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Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Those big round eyes ...
Category: People 'n Portraits

... is where I pointed the camera as soon as I got home with the new equipments. I started off with the two PhotoPro 300D studio lights placed on either side of the camera for an even lighting. But, soon it was obvious that even lighting could be flat and boring!

In the second attempt, I had one PhotoPro 300D at the front right side and the other one at rear right side to shine the hair. For a very dramatic / harsh effect, I even took out the umbrella. The background comes from a curtain in the living room.

The shot was taken with the Canon EOS 7D mounted with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. I did not have much choice as the setting more or less dictated it. The flash needed an exposure time of 1/200s and I used that much. I wanted a thin DoF and may have used a f/2.8 aperture or so, but given the available space and the distances at which the lights were kept, even the ISO-100, f/5.6 that I used was too bright. I eventually, reduced the brightness of the image by two stops using Digital Photo Professional.

Finally, with all this setup, we took a few shots. The TV was on and for a moment in between, she was lost in some event in the TV and that gave me my candid moment for this shot. I had the Vivitar 285HV firing from front left side for fill, but it did not work very well - I guess it need a larger sync time, which I could not have used. So, the left portion came out darker than I wanted with some details lost.

In the next iteration, the front and rear lights were at the left side. I placed the lights further away and had a white reflecting wall on the right side to fill the light. This - it looks like - worked better than the Vivitar. The settings are similar to the first picture, except that the aperture was an even narrower f/6.3.

Studio lighting is an art that could not be learned in a few attempts and I am already overwhelmed by the amount of literature in Internet on this topic. Hoping to come up with better pictures in the next iteratons!


Posted by usandeep at 9:58 PM
Updated: Wednesday, 20 July 2011 8:02 AM
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Friday, 15 July 2011
Lights, Action ... Camera ...
Category: The Abstracts

Its been a while, since I was thinking about an upgrade. Was dreaming about owning a full-frame, ever since I heard rumours about the release of a certain 5D Mark II. If not for some bad reviews about the AF, I might have bought it too, even with a very hefty price tag. I even contemplated waiting for a 5D Mark III. But, I badly needed an upgrade and settled again for an APS-C camera, which I believe is quite brilliant otherwise.

So, let me introduce - the Canon EOS 7D and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I had been trying out this camera with the new and old lenses for couple of weeks and now feel ready to start using it regularly. I still have the Canon EOS 400D, until I am sure that I dont need a second DSLR.

The pic is taken with the Canon EOS 400D, fitted with the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L lens. The reflections on the lens is of a PhotoPro 300D compact studio flash light, which I baught along with the new camera and lens. I used the flash directly, without a softbox to get the reflections. To soften the light, I placed its pair fitted with the umbrella at the right side of the camera - also to make sure that the name tag is visible!

The light from the main flash, which caused the reflections, is pretty strong and harsh. With the flash sync speed of about 1/200s, I could not have gone faster than a 1/200s shutter. Even with ISO-100, the reflections on the lens was over-exposed, until I reduced the aperture to f/16 - a very low aperture that I generally avoid using.

One of the PhotoPro 300D lights fitted with the umbrella joins the frame in the second picture. The gap between the light holder and the shade is intentional and I used the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle lens to make it a star light. Here also, the main light source is the PhotoPro 300D at the front, which is getting reflected from the lens. The settings are same - f/16, 1/200s and ISO-100 - for this shot as well.

I have updated my Equipments and Notes page with all the new purchases and the rationale behind it, along with a few other general notes. The first observation is that the EOS 7D is making my existing lens kit even better and the EF 70-200mm is a beautiful lens!


Posted by usandeep at 8:04 AM
Updated: Friday, 15 July 2011 8:23 AM
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Monday, 11 July 2011
Are there no crows in Bangalore?
Category: Birds 'n Animals

I was at the river side at my native - Eranhikkal near Kozhikode in Kerala. Some of my aquaintances were watching me as I ignored the rain and tried to get close to this Little Cormorant. When I came back, one of them asked me, if there are no crows in Bangalore (where he knew I worked)? Ofcourse, there are, but not one which is tall like this, with webbed fingers and able to swim!

