WildZests: 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Travails of Travel in Dec 2011

After the trip to Goa, a lot still lies ahead of me and I'm wondering if all of it can be accomplished without going through too much pain. The answer to my question may not be easy, but I'm hoping that the end result is good.

Looked at the map to see where all I'm visiting and the distance calculator showed roughly about 7000kms on the road for this month. I'm sure that by the end of the month the figure would be roughly about 7500kms. With 1300kms already done last week, there's still a good 6k+ to go and the countdown begins for tonight where I'll be off for a 1200kms journey in 2 days and possibly a one-day trip to Bandipur or Kabini on Sunday if time permits.

Over these months, I keep wondering if Pozu really can handle all of this, but her energy levels through the trip reassure me that she's born tough. One day, she'll grow up to be a wild wanderer!

Adios till I get back early next week....hopefully with some pictures from the wild too!

Dec Trips

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DCH Trip To GOA!

This was my third trip to Goa in 2011, but it was definitely different than the earlier two, this was supposed to be a reunion of sorts!

An old friend of ours was making a visit to Bangalore after more than 3yrs and so the boys decided to meet up in Goa for the weekend and then drive him to B'lore. The planning took a bit of time to get everyone onboard, but it was all settled as we got closer to the date.

The initial plan was for a one-day visit but I'm glad we were able to make it for 2 days at least. In the end, everyone had a really great time together!

Here's a shot of the gang (you can easily see the happiness & content on everyone's face):

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 24-105 F4 L + Canon 580 EXII mounted on a Manfrotto 055XPROB with a 488RC4 ballhead
Shot at 24mm, 1/250s, F8 at ISO 800

DCH Goa 41

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pozu's Turns Two !!!

With kids around, time just flies by. I still can't forget the first time I held baby in the operation theater and yesterday she's already turned two!!!

Anastya - Second Birthday

Like we did on her first b'day, even this time we had a small house party with some good old friends joining us for the evening. The kids had a lot of fun together and Pozu enjoyed herself thoroughly.

Here's a picture of Pozu taking a stab at Tinky Winky and Po. (For all those who don't have kids yet, they're Teletubbies characters. And for all those who have kids already, I can tell you that this cake was an instant hit with all small ones!)

Cutting the cake :)
Picture taken by: Ari-Maasi :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giant Wood Spider

The Kabini jungle was abundant with the wood spider creations this time. The morning rays of the sun make the web look really glamorous.

The female is actually the one that is a giant size (3 inches or more) while the males are tiny at about 1/10th her size. Their webs are quite big in size and can vary between 1-2 meters in diameter, spun between trees.

Tech Specs:

Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm F4 IS
Shot handheld at 600mm, 1/500s, F4 and ISO 800
Giant Wood Spider

Monday, November 21, 2011

The model Mongoose!

Given that the two safaris hadn't given me enough photo opportunities, I decided to wait back and do one more ride. This Ruddy Mongoose was basking in the evening sun on a fallen tree stump as we entered the jungle.

Usually these are very shy and would retract into the bushes immediately, however this one was extremely camera friendly and it watched us inquisitively while we kept clicking away. The mongoose are usually known for their ability to fight the cobra and emerge victorious, but their diet includes other rodents and lizards too.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm F4 IS
Shot at 600mm, 1/320s, F4 and ISO 400
Ruddy Mongoose

The Pelicans of Kokkare Bellur

This weekend was a solo trip to Kabini, and on the way was a detour to a small village known as Kokkare Bellur. This is a 13km deviation from Maddur and the roads were great until the last 5kms. As you start closing in to your destination, you could see quite a few Pelicans hovering up in the sky.

I was expecting an organized conservation effort like Ranganathittu, but it was amazing to see that the village is no less than a sanctuary in itself. When I reached the place, I asked one of elderly person on which way to the bird sanctuary and he pointed me to two different directions and mumbled off something in Kannada. I couldn't understand what he said, but I could make out that he was trying to tell me that the birds are everywhere, you can just walk around the village.

Apparently the villagers are very appreciative of the fact that the large winter migrants such as the Painted Storks and Spot-Billed Pelicans nest in large colonies on trees in their village. The forest department has some kind of arrangement to compensate the villagers for every tree where the birds are nesting. This is since the land below the tree and any produce from that tree has to be foregone.

I didn't see too many Painted Storks at this time, but there were quite a few Pelicans on trees by the road side. So I decided to walk around there and watch the birds do their daily chores.

Here's a close up shot of a large Pelican on the tree:

Tech Specs:

Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm F4 with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/5000s, F8, ISO 800
Kabini   (7)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chased by a Tusker!

