Photographs from a trek in Baba Budan hill range covering Mullayangiri, Baba Budangiri andother peaks close to Kemmangundi on 8th and 9th November, 2008. Kemmangundi is around 260 KM from Bangalore in Chikmangalore district of Karnataka and was the summer retreat of Krishnaraje Wodeyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore. The trek was led by Deepak & Prasanna, it was so amazing to see them trek casually through the rough terrain in slippers/flip-flops!
Mullayangiri is the tallest peak in Karnataka at over 6000 ft in height. We trekked in Mullayangiri & Baba Budangiri ranges on Saturday and Kemmangundi on Sunday. There are caves a little way down from the top of Mullayangiri, we also spent some time exploring them. Inside the caves it was narrow & damp, we had to bend and crawl through to cross several sections.
At night we stayed near Baba Budan's shrine, a cave considered holy by both Hindus and Muslims.
Water points are not plentiful along the way, typically small streams run through the forested regions along the way. Deepak was our guide and he was well aware of the water points having done the route multiple times.
We planned on trekking to Kalathi Falls also on Sunday, however dropped the plan when we realized that we were running behind schedule.
Majority of the trek route is composed of grasslands
Think forest patches dot the grasslands
Lush vegetation can be found within the forests around the springs
The trail with people ascending. In some sections the trail is well marked, in other sections it is not. So it is always preferable to take a guide along who knows the route well.
A ruined structure atop one of the peaks
All photographs with Canon EOS 400D and Canon EF-S 17-85mm F/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. I will be uploading a few more photographs from the trek as individual posts over the next few weeks.
Selectively highlighting subjects or elements in the photograph can help in focusing attention to them.
Other techniques to direct attention to various elements in the picture include selective focusing (using depth of field) and using composition techniques like framing, colors, leading lines etc.
The key is to ensure detail in the highlight areas as well as relevant shadow areas. Given the limited exposure latitude, this is a tough challenge. Taking the photo at the right time of the day will ensure adequate exposure to capture details in highlights & shadows.
Backlighting plus selective highlights can bring out the details in leaves and flowers and draw the viewers eye to them.
All photographs with Canon EOS400D and Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS USM Lens.
The photos below are taken with the Canon EF 70-200 F/4 L IS USM Lens, the second photo was taken using the lens combined with a Tamron SP AF 1.4X Teleconverter.
The 70-200mm F/4 L IS USM is my first Canon "L" series lens, the coveted breed of Canon lenses that are the best technology can produce at this day and age. Although I did not see an order of magnitude difference in my photographs with this lens and my non "L" series lenses, I could definitely make out where all the hype is coming from. Perhaps the lack of major differentiation could be coming from my abilities as a photographer too, a more experienced photographer might put the lens to better use.
That said, the lens was a pleasure to handle and use. A bit on the heavier side, but with excellent build quality, the lens feels solid in the hand and balances well. It would no doubt handle better on the 40D or one of the more professional Canon SLRs than my 400D. With up to 4 stop image stabilization, one can hand hold the "heavy" lens and get sharp photographs under most circumstances with sufficient light.
Flower & Ants
Photograph taken with Canon EOS 400D and Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS USM combined with Tamron SP AF 1.4X TC. One can make out the details captured and the sharpness of the lens even at 1.4X magnification from 200 mm, especially in the ants on the stem. The equivalent focal length in 35 mm is 200mm * 1.6X (FOVC) * 1.4X = 448 mm. Having a 448 mm with F/5.6 (the 1.4X TC reduces max aperture by one stop) max aperture and Image Stabilization is quite good. The reach is not sufficient for wildlife/bird photography, but is a handy zoom with 112 - 320mm without the TC and 157 - 448mm with the 1.4X TC.
There are 4 variations of the 70-200 focal range zoom in Canon's line up, in the increasing order of price, they are:
Canon EF 70-200 F/4 L USM
Canon EF 70-200 F/4 L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8 L USM
Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8 L IS USM
After quite a bit of research and deliberation, I settled on the 70-200 F/4 L IS USM due to various factors listed below:
At this focal range (or any other for that matter), IS is quite mandatory & extremely useful
The F/2.8 lenses are quite bigger and heavier
The 70-200mm F/4 L IS USM was the best compromise - it had IS and was much cheaper and lighter than the 70-200 F/2.8 L IS USM
The 70-200mm F/4 L IS USM and 70-200mm F/2.8 L USM are available for almost the same price, but I prefer IS to having a one stop max aperture advantage. For those who want to stop motion and need shorter depth of field, the F/2.8 is a good choice. Note that IS will help with camera shake, but not with subject motion
A toddy tapper coming back with his day's collection through the backwaters of Kumarakom in a traditional country boat.