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens, handheld in Manual mode. I used a f/6.3 aperture and a 1/400s exposure, at ISO-800.

As a side note, crow is 'Kakka' in Malayalam, while Little Cormorant is 'Neerkakka', which loosely translates to 'Water Crow' :) Given this info, wasnt he correct in asking the question?


Posted by usandeep at 7:33 AM
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Wednesday, 6 July 2011
At Waves Beach Resort
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

Kannur, in Kerala, has some beautiful beaches. We were at Waves Beach Resort for a weekend and was surprised to see why such beautiful places are not so high on tourist map. The resort has a beautiful private beach, seperated from a unusually long Adi Kadalayi beach by a rocky corner.

This is the rocky corner to the south side of the private beach, which seperates it from Adi Kadalayi beach. The pic is taken with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, tripod-mounted in Av mode. I used a f/10 aperture at ISO-100 for a 1/50s exposure.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the Parassinikadavu Muthappan temple and came back just in time for the sunset. The sun was set on the other side of the beach with a fisherman standing on the rock right next to it.

This pic is taken with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens, handheld in manual mode. Aperture was f/6.3 in ISO-400 with a 1/500s exposure. Later, I felt that ISO-400 was not quite necessary for a silhouette and I ended up darkening the pic a little in Canon's Digital Photo Professional. The fisherman here, actually has a twine in his hand, but, the twine is not quite visible in this pic!

Overall, our stay in Waves Beach Resort was excellent. There are many more beaches to explore, around this area, but we did not have much time. Apart from the beach, the place is blessed with a good bird population. I could spot some of the common and pretty birds while having breakfast the next day - Ashy Drongo, Black-rumped Flameback Woodpecker and Rufous Treepie to name a few I could recognize. I was just warming up and had a lot more frames in mind, but it was time to go back. May be we will make it again to the Waves Beach resort for another weekend!


Posted by usandeep at 7:45 AM
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Friday, 1 July 2011
Scaly Breasted Munia
Category: Birds 'n Animals

One of the best things about the Hoysala Village resort was the verdant surroundings and the abundance of birds around. I saw Scaly Breasted Munias, Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Tailor Birds, Bulbuls ... and many more.

I saw a few Munias and Sunbirds in a tree on the way to the restaurant. Both these birds are a little more than 10 cms long and very tough to shoot as they kept moving around the tree. With the branches coming in between, I struggled a long time before getting a good view of any of the birds. Finally, this pair of Scaly Breasted Munias, sat quietly for a while coochy-cooing with each other!

The pic was taken with the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L (macro) lens, handheld in Manual mode. I used ISO-800, f/6.3 and 1/200s for this shot. The pic was first taken with a landscape orientation, but I later cropped it to make it a portrait orientation.


Posted by usandeep at 11:10 AM
Updated: Friday, 1 July 2011 11:17 AM
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Monday, 27 June 2011
When a lake caught fire!
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

It was one of my routine drives from Mandya to Bangalore - but this time I was alone and the timing was perfect for photography. Sun was just about turning red when I passed Channapatna and reached on top of the railway over bridge. The view of the lake to the left was beautiful - with water turning all golden thanks to the setting sun and a set of birds perched at the small piece of land right at the middle of the lake.

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens, handheld in manual mode. I used a f/9 aperture and ISO-400 with a 1/400s exposure.

I was not sure about the orientation and ended up taking a few shots with the portrait orientation as well. The only difference in the settings used for the two pics is the ISO value - ISO-200 for this shot. So, this shot was slightly under-exposed and I used Canon Digital Photo Professional software to brighten the image a little.


Posted by usandeep at 2:56 PM
Updated: Monday, 27 June 2011 2:59 PM
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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Lantern, thatched roof and the red wall
Category: The Abstracts

While checking out the Hoysala Village Resort, we were at the recreation area, which was under renovation, where I spotted these lanterns:

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, handheld in Av mode. I used a -1 Ev exposure compensation, with ISO-200 and a f/6.3 aperture for a 1/25s exposure. I feel some people would feel that the red wall is a distraction, for which I tried out the monochrome mode. But, in the monochrome version, the contrast is not good between the roof and the lantern. I, finally opted for the color version, after slightly cropping the picture to reduce the wall area.