2010 was a year when we had elephants charging at us almost every time we were inside the Bandipur jungle. This was one of those times when we had this tusker not liking our company and trying to drive us away.

We've had misses and near misses that year, Gozu got a scare of her life when we were almost stuck in the middle of a herd with a huge female elephant chasing us from behind. These gentle giants have their own mood swings and while sometimes they'll allow you to close in to the herd while they're happily grazing, at other times they'll just want you to leave immediately. Most common charging incidents happen when there's a baby around or there is a lone male elephant, the latter being the more dangerous encounter to have.

Whatever be the situation, its always a treat to watch them around. Sometimes you can actually notice their emotional patterns which are seemingly like ours!

Tech Specs:
Canon 40D + Canon 70-200 F4 L IS
Shot at 78mm, 1/160s, F4 and ISO 250
Charging Tusker!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Metallica Metallica !!!

It was like good old days coming back again! It's been a while since I've been to any rock concert but this wasn't an opportunity I could have missed. The band that I've listened to since school days had to be experienced live in action.

After the Delhi incident, people were uncertain how things would turn out at Bangalore but I was sure that the crowd here would be well behaved and it indeed was. The show was well managed, the crowd was loud but not unruly, the set list was superb!

Metallica...I was there when you rocked Bangalore!

Image taken from: www.metallica.com

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gowri - The proud mother of Bandipur

My brother was in Bangalore last week to deliver all the Diwali goodies - Mum's special preparation of sweets. His plans weren't fixed early enough to get some bookings done for the weekend. I kept checking the JLR site almost every day and surprisingly a room showed available at Bandipur, perhaps because of some cancellation. So off we went to the jungle on Saturday, his first ever experience in the wild.

Almost an hour into the safari, there were the usual suspects that showed up as always barring the elephants who remained elusive in this trip. Then we hear some alarm calls and anxiety starts building up. One of the jeeps had gotten a glimpse of a tigress walking on the trail inside the thicket and were waiting on the other side of the road for her to cross. So we joined them too and parked the car by the road maintaining perfect silence. The alarm calls grew closer and now we could even hear some hustle bustle in the thicket on our right.

We patiently waited there with hopes of seeing the stripes, and she obliged! Out came a tigress known by the name "Gowri" and crossed the road in front of our jeep. She's one of the two females who've been raising a litter in the tourism zone at Bandipur. She's got 4 cubs who would be soon be turning 18 months and will be ready for claiming their own territory. Hopefully, they'll all be successful hunters too and help in adding a few more to their clan.

The sighting was less than a minute, but it made my day! Here's a shot that I could get with some reasonable eye contact with her.

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 70-200 F4 L IS
Shot at 200mm, 1/250s, F4 and ISO 800

The Stare - Gowri

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Golden Temple @ Kushalnagar

Surprisingly enough, in so many years of staying in Bangalore, we had never been to Coorg before. Last week was my first visit to Coorg and the Tibetan settlement at Kushalnagar was on the list of things to do.

The visit to the Namdroling monastery was a superb experience overall and it's the place you'd like to visit if Ladakh is too far for you. Having missed the trip to the mountains this year, the trip to Bylakuppe made up for atleast a fraction of the Ladakh experience.

The monastery has a huge golden Buddha statue, with Padmasambhava and Amitayus on either sides. The gold coated statues with the light falling through the ceiling quickly gets you to a calm and you could easily sit there for hours and keep staring at nothing.

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 24-105 F4 L IS
Shot at 24mm, 1/400s, F4 and ISO 640
Inside the Golden Temple

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A weekend with Pozu - Bandipur & Kabini Explored!

Last weekend was going to be without Gozu (wifey) since she was off to ISB at Hyderabad for a training until Tuesday. The idea of sitting alone at home with Pozu (our 22 month daughter) and going through the usual routine was so damn boring, so we decided to have some fun! I've been out with Pozu without her mommy before but that time I did have Elly with me for help. This time I was going to single-handedly manage Pozu and hope to make some good photographs too, it doesn't get any better than this!

Gozu left on Saturday morning and we were left on our own. The rest of the day was spent with the gang who wanted to try out fishing with their newly bought equipment. We had a late start for the fishing idea, but we did get a couple of hours to practise how to setup the fishing rod, no real fishing though!

Pozu and Rhea had a good time together and they sat by the lake shore as if they were out on a holiday.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS
Shot at 93mm, 1/640s, F4 at ISO 400
Fishing Day 07

The next day's plan was kept as tentative until the last minute though I kept checking availability at Bandipur till Saturday night. Being a Sunday, there wasn't a risk to get one room on arrival at the Jungle Lodges at Bandipur but I thought I will make a call and reserve it in the morning to be sure. The idea was to stay for one day and then if luck doesn't favor us at all, may be extend it for another day.

