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Monday, 9 May 2011
Zooming in on a Rain Tree flower
Category: Macro World

Its been a while since I did any photography when I am not travelling. A beautiful evening and some free time in the office changed it!

I am guilty of not making good use of my macro lens - Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L. I have used it more for portraits and less for macros. Now, with the rain tree (Samanea Saman) next to our office terrace in full bloom, the lighting just about perfect and a tripod in my possession, it was time to try out the life size macro.

I mounted the macro lens on the Manfrotto 728B Digi tripod and used the manual mode. The best aperture width for this lens is around f/7.1 and it made sense for this shot as well. Even though, I had a tripod, it was slightly breezy and I had to choose a shutter speed of atleast 1/100s to avoid the blur. This meant that the ISO had to be kept at ISO-400.

This is also the time I realized that my camera (EOS 400D) is quite outdated. On trying out Amit's EOS 500D, I saw the benefits of upgrading - better ISO, a very bright display and amazing features like live preview. In his camera, I could go for a 10x zoom on the live preview and focus precisely on what I wanted. Anyways, the pic here is taken with my old EOS 400D after a few attempts to get the focus right. The aim was to get the pollens at the bottom in focus and get some bokeh for the ones at the top. Guess, I somehow managed that :)

Posted by usandeep at 12:12 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2011 9:04 PM
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Wednesday, 4 May 2011
Draco - the flying lizard from Thattekad
Category: Birds 'n Animals

I took a stop at Thettekad during the Valparai - Athirapally - Rajamalai trip. Reached there by about 10 in the morning, only to find that the tourist season is not yet started. This means, there will not be any guides to take me around. In spite of that, I decided to check out the bird sanctuary on my own. In hindsight, it turned out to be a good choice!

While, wandering within the sanctuary limits, I spotted something gliding in front of me and landing on the nearby tree. It took me a while to even spot the creature, brilliantly camouflaged by the tree - it was a lizard!

The pics come from the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens. The lens was not ideal in this low light condition. Even in Av mode, ISO-800, f/6.3, I needed a 1/160s exposure. I was not very hopeful to get a sharp picture with the heavy lens handheld at this shutter speed, but was lucky to get one of them reasonably sharp. I was also able to set it against a green background, as the lizard is almost invisible against the tree trunk.

The fliying lizard, belonging to the genus Draco, has folds of skin attached to its rib, with which it can glide consider distances. One distinctive feature of the one I spotted was the yellow throat patch which it keeps flicking. I am not sure of the species, but its either Draco Haematopogon or Draco Dussumieri. Can anybody confirm?

Posted by usandeep at 11:52 AM
Updated: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 7:37 PM
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Thursday, 28 April 2011
Sholayar dam and reservoir
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

Sholayar dam is about 20kms from Valparai on the way to Athirapally. I was not very enthused to go and see the dam, but decided to check it out while driving from Valparai towards Athirapally. I had to walk up a little and then climb a few steps before reaching the reservoir wall - but the effort was well worth it, with the emerald blue water, lush green shores and the white cotton clouds in a deep blue sky!

The picture was taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, fitted with a Tiffen 82mm circular polarizer filter. This shot made me convinced that the filter was worth its cost - extremely handy for shooting landscapes when sun is shining bright. This picture is shot handheld in manual mode with ISO-100, f/8 and a 1/80s exposure.

Posted by usandeep at 6:56 PM
Updated: Friday, 29 April 2011 5:11 PM
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Monday, 25 April 2011
Scenes from Valparai
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

Valparai is one of those beautiful hill stations, still relatively unknown. I managed to visit Valparai, once again as part of a roadtrip touching Valparai, Athirapally, Thattekad, Rajamalai and Bodimettu. While driving from Valparai to Sholayar / Athirapally, the road goes through many tea estates. The endless layers of green carpet and the deep blue sky turned out to be a great combination:

The pics are taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, fitted with the Tiffen 82mm Circular Polarizer for the first time. Especially when its quite bright, the circular polarizer is quite handy. The pic is taken in Av mode, f/8, ISO-100 for a 1/60s exposure.

A little later, I was near a lake and tried to use the circular polarizer for a good reflection shot. I did not like the drum when I saw the picture for the first time, but later, I felt that the drum made the frame a little different from what I normally do. This pic also comes at a very similar settings, Av mode, f/8, ISO-100 for a 1/50s exposure.

Posted by usandeep at 11:59 PM
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Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Ball of fire is #250
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

This is my 250th post! Its been more than a decade since I was having my personal site Sandeep 's World, but Thru' the Lens was started only in Oct 2007. To say the least, I thoroughly enjoyed the learning from and sharing with fellow bloggers / photographers. Thanks to everybody who follow this blog.