Posted by usandeep at 8:42 PM
Updated: Wednesday, 22 June 2011 8:50 PM
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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
The smaller and cuter Kingfisher
Category: Birds 'n Animals

Everytime I am at Kozhikode, one of my regular spot is the riverside. This is where I usually spot the White-throated (White-breasted) Kingfisher (see 'Kingfishers @ Eranhikkal'). This time also, I did see a couple of them, but what interested me more was a Common Kingfisher (aka Eurasian Kingfisher or River Kingfisher and sometimes wrongly called as Small Blue Kingfisher).

While sitting at the river side, I spotted this kingfisher sitting at the other side of the river. The distance was a little too high to get a clean shot, so I ended up sitting and watching it. The bird's gaze was fixed at the water and it seemed very adept at catching fish. I saw it taking a few dips in the water and every time it did, it came up with a fish in its beak! A succes rate of almost 100%!

After one of those catches, I tried taking a few pictures and it came out decend in spite of the bird being a little far. The pic is taken with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens - the longest I have - manual mode, f/6.3, 1/400s and ISO-800 exposure. Finally, I cropped the pic (3888px to 1500px) using GIMP.

A little later, I spotted it sitting on my side, with its gaze fixed in the water, looking for any fish movements. I froze where I was standing and picked up the camera, already fitted with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens avoiding any unwanted movements. The pic comes in Manual mode, f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO-800 - once again cropped using GIMP (3888px to 1500px). As soon as I clicked a couple of pics, a bike came from the other side and scared the bird away.

While going through my archive, I found an older picture I have taken of the same bird. This pic is also taken with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto lens, but I was amazed to see how close I was able to get to the bird at that time. I actually had the camera mounted on a tripod and moved it towards the bird slowly, without disturbing it. Once, I got close enough for a frame filling shot, I went for a remote trigger (using an RC-1 remote) and even fired the flash! No clue, why I did not post this picture at that time!

 


Posted by usandeep at 1:03 PM
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Friday, 10 June 2011
Upasana ... again
Category: People 'n Portraits

Vishu at Padinjarayil (my maternal house) is most awaited, especially with the once in a year opportunity to meet a lot of my relatives. I also have a good time chasing the younger generation :)

Upasana (see 'Nikhil and Upasana', 'Kids @ Padinjarayil, 2009' and 'Kids @ Padinjarayil, 2008') used to be very camera shy couple of years back and used to cry when she saw me trying to take her pictures. But, look at her now! She was running around and when she saw me with the camera, gave a very instinctive pose - by tilting her head to one side! The pic comes with the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L lens, handheld in Av mode, f/6.3, ISO-800 for a 1/320s exposure. The original pic was in portrait mode, but I cropped the pic in GIMP for this frame.


Posted by usandeep at 8:11 PM
Updated: Friday, 10 June 2011 8:19 PM
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Monday, 6 June 2011
Male damsel and female dragon!
Category: Macro World

Our garden at my Kozhikode home is an excellent place for chasing birds, butterflies and dragon flies. During our stay at Kozhikode, during Vishu, I spent condierable time at the garden and terrace expecting to find some colorful fauna.

The first good spotting was a Dragon fly - a Common Picture Wing female. It even stayed at this twig (of a tulsi plant) for a while and allowed me to get close enough for a frame filling shot. I used the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens for this shot, handheld in Av mode at f/6.3 and ISO-400 for a 1/125s exposure.

The damsel visited our house in the night and was hovering around the tube light at the sit-out. This, I believe is a Pigmy Dartlet (I guess, a male) and the bright green was too cute to ignore. I picked up the camera once again and mounted it with the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens. It was hovering around the tube light and I used the pop-up flash as fill and used a manual mode exposure of f/6.3 and 1/200s at ISO-800.

One of my friends was asking if a Damsel fly is a female dragon fly! Infact, I too had this doubt for a very long time :) But for now, here is a female dragon fly and a male damsel fly!


Posted by usandeep at 11:46 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 7 June 2011 12:19 PM
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