14 September, 2011

Bheemeshwari with DA 16-45mm f4 ED :-)

When ever I start writing about my photography, I got used to refer the equipment. I got used to it.

Last Saturday was a bit stressful because I went out to a place called Bheemeshwari with my colleagues. Its around 100KMs from Bangalore. The plan was to start from the last pick up point (my place) at 6:30 so that we reach the place by 9:30 and start on our pre-approved agenda of trekking and water games.

If you plan something with techies and it happens as planned then there must be something wrong ;-)

As nothing went wrong with our plan, we started 2 hours late from my place. BTW, I learnt to half-sleep in a bus stop with my photographic equipment in my hands. Thats a good learning. So by the time we reached the place it was 11:30. I have to agree that the route was so beautiful with may beautiful valleys.

We are welcomed with a drink, a wild lemon juice and we decided on the program - trekking first. It was a one hour trek to the to of the hill with beautiful view onto the river and the valleys. So I started with my K-x hooked with Pentax 16-45mm f/4.0 SMC PDA ED AL lens. I was expecting to capture landscapes and little did I know that I end up taking lot of portraits, for which the lens is not so suited. By the time we came back to the cottage, there were 130 photos and most of them were portraits. ;-)

After some water sports I came back with body pains and around 200 pics. One thing I learnt about this lens after the trip is - this is an excellent lens for landscapes and not really that good for portraits. Not because this is not sharp, but because the details are less as the subject distance becomes more. But it maintains a tremendous depth of field even at apertures bigger than f8. Of course this is not at all an issue...

18 July, 2011

One Day at Lalbagh

"It's raining a bit and also not so bright. We won't get good photos", I told my friend who proposed to go to Lalbagh with his new Canon EOS 60D which he bought by a rush of inspiration after using my Pentax k-x for a while, 2 months ago.

"No, there won't be more people and we can shoot flowers with fresh water droplets still on them", he responded to me. It made sense to me and so I started to go there with my K-x and my latest acquisition SMC P FA 100-300mm f4.7-5.6 lens. In my earlier post about birds I explained how much I love this lens for it's cost to performance ratio.

As soon as I entered Lalbagh, I realized that not even a hailstorm can stop young college couples to occupy every possible hideout in the park. On the other side, being a Sunday, large families gathered under trees and enjoying their food.

I and my friend decided that we take a round trip of the park not to miss any photographic opportunity. So we started at the Glass House. As soon as we started clicking one guy shyly approached us and started asking, "how much one photo". Being distracted from my subject, which was a flower, I didn't it at first. Then I came to senses and told him we are not photographers. Obviously our gear made people think that we are photographers in the park who take the visitor's photos for money. I was amused to see people swarming a guy with a Canon EOS 5D asking for photos.

Well, it was not so interesting to do photography in Lalbagh. Every corner, hideout will be occupied by young couples. So I restrained myself in venturing to the hideouts even though they provide photographic opportunities.

Finally I was able to take 68 photos, the least number I ever took since I bought DSLR. But it turned out to be fruitful that I got some keepers among them. Below are the best of the tour.

General Exif Data: All photos are shot at ISO 400, f8 - f11 and in RAW. Raw files are processed in Lightroom 3 and some of the pics are cropped. 

Finally I may not go to Lalbagh again except flower show, just because the place doesn't seem right to me and partly not to panic the young couples with my camera and big lens :-)

19 June, 2011

Birds...Tiny birds...

Ever since I bought the SMC Pentax FA 100-300mm f4.7-5.8 lens, I am trying more and more to capture birds. In a way, this hunt for birds is testing the lens capabilities. Near the area where I live a hotel, all I can see are small birds and one or two humming birds. Definitely capturing these birds will push the lens to it's maximum limits in terms of - resolution and color reproduction.

Below are some birds and flower shots...


02 June, 2011

One Day at San Diego ZOoo.....

