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Friday, 27 May 2011
Water birds at a Mysore tank bund
Category: Birds 'n Animals

One of the major attractions during our normal trips to Kozhikode (see 'Kozhikode Trip' for an earlier bike trip account) is the amount of birds and wildlife we spot. It usually starts at the paddy fields of Mandya and goes on till we cover the Bandipur forest and reach Sulthan Bathery. This time, the major sighting was at a tank bund in NH212 (Kozhikode / Ooty / Nanjagund / Gundulpet road) just after Mysore. As we passed by the tank bund, there were many water birds at the tank bund.

I picked up the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens and jumped out of the car. This is the first time I am seeing a Black-winged Stilt - that too a group of them. Naturally I clicked many pictures and posting the ones I liked most. This pic was taken in Av mode, at ISO-400 and f/8, at a 1/250s exposure. I had the support of a fence allowing me to click at this longer exposure time (longer for the 400mm).

One speciality of the Black-winged Stilt is thier long legs! The above pic should give an indication of how long they are. This pic also comes in Av mode, but I bumped up the ISO to 800 for a shorter exposure of 1/800s.

Black-winged Stilts were not the only birds in the tank bund. I also spotted a few egrets and a pair of Eurasian Coots swimming around. The pic of the Eurasian Coots come with the same settings (f/8, ISO800), but the metering mode was partial to account for its dark color. My aim was to get the details around its eye and at a 1/400s, the camera managed to get it!

Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Friday, 27 May 2011 10:08 AM
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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Lakshmi temple at Doddagaddavalli
Category: Cities 'n Architecture

Doddagaddavalli, a rustic village off the Hassan - Belur road hosts a Hoysala style Lakshmi temple. We were on a weekend trip to Hoysala village resorts and thanks to Arun and Lakshmi for hosting this trip and taking us to this little known temple.

It started drizzling as soon as we reached the temple - providing us with the wet and shiny floor and the dark hovering clouds. On the other hand, shooting was quite tough with the rain. To start with, I had to make sure that the camera was covered and did not get wet. Then, water droplets got stuck to the lens front creating patches in the pic. At the end of it all, I got only a few pics which I could use.

Most of those frames was in such an angle to avoid the electric post located near the coconut trees and cables extending from there till the top right corner. But those pictures looked quite incomplete without any space to the right. So, after some deliberation, I picked up this picture and edited it using GIMP (the eraser and the healing tools) to wipe off the electric cables and posts!

The pic is taken using Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens. I used the Manual mode coupled with a lower exposure of f/8, ISO-100 and 1/125s to bring out the clouds and the shiny surface.

Posted by usandeep at 1:46 PM
Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2011 2:06 PM
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Sunday, 22 May 2011
Sprout on the Rock!
Category: The Abstracts

Saw this little sprout on the rock, when we stopped for a bath at a stream near Kalladi, after an awesome trek to Wayanadan Mala.

I tend to like the tinge of green set against a wet and dark background. I guess the pic looks similar to one I have posted earlier (see the first pic of 'Water water everywhere ...'), but the green is smaller this time!

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens. I was not carrying any macro lens and clicked this at almost the minimum focusing distance of this lens. This took me a while to get the focus right. Since the light was low, it took me a while to get the exposure right as well. Finally, the pic comes at manual mode, ISO-800, f/5.6 and 1/25s at 20mm.

Posted by usandeep at 10:35 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2011 9:04 PM
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Friday, 20 May 2011
Cracked view of Rosary Church at Shettihalli
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

Rosary church at Shettihalli was built around 1860 by French missionaries. When the Gorur dam was built, the entire village of Shettihalli relocated and the church was left behind - submerged in water for most part of the year!

When we visited Shettihalli on our way back from Hoysala village after a blogger's get together, the water levels were low. But, the effect of water was to be seen. The church is dilapidated, the ground around it covered with green grass and the area closer to the river cracked.

The picture is taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens at its widest focal length. I used Av mode at f/6.3, ISO-400 for a 1/60s exposure.

Even though, this frame was tall and a candidate for vertical framing, landscapes usually look better with a horizontal frame. So, it would have been foolish not to have taken a few shots with a horizaontal frame - even with some additional distractions in the frame. I used Av mode and ISO-400 for this frame as well, but added a -1 Ev compensation to bring out the clouds behind the church. This also allowed me to have an even higher DoF at f/9 with an exposure of 1/80s.

Posted by usandeep at 11:09 AM
Updated: Friday, 20 May 2011 11:14 AM
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Wednesday, 18 May 2011
How to pick up a crab?
Category: The Abstracts

On our way back from Wayanadan Mala, we were looking for the stream (assuming that we can follow the stream to reach the village) and finally found it after crawling through thick jungle for almost two hours. It was such a relief when we saw that the stream indeed had some water, as we were already out of water. While resting near the stream, Ramettan picked up something hiding in between the rocks - a crab!

This is actually not the first time we spotted crabs in this trek. We had seen a couple of them near our camping site in the previous site, while digging for water. But, at that time it was already dark and any photography was impossible. This time, while Ramettan expertly picked up the crab, I grabbed the camera for a shot.

I used the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens for this shot at 35mm, handheld in Av mode. The light was quite low and I ended up using a shutter speed of 1/20s even at ISO-800, f/6.3. That should explain the blur!

As a side note, crab is probably the tastiest of all sea foods. Have you tried it yet?

Posted by usandeep at 12:17 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:16 AM
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Monday, 16 May 2011
Vellarimala ranges from Wayanadan Mala
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

The trek to Wayanadan Mala was one of my best treks and undoubtedly one of the most adventurous! The joy of reaching the peak on day-3 morning and figuring out the topology of the whole of North Kerala was indescribable - especially after two days of tiring trek. One of the easiest way of sharing the joy is to post the pictures here :)

I was able to see many hills from the top of Wayanadan Mala, including the Banasura, Kurichyar Mala, Ambukuthi Mala and the 1850m Chembra peak. But, needless to say, the Vellarimala hill ranges was the most prominent, with Vavul Mala rising above the rest of the peaks.

I was not in a mood for photographs and these are one of the few shots I clicked casually. The pics are taken with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom lens, handheld in Av mode with a f/8 shutter, ISO-100 for a 1/1000s. I had good amount of light and had the time to play around with the Circular Polarizer or the GND filter, but all this did not occur to me at that point of time :)

This pic gives a more clearer view of the Vellarimala ranges. The tallest peak on the right side is Vavul Mala, while the one on the left side is Vattapara - the tallest portion of Vellarimala ranges in Wayanad district. The settings are almost the same as the first pic, except for a longer exposure of 1/500s.

For people wondering what / where is Wayanadan Mala, it is the tallest peak in the Chembra ranges and the tallest in Wayanad at 2100m. I had the fortune of clicking Wayanadan Mala from the top of Vellarimala ranges (see 'Clouds, Sun and the Valley') and was at that time, confused about the identity of all these hills. This trek to Wayanadan Mala and an earlier trek to Chembra helped me clear all the confusion :)

Posted by usandeep at 1:13 PM
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2011 1:20 PM
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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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