away from them if you make such decisions that we made! We became extremely cautious as we all felt it is equally important to back off without disturbing them. Then after some time....there we are back to the same bund where we started and the pair was still grazing happily as if we hadn't gone near to them at all!! Ah! A mission well accomplished for three of us! In-fact five of us?? (including the Sarus pair!! :))

The light was getting golden and couple of Nilgais are grazing in the brown grass which was lit beautifully in the evening light! Some Mynas are having a jolly ride on their backs. The Nilgais were lifting their head often to have a look on us! Enjoyed some time photographing them.

I turned towards the Sarus again to see how it was looking in the back lit condition when the yellow light makes the whole atmosphere glow and I saw that the male is stretching its neck!!! Oh My God!! Its gonna call now.... I just turned my lens towards that and immediately it started calling loud!! Oh what a sight it was!! Then wait..... just in a moment the female finally lifted its head and synchronized its sound in that of males!! I was not on the ground!! Lucky that I was ready to freeze the entire sequence which ended in few 10-15 seconds! The golden glow of the grass the yellow light from the back and the stretched neck of the pair and their loud voices each and every aspect is still green in my memories and I am sure whenever I see the below image, it takes me to the exact moment where I almost went into Nirvana!

After this unforgettable experience, we realized that our cycle walas were calling for us as it was the time to return! Damn!! the day went like anything.... we never realized!!

On the way back the sun set was looking fantastic and a lone cormorant was sitting on top an artistic perch witnessing the sunset alone......

The day was ended.... with loads of memories (and memory cards as well ;-) ) etched into the minds which will go a long way in remembering my first day in the dreamland called
B H A R A T P U R!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Day of Travel - & - the first date with the Sarus!

I was nervous! It was the beginning of my first shoot in North India. I had heard a lot from fellow photographers that the light there will be amazing and one can shoot almost the entire day! I hardly believed that...until, I went to Bharatpur! Many of beliefs were lined up to get destroyed, without my knowledge! My understanding of many things were about to get changed, unknowingly!

After we landed in Delhi airport, once the waiting was over for all the other members we headed towards Bharatpur. After a sluggish start on Delhi road, thanks to the traffic, once we reached the Agra highway, the light started becoming soft. When I looked at time, it was still 2:30 in the noon. Never in my life I had seen that beautiful light at that time in the afternoon! We were tempted to stop at many small jheels where there were plenty of Black winged stilts and other waders, but because of time crunch, we decided to move ahead till we stopped for lunch. Then after a round of discussion the team decided to stop on the next best shooting location on the way as we all knew that by the time we reach Bharatpur it will be dark. So we were on a hunt for a place along the high way which leads us to Bharatpur.

Nothing very interesting came on the way and we were almost convinced that we had lost some of the very good opportunities along the way before we stopped for lunch! I was very much enjoying the mustard fields which are glowing in the evening sun with their yellow flowers. The color arrangement of the greens and yellow was looking fantastic in the evening light. I was just thinking how would it be if I see a Sarus Crane pair in this field, with their red head up among the green-yellow fields! I was in my own world, dreaming and looking both the sides and enjoying the evening, camly.....till... I shouted - 'Sarus....Sarus'.

All the three vehicles stopped immediately. There was a pair of Sarus Crane in the dry field. It was the first time in my life that I was seeing them...I always wanted to...what magnificent birds they are... truly beautiful. I was amazed. Always I knew that they are beautiful but never I had thought that they are this much attractive! 'Love at first sight' for me, even though I dont believe in that phrase!

After struggling to get some good images and a failure to cross a nallah to go into the field, I was returning to my Jeep then Nilanjan pointed me the way to get into the field and told that Ganesh and Nurdeen are already half way n the field! I reached 0-60kmph in just 3 sec (hehehe joking!) and joined them withing few min. Panting heavily, managed to shoot some frames handheld, as I dint bring the tripod in the hurry. Then after recovering for some mins we started approaching the birds slowly. Got some good images in the process before they prepared for a take off!

Ah! What an experience it was to go behind the Sarus. Felt worth every heavy breath after looking at those beauties from that close.

I was very happy that I saw that bird from that close. I never knew even in my dreams that there is a much more interesting stalking in the days to come!!

Reached Bharatpur at 6:30 and it was dark and cold.

Started dreaming about the next five days at 10:30PM!!

Much more to come!!

- Ash

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back from Bharatpur!

Just came back yesterday from Bharatpur trip and I am still recovering from the hangover of the place.You should be there to experience. I literally exhausted photographing there! Honestly even one month of continuous shooting is also not sufficient to do justice for the place. The mood and the perspective it throws in is just unbelievable.
Nearly 60GB of RAW images to go through! A marathon task for me and it was my first photo shoot trip to North India. Never in my dreams I expected that I will shoot this much!

Thinking to write different posts covering each day. This is just the beginning. I
have just started processing the images. Will start sharing them here as and when I complete them.

Starting off with some of these images.

Hope you enjoy.

See you again soon,
- Ash

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Finally Oxygenated!

As of my last post I was struggling to get the internet transferred to my new home and within few days of that post I finally got the net back! Feeling good! Finally I am oxygenated! :-)

The winter mornings here are becoming better and better. I always had wish of photographing T.G.Halli in misty weather and making images of dew covered butterfly. At last I am able to fulfill that wish in past couple of weeks.

