Thursday, December 23, 2010

Along the shores of Mulky and Marevanthe...

West coast of India was always high on my list to photograph. Though not very far from Bengaluru (just a night journey by bus) I somehow couldn't make it all these time since I started photography.

But this time thanks to my friend Anush Shetty who initiated the thought of doing a shore birding around Udupi and Kundapura, I could make it happen. Our another friend Vinayakumar T also joined the team. It was fun.

After initial planning we contacted Shivashankar M and Ramit who regularly do birding around Karkala and Udupi for giving us some pointers as to when to go for what and what to expect in which place. Both of them were very helpful and they accompanied us on our visit to St.Mary's island on the evening of the first day.

The plan was to visit Mulky in the morning which has some nice mangrove forest around and thats where we can find the waders in good number. After getting down at Udupi and having our breakfast we took the bus towards Mulky and we were at Mulky by 7:45AM. Locals call the mangroves as 'Kandla-vana'.

We were greeted by a Stork Billed Kingfisher (but no good images) as soon as we got down from an auto-rickshaw. From the place where we got down from the Auto we could see the mangrove forest and the waders were all around. Initially we sighted only few, like Common Redshank, Common sandpipers and few commons like Little egret and Small Blue Kingfishers. But the uncommon for us was the Little Green Heron which made sure that it didn't come into too much open but gave us a very good sighting opportunity.

After a walk for few yards, Vinaya pointed out a good white patch on what seemed to be like an island. Wow! They were all roosting waders! There were Lesser Sand Plovers, Greater Sand Plovers, Sanderlings, Terek Sandpipers, Redshanks and few others as well.

The road towards that part of the backwater was not straight. In fact there was no road at all! We went to a nearby home and entered the mangrove from there on. My initial thought was that the water may be little deep and we may not be able to go much far. But it was not!

Soon we came out on the other side of the mangrove and it was like heavenly setting for photography. The light was excellent and the scene was amazing. You will have sea on one side and clear shallow water on the other and birds also didn't seem to shy!

All three of us enjoyed thoroughly and since it was first time for all of us w.r.t. waders and shore birds, we spent some time learning about few identification as well.

For photography there were plenty of things to do but my focus this time was mainly birding. It had been quite some time since I did some serious birding and I was enjoying the process. It was mesmerizing there on the backwaters of Mulky.

By the time we slowly exhausted the Sun had already come quite high and we were slowly started feeling the heat. But being there in winter has that advantage of not getting exposed to scorching sunlight and heat. It was pleasant the whole day, at least for me. But Anush might have a different opinion. :)

Apart from many of the waders we sighted good number of Blue Tailed Bee Eaters and Brahminy Kites. An unidentified snipe flew away when we were walking in the nearby paddy field. The skulky bird that we saw in the mangrove might have been a Rail. But no clear sighting.

But for us the morning was made. Very good number of birds and most of them are rare in and around Bangalore. So it was a refreshing morning for all of us and the next thing we all wanted was some food! It was clocking 11:30 by that time.

Afternoon was planned to spend on St.Mary's island. Shivashankara and Ramit had told us that they would be joining and they did. At 4:00PM we were standing in the queue to board the ferry which was taking us to the island which is about 45 min ride from the shore.

The light was fading slowly and the sky was empty. Shivashankara and Ramit had told us that there are chances of sighting Great Crested Terns around the island and there exists a roost as well. We were excited and had our eyes open. But for our misfortune there were not even a single bird on the roosting spot and none in the sky as well.

St.Mary's island is an excellent place for a landscape photographer. There are innumerable opportunities for various types of landscape photography. Since it was a birding tour to me I deliberately travelled without my tripod. Hence I was limited by my chances of making some seascapes. You would be seeing some of my seascapes from this trip in the upcoming updates on Landscape Wizards.

While we were on our way back, we sighted three Terns far off in the sky. 'Looking at the size, they may be Crested or Caspian Terns' Shivashankara told. The day had ended for us with a very good number of waders in the morning and a fantastic sunset at St.Mary's island. It was time to head to Kundapura where we stayed at Anush's grandma's house(or a bungalow?) which was at around 10 kms from Kundapura and had plans to explore Marevanthe beach the next day. When I was closing my eyes the atmosphere around was resonating with the calls of Nightjars.

