About Me

My photo
Hyderabad, AP, India
I used to be a bit of a drifter, still am partly, but life is getting more and more organized recently due to a special someone. I love playing and watching cricket, I have recently realised that I have a very big interest in wildlife and birding. I work for a blue chip company. I am well and truly blessed! No complaints there :)

Friday, December 31, 2010

Pench - Lengthy encounter with a jungle enchantress

The wife and yours’ truly decided to go northwards in search of the tiger which has proved elusive for us since the last year when we visited Ranthambore. This time around we had a choice between Kanha, Bandavgarh and Pench. We decided to go to Pench due to the easier access from Hyderabad.

Unlike our earlier safaris that we planned ourselves, this time we went through a professional safari organizer Jungle Lore.

We arrived in Nagpur on the 24th morning and proceeded to Pench Jungle Camp near the small village of Khawasa about 2 hours from Nagpur. This was to be our base for the next 3 days as we forayed 4 times into the Pench National Park. The park is ~300 sq kms and is home to 33 tigers amongst a host of other flora and fauna.

Day 1 (24th)
Evening Safari
This was the best safari of the lot simply for the fact that this was the only time we saw the famed tigress. But what a sight it turned out to be, and that too for a full 20 mins!
It had been only 10 mins since we had entered the park and we had already spotted a collared-scops owl when our attention was quickly drawn towards a Changeable Hawk Eagle, a first time sighting for us. About 500 meters up ahead guys in another gypsy were furiously beckoning to us and we rushed towards their vehicle. Just around the corner, a full-grown, female tiger was just approaching us front on. The first shot of this glorious sight here below:

From Pench!

But sensing the over-crowded roadway, the tiger just stepped off the road into a dry river bed filled with vegetation. Though we could not see the tiger at this point we were able to hear her roars quite clearly from the river bed. Using this as a reference point our expert guide led us to spot from where we expected the tigress to cross the road. His intuition proved correct and the tigress did come back on to the road - turns out that she was busy marking her territory all the while. We also came to know that she had delivered a litter of cubs recently and that she was hiterto unnamed. We duly named her ‘Bhagyashree’ for her lucky visit before us and continued our experience of observing her for the next 15 mins before she decided to walk deeper in to the jungle.

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

After this terrific sighting our spirits were soaring high and we proceeded to an area called Aligatta to try our luck with some jackals. The evening light was brilliant and we did spot a couple of jackals just about to enter the tall grass in the area. The light made for some good photography and we enjoyed photographing jackals and peacocks at this location. We also started seeing more bird life around this area and this led to spotting our first set of Grey Hornbills, Alexandrine Parakeets and Barn Swallows. After taking a brief break at the chowki near Alighatta we headed back in the direction we came from and duly ran again in to the tigress who had regaled us earlier in the evening. This time however the light was not as good for photography, so did not get any interesting shots. One thing that did stand out during this sighting was the behavior of people in other gypsies. There were children screaming and insensible tourists pointing their cameras with flashes turned on, head-on at the tigress. It was more like a paparazzi. The tigress however did not lose her temper amidst all this clamoring- she continued with her business. Finally she had enough of the commotion and decided to go deeper in to the jungle to get away from all the commotion. We exited the park lost in deep thoughts which were bordering on incredulity from the behavior we had seen from people when they came close to the tiger.

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

Day 2 (25th)
Morning Safari
After having seen the tiger the earlier evening, most of the discussion at the camp site was about our chances of seeing a few more in the morning. But I had a strange sense that we would not be seeing any more tigers for the day. My intuition proved right in the end and we had to contend with seeing mostly bird life and some herbivores like the spotted deer and nilgai. During this safari I had the chance to see and capture the Ashy-bellied Drongo and Common Treeswift for the first time. We also saw the Shikra and parakeets as part of this safari. We tried our luck once again with the collared scops owl just as we exited from the park, but could not see it open its eyes. Here are some pics from the morning safari.

