Oct 23, 2010

Various aspects of Photography

Practice makes a man perfect!

Was trying out few things with my Canon 1000D and the Tamron 28-300 /Canon 100-400 lenses.

Shallow DOF and spot focussing:
The above shots were taken with the 100-400 at 400mm with ISO 800 to get a faster shutter speed. The difference b/w the two is that the focussing planes are different in both. In the 1st image, the dhole at the rear is in focus while in the 2nd the kneeeling dhole is in focus.

Composition and DOF: The below image was shot under cloudy conditions and intentionally
under exposed with ISO 100 with the Tamron lens. F@ 6.3 and Shutter speed @ 1/80.
With lot of distractions around, I kept on moving around till I got a clear visibility of this little flower (this was intentionally under exposed to get a clear background, I think I could have done better here...) contrast I liked the below composition where the peeping flower was shot between the wooden planks and with a clear background, again here the image was underexposed.

Another key point to be noted is both the shots are at an eye level that highlights a different perspective altogether. If the same were shot from standing above, the DOF would not have been possible as the distance from the flower to the ground is nearer. The below composition highlights the rosy rose and the water droplets on it just popping out from the edge of the screen makes it unique.nother principle that I'm trying to follow while composing any image is the rule of thirds where the subjects are not kept bang in the centre but at just off the centre that gives it a different perspective. Shot at ISO 100 and underexposed by -2 with a shutter sped of 1/200. Wish there was some sunlight falling directly on to the object...

Notice closely and you see that not the entire flower is in focus that could have been easily achieved by increasing the F.
The below two compositions were shot almost in identical settings as above with the Tarmon lens where I probably thought I could have fared better much...
The learning exercise continues and photography is a vast topic and mastering all aspects of it takes tremendous patience and the willingness to learn!

Critiques and comments are welcome :)

Point & Shoot and DSLR cameras

When I got my DSLR camera, I often encountered these questions & comments...

! What is the difference b/w the DSLR and the Point & Shoot (P&S) camera you had?
! What was the need to spend so much now?
! How much is the zoom and megapixel on your DSLR? Its so heavy?

Ironically these and many other such questions and comments are commonly heard that initially I found it difficult to answer and later I learnt to ignore them completely.

Here I intend to highlight few differences b/w the P&S and the DSLR cameras.
  • P&S have got fixed lenses, small bodies. DSLR's use a range of interchangeable lenses for different needs.
  • Speed - P&S cameras are awfully slower and varying in focussing and saving images to the memory card takes a lot of time. DSLR's are super quick and their focussing is fast and accurate.
  • Generally images on P&S cameras are shot in JPEG format which is the final output whereas DSLR images can be shot on RAW format that can be edited and processed which in turn gives a better control on the final image.
  • DSLR's perform better in low light conditions using ISO speeds and avoiding flash.
  • DSLR's use a mirror that allows you to see exactly the replica of the image you are about to shoot through the view finder. P&S nowadays are equipped with LCD screens that are better than the viewfinders.
  • P&S use smaller image sensors while DSLR's have much larger sized sensors that result in better image quality overall.
  • Restricted and complicated manual modes on P&S. DSLR are designed to be used in Manual mode that give the user control on all the aspects of photography.
  • DSLR's are versatile in many areas, especially depth of field (DOF); a DSLR can give you depth of field that puts everything from forground to background in focus through to nice blurry backgrounds.
  • A P&S camera can captures 1 frames/sec while a DSLR captures 3 frames/sec to 12 frames/sec that makes a lot of difference.
  • P&S cameras come cheap and light whereas the DSLR's are heavy and expensive.
Now the prosumer cameras that are intermediate b/w the P&S and DSLR's are a rage in the market that have more features and technicall superior to the P&S and which are a good option for those who intend to upgrade to an DSLR!

Oct 19, 2010

Kabini - Wild dogs mania continues...

Read the first part here...
Back at the resort after the wonderful morning safari, we were treated to some heavy, tasty breakfast that had idli, vada, dosa, etc..., and that dose of chai... we got some time off to freshen up and relax. Past 11 we assembled and right in the middle, the star attraction was Jayanth's 600mm resting on a tripod waiting to be used. We had an interactive session on focussing, metering, exposures, importantly composition, dof, playing around with ISO, focus points and many more. Grasped a lot of valuable things that will discuss separately in another topic. Our hunger for more was interrupted by the lunch break that had a varied menu that surely was delicious and mouth watering. After a small rest, half the group decided to take the boat ride and the rest of us preferred the jeep ride to try our luck again.