I started this blog to share photographs with my family and friends, somewhere along the way, it expanded in scope to become a medium for me to track my photographic evolution and changes in my style and technique as I continue along this path of learning photography as a medium of self-expression. It continues to be a vehicle for sharing photographs with family, friends and the greater internet community, and to collect their appreciation, feedback and critiques. And in some cases, to serve in documenting my travels & experiences for the benefit of others.
But above all, this serves as one memory that I can look back upon continuously, deriving some inspiration from the subtle signs of improvement that show up in my body of work as time goes on.
After the rain
When I initially started learning and experimenting with photography around eight years back, I never "slotted" myself into any particular genre of the art. Recently however, my primary interests in photography have revolved around travel, adventure, nature & people. This itself is quite generic, and I am fine with this lack of "specialization" that some regard as key to defining and developing a style of one's own. Maybe one day in the future I will find a particular genre more appealing than the rest, but for now, I photograph the moments and/or subjects that I feel must be preserved.
Another discovery is that I do love monochrome photography, they have a quality that is not just restricted to the old time charm that they evoke in the viewer. To strip away multitudes of color is to see the world with different eyes, and this is one key aspect of making interesting photographs. When we play with focal lengths, depth of field, noise, saturation or any other creative effects, what we are trying to do is to convey a vision that would not appear "normal" or "natural" to our eyes. In fact, a 2D representation of a 3D world itself is inherently manipulative and unnatural, and hence a creative tool.
Identifying images that come into their own in monochrome is an interesting exercise in itself.
Flowers at Lalbagh
Hopefully I will continue to have the time to pursue this interesting and challenging hobby, and to keep this blog updated with newer photographs.
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Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bangalore, India was commissioned by Hyder Ali in the year 1760, and was completed by his son Tipu Sultan. The garden has more than 1000 species of flora, many of them imported from different countries. The Glass House, modeled on London's Crystal Palace, is the center of attraction.
Biannual flower shows are organized every year in January and August, on the occasion of Republic Day and Independence Day of India respectively. I took these photographs during a quick tour of the August flower show. Some dignitaries were coming to visit the show, so I had restricted access to many areas, including the glass house.
The Lalbagh gardens have always been a favorite haunt of mine when I started out with photography. Having a square kilometer of landscaped gardens with flowers, trees, butterflies, birds, a lake, lotus pond & other such interesting and varied subjects to shoot helped me learn different aspects of photography in the nicest environment possible.
There are three memories in particular I have regarding my earlier wanderings around Lalbagh.
The first is with respect to having a following (a fan base as I like to call it). With my long barreled 75-300 lens mounted on my Canon film SLR (quite a sight when zoomed to 300mm), I would get off the beaten track, into the wild outgrowth trying to photograph butterflies. Now, these are one of the peskiest of creatures to photograph, they never bother to show any consideration to the earnest photographer who is trying to capture them in their glory.
The strange man, with the strange instrument glued to his eyes, making like a statue - this sight never failed to inspire curiosity amongst the crowd that will always be thronging Lalbagh which ever day of the week it is. So wherever I go, I would have this entourage of 5 to 10 people, keeping a respectful distance behind me, and still trying to peek over my shoulder at what it is exactly that i am aiming the camera at.
Needless to say, one or other of them would get impatient and make a sound, driving away the one butterfly that condescended to sit patiently for the one microsecond that it was willing to spare for the desperate photographer.
The second memory is of being asked questions regarding camera and photography. Just because I am holding what seems to be a very expensive camera, people come to the conclusion that I must be an expert in all aspects of photography & equipment. So every ten minutes or so, someone holding a regular point and shoot (most often the Kodak 800 or whichever model, the one with manual film advance and comes for Rs 800 or 900 with a Kodak Max film free), would come up to me ask me questions like why is his flash not firing, or film advance knob is not turning anymore, or the most common request - can you take a photo of our group?
The third and funniest memory is of getting suspicious stares from all the couples hiding in nooks and corners, under trees, on the benches, behind the bushes. Both of us share a common interest - getting away from the crowd, however, with very different purposes in mind, I must add!
The very moment I stumble upon any such couple, they would instantly loose their interest in each other, and gain an equally intense interest in the surrounding flora and fauna. That interest would last until I pass through their field of vision, trying to suppress a smile and praying that their curses would not have any permanent effect on me.
Lalbagh remains open from 6 AM to 7 PM daily. Entry is free from 6 AM to 9 AM and from 6 PM to 7 PM for the benefit of joggers, other times, a nominal entry free of INR 10 is charged.