Saturday, December 25, 2010

Landscapes of Sharavati/Sharavathi valley

18-19, December 2010

I have always been fascinated by the beauty of nature and after getting bitten by this bug called photography I have started to admire it more. So many times have I seen lovely landscape photographs and I always used to think when will I be capable of taking decent landscape shots.

When I heard about the Sharavati Valley landscape photography workshop held by Amogavarsha I did not hesitate to enroll for it. It is very difficult to visit such places on your own unless you have a close group of people who share similar interest and have enough knowledge of the terrain. My main intention of attending this workshop was to get opportunity to shoot landscapes and also expand my network of friends.

We were to assemble at Majestic bus stand on Friday at around 9PM. I reached there just in time and was looking for someone or a group of people who could possibly be related to photography. While I was looking around someone asked me if I had come for the workshop. He introduced himself as Manpreeth and at first instance itself I felt a good vibrance around this jolly guy. Later on Amog arrived and so did other participants of the workshop. We all introduced ourself to each other and spent some time chatting with each other. At around 9.45 PM we boarded the bus to Jog falls.

Day 1 (19th Dec)
The bus dropped us right in front of our camp at around 5.30 AM and soon we all divided our self in groups of two and got in our tents. The plan was to rest till 8.30 AM and then leave for Jog falls after breakfast. I hardly spent any time resting and was more excited about taking photographs. After breakfast Amog took a small session giving tips on landscape photography.

We headed to Jog falls only at around 10 AM. The sun was up by now and light was little harsh. I thought it was better if we had cut shot the resting time and had begun little early which would have given us better light to shoot. I took many shots but frankly I did not like any of them as all of them were pretty flat with no drama. I decided to keep only one and that too just for a record.

Jog falls
Later on we move to another view point at Jog falls and tried some photography there. There too I did not get any good shots. The waterfalls were also not very majestic. Of all the shots I had I liked only one shot taken @300mm where the drops of water were lit by strong sunlight.

By this time it as almost noon and we went back to camp for lunch. After lunch we headed to Sharavati valley. We spent almost whole evening there taking shots from different viewpoints. It was kinda little hazy so there was not much clarity in the shots. Nevertheless here are few shots that I got from this exercise.

After the sun was down we drove back to the camp and headed for a place just behind the camp for some night photography. It was pitch dark and even with long exposures I did not get any good shots there. Later on we went back, freshened up and had nice dinner. The dinner was followed by a long sessions of chit chat where I heard plenty of famous Ranjikant's jokes. Amog showed some of his photography work which was really amazing. At around 12.30 we all were in our tents.

Day 2 (20th Dec, 2010)

Today's plan was to visit  Yana situated in the lush evergreen forests of the Sahyadri Range of Mountains. We all were ready pretty early in the morning and we left for Yana at around 7.20 AM and reached there by 10.15 AM. This place had pretty interesting rock formation which can be fun to shoot. Again the light was bit harsh as the sun was up. I took few shots of the rock formation and this was the best that I got.

Apart form this there were plenty of butterflies and other insects which gave good chance for some macro work. I mounted my Sigma 150mm lens to capture anything that came my way.


Giant wood spider

We were back to camp at around 2.30 PM and after lunch we had a small session with Amog for reviewing the photographs.

Soon after this we left for our last destination which was the backwaters of Linganmakki. We reached the backwaters at around 5.30 in the evening. This place was by far the most beautiful as compared to all other places that we had visited till now. Being late evening the sun was not too harsh and the light was really good to get some decent shots. I got some of the better shots of this from this place itself. Here are few

Overall it was a good experience and once again I realized that shooting landscapes is not an easy task. Its all about chasing light and designing compelling compositions and that is also what makes landscape photography more interesting and challenging. Even though you come across a lovely scene, shooting it in best possible manner is not an easy task and requires great practice, skill and creativity.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trip to Ragihalli

5th Dec, 2010

My hobby of photography and the recently purchased telephoto lens has inspired me to visit different places for bird photography. This weekend decided to visit Ragihalli. I had gone through few blogs to find out what to expect. Ragihalli is a village somewhere near Bannerghatta and some part of the route to the village goes through the forest area of the Bannerghatta NP.

