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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Eurasian Collared Dove
Category: Birds 'n Animals

Spotted this bird outside our hotel during our stay in Jaipur:

The bird seems to be picking up props for a home! After some google / wiki browsing, we (thanks to Sudhir for the help) could identify the birds as a Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia Decaocto). Apparently, this bird was only found in Asia a few decades back, but now, it has colonised almost all of Europe. The male and female are supposedly identical and difficult to distinguish. So, I cannot say, if this is a he or a she. The pic is taken using Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L, handheld, Manual mode, f/8, 1/500s, ISO-800.

Posted by usandeep at 8:30 PM
Updated: Wednesday, 23 March 2011 12:34 PM
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Sunday, 20 March 2011
Little Girl at Chokhi Dhani
Category: People 'n Portraits

One of the most enjoyable portion of our Jaipur Trip was Chokhi Dhani - especially the Rajasthani fancy dress. We all dressed up in traditional Rajasthani attire and clicked some pictures as well (see 'The Avatars' for one of our poses). But, we were not the only one posing.

This little girl first posed with her parents and then went for a solo. I was ready with Tiju's Canon EOS 500D, fitted with the Canon EF-s 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom lens and could not help notice her twinkling eyes. It was quite dark, if not for a beam aimed at the fancy dressers. I used Manual mode exposure at f/6.3, 1/20s and ISO-1600. I am sure, the IS helped.

I was glad that we used Tiju's camera for these shots. Mine (EOS 400D) could not have worked for anything more than ISO-800. That also tells me - its time to upgrade the camera!

Posted by usandeep at 9:26 AM
Updated: Sunday, 20 March 2011 9:36 AM
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Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Silhouette from Fatehpur Sikri
Category: Cities 'n Architecture

Our second stop during the Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Udaipur - Mt Abu trip was at Fatehpur Sikri, but we reached there almost mid noon - not at all the right time for photography! So, I decided to try out some silhouettes.

Both the pics were taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens. I chose manual mode to get the silhouette effect and used ISO-100, f/10, 1/2500s for both the pictures.

There is some flare in the picture, which I was not expecting from this lens - may be I did not use the hood properly! Also, the black spot to the lower left portion of the sun in the first pic is a crow. 

Posted by usandeep at 1:25 PM
Updated: Wednesday, 16 March 2011 1:27 PM
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Friday, 25 February 2011
Bleed Blue ... Bunny Teeth and the Rockstar!
Category: People 'n Portraits

For the last few months, the only photographs I have taken is of Manu ... and I now have a few pictures to post!

With the ICC world cup fever catching up ... what better ways to support the India team than to join the Bleed Blue campaign! Manu had his 'Men in Blue' t-shirt for a while now. To get him to pose for a 'Bleed Blue' poster was Preethu's idea. All the best wishes for the Men in Blue from us!

With my dark blue blanket tied to the window and used as a background, I placed Manu on the bed. He was only too happy to jump around in the bed. This shot came after he stood up following a somersault!

The shot comes with the Canon EF-s 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens, which I borrowed from Amit. I had been using this lens for a while now, mostly borrowed from Amit or Tiju (see 'Birthday Bash' for another pic using this lens), and finding it extremely suited for portrait photography!

I was using a Vivitar 285HV bouncing off the ceiling and used Manual mode in camera. The lens works best with a lower aperture and I chose an f/8 aperture. Manu was moving fast and I needed ISO-400 to accomodate a 1/125s exposure. The lens was set at its widest focal length of 55mm.

Even with the blue blanket, I had to clean the background using GIMP and then I picked up the 'Bleed Blue' logo from an ad. Hope its not in violation of any copyrights as my intension was only to support the campaign and wish good luck to the Indian team!

This shot is using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, set at 35mm. I had the Vivitar 285HV bouncing to give me good lighting and used a f/5.6, 1/40s, ISO-200 settings in manual mode. The background in the original shot was a little cluttered and I had to clean them up in GIMP before using a background from another image.

This pic is also the most edited one of the lot. With Manu moving around so much, it was tough to get him against a clean background. All I could do was cleanup the clutter from the background using GIMP. For this particular shot, I even had to paste his left feet from another shot as it was cut in the original shot!

The pic is taken using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, set at 23mm. As always I used the Vivitar 285HV for lighting and used the manual mode - f/6.3, 1/40s and ISO-400.

Posted by usandeep at 1:50 PM
Updated: Friday, 25 February 2011 2:20 PM
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Thursday, 17 February 2011
Taj Mahal again ...
Category: Cities 'n Architecture

This should ideally have been a Valentine's day post ... so consider it as a delayed V-day post!

On a trip to Jaipur, Udaipur and Mt Abu, we also were also in Agra and visited the one and only Taj Mahal. I wanted to do something different this time - like cross the Yamuna river and shoot the Taj Mahal from across the river. But then, we did not have much time in Agra and I had to be content with the usual angles.

During the couple of hours we spent in the Taj complex, the best view was from the 'Jawab' on the eastern side of the Mahal. The lighting was perfect and the three-pillar view was unique. This particular shot was taken with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle lens kept at its widest focal length. The camera was set at Av mode, f/8, -1 Ev, ISO-100 for a 1/640s exposure. I chose to make it monochrome just for a change.

The arches inside 'Jawab' gave me a perspective which was hard to ignore. The settings and the lens was same here, except for the -1 Ev - 16mm, Av mode, f/8, ISO-100 and 1/320s.