After sipping a lovely morning tea we headed towards Marevanthe beach. It was a partly cloudy day and by the time we reached Marevanthe it was around 6:45AM. Marevanthe being a plain beach with not much rocks around poses a less chance of seeing much waders. We were hoping for some Gulls or Terns which come near the shore at times. But during our walk in the morning along the beach not much birds were sighted. A Common Greenshank proved a good friend who gave some good images for all of us. :)

Except for Little Green Bee Eaters and few Brahminy Kites the prominent bird was a lone White Bellied Sea Eagle which flew past when I was having a wide angle on my camera. It was a nice sighting and Anush was bestowed with a nice image of the massive bird.

I was intrigued by the crabs on the shore. They looked funny to me. They were swift and run quite fast. They used to vanish out of sight within no time into the small holes that they had made all over. They sometime used to run into some waves and run away from some ways! It was fun photographing some of them.

When we were on our way back we say quite a good number of white fliers which might be Gulls of Terns who were flying far far away. The entire morning was not much fruitful from birding perspective but the Mangalore Buns that we ate in the morning after this birding made us forget everything else. :)

While coming back from the entire trip I was thinking: 'Yeah! What they say in the add of Karnataka Tourism is true!'

"Karnataka ~ One State Many Worlds!"

Much to explore!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Its up...Its LIVE...Its here... Enter The Trails...

Click on the above image to enter into the world of breathtaking landscapes!

" 5 Elements, 5 Senses, 5 Seasons, 5 Wizards but one Passion its Landscape Wizards

The Evolution of the trails... "

Finally Its here my dear folks. We, the Team Wizards have come up with a brand new home i.e. a brand new site.

The best part of it is that you can not only enjoy some of the unique landscape imagery from the Team but also can join the forum where like minded people discuss about various aspects of Landscape Photography and share their images as well. No such forum existed in India which is completely dedicated for Landscape Photography. So if you are a landscape photographer or an enthusiast this would be THE forum for you to hone your skills and enjoy the journey. 


Let there be good light!

Monday, November 29, 2010

From Pilani to Taj

To submit my dissertation which I did in order to fulfill my MS degree, I had to travel to BITS, Pilani.  Instead of making it a pure examination trip, I decided to spice it up by clubbing a small visit to Jaipur and Agra along with my parents. Even though each of these places are worth staying for months to photograph, my stay there for a mere one day or two was in no way making any justice for the beauty of these places.

A clay art on the wall, Jaipur

After some grueling viva session at BITS, I went on my way to Jaipur which took me four and a half hours to reach using a local bus. It was quite an experience.

Students on their way to school in a local auto rickshaw, Pilani 

In the time of just four days I had touched four states - Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttara Pradesh and Delhi! (Whoa!!)

Colorful crafts for sale, Jaipur

Two nights and a day at Jaipur, then couple of days in Agra and then back to Delhi to board the flight towards my homeland in South - this was the plan. Since I was with my parents I dint have much luxury to explicitly buy some time to photograph. I had to be quick in seeing the opportunity and transforming them into meaningful images.

My mother listening anxiously to a palm reader and my father helping her translate Hindi

I didn't do travel photography till then. So it was quite a challenge for me. I was not used to take the camera out in public. I hate public attention. But in order to make travel photography this aspect was a must. Initially I was a bit reluctant but within couple of  hours I went normal and my eyes started seeing frames.

This is the very first of the series which I will be presenting from my trip to these places.

The one and only!

 It was a completely different journey for me. A road where I had not been before and a place that was completely alien to me as a photographer.

A self portrait - inside Jaipur Palace 

Here I was, a Nature Photographer who was trying to find frames in the jungles of the historical architectures amidst the rich colors of cultural diversity.

Hope you enjoy this journey with me.

More coming soon...


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yana - yet again!

Yana is a place where almost every photographer has failed!!  

We started from Sirsi at around 6:00AM but by the time we reached Yana, it was 12:30PM!! The road to Yana is so beautiful that we couldn't stop ourselves from getting down and shooting on several occasions!

The streams were flowing in their full beauty through the lush green woods and the wet forest floor was adding more colors to the already vivid ambiance.