We (Vinay and me) started at around 6.15 AM and reached at the Ragihalli junction at around 7.30 AM. As soon as we went little further down the road we started spotting birds. The first one was Pied Bushchat. We stopped and approached it slowly but it flew away. Then soon we spotted Red Whiskered Bulbul but that too flew off before we can take its shot. We moved on thinking that we will get lucky later. Soon we spotted Bushchat and this time it did stay still for us to get few shots. Here are the shots

Pied Bushchat (Female)
Pied Bushchat (Male)
 After these first sightings we were not very lucky. After a long drive we spotted a Red Vented Bulbul and Green bee eater and managed to get decent shots.

Red vented Bulbul
Green Bee Eater
Red Whiskered Bulbul

Moving ahead towards Ragihalli we found an open space which presented a lovely view of the forest from top. Till then we did not have very successful birding experience so decided to try hand on few landscapes shots.

Well there are defiantly more birding opportunities that what had got. Another tip to Ragihalli is defiantly on the cards.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Little wonders of Hebbal Lake

Over the period of few weeks, I had made many trips to Hebbal lake and photographed many birds. Being a lake it is expected to see few varieties of water birds. However since the lake also has a decent garden there are some common birds (other then water birds) which can be seen in plenty. Well I am talking about sunbirds, flowerpeckers, prinia and tits.

Though these small birds can be spotted easily, I find them very difficult to photograph mainly because of following reasons

  1. These birds are small and very active. They do not stay long at one place and are constantly on the move.
  2. The focal length of my lens is 300mm which works for bigger birds but for smaller birds, I feel its bit short. Which means that I need to get very close to them to get a frame filling shot which good details.
  3. These birds usually move in and out of thick cover of leaves. So its difficult to get good focus and exposure.

However now having visited Hebbal lake so many times and spending plenty of time shooting these birds I realized that these birds can be caught on camera. I found the following tips to be very useful when shooting these birds

  1. These birds do not stay at one place for long, but they do return to same place after some time. So keeping some patience defiantly helps. There is no point chasing these birds. Just wait for some time at the same place and more often then not these birds will return. 
  2. Most of these birds are too busy doing their chores, so if you stay reasonably still without making any quick movements they do not mind your presence. So, just wait, stay still and it will defiantly help to get you close shots.
  3. Shoot in Manual mode. This allows you to change the exposure settings quickly and  accurately. These birds move in and out of shade and they are very small, so the camera meter can get fooled by a dark or bright background. I usually keep Spot metering with Manual mode.
Over several visits to Hebbel lake I managed to get few shots of these small beauties. Here are few shots.

Ashy Prinia

The Ashy Prinia or Ashy Wren-Warbler (Prinia socialis), is a small warbler. It is a common bird in urban gardens and farmland in many parts of India and its small size, distinctive colours and upright tail make it easy to identify. The northern populations have a rufous rump and back and have a distinct breeding and non-breeding plumage while other populations lack such variation.

Purple Rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbirds are tiny at less than 10 cm long. They have medium-length thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues, both adaptations to their nectar feeding.  The males have a dark maroon upperside with a blue-green crown that is visible in some angles. There are violet patches on the throat and rump which are visible only in good lighting.


Tickell's Flowerpecker

Tickell's Flowerpecker or Pale-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum erythrorhynchos) is a tiny bird that feeds on nectar and berries, found in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The bird is common especially in urban gardens with berry bearing trees. They have a rapid chipping call and the pinkish curved beak separates it from other species in the region. This is a tiny bird, 8 cm long, and is one of the smallest birds occurring in most parts of southern India and Sri Lanka.

I have spotted Grey Tit many time but was never able to capture it. So that one is still pending. I do have one shot of Grey Tit that was taken long time back at Lalbuagh. Here it is

Grey Tit

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Misty morning at Hebbal Lake

20th November, 2010

One more weekend and time for a photo shoot at Hebbal lake. Yes, looks like I over doing this, but every visit gives me different kind of shots and it never seems to be enough. When I got up I looked out in the sky and did not see any signs of clouds. I was happy thinking that it will be a clear morning and I might get good light for shooting birds. I reached the lake at around 6.40 AM and found that the sky was not as clear as I expected. I thought it would clear out in few minutes.