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

Evening Safari
The evening safari was much more eventul than the one in the morning. Though we did not see the tiger even on this one, we were suitably satiated due to the fact that we chanced upon a jungle cat, a species that is rare, reticent and as a result that much tougher to spot in the wild. We were sauntering along rather morosely after only having distant Eurasian Thick Knees to show for our effort after around 2 hours in to the safari when we heard some loud alarm calls from a group of langurs just around the corner from the road we were traveling on. We proceeded to that spot in haste and just across the road along a small walkway there was a jungle cat lying prone on the ground with barely its head showing above the tall grass. In the circumstances, it was really good spotting by the guide in the previous vehicle that helped us even see this rare animal. We spent the next half hour rooted to the spot, in what was poor light due to dense foliage and the fading light of the day. The resultant photography was not necessarily the best, but I was glad that I had at least gotten a few record shots of this species.

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

Day 3 (26th)
Morning Safari
After a long conversation with experts the previous night on the merits of Ranthambore vs. Bandavgarh for tiger sightings, the day started with loads of expectations. If not for the tiger, we at least wanted to see the leopard and I was under strict instructions from all involved to quit going after birds and just focus searching for the big cats. The entry into the park was uneventful and we decided to proceed towards a dense part of the jungle where a male and female tiger were known to exist. The next 2 hours were the most thrilling parts of this safari as there were alarm calls happening all over the place around us as both the tigers became active. There was one instance where we missed spotting the male by about 10 mins as were busy waiting for the female to show up at another location. This pattern repeated itself fairly regularly through the next 2 hours and we ended up seeing no tigers though we did feel we were close to one of them always. With tigers not putting in much of a show we proceeded towards the Karmazari gate for a bit of a break from all the frustration. Just as we were about to enter the Karmazari gate area we saw a White-eyed Buzzard perched atop a nice perch. We stopped to photograph it and also come across various other bird species like the Flameback Woodpecker and the Common Hawk Cuckoo.

From Pench!

From Pench!

After a nice cup of chai and a plate of Aloo Poha at Karmazari, we returned back in to the jungle to continue our pursuit of the elusive tigers. Again there were a few alarm calls and a promise of the golden stripes, but alas nothing really came out of the bushes to surprise us. By now it was time to exit from the jungle and we were driving back along the main road to exit from the Turia Gate when we started cribbing about not having seen a tiger. I was a bit disappointed too, but not at not being able to see the tiger, but at not being able to see as much bird life as possible. My final plea to the driver of the gypsy was to stop close to the Collared Scops Owl (which by now had become a featured stop on every one of our safaris) to see if I could a shot of the bird with its eyes open. Unfortunately that was not to be. This is exactly when the driver asked us if we would be interested in making a brief detour to visit some spotted owlets. Boy, would we mind?!!
We duly exited the park and were driven to a point beyond our usual turn off point besides our jungle camp where we saw 3 spotted owlets staring back at us curiously through those big round eyes of theirs. It was an excellent opportunity and we spent the next 20 minutes observing and photographing these beauties.

From Pench!

From Pench!

From Pench!

After this we returned back to our base camp and pushed onwards to Pune to board our train back to Hyderabad.

If you are interested in a similar safari either at Pench or any other location in India, do check out the plans that Jungle Lore has in place on their website.

Here is the complete list of animals and birds spotted during this trip:
Jungle Cat
Spotted Deer
Sambhar Deer
Changeable Hawk Eagle
Common Hawk Cuckoo
Collared Scops Owl
Indian Roller
Green Bee Eater
White-eyed Buzzard
White-browed Wagtail
Spotted Owlet
Yellow Wagtail
Cattle Egret
Painted Stork
Indian Cormorant
River Tern
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Grey Hornbill
Common Mynah
Red-wattled Lapwing
Spot-billed Duck
Crested Treeswift
White-browed Fantail
Tailor Bird
Eurasian Thick Knee
Barn Swallow
Rofous Treepie
Green Pigeon
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Plum-headed Parakeet
Alexandrine Parakeet
Gray Langur
Grey Jungle Fowl
Jungle Bush Quail
White-bellied Drongo
Racket-tailed Drongo
Pond Heron
Flameback Woodpecker
Jungle Babbler
Golden Oriole
Black-naped Oriole
Spotted Dove
Ashy Prinia
Indian Peafowl
Jungle Owlet
Ruddy Shelduck
Little Grebe
Indian Robin