It drizzled, it rained, we got slightly wet but nothing stopped us from enjoying making images.

The road to Yana itself is a beauty! You will be driving amidst very thick evergreen forest and at some places roads were laid without cutting a single tree and hence they were very curvy!

When we finally reached Yana it was mid noon. Soon after, a thin layer of low level clouds started to gather and covered the rocks and the forest around.

It is very difficult to capture the sense of massiveness of those rocks. Till date I have not seen any single image which can even come closure to the actual feel of the massiveness of those magnificent rock formations. There are reasons to it!

In order to give the sense of anything (like height, massiveness etc) using a photograph we normally need a scale to compare. For example how much high a structure may be but in a photograph it is felt only when you make a normal person stand beside it and then our mind compares the height and gets a sense of the real height of the structure. Otherwise if we present the structure independently there is no way one can get the sense of its height.

This is precisely why NatGeo Photographer Micheal 'Nick' Nichols, while shooting the tallest tree on earth, made few people stand at certain heights on the tree. The image was published in last year's October issue. That image was a five sheet spread!! I was jaw dropped when I saw that for the first time. I had never seen anything like that till then. You can see a small video of its making and the image at the end HERE.

This is the exact same reason why every photograph of the rocks of Yana fail to give the sense of their massiveness. If you have not gone there yet then believe me the rocks are far far more massive than how they look in any image on the web. You will go breathless at least once and your heart would skip a beat for sure. Take my word!

We tried to concentrate on a lone tree which has succeeded in growing at that height, but then how do you depict the size of the tree? There are smaller trees and there are taller trees. So which one is this? How much is its approximate height? How do you portray that in your image?

There needs a massive amount of work to be done, similar to the one by Nick Nichols, to capture the sense of enormity of the size of those marvelous rocks of Yana and that is not at all easy!

That's why I had told in the beginning - 
Yana is a place where almost every photographer has failed!! 

Hoping to be successful sometime...


Note: You can find my older accounts of Yana HERE. 


Friday, October 22, 2010

"Be bold and be creative" is the message

Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year which is popularly known as BBC Wildlife Photographer of the year results are out. You can find them HERE.

As I was going through the winning images Gallery I felt one thing for sure...the juries are making statements with some of their selections.

Bence Mate, a 26 year young Wildlife photographer from Hungary won the Overall Winner award for his amazing image of leaf cutter ants of Costa Rican rainforest.

My friend Nilanjan Das has won Runner up in 'Nature in Black and White' section for his black buck in the storm image. You can find it HERE.

Some of the winning images are very unconventional. For example THIS image of a Polar Bear which won the first place in 'Animal Portraits'! A picture without the head of an animal! How bold the photographer would have been to submit this image to the competition! This fact itself makes a statement that there are people out there who are really challenging the traditional norms of photography. By choosing this image as a winner the juries have silently made a statement that animal portraits doesn't necessarily mean a sharp, clean, closeup image of an animal. That has been done to death and now start looking beyond that.

Not only this particular image but there are several others of them which stand as a testimony to the creativity and boldness exhibited by the photographer. Hats off to the juries for identifying such efforts and showing the world a different set of refreshing images which tell the stories in their own different ways.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

So close yet so far!

It feels terrible to be so close and yet so far! The pain manifolds when the goal was something you have been dreaming for! And i have felt the pain!

This image of mine was in the finals of BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2010, under the category - 'Wild Places'. It didn't make it to the podium however.

BBC WPOTY awards are the most prestigious awards in the field of Nature Photography. This was the first time I had submitted my images to the contest. Out of thirteen images that I submitted six made their way to the semis and one to the final.

BBC awards will be announced on Oct 21st in their site. They have put up a teaser now in their site which show some of the highly commended images in the contest.
Great to see Sandesh Kadur's image in the preview and feels proud to know another friend of mine who has won a prize this time!

Asking me, who is he?   Wait till 21st... :) 

For the sneak preview of some of the Highly Commended images CLICK HERE.


Monday, September 13, 2010

In search of a waterfall

It was not in my list until I called up Sunil,my cousin, just the previous day of my travel. "Benne holey is a nice place is what I have heard. I think we can complete it by noon and we can have our lunch at our home in Tattisara". These were his words.
As Pramod was joining my trip the next day, I had one day extra with me and I wanted to explore some new places where I have not yet been. So Benne holey sounded a good proposal by him.