I was told many times by my colleagues, “You should visit the world famous San Diego zoo”. If it world famous then I should definitely visit it.

Ok then, I convinced two other colleagues who came to San Diego with me to come to the zoo on the weekend. On Saturday early morning we reached the zoo by 11’o clock in the morning. As we don’t have cars we have to rely on the public transport. Sadly from the area we put up (Ranch Bernardo), there is only one bus to downtown, that too once in an hour. Not impressive for a city that has a world famous zoo. Having visited so many zoos (Mysore zoo in India is my favorite. You got to see it to appreciate how the animals are displayed without bars or mesh or glass), I was a reluctant to see any zoo, but was having very high expectations. So it’s time to explore…

As soon as I came to this city, I found that things here are ridiculously pricy. I was expecting such a surprise and here it comes- “One day ticket is 45$ and food is not allowed”, we were told by a lady assisting people. My heart dropped. “That’s too much of money for any kind of zoo man. How come it’s that expensive?”, I stopped arguing myself when one of my colleagues bought tickets for 3 of us. 

We entered the zoo. I was keenly looking at the map, to find if I can find some good places to photograph. My first impression is – this zoo is very big and we can’t see all in one day.
Ok. Let’s go to the bus ride to know the zoo better. By the time we finished that bus tour, seeing all caged animals, with no possibility to photograph them, I got very much disappointed. I can only see tigers, lions and some other animals but can’t photograph them. What a zoo…

We got down from the bus. As my colleagues are crazily photographing the animals and cages/mesh together I was keenly looking for free birds roaming on the trees in the zoo. I found some small birds and was able to take some impressive photographs of them. Having a feeling that 45$ is not worth spending on this, I decided to take it easy and roam around the zoo, photograph whatever is not behind the mesh and just see and enjoy if I can. Finally I found a bird enclosure where the birds are free inside and we can move closely with the birds. When I entered the enclosure I found more photogs than the birds having those big big lenses on tripods and firing shots. I was surprised that the birds were not paying any attention to these shutter sounds. They got used to it. When I came out of the enclosure I was feeling happy. I enjoyed the beauty of the setup and taken portraits of these colorful birds.

Rest of the story is agony – the food inside the zoo is crazily expensive, one coke costs 5$, the animals are behind thick meshes, not even a super telephoto lens can hide it in the photo, the area is so big, our legs got fatigued by the end of the day. By 5’0 clock we felt that the time is not worth spending around cages and meshes. So we returned. 

To be frank, the zoo is not terrible. There big collection of species to see, but it is only to see, not for photography. The environment is good, you can see lot of birds, some are free birds, you got to see some very rare animals, the ones you can’t find in the wild that often as of now. So my experience is mixed. Do I go again? Not really worth.  See some of the photos I tool in the zoo.

13 April, 2011

How to Safely Buy Photographic Equipment on Internet

Someone told that photography is an expensive hobby. Many agree and it means photographic equipment is expensive. Even a cheaper lens costs around 200$. Now a days a lot of shopping happens online. You go to sites like amazon, ebay etc and buy things in matter of minutes, and your shopping is done.

Buying photographic equipment is not so different from buying your gadgets online. The only difference is the price of items. The DSLRs and Lenses take the major portion of your investment in this hobby. The DSLRs range from several hundreds of dollars to a few thousand dollars. And so do the lenses. Surprisingly (and painfully) some lenses cost more than your car.

When buying such expensive things should we take some care before paying with your credit cards? I say its worth considering the below points.

  • Trustworthiness of the selling party/parties
  • Security of your credircard information
  • Guarantee and Warranty on the products
  • Is your money protected against any fraud?
Now lets look into each scenario...

Trustworthiness - Obviously we want to put our hard earned cash in the hands of trusted people only. The no.1 thing to check is if the seller can be trusted for doing the business. Sellers like amazon.com, adorama and B & H Photo Video have built tremendous trust among the buyers. Their order fulfillment, query resolution centre are second to none. And it's no surprise that they have huge customer base.