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pocharam on a lovely sunday morning

This Sunday Navin, Sasi, Akanksha and I went down to the Pocharam Dam Reservoir for a spot of birding after a bit of an hiatus. The going in to Medak and from then on up to the dam was fairly good except for a foot-deep crack just after Jeedimetla which almost swallowed our vehicle up. But, luckily things did not come a cropper due to that and we proceeded onwards after a quick check.

This is our first visit to Pocharam dam after the heavy rains that the state has been blessed with and we were welcomed by the sight of water everywhere as soon as we entered the access path in to the lake. We had to back-track and head on to the tank bund as a result. We also got an opportunity to walk on the actual dam surface where the water was upto the brim and almost overflowing at some points. It certainly was a surreal experience for all of us!

The birding itself was quite pleasant as we right away got lucky with some Indian silverbills and Ashy-crowned sparrow larks. The rest of the morning was spent photographing species like the little-ringed plover, red munia, plum-headed parakeet and blue rock thrush. Most of these, we were seeing and photographing for the first time in our fledgling photography careers.

So, without much further ado, here are some of my pics from the trip.

Pocharam Dam is around 120 kms from Hyderabad is do-able in about 2 hours early in the morning. The return journey, however, takes longer depending on the traffic conditions all the way from Jeedimetla in to Bala Nagar. I would also recommend hotel Chandra Bhavan for a nice hot cup of tea or south Indian breakfast in Medak.


Friday, October 15, 2010

A walk along the Liffey . . .

Dublin, beautiful Dublin, especially when the weather is pristine as this day was (rarely so though).
On a day like that, I took a walk along the River Liffey. The river itself is not massive in size and has not many boats on it to liven things up. All the color is located on the banks with some creative architecture and Dublin landmarks lining up the shores.

Amongst other things, I got to see:

The Grand Canal Theatre: A relatively newer building with an excellent front facade sharply jutting out against a blue sky with green grass on the foreground, this unique piece of infrastructure began construction in January 2007 and was declared open in March 2010. Stunning Geometry!

The Samuel Beckett Bridge: The harp-shaped bridge across the Liffey connecting North and South Dublin constructed at the cost of 60 million euros is a sight when its fully lit. Built by internationally acclaimed Santiago Calatrava, the bridge named after the famous Irish writer Samuel Beckett, was thrown open to public on the 10th of Decemeber, 2009

Custom House: A jog down the memory lane and a walk up the river present you with an excellent vista of the famous Custom House. Currently housing the Department of Environment, the Custom House was built at a cost of 200,000 pounds in the year 1791.

Here are my pictures from both upriver and downriver. Hope they are enjoyable . . .


Monday, October 11, 2010

A treasure trove behind KPHB . . .

This one is from the archives. A couple of months back Navin and I decided to go birding to Lotus Pond on a rainy Saturday morning. Luckily Navin was at the wheel and he decided to drive along a road behind KPHB where we have never gone before. This proved to be an excellent choice as we ended up getting some great shots of Black-Shouldered Kite, Chestnut-shouldered Petronias, and some Baya Weavers.

The best ones from that shoot are below:

This is the location where the pictures were shot:

View Larger Map


Friday, September 24, 2010

The 300 is here!!


I am happy to announce that I finally have in my possession **the** piece of hardware that could possibly take me to the next level. Beginning last week I became a proud owner of the Canon 300 mm f2.8 with a 2x TC added to the set up :)

The legendary lens has come out with flying colors (pun intended) in my first run with it @ Lotus Pond last Saturday (sorry Navin, could not resist it!)