6AM on Sunday, we were on our way to the jungle, Pozu slept mostly through the way and we reached Bandipur at 11.30AM or so. The evening safari was pretty uneventful except for the time when we were anxiously waiting for the tiger to cross paths. One of the jeeps had seen the male tiger sitting on the road but he quickly disappeared into the bushes and we were hoping he'd show up on the other side. We did see all the usual suspects like the Gaurs, Elephants, Monkeys, Peacocks etc but no big cat. I was hoping that the next morning wouldn't be as quiet, but it was!

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm
Shot at 600mm, 1/1000s, F4 at ISO 800
Gaur - The Indian for Bison!

After the morning safari, I was in no mood to go back and started thinking on whether to extend my stay at Bandipur or give it a shot at Kabini. A quick call, puts the decision to rest and I was on my way to Kabini. The evening safari was similar to the previous 2 rides and the camera had seen no big action. The jungle was quite nice with the fresh green cover and the light was brilliant. Alas, the Makhna near the backwaters was the only big find for the day apart from the Changeable Hawk Eagle!

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS
Shot at 81mm, 1/50s, F4 at ISO 400
Makhna @ Kabini

Next day, baby was up at 6AM for the morning safari and we were lucky to spot a pack of wild dogs right as we entered through the Kalpare road. The dogs were visibly hungry and were on the lookout for a breakfast meal. They let us enjoy their company for a while and then started moving onwards. This was a good photo-op and I was happy with the overall sighting.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm
Shot at 600mm, 1/160s, F4 at ISO 800
Dhole - Wild Dog

Next up, we found a Juvenile Serpent Eagle on a tree near the track who obliged with some good pose even though the lighting wasn't as expected.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm
Shot at 600mm, 1/250s, F4 at ISO 800
Juvenile Serpent Eagle

Soon, the safari ended and we were headed back home after breakfast. But I'm a happy man, not only I managed to get some good pictures, but Pozu had a good time too. She found new friends at both resorts and had a gala time at lunch and dinner events. All in all, this was a time well spent and even though I had to catch up on all the pending work from Monday, there are no regrets!

Here's a link to more pictures from this trip: Bandipur & Kabini with Pozu

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday Special - Canon PhotoMarathon 2011

Last week I registered for the Canon PhotoMarathon 2011, my first ever entry to such an event. The event was scheduled simultaenously in three cities in India (Bangalore, Delhi & Mumbai). I hadn't heard of such events in the past and a quick research revealed that this is actually a fun event and lets you explore your creative side.

So, the plan was set and we were at the venue at 9AM. The registration was pretty smooth and there was still time for the event to begin. So we made sure Pozu finished her breakfast and were in the hall on time. There was quite a crowd at the hall and a lot of gear too. I could see everyone busy clicking away at anything and everything they could see. The event was to have three topics given in succession and each topic would have 90mins to finish.

We received our first topic at 10AM - Games People Play. We had 90 mins to report back and upload the image before we get our next topic. The most obvious of shots would be of the kids playing cricket or of the Run for Cancer event being held at the Kanteerva Stadium. We walked around a bit trying to think of what we could shoot, 30 mins and I hadn't done a single shot. Then came the big idea and off we were to get our prop for the shot. I liked the shot, hope the judges like it too :).

Canon PhotoMarathon 01

There was quite a hassle with downloading the image to their system, but finally it was done (not without another issue which I will talk about later). They had Aindrita Ray as a celebrity guest and a part of the crowd went running like paparazzi to get her pictures. Finally, we got our second topic - Building Values For The Next Generation Indians.

This was going to be a bit tricky as it needed to be a picture that tells a story. We talked about various concepts that could bring out values like respect, truth etc. The pressure of having just 90 mins starts getting on to you once you're done with the first 30mins. After a bit of roaming around we finalized on the portraying the value of respect and care for nature. Quite a few ideas were being explored but we weren't able to find the right location or props to shoot with. I wanted to get a shot with baby helping mommy plant a tree, but finally we landed at the nursery inside Cubbon Park where the mommy-baby duo could spend time with some baby plants. Not exactly what I'd wanted but atleast a similar concept.

Canon PhotoMarathon 02

After uploading the second pic, there was a lunch break for an hour and the next topic was going to be given at 2.30pm. Sudhir Shivram was the next celeb guest and the crowd got a chance to have some interaction with him through the lunch time. Lunch was arranged at the event by Canon but we had other ideas. So off we went to Casa Piccola on Residency Road for a yummy chicken steak meal and we were back well within time for our next topic.