If you are buying from auction sites like ebay, you need to consider more things before buying. Why? because ebay is not taking your orders for fulfillment. It's only a market place. You got to research on the merchant thats selling you the goods.

Many people fall prey to the ebay seller ratings and pay little attention to what they have been selling over the period of time. Recently did the merchant fulfilled orders that are worth greater than your current order? Did he grabbed all good ratings by selling a thousand 1$ products and suddenly listed big items (suspicious)? Did he offer cash and carry, if you are willing to do that?

Why this much care? Because if you lose money on auction sites, there are very less chances that you get it back. Don't fall for low prices even if you won the auction. No one, including you, is willing to lose so much. Just common sense. Be prepared to pay the price from a trustworthy source.

Security - Who wants to let their credit card details out in the open - sure way to get robbed? Once again the agency you are dealing with, their infrastructure should be able to conceal these details. Otherwise you would be the loser. I would depend on the reputation of the payment processor before giving my card details. Sense any trouble? Just keep away.

Guarantee/Warranty - Please make sure if the piece of equipment you are buying comes with manufacturer warranty (by default) and guarantee of replacement in case of malfunctions. Although it is very rare that these expensive equipments come out with defects, it is not unusual. There are many instances where the manufacturers recalled products, free services etc. If you happen to attract any such bad item (I wish not) you should be able to get it replaced immediately. The big players in the market are far ahead than the small vendors. This risk will be higher when you are purchasing online, simply because many small vendors can not afford the costs incurred in getting it replaced. Don't get lemons!

Your Hard Earned Money - is the most valuable thing for you. You want to make sure that it is well spent. What if the vendor doesn't fulfill your order in the given time? Do you have any opportunity to get a full refund? What if you got a different product than the one you bought? Many times the third party payment service providers doesn't give any or little help in such cases. Think about it. Its a matter of thousands or at least few hundreds of your dollars. Once again rely on the customer feed back and the reputation of the vendor.

I hope these precautions, if considered, will save you from being ripped off.


12 April, 2011

Nikon D7000 Review

(Although I didn't own this camera, lot of data from internet is gathered to put before the below views)

The camera giant Nikon unleashed it's new flagship camera D7000. The industry was surprised with D7000, even though it was expected to be the successor of proclaimed veteran D90, as it outshines the D300S. Ok, then what are the key features of D7000? Here they are (according to dpreview.com)...

  • 16.2MP CMOS sensor
  • 1080p HD video recording with mic jack for external microphone
  • ISO 100-6400 (plus H1 and H2 equivalent to ISO 12,800/25,600)
  • 39-point AF system with 3D tracking
  • New Live View/movie shooting switch
  • New 2016 pixel metering sensor
  • Scene Recognition System (see 2016 pixel sensor, above) aids WB/metering + focus accuracy
  • Twin SD card slots
  • 3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen
  • Full-time AF in Live View/movie modes
  • Up to 6fps continuous shooting
  • Lockable drive mode dial
  • Built-in intervalometer
  • Electronic virtual horizon
  • Shutter tested to 150K actuations
 Whats new?

  1. Currently D7000 holds the second highest position in terms of sensor size in all Nikon APS-C DSLRs. 
  2. A whopping 39 point AF system
  3. Shutter life time till 150000 clicks (Smiles...)
  4. Bulkier pentaprism view finder (compared to penta mirror) giving in brighter image through VF.
  5. New menu's, utilities, in-camera movie editing etc...
Where it Shines and Outshines?

  • High ISO performance
  • Maximum ISO range (256000) at full resolution
  • Dynamic range and good details
  • Full HD video recording with limited in-camera editing
  • Build quality
  • Image quality
  • View finder
  • Movie mode
What if you BUY it?

With the best feed back from the users of the DX format DSLR from Nikon, you would smile more often with pride as it's owner. By grabbing the Silver Award from DPReview.com, D7000 proved to be a promising DSLR both for amateurs and semi-pros as well.