Here are the pics:


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekend visit to Pocharam and Narsapur

Recently, with the Independence day weekend around the corner, 4 of us (Ashok, Sasi, Rohit, and myself) drove down to Pocharam for a spot of birding and to generally enjoy getting out.

The drive to Pocharam is about 2.5 hours. You exit Hyderabad through Bala Nagar and the small towns you will touch on the way are Jeedimetla, Narsapur and Medak. Its a very decent 1-day getaway if you leave around 5 AM in the morning. The roads are actually very good all the way up to the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Pocharam Dam.

You can find the map with the driving directions here.

We did manage to a fair bit of birding. For me the personal highlight was catching the Scaly Breasted Munia and Indian Silverbill for the first time on my camera. We also happened on some really dramatic landscape along the road and also in Pocharam due to the very heavy cloud cover that day. All pics from this trip below:

Here is the list of birds ID'd that day:
Scaly Breasted Munia
Indian Silverbill
Grey Heron
Painted Stork
Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark (M/F)
Green Bea Eater
Brahminy Kite
Black Kite
Cattle Egret
Large Egret
Median Egret
Baya Weaver
Purple Rumped Sunbird
Indian Roller
Spotted Dove
White-throated Kingsifher
Cotton Teal
Lesser Whistling Teal
Short toed snake Eagle
White Bellied Drongo
Pied Robin (juv)
Common Sandpiper
Paddyfield Pippit
Red wattled Lapwing
River Tern
Ashy Prinia


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Armed with a Canon 500mm prime - Lotus Pond

This post has been due for a long time now. I had taken the pictures below as early as May 2010, but never got around to posting them. Was just checking my old pics and suddenly remembered that these have been due. This particular set of pics are really special to me as this was the first time I got to use a 500mm prime with a 1.4x converter on my 7D (Huge thanks to Ashok again!!).

Watch out specifically for the Tickell's Blue flycatcher and the Small blue KF, my first decent catch of both these :)


Friday, August 6, 2010

Around the world (almost!) with the 10-20 Sigma . . .

I am aiming to make this photo blog update of mine slightly different. In recent times I have been focusing mainly on birdlife and other wildlife as subjects on most on my posts. This time around I am trying to focus mainly on architecture with a few pictures thrown in as landscapes and cityscapes.

I had recently purchased a Sigma 10-20 wide angle lens and the opportunity to try it out extensively came by when I traveled on work first to the US and then to Ireland. The pictures I have posted below have been mainly shot in the cities of Mountain View, US; Seattle, US; Half Moon Bay, US; and Dublin, Ireland.

Do check the pictures out below and post any comments/feedback that you would like to share.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Visit to the Manjeera Barrage - in search of the River Tern with Canon 7d and 400mm f5.6 prime!

This Sunday morning, Navin and I decided to head to the Manjeera Barrage around 45 kms from our homes in Hafeezpet. Manjeera is quite popular in Hyderabad due to the fact that almost all drinking water for the city comes from the reservoir here. The easiest way to get there from the city is to get on to NH 9 (Mumbai-Pune Highway), cross Pattancheru, Isnapur, Rudraram and Kandi, take a turn-off to the right at Pothireddypalli village and head in to Sangareddy town. Once at the town, find your way to the police training grounds from where there are clear board markers guiding you all the way up to the Manjeera barrage.

Map Link

Manjeera reservoir is an hot spot as far as birding goes and some of the pictures included in this post are apt testimony to that fact. In an earlier trip we had directly gone up to the barrage and started shooting from there. This time around we wanted to change tack a bit as there were still plenty of areas in and around the reservoir we had not explored yet. So we went straight ahead to the spot near the Shivalaya from where we could directly get to the lake bed. The weekend before we had seen a large gathering of Bronze Winged Jacana and Purple Moor Hen at this location. We had also not failed to notice the Baya Weaver bird nests at the same place just off the main water body. But since we just happened to barge in on the scene, all of the above-mentioned literally flew the coop. This time we were extremely careful about getting as close to this spot as possible without letting the birds know of our presence.