Thinking Green - This was the last topic for the day. A lot of folks quickly took to the greens at Cubbon Park and I'm sure there would be a lot of greenery images that would have been submitted. I wanted to have a different concept instead of the conventional go-green subject and that's when the idea of the traffic signal struck me. When you're at the signal, all you ever think is when will it turn GREEN!

Canon PhotoMarathon 03

We were over with the last submission at around 3.30PM and decided to skip the last part certificate distribution and photo session etc. It was a day well spent as a family outing, doing different things rather than walking pointlessly through the shopping malls of Bangalore.

Overall, here are my thoughts on the whole event


- The event was managed well from a schedule perspective. All topics were given right on time as per the schedule.
- They had a camera check up camp at the event and also some display models for Canon lineup of Pro and Consumer cameras.
- It was open to all digital camera makes, no caste-divide based on manufacturers.
- There were enough number of organizers available to help/guide people through the event.
- The time given was very apt. Even though you keep running against time, I didn't feel that it was too less.
- The event overall helps you to think differently and explore newer grounds!


- The machines being used for the downloading of pictures were slow and there were only 1 or 2 counters who accepted CF cards. I carried my own reader since the first time it took me more than 20 mins to stand in queue for submitting the image.
- The machines were infested with viruses, I had plenty of them on the card which was used for image submission. Not sure if all the images would finally reach the evaluation stage or not.
- There was no authentication process in the whole event. They just asked me for my registration number and handed me the badge and Tshirt. Nobody verified who was submitting images and there was no format for filenames etc for submitting images. I'm not sure how they will manage sorting through the pictures (or will they!)

Whether you win or not, just participating in these events gets you a good experience. Although, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed till the results are announced!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Scenic View For The Err'ing Souls!

On one of those aimless wandering days in Goa, we suddenly found ourselves on the road to Fort Aguada. Actually we were a bit lost since I missed a turn and when you dont have much to do, these missed landings are the best things that can happen to you!

The previous day Gozu had mentioned that she hadn't been to the fort and wanted to see it. However, as we neared the fort she suddenly had a memory flash and it all started coming back to her! She started talking about coming there when she was a kid. Not only that, she also remembered the place which was just off the road with a beautiful view of the sea and the fort.

There was quite some car and bus traffic going towards the fort and that put us off the idea of going to see it. I had been to the fort some years back on a fateful trip with some friends and didnt really fancy the idea of going back again. So we turned off the road about half a kilometer before the fort on to this secret place. The view was great and the best thing was it was only us to see it.

This was one trip where I actually remembered of getting some pictures of my car and this was a good photo opportunity. I cursed myself for not carrying the 24-105 and then tried to get whatever I could get with the 50mm. Here's one of those shots:

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 50mm F1.4
Shot at 50mm, 1/2500s, F2 and ISO 200

As we stood there and admired the brown muddy sea, I was wondering about who stayed at the white structure below the fort. The buildings seemd like old heritage property and the lone coconut tree peeping out at the sea was picturesque. I imagined how one could just sit by the sea in a place like that and keep staring at "nothing" over the horizon. I think I even made a comment about how lucky to have a place like that to stay!

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 50mm F1.4
Shot at 50mm, 1/6400s, F2 and ISO 200

On our way back, Gozu talked about this nice property that someone had on the road towards the Aguada jail. So we took the turn and there was this palatial house built on the slope of the hill facing the sea. As we came ahead on that road, we reached the white structure that I saw at the bottom of the hill. The board at the gate read "Central Jail". I was originally under the impression that the jail would be a historic monument type of thing, but here they had visitor timings listed and a sentry at the gate too. Never before had I imagined a jail with a view like that one but now I wasn't sure if anyone could be called "lucky" to enjoy that view!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Updates from Goa!

So off we were to Goa for a 4 day vacation and just as we were getting into the holiday mood, we were back in Bangalore!

All my plans of spending some time on photography failed. First, it was the Ranebennur sanctuary which was closed when we reached there at 7.30AM. Then we had a couple of failed attempts to visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, mainly due to the weather conditions and the government holidays. To add to this, I left behind the 24-105 at home which put me at a serious disadvantage of clicking landscape pictures with the 50mm which was the widest lens available with me.

Anyways, there were no regrets since we did enjoy our time thoroughly. Photos or no photos, Goa never disappoints you and the rainy weather was good to keep the lazy holiday mood alive. All we did was to roam around the city a bit, return back to the hotel and sit around in one of the zillion food joints in and around Baga beach. There was quite some crowd in that area given the time of the year.

