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Thursday, 23 April 2009
Firetide ducks and the Flowers
Category: The Abstracts
This post is dedicated to Firetide, my workplace and learning centre for the last four years:

These ducks are the lucky mascots for Firetide, the red and black being the colors in the logo too. The flower vase is the one presented to me for completing 4yrs here.

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens, mounted on my new Manfrotto 728B Digi tripod. Ducks are placed on a table glass top for the reflection, with a black cloth in the background. At Av mode, f/5.6, ISO-100, I set a -2 exposure compensation to completely remove the background. Exposure time was 1s. In spite of the exposure bias, I had to use GIMP to remove some wrinkles on the cloth for a clean background.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, 18 June 2009 11:10 AM
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Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Black-winged Kite
Category: Birds 'n Animals

I'd seen this bird a few times while driving around Mysore, but was in no position to take a shot. On this day, while returning from Kozhikode, I saw it again near Gundulpet. This time, I did stop the vehicle and picked up the camera:

I took some more time to identify the bird though! I first thought its a young Indian Eagle, but thought that it has some owl-like features. Finally, a mail to Gowtham resolved the issue (like always, I should add), as he identified it as a Black-winged Kite.

The lens used is Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto, supported by the half-raised window glass. I tried stopping down the aperture this time - to f/8.0 - and was pleased with the image sharpness. To make sure that the camera's exposure-meter is not fooled by the bright background, I used full manual mode with an exposure time of 1/500s. Infact, the Av mode returned smaller exposure times even in the Partial metering mode and I had to experiment with longer exposures to get a shot with good details of the bird's eye. Finally, ISO-200 was needed to make this combination work.

A note to self is to try and use narrower exposures whenever possible, even though every review in the world says the lens is as good at the widest aperture :)


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, 18 June 2009 12:12 PM
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Monday, 13 April 2009
Arecanut Knfie @ Padinharayil
Category: The Abstracts

I spotted this arecanut knife @ Padinharayil, my maternal house in Kozhikode, Kerala, during an offering for the family diety. Guess, its owned by one of the priests who presided over the function:

Both pictures are taken using the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens, hand held, Av mode, f/7.1, -1 EV exposure compensation. The first pic is at 1/250s and the second one @ 1/200s.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Saturday, 16 May 2009 5:42 PM
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Kids @ Padinharayil, 2009
Category: People 'n Portraits
Every year, a day before Vishu, @ our maternal house there is an offering to the family diety. Its indeed a gr8 opportunity to meet the entire family and for me, to click a few shots of the younger generation. I did post some of the pictures last year too from the same function (See the post Kids @ Padinharayil). Here are the pics from this year:

The first pic is of Vaishnav, who had been one of my favorite subjects :) (See the post Vaishnav's Pics).

This is Upasana and everytime she see me with camera she says 'എനിക്ക് ഫോട്ടോ എടുക്കുന്നത് ഇഷ്ടമല്ല' (I dont like taking my photos)! The only chance I have is following her around with the longest lens I have :)

The third one is Devi Parvathy aka Malu and this is the first time I am posting her photos.

All pictures are taken using the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L (macro) lens, handheld, Av mode @ f/3.5. I had ISO-200 turned on only for the first picture, but moved back to ISO-100 for the remaining. Guess, I needed it atleast for the 3rd pic, since Malu was in the shade. The first pic came @ 1/500s, 2nd at 1/200s and the third one @ 1/125s.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:57 PM
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Red, Yellow and Black
Category: The Abstracts

Here is a closer look at a flame, with the myriad of colors, starting from white of the cloth, black, red, yellow, the brown background and black again, from the smoke:

Its taken during a family festival @ my maternal house, using the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens, hand held, ISO-200, Av mode, f/3.5 for a 1/400s exposure.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Friday, 29 May 2009 3:59 PM
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Saturday, 28 March 2009
HDR image from Golden Temple, Bylakuppe
Category: Digital Room
I'd been trying to do High Dynamic Range (HDR) merged pictures for a while now, but was hardly happy with the sharpness I got. This time, @ Golden Temple of Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe in Coorg / Kodagu (during a Nagarhole / Kodagu trip), I thought the pictures were reasonably sharp after the HDR merge:

To get an idea of the lighting situation inside the temple complex, check out the non-HDR images in an earlier post :Golden Temple @ Bylakuppe, from a Dec 2007 visit to the same place. In that picture, the idols are too bright and the remaining portions are dark. This is indeed an ideal situation to try out the HDR technique.

This HDR is created from three pictures, taken using the AEB settings in Canon EOS 400D. I set the AEB to +/- 2EV in Av mode, f/8, ISO-100 for three images, 1/3s for the base image, 1/13s for the dark image and 1.3s for the bright image. The camera was mounted in a tripod with the Canon EF-s 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens @ 31mm.

Dynamic Range is a measure of the camera's capability to collect details from dark as well as bright regions. When the camera's dynamic range is not sufficient enough for a scene, one may use more than one frames with different exposures and merge them using software for a higher dynamic range.

Usually three shots (mid-exposure, under-exposure and over-exposure) are taken but more than three is also possible. All shots should have exactly the same frame but different exposure values. Its advisable to use a tripod for this, since any non-aligment of frames will spoil the merge result. Also, this is possible only for frames with little or no movement. Canon cameras have a setting called Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) which will help to take three different shots with different exposures.

The basic idea of merging is to use the intensity of the image itself as a mask for merging. We should use the mid-exposure image as base and add brighter portions from the under-exposed image as well as the darker portions of the over-exposed image. I have used GIMP to do this but the procedure should be similar in all softwares.