However in no time the weather completely transformed to something that I never expected. Instead of clearing out, heavy mist began to form near the lake. In few minutes the whole lake was covered with mist and the visibility became very poor. There was no scope of bird photography so I started taking picture of mist ridden lake. Here are few shots:

Well the weather did change in couple of hours and then the sky was pretty clear and sun was out. I did get few bird shots, but for me the misty morning was one that made my day. Its amazing how the nature changes itself in matter of few hours.

Once the sun was out I saw a Brahminy Kite hovering around one of the edges of lake. I went there and waited for it for some time. Soon it was back and it make 2-3 rounds in the same area. I got couple of shots while it was busy.

Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite

A Purple Moorhen was lazing around. I love this bird when it flies. Its looks very clumsy when it flies and gives an unusual photograph. I waited for right moment and just when it took off I started clicking. Here is the best shot that I got.

Purple Moorhen

Later on I moved inside the garden to capture the sunbirds and flowerpeckers. I did get couple of shots.

Ashy Prinia
Purple Rumped Sunbird
Tickell's Flowerpecker
This pretty much ended my day. This time I had different kind of experience. Sudden change in atmosphere and then back to normal in matter of couple of hours gave good all round shooting opportunities.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birding at Valley School - Trip 1

13th Nov, 2010

I had read about Valley school as one of the better places for birding near Bangalore so this time decided to visit this place with an expectation of capturing and seeing some different variety of birds. Birding trips to Hebbal and Lalbuagh always yielded productive results so this time it was time to try my luck at Valley School.

During my last few trips to Hebbal I had made friends with few photo enthusiastic guys and one of them is Vinay. He too had just started off with bird photography and shares same passion and enthusiasm to shoot birds as I do. We planned couple of days in advance and decided to head to Valley school to shoot birds.

We started off early at around 6AM and reached the school in an hour. All the visitors are required to report to the security person and make an entry in the visitors log book. I had contacted few people online who had previously been there to find out whether any prior permission is required to enter the school area or not. Many of them told me that no such thing is required. However when I reached there the security guy did not allow us to enter in from the main gate. He asked us to walk along the school fence but not to enter the premises. There was a small gate little ahead which was locked. First I toyed with idea of jumping in, but then I did not take risk as its a private property and the last thing I may want is the security guys getting hold of my beloved camera.

Even though we were not able to enter the premises there were plenty of birds that could be heard and some were seen, though it was difficult to shoot them as they were way beyond the camera's reach. Just as we started we saw a Hoopoe peached on a tree. I took couple of shots but I knew it was way too far. The shots yielded useless results and I deleted it in the camera itself.

I felt that if we were in the school premises we would have got a better chance to capture the winged wonders. We also saw plenty of variety of butterflies and moths. I was carrying my macro lens but I wanted to shoot birds so did not change the lens and hardly took any macro shots.

We walked till the place where the school fence ends and where there is a big pepal tree. While we were resting beneath the tree I heard some different kind of bird sound, I was not sure what it was and was trying to locate the bird visually. Suddenly I saw a beautiful bird in bright blue and orange colors. I did not recognize it at first glance but started shooting it. Later on I found that it was a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher. That was a lifer for me (had see this bird for first time) and was also my shot of the day. I also saw a magpie robin around and shot couple of frames of it. Soon after, a Red Whiskered Bulbul appeared at some distance. I took a shot but it was not very near so did not get the details that I usually expect from my shots.

Later on I saw couple of lizards who had come out to bask in sun and I managed to get a shot before it ran away. I would say that this time we were not patient enough to wait for the birds. Maybe that could be because we had very high expectations early on and soon realized that there were no easy pickings. We could have spent more time there but Vinay was getting tired and hungry so we decided to make a move. 

On the way back he mounted his canon 1.4 50mm lens and took couple of shots here an there. One of them was me in action. I liked that shot but am still to receive it from him. Soon that will be my profile pic :)

Here are few shots that I got from the trip. As I had mentioned before  I hardly got any good shots and there is nothing much to showcase except for the shots of the Blue Flycatcher and the lizard. Another trip to Valley school is defiantly on the cards though not too soon. Signing off with few shots from the trip.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Barbet? Not too sure.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

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