The results of this approach are here to see:

After having spent a fair bit of time at this location, we moved deeper in to the lake bed up to a point where summer had not left its imprint yet. This place was filled with even more bird life but unfortunately could not get close enough to any of them due to the fact that we were approaching them through open ground. I did manage to get a couple of decent flight shots at this point though.

After having spent close to 45 mins at this spot, we decided to head back to the barrage to try our luck with the River Terns. We had visited that barrage a week earlier and were welcomed by some stunning dives from River Terns looking to fish. I wanted to train the 400mm prime on them this time around to get better shots. Unfortunately as luck would have it, we could not get even one decent shot of a river tern. But I did manage to get some decent shots of a snowy egret frolicking in the water in addition to a shot of a darter in the water.

If you are still interested, I have included a few river tern shots from my visit the previous week. Check them out below:


Monday, March 1, 2010

Quintessential Kerala! Untouched, unhurried, un-occidentalized

We'd like to think that anyone planning to do a Kerala in 5 days should come to us for tips! Our trip was perfect and true to the title, we did experience quintessential Kerala!

Sleepy on an early morning flight directly into Trivandrum as we approached the western ghats our eyes popped out! Mountain peaks sneaking through dreamy morning clouds- it was unmistakably one of the most beautiful out-of-an-airplane-window-sight we both ever saw! And then as you get closer the endless series of swaying palms is what reminds you how you are definitely in God's own country!

We took a cab from the airport to Kovalam where we had booked a beachside hotel. Travelguru really got me the best deals what with an additional 15% off if you own a Citi Visa Gold card :) :) One thing to watch out for is the very steep cab prices across Kerala. Go for other modes of transport wherever you can!

Kerala is hot and humid and we set out for sunset by the beach after an afternoon of lazing indoors. A beach is a beach is a beach! There's crystal sand and sun thirsty tourists everywhere. Unless you are one of those typical beach people what will probably clinch the deal for you is the amazing row of sea food joints or trinklet shops that line the beach :) And of course, if you have a fancy camera here's your chance to be arty ;)

Next day early morning we set out for Alleppey, referred to as the Venice of the East. The handy tip here is if you take a cab it will charge you anything between Rs. 3500-4000 and will take you through uneven bumpy roads for over 4 hours. What we did was, took an auto (Rs. 300) to the TVM station from where we took the Jan Shatabdi train to our destination. We had gotten our tickets already from IRCTC for Rs. 60 or so. The exactly 2.5 hrs journey by the countryside was not only beautiful but quick and comfortable. I recommend it- highly!

Alleppey is another unhurried Kerala town. The large network of canals provides for its lifeline. Water carnivals using the gigantic snake boats and the country canoes of varying sizes add to the touristic attraction of the district. After a nice breakfast and a walk through the city area we were escorted by our boat guides to the jetty. We had booked a houseboat through a friend who runs a tourism business in there. The jetty was lined with boats of various sizes and after the crew had brought in supplies for the entire day we set off. Our's was a two bedroom single storeyed houseboat. Comfort onboard was beyond what we imagined - there were neat attached bathrooms with sufficient running water, an AC operable in the night, a deck designed as a living area with sitting and dinning arrangements and a TV with satellite connection. The crew consisted of a boatman who sat at the steering, a cook who made amazing (not too spicy) Kerala meal (you can specify veg or non veg) and a helper. The boat navigated leisurely through the wide canals of the backwaters passing by other passenger or tourist boats and also was met by small fishing boats selling prawns if you desire. The balmy winds and the silent lagoon inspired rest like never before! We stopped by at small land masses to purchase tapioca chips and soft drinks and take pictures in spite of the amazing lunch and snacks on board. The boat was moored for the night by 5.30 pm which is when I joined the crew at the back to try my hand at fishing! Ajith wouldn't stop taking pictures, be it of the amazing variety of birds you encounter in the journey or the landscape and sunset or other boats.