Where you have to buy D7000?

Buy this promising D7000 from trusted source amazon.com

D7000 Kit

D7000 body only

Are you already a proud owner of D7000? Then know your D7000 more...



01 April, 2011

Mid-night Experiements

It is almost 2 days over since I got the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. After reading so many recommendations over internet I ordered it from amazon.com. I am very excited to read my first book on photography, with my lovely Fujifilm Finepix s8100 fd camera. I deeply immersed in the book and I am not feeling like going to bed. Why? I am getting lot of info on photography.

In one section Bryan was explaining about aperture and its effect on depth-of-field. So what is depth of field? Basically its the band of field-view which will be in clear focus, keeping the rest in out-of-focus. The range or depth of this band highly depends on the lens aperture and also on the focal length of the lens.

At some point in the book, there were some photos explaining the effect of aperture for a given focal length. The bottom line - the lowest f-stop number (like f1.2, f1.7 etc) produces a very thin depth of field, keeping the rest of the field in out-of-focus, creating an effect called bokeh. Vow thats a lot of info for me. Lets try that now (the time was 12:15PM in the cold night of December in Stuttgart).

I switched on my Fuji, arranged some objects on the dining table to shoot and switched on all lights. I turned the mode dial to Av (Aperture priority mode), chose the smallest f-stop number in that camera f2.8 and started shooting the objects on the table, expecting a pleasant out-of-focus bokeh of the background subjects.

I was asking my self when I looked into the photos on the LCD, "What the hell is this? Where the hell is the bokeh that Bryan was writing about?". I was disappointed and I got the proof that Bryan was wrong, atleast in this case. (What a joke it was).

When I was almost ready to write an email to Bryan (I don't think it can go to him) about his 'error', I continued reading the book the next morning. Few pages later, he explains something interesting. The bottom line is that I can not get that pleasant bokeh with my point-and-shoot camera. Why? Why not? After all I paid money for this camera to take good photos.

The reason? The aperture values on point-and-shoot cameras convert to a bigger f-stop numbers in comparison to a DSLR. Typically a f2.8 on my Fuji is equavalent to almost f9 or f11 on a DSLR. So the result - I get a tremendous depth of field, everything in focus. The chance for a bokeh is very very less.

I felt cheated with my camera. Does it mean I have to live with this everything-in-focus, boring camera? Why do they sell these cameras then? Atleast why the f2.8 on point-and-shoot is equal to f11 on a DSLR?

I am disappointed. :-(

(It was only in my later days I found that the the case may be true with the aperture. The lens diameter on a typical point-and-shoot is far smaller than the f1.7 aperture opening diameter. So I concluded my self that it is impossible to have a true f2.8 aperture on a point-and-shoot and the least possible aperture on p&p cameras is almost that of f11 on a DSLR lens)

Did I never get a bokeh with point-and-shoot? I got. Only at an equivalent focal lengths of 500mm or such.


You can buy this wonderful book from amazon here.

24 March, 2011

Shooting the moon

Just a day before....

"You should shoot the moon on Saturday. It will be closest to earth, once in 18 years opportunity", said my friend to me. "But, we are going to Sai's marriage on Saturday", I exclaimed.
"So what? Take your camera and we shoot there in the night", suggested my friend.
"Taking my DSLR to marriage and taking photos. No way. Everyone will think of me as a marriage photographer", I explained my concern (it has different meanings in India).

Not liking the idea to take photos on my friends marriage day, I decided to shoot the moon on Friday, a day before the super moon. So it went like this.

I took my crappy tripod, which I baught for my point-and-shoot Fuji, I headed to the top of the building around 10'o  clock in the night. The night was calm and I was excited. But I never shot the moon before. Nor did I read anywhere until then on the technique. So my experiments started.

