WildZests: September 2011

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...