Next morning after amazing idlis on the deck the boat dropped us off at Kumarakom at the private boat jetty of Paradise Resorts where we had a cottage booked for a day. Luxurious individual cottages, a crystal clear pond, extending into the backwaters and further into the ocean, amazing staff, very very restful ambiance. We also got Ayurvedic massages organised by the hotel for extra payment. I totally recommend this hotel for ultra comfort at awesome value for money.

Evening we went ahead to explore the village and landed at the Mudra Institute that showcases Marshal arts and Kathakali performances every evening for tourists. The performers were dressed on the stage to show the painstaking effort that goes into the heavy costume. It was crazy! Almost 30 gunny bags were tied around the waist to get the elevation of the frock alone! The episode from the Ramayana they performed was good to watch and I throughly appreciated the detailed explanation of hand gestures and expressions prior to the actual performance.

Kumarakom is a lazy backwater town best for relaxation but Ajith was keen to explore the bird sanctuary we read about so much online. There's hardy any bird left there but he did manage some amazing landscape shots!

Around noon we bid adieu to Paradise Resorts and took a bus to Cochin. The local bus ride left us completely rattled. Many close shaves, too many stops, lots of coconut oil smelling co-passengers and a sultry 3 hours later we reached Cochin and slept exhaustedly through the afternoon post a heavy kerala fish curry lunch. Evening we took a boat from the Marine drive jetty and went on a water tour close to the harbour and the other islands. What saved the day for me was the gold shopping that I did after. Kerala is famous for its one gram gold jewelery and if you like chunky ornaments you definitely should not miss it. Each item of jewelery is made of about a gram gold with other metals filled inside. They look as good as real gold and last forever (is what I hear) without losing sheen!

You can't be in Cochin and not check out the Chinese fishing nets at Mattancherry. Next morning we took the Govt boat ( ticket- Rs. 2.5 per person) to Fort Kochi to check out the giant fishing nets and also the famous synagogue (taking picture strictly prohibited) and dabbled at curio shopping. Great stuff but very expensive! We took the same ride back to Ernakulam and after some great iddiyappam and egg roast proceeded to the airport to get our flight!

P.S: I hear Munnar is amazing. However since we had little time and the hill station was out of track (we were sticking to the coast) we decided to leave it for next time. Ours was Kovalam-Allepey-Kumarakom-Kochi but your trip could include more Kerala destinations! Enjoy :)

Posted by Shaon (guest writer )


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Humming Bird

One of my biggest inspirations for bird photography (apart from India Nature Watch and Ashok's stunning pictures) came from the book 'Nature Photography' by Tim Fitzharris where on the front cover there is a stunning picture of a Gray-tailed Mountain Gem Humming Bird in flight above a flower bouquet. I used to wonder I I would ever be able to shoot such intimate shots of a bird in action. Late last year, Ashok and I were in the US on work and we were waiting for our bus back to San Francisco from Mountain View, CA. Outside our place of work, there is a well-manicured lawn that also has a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Ashok sensed some movement amidst the flowers and we immediately saw a Green Violetear humming bird happily flitting about in gay abandon! Now, I can't tell you how important it is to keep carrying your gear at promising locations no matter how heavy it might be. That day, I was extremely lucky to have had my camera and the 170-500mm to catch what turned out to be the best bird picture I have ever caught so far :)

From One time wonders

Exif Info:
Location - Mountain View, CA
ISO - 300
Exposure - 1/250 sec
Aperture - 6.3
Focal length - 500mm

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Its all in the game!

What can I say? India is cricket crazy! Sometimes one feels that the only thing that unites the nation is cricket. So if you want to take travel cricket shots, then India is the place to be in. But these kind of shots are also quite common to come by. How do you set yourself up for a shot with a difference? Very simple, find a vantage point :) If you can set yourself right above where the action is at, you will increase your chances of getting dramatic shots of the same. This shot happened on a lazy Sunday morning where I found the lighting dramatic and the shadow of the stumps and the batsman adding loads of depth to the picture. You can also try this experiment at mid-day with different results. Make sure to expose for the player though when shooting at mid-day.