Starting off under overcast conditions, our eyes were fixed on anything that moved. Driving through the forest canopy without much sunlight and with the cool breeze, its something you need to experience rather than describe, rest is left to your imaginations! We rode cautiously along all the safari tracks enjoying the climate and it was just the same for the next 90 minutes, wonder where were the leopards on the trees !?@?! Probably intermittent rains had made them wander deep inside scurrying for cover. Later towards the fag end at about 5:30pm we saw a pair of wild dogs in the bushes wandering onto the safari track.
Cautiously as we approached, they went into the bushes again but not deep inside. Highly visible was their protruding tummies indicating they had a delicious sumptous meal just about some time ago! We moved ahead for a distance and played the waiting game, within moments the couple were on track right behind coming towards us! The female had gulped so much that it hardly was able to walk while the male time and again moved ahead and played the waiting game! Bonding b/w the couple that probably echoed, "If we go, we go together"! We assumed probably these belonged to the same pack of 6 that we had encountered but could never figure out, another interesting observation that we saw was every little distance these used to stop and look around as if searching for something... what, where, why - these are something beyond our thoughts!
The following game continued with us going ahead for some distance and the couple following us, this continued till we reached the main road and till now there were no other safari vehicles around, that's some luck!
I just loved the puzzled look this female gave us before wandering into the bushes to join her mate and then again reappearing...

The same continued again on the main road with them following us and wandering into the bushes whenever vehicles passed by on the road. With the bellies full, the female was slow and the male dhole used to stop and wait for his mate till she came along, lovely bonding! Wonderful oppurtunity when the male stopped right where there was some light on the road. He was keenly observing Jayanth who was trying some eye level shots with his bazooka!

As this continued as we approached a slope, we raced ahead for some distance and hoped the dholes would come out in the middle of the road as we were at a lower position, time for some good oppurtunistic photography. Bingo! Out came the dhole in the middle of the road and behind him a monster "Scorpio". Aww! the dhole almost jumped back into the bushes beside. Oppurtunity missed, but no so fast. After the vehicle passed, the male came out again to the middle of the road just near where we expected always keeping an eye on us and the female followed soon! The shutterbugs went Click, Click, Click!!!

It was now almost "7" kms that we had trailed them and that too in the opposite direction of the park entrance almost at closing hours. Oops! we had to rush back now once again leaving the dholes to continue their journey! Twice in 2 safari rides, we had to do this! Was it our luck or the end of our luck was the question still lingering in my mind. Till date I have always been lucky with the dholes as I have got to see them in most of the places I have been. Visible noise has creeped in as most of this was shot in bad light and with high ISO, kindly bear!

The other group that took the boat ride got to see the "Peregrine Falcon" - the fastest bird and a few other water birds. During this evening safari, in between the rains, sunlight was excellent for probably 30 minutes or so only indicating how bad the weather had been for photography. Back at the resort, it was time to make some people feel jealous about our sighting for the day :) Dinner and afterwhile some discussion among the group and we hit the rucksacks hoping our last safari the next day would too be good.

Day 3 - Giri was leading our team this time and the light was good infusing more enthusiasm into all of us. A tusker in the golden light was mesmerizing. This hide and seek of light continued and there was no proper sunlight till almost 11 am. The below shot was taken at 11:30am that should give an indication of light conditions.
We roamed around the backwaters and almost all nooks and corners but luck evaded us this time with no sightings. No problem we were a tad little dissappointed but not disheartened as the previous 2 days encounters were still afresh in our minds.

Back into the resort, breakfast and a group shoot later, we all dispersed hoping to catch up sometime and with memorable memories of the Kabini tour!
Below is the shot taken by Jayanth of the leopard that we saw.

Bird checklist:
Changeable Hawk Eagle
Brown Fish Owl,
Crested Serpent Eagle,
Painted Stork,
Racquet tailed Drongo,
Blue tailed Parakeet,
Little Cormorant,
White cheeked Barbet
and many others...

Interesting Stat: Kabini is the place where leopards are supposedly in plenty and you can go looking for them unlike othe places where its pure luck.

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

Oct 17, 2010

Kabini (Nagarahole National Park)

My first trip to the Kabini Jungle lodges camp!

My first tour without my buddies!