Posted by usandeep at 6:21 PM
Updated: Thursday, 17 February 2011 6:35 PM
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Friday, 10 December 2010
Water water everywhere ...
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

One main feature of our Muthappanpuzha - Kalladi trek was the heavy rains we encountered on the first day. There were numerous streams on our way and with the rains, water was gushing out of everywhere. Here is two of the stream shots I liked from this trek:

This pic comes at Av mode, f/7.1, -1 Ev exposure compensation, ISO-800 for a 1/30s exposure. At the closest focusing distance (0.28m), the magnification of the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens is 0.22x and I was as close as I could to the subject.

The second pic is how one of the many streams en route looked like. Crystal clear and ice cool water flowing through rocky terrains and lush greenery on all sides. The settings used is Av mode, f/5, -2 Ev exposure compensation, ISO-800 for a 1/10s exposure. 1/10s is little on the lower side, but I guess I managed to get this frame without much blur.

Like I was mentioning in the earlier post (see 'Life in a Jungle'), I was only carrying the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens. A macro lens and tripod could allow me to take better photographs here ... but then ... the one I carried was the only practical one to carry for the trek.

Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Friday, 10 December 2010 4:52 PM
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Saturday, 27 November 2010
Life in a Jungle!
Category: Macro World

During a trek to Kalladi from Muthappanpuzha, we passed through some un-spoilt forest region to the eastern side of Kozhikode district, adjoining Wayanad. It was raining for most part of the trek, making it a wet and wild trek! Though, we did not spot any wild life as such, it was quite an experience observing the small wonders of the forest. I was carrying only the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens as I normally do on most treks and was using it as portrait, macro as well as landscape. This is usually the only practically usable lens thanks to the low weight, good build, faster aperture and a reasonable macro:

The group of bracket fungi were right on our trail. Lighting was very minimal because of the thick canopy and the cloudy climate. But, the little sunlight which came through the canopy formed beautiful patterns after getting reflected from the wet floor. The camera was set to manual mode, handheld for a f/4, ISO-80, 1/20s exposure.

The millipede was spotted sitting on a tree trunk and while I was trying to get a full length shot of it, our guide Josettan moved it to a convenient location so that I can comfortably shoot! Immediately, it curled ... but well ... it still was not a bad frame. The light was even less for this shot and I had to move to ISO-1600 with a f/3.2 aperture for a 1/15s exposure. The settings were too blur-prone at 32mm focal length and I had to try a few times to get a usable shot.

After getting down on the Wayanad side on second day, we soon reached a jeep track connecting to the estates at Thollayiram. I spotted this colorful snail as we were nearing civilization at Kalladi village. Light was not as scarce here and I could use ISO-200 this time. I also chose a more appropriate f/6.3 (the lens performs best around this aperture) and settled down for a 1/15s exposure.

The pics would have come up a lot better, had I carried a macro lens and a tripod, but that was always diffcult for a hard trek, especially with rain thrown in to the mix! I would still happily take whatever pictures I got and the wonderful time we spent in the forest.

Posted by usandeep at 4:30 PM
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Monday, 22 November 2010
Banasura Reservoir in Black & White
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

Banasura reservoir dominated the landscape for most part of our trek to the Banasura peak, but it did look further and further away as we climbed. The looming rains, dark clouds around the resevoir and the silhouette of far-away hills made it even more dramatic. At this point, Kattukunnu (Windy hill - from where we started climbing) looked like a small hillock:

This pic also comes with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens, handheld in Manual mode, with a settings of ISO-100, f/9 and a 1/100s exposure. I used the RAW image out of the camera and saved it as Monochrome JPEG with higher intensity in the mid-tones, using Canon's Digital Photo Professional software.

Posted by usandeep at 7:42 PM
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Sunday, 14 November 2010
Banasura Reservoir and Kattukunnu
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

A trek to Banasura peak in Wayanad, Kerala, starts from the foothills of Kattukunnu (windy hills in Malayalam). We first crossed a stream and then started ascending another hill on the other side of the valley. It was a beautiful sunny day and the Banasura reservoir was visible for most part of the trek. As we gained altitude we could also see the Kattukunnu on the other side of the valley.

I used the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens for this shot, fitted with the Tiffen 82mm B+W Graduated Neutral Density filter to take care of the brighter sky. Camera was set to Av mode, f/9, ISO-100 for a 1/400s exposure. I used RAW mode, developed three JPEGs out of it and did an HDR merge using GIMP.

Posted by usandeep at 10:30 PM
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Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Scenes from a Chembra Trek
Category: Nature 'n Landscapes

Chembra peak is in Wayanad district of Kerala, which may be scaled from the town of Meppadi, about 12kms off Kalpetta. During our trek to Chembra, the weather was at its best with a bright blue sky and white clouds hovering around the peak:

This is the first close up view of Chembra, as we were driving towards the foothills from Meppadi town. I used the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle zoom lens for this shot, handheld, connected with a Tiffen 82mm GND filter. The GND filter is 2 stops darker at the upper side of the frame. The camera settings were Av mode, ISO-100, f/6.3 for a 1/400s exposure.

After an hours trek, we reached the heart shaped lake, which has not dried for years. The shape of the lake is not very obvious, until we started climbing again towards the peak.

I had set the ISO to 800 for an earlier shot and forgot to change it back to 100. Otherwise, the shot is taken with the same Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens, attached with the Tiffen 82mm GND filter. I used f/5.6 for this shot, but at ISO-800, the exposure came to1/2500s.

I used RAW mode for both the shots and used the Canon's Digital Photo Professional software to get three different JPEG images (one normal exposure, one 2 stops brighter and the other 2 stops darker). The pics were combined to a semi-HDR image using GIMP (see 'HDR image from Golden Temple, Bylakuppe' for information on how to do HDR merging).

Posted by usandeep at 11:55 AM
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