Though I was brought up in Yellapur, Sirsi had been my second home (and my birth place too). Almost all my relatives are in and around Sirsi. So being in such a place and acting like a newcomer to the town is hard to me. But I have to undergo this state at least once every year when I am there exclusively to shoot. Sunil knows it well. So he came to pick me up from the bus stand at 7:00 in the morning and we headed straight to one of the restaurants to have some food. It took around 30min to get out from there and hit the road towards Kumta.

It was drizzling. The ground and the greens around were wet. Low level clouds were moving quite fast. Light was changing every now and then. I was excited. It was almost a perfect condition how I wanted it to be. Cloudy days are the best to shoot inside the forest as they reduce the contrast.

While we were driving in the Bandla Ghat, I spotted a nice stream beside the road. It was slightly inside the green foliage. We halted our car and I went to examine the place. It looked promising. I was tempted enough to take my camera out and start making some images. It was quite slippery all around.

The water from the place crosses the road from beneath and flows onto the other side of the road. It flows beside a huge Banyan tree and its roots were looking quite amazing.

We spent nearly one hour there photographing various aspects. I am huge fan of ferns and few ferns there were very beautiful.

It was after an hour when we realized that we might get late to the final point and started from this place. If you are destined to reach a place late you will reach late however fast you go! :) That's what happened!

From the very first turn itself our car was not able to climb a small uphill and we were forced to leave it behind and started walking towards the water fall. The path was nice and the forest was full of life. It was bustling with the calls of Cicada and a Malabar Whistling Thrush was in full mood of singing!

After a walk of about a kilometer, we finally met first human on the road! He was heading towards the road with couple of cows.

We asked him how much more we need to walk to get to the falls and his reply was "You are very near. Barely another kilometer or so!". At that point of time we had no other choice but to believe him! We started again.

As we go deep inside the forest was haunting! There was no sign of any human settlement, expect the road where we were heading. To make the matter worse it was drizzling occasionally and we had bare minimum protection from rain.

We walked and walked and walked....kept on stepping.....the road seemed endless! By the time we almost exhausted we had come about 5 kilometers! Now we could hear the roar of the falls from distance.

While visiting any of the waterfalls in the Western Ghats for photography, one thing to remember is to look out for other small streams on the way to the main falls. Photographically many a times these small streams prove to me small wonders! The same thing has happened that day. We were almost half a kilometer away from the falls and a small stream caught my attention. It was looking more beautiful because of the wild flowers around it. I thoroughly enjoyed the scene and made some images. Sunil was capturing some good movie as he is a professional videographer.

The roar of the falls was getting higher and higher for each step towards it. After a point where we couldn't even see it, we started fearing that with this much full slow whether it is possible to get even the glimpse of the falls! It is notorious anyways because of few mischief people who had lost their lives, the latest one being just a few months ago!

The roar was really strong. We came to a point where we hit a small junction where we could see two roads, one leading to an open space with only few more steps and other which was leading down the valley. By that time we were quite exhausted by our long walk and no food, and the with that much roar we thought it was not possible to reach the base anyways! So we decided to head towards the open space to have a glance of the source of the roar!

Benne holey Falls as seen from the top

As we went near we could realize how tall the falls was. It was literally horrifying! The sound waves that were hitting us were inducing more fear. We couldn't stand there for more than 10minutes. We were forced to head back! The falls was quite furious! It was as if we had disturbed its meditation! We didn't want to take any more chance! We started heading back.

The streams in the forest carry very sweet water! I have tasted it many times. Crystal clear and sweet as sugar! I drank plenty of water near the stream where I had photographed while going. I had just fell in love with that place. That time it was raining quite heavily. I was in no mood to take shelter! We started heading towards the place where we had stopped the car.

While coming back we searched for the man who had told us that the falls is barely a kilometer away! I wanted to clear his misunderstanding! :) For his good fortune, we couldn't find him!

We were thinking of heading back by 11:30 or 12:00 and when I saw my watch after sitting in the car, it was showing 2:45PM! No food....only the sweet water from the stream had kept us alive all the way for 12 kms of arduous path!

Long live Western Ghats!