From One time wonders

Exif Info:
ISO - 800 (should have shot this at 200 max considering the good lighting, elementary mistake)
Aperture - 14
Exposure - 1/400
Focal Length - 55mm

Pandol - Durga Puja, Kolkata

One Timers (4)

Cloud patterns on a blue sky accentuate your pictures. They add that extra dimension to your pictures to make them stand out. Important things to note when exposing to the sky is to ensure that you are always exposing the blue in the sky at a 90 degree angle to the Sun's position in the sky. The sun in this picture is hitting the statue from the right, this picture was shot around 3.30 in the evening. So the 90 degree angle where I can get the 'bluest' sky is around 12 noon if I take a normal clock for reference. You can also try other techniques like holding your thumb and fore finger at a 90 degree angle. Point the thumb to the sun directly and the part of the sky the fore finger is pointing to is the 'bluest' it can get. This approach will improve the quality of your pictures dramatically! You can also try a polarizer which will darken the sky further adding more blue and making the picture look much better for the blue . . .

From One time wonders

Exif info:
ISO - 300
Aperture - 10
Exposure - 1/250
Focal length - 18mm

Looky looky

One Timers (3)

This owlet has been stuff made up of dreams! Well, its actually not that dramatic. But the very fact that I had been searching for a shot of this elusive creature for 3 years definitely added to the drama for me and also made me a bit of a blithering idiot before I could at least get a documentary shot of the creature :)

From One time wonders

For all that, its a common bird resident in open farmlands and near human habitation. It feasts on insects and rodents and so the proximity to human habitats.

Exif Info:
ISO - 200
Aperture - 5.6
Exposure - 1/400 sec
Focal Length - 432mm

Jaguar (Panthera Onca)

One Timers (2)

2. I have always wanted to take a shot of one of these creatures looking directly at me. That was relatively simple if you find their habitat close by. But what was important was to make the look appear to be sinister and foreboding. So I elected to shot this specimen at the Nehru Zoo Park in Hyderabad on a warm summer afternoon so that the warmish hued light could bounce off the ground in to the Jaguar's eyes. The effect is here to see . . .

From One time wonders

Exif info:
ISO - 200
Exposure - 1/80
Aperture - 6.3
Focal Length - 500mm

Note that I had to get really close to the iron cage to be in a position to take out the iron mesh out of the equation. I also had to turn off AF and move in to manual territory for this shot for exactly the same reason.

One Timers...

Over the last year and half, I have been shooting pictures of many a fancy. I have tried to capture the details and the motivation behind these pictures here in this column. The objective is to share some technical information about some of these pics and also give a inkling in to my thoughts behind these pictures. So, here goes . . .

1. Lightning Strikes Twice!
From One time wonders

Lightning never fails to amaze me! This exhibition of raw power of nature can literally send shivers up my spine. My foray in to lightning photography finds its way back to about a couple of years when in a burst of inspiration I set up a tripod and tried to capture that one sliver of light on my camera quite unsuccessfully on a rainy day in Chennai. The disappointing experience took me back to the drawing board and I spent time diligently reading up expert speak about getting 'that' perfect exposure. More efforts followed in the ensuing monsoons, but nothing 'eye popping' showed up. During this period I even considered investing in a lightning trigger, but somehow I ended up feeling that it was only a matter of time before I got what I have been chasing all along.
This lightning streak was part of a sharp summer shower in Hyderabad on the 21st of June in 2009. The previous day was very similar with a sharp downpour preceded by severe lightning and thunderstorms around Hitec city. So the next day I packed up earlier than usual and went home and sat this one up. I kept tracking the progress of the lightning streak until I felt reasonably sure about exposing myself outdoors to take this shot. Remember, lightning is unpredictable and extremely dangerous.

Exposure: 1/2 Sec
ISO: 400
Aperture: 7.1
Focal Length: 18mm
Post processing: yes, added saturation, increased shadow and to accentuate lightning streak as it turned out to be very bright.