One of the most awaited destinations covered!
This tour was organized by the Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt. Ltd and I was one among the 15 odd people in the group led by Jayanth Sharma and Giri Cavale. An Innova taxi was arranged for 5 of us without vehicles to travel to and fro to Kabini.
Day 1 - The route to Kabini is through Mysore and most of it is good roads. The route is: Bangalore-Mysore-HD Kote (Antharasanthe)-Karapura Jungle lodges (Hint: Mysore-Mananthavadi road) and takes roughly around 5 hours drive from Bangalore.
The Kabini Jungle lodges camp is located outside the National park at a distance of about 4-5 kms on the riverbanks of the backwaters. After lunch and a small introduction later, we were divided into groups for the safari rides for the next 2 days to be led by Giri, Jayanth and Philip. The group comprised of both photographers as well as non photographers.
Our first safari started off with overcast conditions and the sky ready to open up anytime. Changeable Hawk Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, Crested Serpent Eagle were the first catches of the safari. We trodded along enjoying the greenery and listening to the varied sounds around us always keeping a watch on the surroundings for any unusual movements. After passing through couple of turns and crosses, after passing the Sunkadakatte FRH, we met another van of Orange County resorts and the driver informed there were lot of alarm calls going on just down the road. We moved ahead for about 200 mtrs and stopped and vehicle to check and scan the surroundings. Jayanth, Sadiq and myself started gazing ahead of us amidst the bushes and it took a whole five seconds for us to realize that we were seeing eye to eye with a "leopard". This five seconds nothing moved in the jeep and even the leopard amidst the bushes was sitting and had its eyes fixed on us! After this there was commotion in the jeep and the cameras were out and we were hoping the leopard comes out on to the road.

The leopard saw us, then crouched towards the ground, moved a little away from us, lifted its head to see us, then moved further down and then came on to the safari track, turned towards us and then sped away into the bushes on the other side, Phew! All this in a matter of 30 seconds! In the commotion I got a blurred sh, missed it yet again! ot of the leopard staring at us on the safari tracke
Thrice I have seen a leopard in the jungles and not once have I captured the beauty in an acceptable fashion! Hope my luck with them changes soon! First ride into the Kabini and we were blessed with a leopard sighting! Deers, Elephants, Gaur, Jungle fowl, Peafowl, the Langurs and the Macaques all made their presence felt in the jungle. After the safari ride assembling at the Ghol ghar we had a discussion on various ways of composing photographs and how inventive we can be, some much needed knowledge and gyaan! We had a good time cracking jokes and the revered Mr Prakash Subbanna was the star attraction cracking numerous jokes and making us ROFL!
Day 2 - Another overcast day and with no idea what was in store, we trotted along different routes in search of the elusive cats. Meanwhile multiple Crested Serpent Eagles posed for us as did the deers and the peafowl. We went along the backwaters, Sunkadakatte road and the Power line and could not spot anything, but the greenery all around and the cool breeze kept us engaged all the time. We could sense Philip's jeep parked at a distance and there was a clan of "Dholes" or "Wild dogs" around, 6 of them to be precise. Dholes are not so fearful of humans and are comfortable once they feel comfortable. We approached cautiously as to not disturb them moving slowly and parked at a distance.
We spent the next 45 minutes observing the clan's behavior and clan interaction and their various antics. Dholes are ruthless killers, one of them catches the prey by its neck while the others start attacking and feeding from behind even when the prey is alive! They hunt in small packs and converge on all sides of the prey before killing them. They usually hunt during the day and are inactive during the night. Pups accompany the clan on hunt only when they are about 8 months old. Even while resting alerst Scouts keep an eye on the surroundings watchfully inspecting all directions for any danger signs or prey signs. The clan is very closely knit and involve themselves in cuddling, body rubbing, nuzzling and playful antics while the scouts keep an eye on the surroundings. Scouts change and all members take part while the others rest.

We moved in close to get some full frame close up shots and the clan was right next to our jeep cuddling and playing. As you spend more time with them, you tend to fall in love with them, their dark coats shine with the sunlight on them and they dont look a bit ruthless they are!
As they moved ahead, we moved further ahead and waited for them, this continued for some time till they decided to vanish into the bushes. After this we scrolled through the other parts of the jungle, trailing a lone scared tusker for a while and came back to the same place after about 30 minutes and found the clan still lazing around. Giri and team who had till now missed the action were already there shooting them.
All good things come to an end and by this time we had to relently leave the place as the time was running out. Probably for the first time, we had to leave while the preadators were still there. We moved them hoping the clan grows in numbers and survives the test of time!

to be continued...