The 250th post is a sunset from Mt Abu, during our Jaipur - Udaipur - Mt Abu trip. This was indeed one of the best sunsets I have seen, but the scene lacked any interesting foreground and I finally decided to click just the sun for a change! Its a little strange that the edges of the sun is very imperfect and there is a gradual gradation of color as we move down. I guess, this is the effect of clouds.

The pic comes from the Canon EF f/5.6L telephoto lens and I clicked it in Manual mode. Even at the lower end of the horizon, the sun was quite bright and I needed ISO-100, an f/9 aperture and a 1/4000s shutter for this capture.

Posted by usandeep at 8:30 PM
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Friday, 15 April 2011
Red-wattled Lapwing at Udaipur
Category: Birds 'n Animals

During our stay at Udaipur, I thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast time, during which we could spot a few birds. If, on day 1, the distinguished guest was a White Wagtail, on day 2, it was Red-wattled Lapwing.

I first spotted these birds at Nagarhole two years back (see 'Red-wattled Lapwing from Nagarhole') and this time, I could identify the bird instantly. The pictures are taken using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto, handheld in Manual mode.

Lighting was pretty good and I managed an f/8 aperture for both the pictures, which is pretty much the best aperture for this lens. The first picture came at ISO-400 and 1/800s, while the second one came at ISO-200 and 1/500s. Both pictures were cropped (3888 => 1500px) using GIMP.

Also, wishing everybody a nice and propserous Vishu.

Posted by usandeep at 5:16 PM
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Pichola Lake at Night
Category: Lights 'n Shadows

One of the highlights of our Jaipur - Udaipur trip was the ropeway connecting the sunset point and Karni Matha temple. We were there at the right time - just when it became dark and the lights at Pichola Lake made it so beautiful.

The one thing I missed was a tripod! But, I somehow managed to place the camera on top of a dilapidated wall and take a few shots. This particular pic was taken from near the Karni Matha temple, using the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L (macro) lens. I used manual mode for this shot and an f/6.3, 1.6s and a ISO-100 exposure.

Posted by usandeep at 11:26 AM
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Friday, 8 April 2011
Boating at Pichola lake
Category: Travel 'n Living

One of the best experiences during our trip to Jaipur - Udaipur, was the evening we spent around Lake Pichola in Udaipur. This is a beautiful lake right next to the city palace and we took an hour long boat ride around the lake.

We were inside one of the boats and this other boat apparoached us. It was about 4.30 and sun was quite bright - so I opted for a silhouette shot. The pic is taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, handheld in Manual mode. I used a f/9 aperture, 1/800s shutter and ISO-100.

Posted by usandeep at 12:17 PM
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Monday, 4 April 2011
White Wagtail at Udaipur
Category: Birds 'n Animals

Saw this little white birdie at Udaipur - during our Agra - Jaipur - Udaipur - Mt Abu - Delhi trip.

Its a tiny bird, about 6 inches long and busily moving around. The tail is typical of wagtails and I could easy identify it as a Wagtail. The pics are taken using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens. Even with the 400mm, I had to move closer to get a clean shot of this little birdie. I used Av mode, with a ISO-100 and and f/8 aperture.

The light was good and the camera chose a 1/1000s shutter speed for both these shots. I also did a little cropping (3888 => 1500) using GIMP.

The bird is surely a White Wagtail, but I am not sure which sub-species. My guess is that it is a White faced pied Wagtail or Amur Wagtail - scientific name Motacilla Alba Leucopsis. Can anybody confirm or identify it as another subspecies?

Posted by usandeep at 8:12 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 5 April 2011 1:19 PM
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Monday, 28 March 2011
Sunset at Hawa Mahal
Category: Cities 'n Architecture

Our guide at Jaipur told us that there is nothing much to see at Hawa Mahal and we almost believed him! Only on our last day at Jaipur, we stopped for a few minutes at Hawa Mahal and while my family went for shopping I wanted to check out the Hawa Mahal further ... and came back wondering how somebody can say 'there is nothing much to see at Hawa Mahal'!

It was just about sunset time, when I was climbing the stairs to get to the top of Hawa Mahal. This particular pic comes from the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L lens, with the camera handheld in Manual mode, f/9, 1/250s and ISO-200. The original pic is slightly brighter than this and I regret not having tried a darker exposure. After a little bit of tweaking in GIMP, this is what I got. The color fringing is more visible after the tweaking and the grains have also become a little more pronounced.

This pic is more of a lost opportunity for me. In hindsight, I should have tried a darker exposure - something like 1/1600, f/9, ISO-100. Atleast, I should have used raw mode!

Posted by usandeep at 5:48 PM
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