On first Saturday of November when I had been to T G Halli it was very very misty. The place was looking surreal! The experience there was awesome and I got challenged by the attempt to make landscapes! Even though I have done some landscape images in the past but most of them were of the sunset time which I was pretty comfortable with. But this kind of mood capturing was a new challenge to me. I was experiencing a surreal joy in that place but all my attempts to capture that mood in the camera were going in vein! I was not happy with the results! Making landscapes in such situations is not that easy! A good learning from the failure! This is the reason I love to fail.... I learn the things.....

Last weekend was another wish coming true! - Dew covered butterfly! I always amazed by looking at Ganesh 's images of dew covered butterfly as to how beautiful they are and how wonderfully he has captured them in the image!

After our plan to Nandi Hills crashed because of last minute change, myself and Naga headed to T.G.halli last Saturday in search of dew and the beauties! We were there at 5:30 and the ambiance was fabulous! We had almost 40-50 min before the first rays of light actually hit the ground! Everywhere it was misty and it was looking heavenly!

Finally made few images which I always dreamt of! Satisfied and Happy!

Planned to visit Bharathpur and Ranathambore on the last week of this month.
Hoping for some good time in Bharathpur!

It feels good to be back.....on Net!

- Ash

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Network - still unplugged!!

After settling down in the new place there began a new challenge for me - to get the landline and the broadband connections transferred to the new place! It is becoming a greater and greater challenge day by day. At last two days back finally we got the dial tone in the receiver!! But.... with the change of number!! (Oh Nooooo!!!) Now again have to fight with them to regain the same old number to which I had my precious broadband connection! I dont know when this fight is gonna end!! I am sure your wishes are with me!! ;-)

Mean while there are couple of updates from my side to share.
Soon after the launch of Chandrayan, we launched the second version of CNP (Creative Nature Photography). This has better look and feel than the earlier version. Thanks to Pramod and Shiv who took all the technical pain in designing this.
The office work held me down for almost continuous three weeks including the weekends and almost no photography at all !!! ( is true!!) Finally last Sunday broke this fast and headed to T G Halli with Adkoli and had some good time there.

For the software geeks I have a question here: I tried to use Nikon Capture NX to process my images from D300 and when ever I open a RAW image in NX it opens with beautiful vivid colors and looks great! But the Color Space is Nikon Adobe RGB which eventually have to be converted into sRGB to post on the web or even to print. Now, when I process the image (Levels/Curves etc) and at the end when I convert the color profile to sRGB I see a considerable shift in the colors! I am not able to understand why there is so much of a difference in the color space! When ultimately one has to convert to sRGB(either for web or to print) why on earth they show the image in the Nikon Adobe RGB format which looks so much beautiful, but eventually useless!!!! I am totally puzzled now!! If you have any solution for this - like how to preserve the same colors which appear in the Nikon Adobe RGB profile I would be very obliged to try that out with a bunch of heart filled thanks from my side!

Ok, that was for software geeks!.... Last weekend had some good session with D300 and have to learn a lot! I feel I am still using it as my D80, and not exploring the other possibilities of the body.... time to do some learning....

Deepavali - the festival of light - light is everywhere outside! In the day and now in the night as well. Yesterday evening tried some attempts to capture the festive mood in the sky. May be I will write about that in my next blog... and hopefully from home...after getting connected !!!

Till then... one more battle is left!

Wish me!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Busy in Nest Shifting!!

Life has become bit busy!

Acquired Nikon D300. But ever since life has become busy as we started shifting our home! Shifting home is a pain! and off late I have realised that there is a rule of thumb that you will lose one or the other things (mostly the important ones!!) in the process of packing and unpacking. Where does those things go?? - No idea! Law of conservation of Energy (perhaps 'things'?) seems to get deceived in this process as we cannot account for the disappearance of the things in the transit! I am yet to fig out whats my stake this time!

On a related note, while discussing with one of my colleagues I was mentioning that shifting home is like building a new software from scratch! (Perhaps you will have the framework - the boundaries of house!) All the old database (of where the things are at home) in your mind will become obsolete and you need to define new data structures and build a totally new database altogether, from scratch! Bugs in the design are a kind of prone in the initial stages as there will be trials and errors to finally make the things stabilize! :)

In the discussion I was mentioning that the Software Management Processes that the software Industries follow (like CMMI Level 5 etc) , something similar may help in this process as well. Like - Feasibility Study [Studying as to all the major things will occupy proper places or not].Documenting before you start packing the things and have a clear cut idea as to where exactly these things will be placed at the new place [Like what the Process tells - make the Design Document before you actually design! :)]. Then calling for a review (!!) from family members and reviewing/incorporating their comments! And then going ahead with implementation. This helps in finding the things while unpacking and saves time in thinking where to keep what! At the end it all depends on how much time you have to complete the shifting! ;) [ Time to Market - Lesser the time , more the deviation from the process!! :)]

So I am in the process of unpacking my things. I have to fig out what and all have disappeared! Till now everything seems to be Ok.
In the mean time made a small trip around to test D300. Some results are shared here.

Need to arrange the things.... Office is calling on weekends.... Winter misty mornings are calling outside....

...... and I am busy updating my database........