Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vacation Notification ...

Flower near Tungabadra Dam

Flower shot near Tungabadra Dam during Hampi Trip. Canon EOS 400D with EF-S 17-85mm F/4-5.6 IS USM lens. The gardens near TB dam is quite nice with lots of flowers.

Am taking a week's vacation in Kerala, have a couple of marriages to attend, plus a two day visit to Kumarakom. Have scheduled a few posts (created earlier) to "publish" over the coming few days, mostly "Photo of the Day" entries with flowers as subjects. First time I am trying out this new feature of Blogger, hopefully things go as planned.

Flowers are a relatively easy subject to photograph, and with their diverse shapes and colors, they always result in good photographs. I still have a good selection of flowers from my Lal Baugh flower show to publish, however, will put them up on a single post in a few weeks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Canon EOS 50D

Before Photokina 2008, Canon has announced the EOS 50D DSLR along with Canon EF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS Lens.

Photo courtesy

Comparing against the EOS 400D I have owned since the beginning of this year, why would I consider an upgrade to EOS 50D (or EOS 40D as that will continue to be available)? I can think of the following reasons, assuming EOS 50D will be at least as good as EOS 40D for the following parameters:
  1. Better image quality due to sensor enhancements and 14-bit processing
  2. Expanded usable ISO range and better noise reduction
  3. Faster auto focus that works better under low light conditions
  4. Better build quality and weather resistance
  5. Better LCD screen (3.0" size, VGA resolution & usability under bright light) for image review
I am ambivalent about the following features:

Live View
Even on Point & Shoot digital cameras (I have owned and used quite a few including Canon S2 IS), I tend to use view finder rather than LCD screen. The poor performance of LCD screen under sunlight and power drain are two major factors why I choose not to use LCD.

Higher Resolution The 15 MP on EOS 50D comes at a cost - file size. I started shooting RAW recently and find disk space an issue even with the 9 MB RAW files generated by my 10 MP EOS 400D. As of now, my photographs are pretty much used only for display on my blog, but I would still like to have archival copies of all images for whatever the future holds.

High Speed Continuous Shooting
I am primarly a landscape photographer and have not used the high speed continuous shooting mode extensively. However, this is something I would like to experiment with for wildlife & sports photography and maybe even for portrait photography, especially with kids. EOS 40D & 50D are capable of 6+ fps and have higher buffer sizes for storing more images in burst mode.

In summary, I personally would evaluate & justify the price premium primarily with respect to image quality, low light performance and build quality. There are of course, other factors like weight, battery capacity, responsiveness and custom functions. But they would not weigh in as primary factors if and when I consider upgrading to a better camera body.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Photo of the Day

Getting Antsy

Shot near TB dam during Hampi Trip. The tree was hollow towards bottom and a huge army of ants were marching up & down the tree. Canon EOS400D with EF-S 17-85mm F/4-5.6 IS USM lens. The 17-85 lens with a maximum magnification of .2X is not great for macro photography, this was as close as I could get. Retained photo because of the diagonals made by the striations on the bark and the profile of the two black ants against the greyer shade of the bark.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Photo of the Day - Prachi

Prachi at Krip & Pari's engagement party. She is extremely shy (at least with me), and with so many people around, she ensured that she stayed close to Raghu or Vaishali all the time.

Canon EOS 400D with EF 50mm F/1.8 lens and built in flash

Love the nice, rounded highlights formed by the out of focus bulbs in the background and the bright catch light from the flash in Prachi's eyes - overall a very dreamly looking photograph of Prachi. Converted to monochrome to give emphasis to the child's face and eyes and avoid color as a distracting element in the picture.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Portraits at Hampi

Although I was concentrating more on capturing the monuments and landscape at Hampi, I did manage to sneak in a few candid portrait shots.

Rathi amongst the ruins

The below two pictures were shot with the Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom lens that I borrowed from Kiran. I borrowed the lens with the intent to shoot Parakeets, but they proved quite fast and elusive - so I decided to aim at more sedentary targets, albeit a lot less colorful.

Kiran at Hampi

The 300mm (480mm with 1.6X FOVC) has a sufficiently long reach for a candid head and shoulders portrait shot from afar with nice out of focus background wide open at F/5.6.

Rathi at Hampi

The lack of image stabilization at this focal range makes photography tricky without a tripod. The day was overcast with diffused light avoiding harsh shadows, but with adequate light for me to shoot hand-held in shutter priority at 1/500s with ISO upped to 800 to avoid blur.

Unfortunately, I could not try the 1:2 Macro capability of this lens.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hampi - Poetry in Stone

Photographs from Hampi trip - August 15 to 17, 2008.

Hampi, located approximately 350 KM from Bangalore in Karnataka, India, was the capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagara empire and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rainy season is the best time to visit Hampi, otherwise the site is literally too hot to handle. The weather gods were very obliging we had only light drizzles to trouble us.

Map courtsey We stayed at Priyadarshini hotel in Hospet, the biggest town near to Hampi and in 3 days, covered Hampi, Tungabadra Dam & Chitradurga Fort.

Virupaksha Temple

Temple Elephant

A tricolor flag to celebrate Independence Day

Sasive Kalu Ganesha

Watching a resplendent Tungabhadra River

Chariot at Vitthala Temple

Detail from the Chariot Wheel

Lotus Mahal

Elephant Stable

Chitradurga Fort

Web Links:

Friday, August 08, 2008

Photo of the Day

Small World

Canon EOS 400D, Canon EF-S 17-85mm F/4-5.6 IS USM, 85mm
1/2500s @ F/5.6, ISO 400

Ants on a flower shot while I was trekking up to Via Ferrata at Tende, France. I did not realize that the trekking path led up to Via Ferrata, just saw a path from Tende town and started walking without having any idea where it went.

Via Ferrata is a mountain climbing route that is equipped with fixed cables & ladders. They seem to be quite popular in Europe, though I first came to know about them when I stumbled across one while exploring Tende. I could not attempt it because I did not have safety harness etc and the signs were very clear reagarding usage of safety equipment, nor were there anyone around to assist me.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bookmark: Great Circle Mapper

BLR-FRA-SFO Path with ETOPS 120 min rule time

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Ever wondered why airplanes take weird paths from one city to another? There are multiple reasons, the primary one being that Earth is not flat and is more of an "oblate spheroid" or "ellipsoid" in shape. So the shortest distance between two points on Earth is not a straight line like in planar geometry and is a "Great Circle" (if considered a spherical) or a geodesic path. The other reasons include regulations stating that twin engined aircraft have to be able to fly to an alternative airport on failure of one of the engines within a specified period of time, taking advantage of tail wind etc.

See the ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) page in Wikipedia for more information on regulations governing flight paths for twin engine commercial aircraft.