This was Pozu's first time at the beach and she seemed to have enjoyed it fully. Here's a picture of Gozu and Pozu chasing the waves...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Signing off until next week - Goa calling !

The last week of August is pretty interesting with two mid-week holidays (Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi), so I decided to make the most of it and take the full week off. The weekend was spent nicely with some bird pictures to add to my collection, but the plan to do a trip to Bandipur on Mon/Tue went flop. Gozu had a training in office on those two days and I didnt find anyone willing to join me for the trip. But the good part is, these two days were still special coz I got to play with my daughter enough which I miss through the week.

In a few hours from now, will leave on a trip to the land of beaches, GOA!!! The initial plan was to laze around on the beaches but now we've got other things on mind. We'll spend some time at the wild places in Goa. More on it later when I'm back...ciao!

Here's one of my favorite pictures from our last trip to Goa in the last week of December. Gosh..there have already been 2 New Year Eve's after this one!

Stork Billed Kingfisher!

This is one of the larger species of the Kingfisher family. At nearly one foot in length, these are almost double the size of the Common Blue Kingfishers. Like all kingfishers, even these are very patient in nature and can be found perched quietly near a water hole in anticipation of food.

This one was right by the water hole at the entrance to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. As I was exiting the park on our trip to Valparai, I quickly stopped the car and got this shot. There wasn't any time to get the tripod setup so took the risk of shooting handheld with the monster kit, but I'm happy that the results are quite good. I would have preferred a nature perch instead of a wire, but you can't make choices for the bird.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot handheld at 840mm, 1/400s, f5.6 and ISO 400
Stork Billed Kingfisher

Monday, August 29, 2011

Egyptian Vulture - The Pharoah's Chicken!

A first for me, ofcourse!

I've seen these birds earlier as well but never awed at them. Its just since I'm hooked onto wildlife as a part of my life that I've started admiring everything else besides humans around me.

I'd seen them flying at Hesaraghatta last time, so this time I wanted to get a few shots of these beautiful and endangered species. Though, I'd admit that the adults look much more graceful than the juveniles but I really dont mind getting good shots of either of them.

The Egyptian vultures are the smaller of the species and scavenge on anything from faeces to carcases. This is what keeps them around the cities as well unlike the others that are mostly found in jungles.

This juvenile bird was feasting on some cow dung near a water hole. There was a big excavation near the water pool and the car wouldn't have made it there. I already had a failed attempt of closing in on these creatures on foot so decided to stay inside and watch it. While I was using the beanbag on the passenger window sil as rest for the lens, this shot was all I could manage to get of the bird while it took off.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/4000s, f5.6, and ISO 800
Juvenile Egyptian Vulture

Pariah - The messiah who made my day!

After a failed attempt on Saturday when I roamed around Kanakpura road and Valley School for some birding, it was a second try again on Sunday. I had to give it a pass in the morning since Gozu wanted to go out and that meant the baby traveled with me. Pozu isnt a problem to go out with, but mornings get busy with her breakfast and other things and her schedule gets a bit upset when she's out on field.

So off I went in the afternoon once Gozu was back, and today's destination was Hesaraghatta Lake. I've been to this place before and had seen the egyptian vulture flying around, so wanted to explore again. The last time I ended up going upto Yeshwantpur and then coming back towards Jalahalli and then take the road through Dodda Byalakere. This time I turned off at BEL circle and directly took the inside road through Byalakere and Silvepura to reach Hesaraghatta.

As I crossed the airforce area and took the left towards Byalakere, I digressed onto the road to the Peacock reserve in Byalakere. I just love Google Maps for the ease of finding your way through such places and the map was fairly accurate until a point where the map showed a road but I could see none. Anyways, I reached the Peacock reserve only to find it looking like an abandoned piece of land with the gate locked and nobody around to ask. Next I thought I'd roam around a bit towards the Avalahalli State Forest and see if there's anything worth seeing there. The road from the Byalakere Peacock reserve to Avalahalli Forest has a particular stink from the waste management project that is in that area. I could see a mountain of garbage from the road and a lot of garbage collection trucks on the road too.

As I reached the Avalahalli Forest, the road on the map through the forest was missing and I had to turn back and proceed towards Aivarakhandapura Lake and then connect back to the Hesaraghatta road. Though the Aivarakhandapura lake looks quite big on the map, it is nothing but an open grassland with a lot of cattle grazing around (very similar to hesaraghatta). Finally, I reached the destination after all these detours, but the good thing to notice was that apart from a few bad patches, the roads were pretty decent otherwise.