Let me outline the procedure of merging three different exposure pictures for a HDR result in GIMP:

  1. Start with the normal exposure picture (lets call it the base image) and open the Layers Dialogue (Ctrl-L).
  2. Create a new layer (lets name it the 'Dark Layer') and select that layer.
  3. Open the under-exposed picture. Select all (Ctrl-A) and copy (Ctrl-C).
  4. Go back to the base image and paste (Ctrl-V). Go to the layer's dialogue, right click on the pasted layer and 'Anchor Layer'. The pasted layer should merge with the 'Dark Layer'.
  5. Right click on the 'Dark Layer' and 'Add Layer Mask' (default settings will do). Keep the selection on 'Dark Layer'.
  6. Go back to under-exposed picture and convert it to gray scale (Image -> Mode -> Grayscale). Now select all (Ctrl-A) and copy (Ctrl-C).
  7. Go back to the base image and paste (Ctrl-V). Go to the layer's dialogue, right click the pasted layer and 'Anchor Layer'. The pasted layer should now be the layer mask for the 'Dark Layer'.
  8. Right click on the 'Dark Layer' and 'Apply Layer Mask'.
  9. Right click on the 'Dark Layer' and 'Merge Down'.
  10. Create another layer (lets call it 'Bright Layer') and selct that layer.
  11. Open the over-exposed picture, select all (Ctrl-A) and copy (Ctrl-C).
  12. Go back to the base image and paste (Ctrl-V).
  13. Go to the layers dialogue, right click on the pasted layer and 'Anchor Layer'. The pasted layer should now be the 'Bright Layer'.
  14. Right click on the 'Bright Layer' and 'Add Layer Mask' (default settings will do). Keep the selection on 'Bright Layer'.
  15. Go back to over-exposed picture and convert it to gray scale (Image -> Mode -> Grayscale). We need to invert the image. For this open the curves dialogue (Colors -> Curves), move the bottom-left point to top-left and top-right point to botom-right. Save this, select all (Ctrl-A) and copy (Ctrl-C).
  16. Go back to the base image and paste (Ctrl-V). Go to the layer's dialogue, right click the pasted layer and 'Anchor Layer'. The pasted layer should now be the layer mask for the 'Bright Layer'.
  17. Right click on the 'Bright Layer' and 'Apply Layer Mask'.
  18. Right click on the 'Bright Layer' and 'Merge Down'.

The HDR picture is ready. This procedure may be extended to merge more than three pictures as well. To control the layer mask, one can adjust the color curves or edit the gray scale image in step 6 and 15.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Friday, 15 May 2009 4:07 PM
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Friday, 27 March 2009
Black Ibis couple near Hunsur
Category: Birds 'n Animals

Another bird couple picture, this time of a Black Ibis couple near Hunsur on our way to Nagarhole:

The settings are the usual with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens. No tripod, Av mode, f/5.6, ISO-100 and 1/400s. I used partial metering to avoid the camera being mislead due to the bright mid-noon sky in the background.

Black Ibis is not as aquatic as most other species of Ibis, like the Black Headed Ibis so abundantly seen in the agricultural fields around Mysore. Both sexes of the Black Ibis look alike . So, the ones in the picture may be a couple.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, 7 May 2009 12:33 PM
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Red-wattled Lapwing from Nagarhole
Category: Birds 'n Animals

Met this bird while driving along the Nagarhole national park, during a trip to Nagarhole / Thirunelli / Kushal Nagar:

This is a Red-wattled Lapwing, thanks again to Gowtham and John for identifying it. The scientific name of the bird is 'Vanellus indicus' and it has a characteristic loud call, resembling the phrase 'did he do it?'. I initially shot the bird from inside the car, but since it was at a much lower plane, the background came out as distracting. Then I got out of the car and sat on the road for a shot from the same height as the bird :) Fortunately, the bird stayed there for a few shots!

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens, handheld, Av mode, F/5.6 and ISO-400 for a 1/500s exposure. I later did some cropping (3888 to 2400px) and contrast adjustment using GIMP.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Friday, 15 May 2009 1:02 PM
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Sunday, 8 March 2009
Tea Estates @ Meppadi
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes
This pic is the result of taking a different route from Kozhikode to Bangalore / Bengaluru - this time via Meppadi, Vaduvanchal and Gudalur:

This is a bad pic as far as the technical details go ... Av mode f/5.6 (too small a DOF for this landscape ... I should have atleast used the A-Dep mode) ... so I dont have the faraway peak in focus. I would have loved getting a sharper background. It was not the best time for a landscape pic either, with the afternoon sun blazing down.

The pic is taken with the Canon EF-s 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens @ 18mm, handheld with an exposure time of 1/250s. But, somehow, I liked the frame and Preethu liked it too ... So, I ended up doing some brightness / contrast / color adjustment to salvage the picture and this is what I got.

By the way ... the peak in the background is Chembra, the tallest in Wayanad @ 2100m.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, 30 April 2009 8:06 AM
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Bird Couple @ Meppadi
Category: Birds 'n Animals

I spotted this tiny bird couple sitting on a fence surrounding a tea estate near Meppadi:

Thanks to Gowtham for identifying these as Pied Bushchat, with the scientific name 'Saxicola Caprata'. The first two are the female and the last one is the male. Pics are taken using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L in Av mode, f/5.6, handheld, with the car's window glass as support :) The first pic is @ ISO-100 and 1/250s, while the second and third is ISO-200 and 1/400s.

Updated on 3rd April 2009: I had initially posted only the 1st and 3rd picture, but while browsing through the pictures again, I found the 2nd picture better than the one I posted initially :) Hence a 3rd picture in the post.


Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, 30 April 2009 8:09 AM
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