At the lake, I drove in and spotted a group of Egyptian vultures sitting on a mound. There were two adults and two juvenile vultures in the group. I parked the car by the track and setup the tripod etc and started closing in slowly. Apparently, they didnt like any movement towards them and flew off quickly. Lesson learnt, be as inconspicuous as possible which obviously can't the case with me carrying the 10kilo rig. The best option is to stay in the car and close in slowly to get a clear shot, surprisingly the birds dont mind the big black car.

I drove around on the tracks through the lake bed for a while, tracking a lot of pipits, bushchats in search of food and then there were common mynas and jungle crows for company. The vultures had lodged themselves on a tree by the far side of the lake and took turns to hover around for a bit and then return back. At one such time, I did manage to get a glimpse of a juvenile Egyptian vulture near a water body. But this wasnt the ideal setting and all I could manage is an okay okay in-flight shot. (more on that in a later post!)

Later, a black kite flew past the car and made itself comfortable on the little mound nearby. I quickly drove up by the track where I could get a clear view of the bird. The lighting was perfect and the bird was very cooperative. It yielded me the best shot I could ask for. I'm sure there will be more shots I'd get of these birds, but this one will always stay special for me.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/800s, f8 and ISO 800. Handheld from the car!
Black Kite

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Great Thick Knee

In continuation to the Ranganathittu series, I thought of sharing another of the beautiful species that are commonly found on the rocks through the river. The Great Stone Curlew aka. Great Thick Knee are usually resident birds at the sanctuary. I've generally seen them in pairs and it looks like this one was guarding an egg.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/4000s, f5.6 and ISO 1600
Stone Plover aka Great Thick Knee

Roll Baby Roll

Another one of my favorite shots from the trip to Ranganathittu. This one was a very cooperative Kingfisher perched on a twig by the shore of one of the many islands. In a flick of a second, it rolled it's head on both sides and all the water sprinkled out.

Tech Specs
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/2500s, f5.6, ISO 1600
Roll Baby Roll....Pied Kingfisher

Tridev - The Three Headed Stork!

During my last visit to Kabini earlier in August, I stopped at Ranganathittu for a quick tour of the sanctuary. Knowing that this isnt the season time at Ranganathittu, the expectations weren't very high but I was pleasantly surprised with the Juvenile Painted Storks and the Black Headed Ibises nesting around the islands.

Karnataka Tourism has increased rates for safaris at all their parks and it was no different at Ranganathittu as well. What used to be a 500 per hour boat ride is now 1000 bucks for 30 mins. That's a 4-fold increase in rates which means more money flowing into the forest dept kitty! Anyways, I'm okay to pay the premium as long as they take some steps in maintaining and conserving these places and not just siphoning it into unnamed accounts.

There was a group of Painted Storks on a rock and as the boat passed around the place, a sudden convergence of bodies happened. I started clicking as the boat moved to get a shot that looks like a three headed stork. The result was quite rewarding and a good addition to my avian collection.

Tech Specs
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/4000s, f8 and ISO 1600
One Soul - Three Painted Storks

Monday, August 15, 2011

Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

"Today we celebrate our Independence Day!", this is the dialogue that I still remember from the I-Day movie. Some things just leave a mark on your mind and even though it isnt relevant in this situation, it still comes to mind when I think of I-Day.

I just finished processing some pictures from this weekend trip to Maidenahalli and was very happy with a couple of them. Here's a b/w conversion that almost turned out like a sketch.

Tech Specs:
Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/1000s, f8 and ISO 400
Indy Day

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The glowing Lily!

There was a phase when I was hooked on to doing flower abstracts and I can tell you that its a very interesting topic if you want to try out some quick indoor setups. They actually make some good wall hangings for the house if you get some good ones. Slowly the season changed and the flowers werent as good as they used to be and then the topic just got lost in the array of things to do.

A couple of things that one needs to keep in mind while doing flower abstracts, it needs plenty of light and a nice background. So either you try it on a nice and bright day or have some good artificial lighting available indoors. Also, unlike the traditional macro shots which are shot at smaller apertures to increase the DOF, the abstracts are usually shot with a shallow DOF keeping the lens wide open. This one was made at the Kabini JLR garden on one fine morning, its a nice while garden lily which can be found in most parts of the city as well.

Tech Specs:
Canon 40D + Canon 100mm Macro
Shot at 100mm, 1/500s, f2.8, ISO 200

Agastya - The Legend of Bandipura

At 13+ years behind him, Agastya is definitely past his prime but his majesty is still the King. This was my second sighting of this male cat and he was kind enough to stick around for a good 20 mins until he disappeared in the thick of the jungle. Given his years of experience with humans coming in close range in the park, he appeared non-chalant with the presence of several jeeps lined up through the track while he walked leisurely along a grassy patch by the roadside.

Of all the sightings so far, he'll always remain special to me and Gozu and not to forget, Pozu. He's the first tiger Pozu ever saw in the wild and he's also the one who's gotten her the name "Anastya". During our visits to Bandipur, we kept seeing pictures of this majestic king and were keen that if we get a son, he would be named Agastya. So Anastya was derived out of his name, and technically speaking its not a registered name and doesnt hold a meaning as yet. (though I tell people its the sanskrit'ized version of Anastasia)

Tech Specs
Canon 7D + 70-200L
Shot at 200mm, 1/60s, f4, ISO 200

Anguished but not defeated!

On an old tree by the safari track in Pench, we heard a lot of activity going on with the parakeets making some noise. A closer look and it was evident that there was something fishy as the parakeets were flying around the tree bark and calling to each other repeatedly. Just then, we spot a monitor lizard on the same tree near a hole in the bark. It was now obvious that the parakeets were trying to ward off the lizard to protect their nests.

The monitor was big and the parakeets helpless, but they were still ready to put up a fight. One of them kept going towards the hole to check out what's going on inside and may be distract the reptile out of there. I fear the worst may have happened to their nest since the lizard climbed into the hole and wasnt really in a mood to give in to their protest. But such is life, someone's offspring is somebody else's snack, it's the law of the jungle!

This is presumably a pair of parakeets trying to communicate between themselves about the situation. We waited for a good 15-20 mins at the scene and there were no signs of retreat from either sides.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Little Raptor!

The Shikra is so far the smallest bird of prey I've encountered when compared to the eagles and hawks which is the same family it belongs to. But they are nevertheless, equally graceful in their perch.

This one had perched on a branch right by the side of the road and the dull light was making it difficult to get good shutter speed. This was shot with a 1.4x TC on the 600mm at 1/30s shutter and I never expected the result to be this good looking. The blown out areas around the bird are because of the sky visible through the leaves in the background, but there was no way to avoid that.

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 600mm with 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/30s, f5.6, ISO 400
On a dull evening at Kanha, the Shikra waits for an opportunity!

Proud and Perched Peacock

As the summer sets in, these magnificent birds are ready with their full blown plumage to welcome the oncoming monsoons. The peacock dancing is a very graceful display of well coordinated moves that create a brilliant optical illusion with the pattern of feathers. The peacocks are said to dance to invite and celebrate the rains but its actually a part of the courtship display to attract members of the opposite sex.

These large birds usually prefer moving around on the ground but they can do short stints of flight and can be found perched up on tree branches. Its amusing to see the peacock fly with its train of feathers.

Tech Specs:
Canon 400D + Canon 70-200L
Shot at 200mm, 1/25s, f4, ISO 200

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Baby bloom!

This summer was a very rewarding experience with the langur babies. I had two or three opportunities to watch the mother-baby interaction closely. The baby enjoys attention from the entire group, and with a newborn in her arms, the mother is always kept in the close guards of the family. At one time, the whole family was shielding the mother from being seen with the baby.

The babies on the other hand, as innocent and exploratory that they can be, are always on the lookout for some mischief. At 2-3 weeks, they look so similar with human babies except for the the dark furry coat which slowly starts turning grey as they grow up.

This one was taken at Kanha national park on a rather dull day considering it was peak summer in April.

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 600mm
Shot at 600mm, 1/320s, f4, ISO 400
A new beginning!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Digpa-ratsa Ri - Hanle Observatory

Far far away....a black top road running in between two mountain ranges for miles and miles together. This is the road that leads you to a remote town called Hanle which boasts of the world's highest observatory for optical & infra-red astronomy. The place is free of tourists and the town had little or no provisions for more than 4-6 visitors at one time. We were lucky to find one of the two rooms available at the lone guest house in town. There may be no cell phones in this area, but there's internet at the observatory and a satellite phone at the guest house. The observatory is remotely controlled by scientists sitting in a cosy Bengalooru office while a resident engineer and some other ground staff rough it out at the observatory.

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 24-105 F4L
Shot at 24mm, f16, 1/30s, ISO 100
The road to Hanle!

Hanle also has one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh dated back to the 17th century, but more on that in a later post.

Ssshhh...my angel's sleeping!

Even though they can't talk when they're born, a baby can express a lot with their eyes and facial expressions. I like the gleam in her eye when she's upto something naughty but what I love the most is to watch her sleeping.

When she was born, I was amazed by the long eyelashes she had and even now they are a treat to watch. Kids are just beautiful, and the time spent with them, so precious. She'll always be my little angel, even when she grows up!

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D+ Canon 100mm Macro
Shot handheld at 100mm, f2.8, 1/20s, ISO 400

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mommy's the Boss!

When it comes to raising a family and teaching the little ones how to take care of themselves etc, its always the mommy who handles it best. This is true even with the elephant herds and one can easily see that its the mothers and aunts and sisters who take care of the herd. The males are often found roaming alone and only jump in for their part in the reproductive cycle.

Elephant babies are very susceptible to attacks whilst they're young and are closely guarded by the herd members at all times. The mother actively keeps an eye on her young one and will usually keep it within her trunk's distance, afterall she's waited 22 long months to have the baby delivered. The babies on the other hand also prefer to be pampered by the herd and will follow their mother all through. A lot of emotions can be observed within the herd that symbolizes the intelligence level of these beasts.

Summer is the best time to watch huge herds of elephants gather around the Kabini river bank to relish the green grass that grows on the receded river bed. A lot of social interaction happens within the herd and also amongst different herds, its very interesting to watch their behavior. Here's one such moment when the baby was following his mother for a dip in the river.

Tech Specs:
Canon 7D + Canon 600mm with a 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, F5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200
Going for a dip!

The Land of the Lamas!

Ladakh - the mother of all naturally beautiful places. Its not a cosy place to be in, but it can be the most rewarding experience if you rough it out. I'm hooked on to the mountains since 2007 when we made our first trip, I had a borrowed Kodak P&S camera back then. But you can hardly go wrong with your camera in Ladakh, every place is equally beautiful and even random compositions turn out to be keepers.

The last year (2010) was the 4th year in succession to the Himalayas. This was originally conceptualized as a solo bike trip, but the head of the house had set conditional permissions and I was glad to get Elvin and Anand to ride with me. We're old college buddies so this became a good bachelors trip out into the wild.

I wanted to explore newer places this time and also wanted to experience staying at Pangong overnight. So the itinerary was chalked out and arrangements were made. This time we were going to cover Zanskar, Leh, Pangong, Hanle and Tso Moriri. But as things unfolded when we started the trip, we had to drop a couple of places out from the plan. We still managed to do Hanle and stay at Tso Moriri for a night which was a very satisfying experience.

The lake has so much to offer that you could stay for weeks together and still have more angles to shoot from. Here's one of my favorite pictures of the lake taken in the early morning hours (6AM).

Tech Specs:
Canon 400D + Canon 10-22mm
Shot at 10mm, F14, 1/25s, ISO 100

Tso Moriri - 100% Indian and equally beautiful


Reviving an old flame!

There's your passion and then there's work! It's always difficult to strike a balance between the two especially when you are passionate about things that conflict with your work commitments. Don't get me wrong here, I love my job and have no intentions of giving up my professional career as yet. But its unlike photography where one good picture makes your day and sometimes weeks together!

The initial idea for this blog was to keep account of all my trips and compile them into a collection for a read when I'll be too old to move out of the armchair, and may be also use it to show my grandkids how much fun it was being in the early 20th century. But, over time work took over and writing never really took off!

This time, I'm going to revive it again with the hope that I'll be able to keep it alive for a long long time. To keep things simple, I'm going to also make some changes to the format and use this space to talk about what I like the most - Photography. I'm no master of the art so I'll stay away from giving discourses and lectures about how to make your pictures look better, there are already tons of sites which do that. Instead, this will be a platform to share some of the pictures I like and my thoughts on why I like them or what was I thinking when I made the image.

Enough of gyaan for Day 1, here's a picture I will cherish for a long time.


This is a very special picture for me. Its taken from an elephant back during the morning "Tiger Show", but thats not what makes it special. This was a trip when me and Elvin took my 16-month old daughter to the jungles of MP on a 10 day trip. A detailed account of my trip can be found at Two Men & A Baby - In Search Of The Stripes.

I don't really approve of the commercialized Tiger Show process and was very skeptical of doing the elephant ride given the amount of equipment and the little one, but we thought we'd do it for the one-time experience. I was holding on to the 7D+600mm combo and my daughter with one hand and had the 70-200 mounted on the 400D on the other hand to click this one. It was a tough situation, but I'm happy with the result!

My daughter on the other hand was so delighted by the whole experience, especially when she spotted the striped cat walking next to the elephant, I could see the excitement in her eyes.

Now coming to the technicalities, I know it isn't the best angle to photograph this magnificent animal and I could have easily gotten a better composition by keeping some more space around it. But this is what you can get when you're managing a baby and hanging on to the elephant back. :)

Stay tuned for more...

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Look for the website coming soon!

This used to be my blogsite which was lost and forgotten, I'm using it as a temporary placeholder for my site for now. A new and improved version should be coming soon!