Setting my Pentax K-x on Av mode, I set the aperture at f5.6 at 300mm of the Sigma 70-300mm DG Macro lens. The first shot was taken and I was eagerly looking at the LCD only to see a blob rather than a crisp moon. What the hell?

I thought the light is more and the picture is not crisp and so I set the aperture to f8. The shutter speed went to 1/20. Thats too slow and the result? Once again a blob. And so I again.........
This experimentation went for a while, the shutter clicked for almost 30 times...every time either I got a blob, under exposed moon or over exposed moon picture. So whats next? Lets depend on the manual exposure.

I set the DSLR to manual mode. And now the testing begins. Initially I set the shutter speed to 1/150, aperture to f5.6 and ISO to 200. Hurray.............................................................

.............I again got a blob..................

So i decided to test the smaller apertures. I took pictures at every f stop after f5.6. The results started getting better from f11. And I observed that the picture is better than all others at f16. But its not the best I can settle with. So I made the shutter click faster at 1/250th of a second. Hurray......................................................

I got a crisp moon. I love it. I think you too love it :-)

What happened after f16? Either I started seeing grain (even at ISO 200 of my K-x) or its getting under exposed. Ok. Whats the time now? Its already 11:30 PM. I shot few more pics at - ISO 200, f16 and 1/250 at 300mm of the lens. Headed down to my house, eager to see the pics on my notebook.

You know I am pleased with the result and learned something about shooting moon ;-)


07 March, 2011

Declaration of Freedom!

It's almost 8 years since I desired to shoot photos like a pro. But somehow due to my new found mundane job and the new lifeless life in the polluted city, I forgot about my deepest desire. But when I went to Stuttgart, Germany in 2009, I had plenty of chances to see many beautiful places in Europe.

That's a nice chance, isn't it? But my primary intention was to take photos in the famous locations of Europe and showcase before my friends circle. A nice idea, but how? I don't have a camera. So what? I can afford one now. But my colleagues, who happened to own their own cameras earlier, bombarded me with various questions - how many MP? How much zoom? With or without Video? Why not a DSLR?

After some days of heated discussions and reading some camera reviews on DPReview.com, I decided to handhold the camera before I was going to buy one. So on a nice weekend, with a day pass and two of my other friends I headed towards MediaMarkt in Stuttgart.

"My goodness, there are some discounts on the cameras", I exclaimed when I saw discount boards in red color. After fiddling with some cameras with discount I decided to know more about Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd
model with 10MP and a whopping 18X optical zoom. My God, I can get as close to my subjects as I want ;-)
 .......after some days of deep study on the camera......

"Ok. To hell with the reviews. I like the camera and I buy it today", I took a firm decision. I went to the shop and bought it. Now I am fully excited to take some photos with it.

I will share my experiences with the camera in a next post. For now see some photos I took with it. I love this camera man!

PIN: You can buy this good camera here - Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd 10MP and 18x Optical Zoom Camera

03 March, 2011

First Disappointment :-)

I got a camera for our walking trip to Tirumala temple”,  I felt joyful when these words came out of my friend’s mouth. Not because we are finally making this trip, but because we are getting a camera to shoot the pictures.

I will buy the film roles”, I declared in amusement. My mind was racing in imagination of shooting beautiful scenery, flowers and people alike with the little picture making device.

Finally the day came. I bought two Fuji Velvia roles and loaded one into a Kodak point-and-shoot camera. I didn’t know what I am going to shoot but, I was really excited. I am literally not giving the camera to anyone.

The trip was so entertaining. We made good darshan of Lord Balaji. I shot many photos of flowers, so closely that I wanted to reproduce the Macro shots I had been seeing these years. I was so confident that, among all the photos, the flower shots will be amazing, because I shot them so closely.

After 15 days, my friend came with the prints. I eagerly opened the envelope. Although the portrait photos were good, I was looking for those flower shots. When I saw them I was completely disappointed. My imagination was not painted onto the prints. All the flower photos were out of focus. Colors look so pale.

My imagination fell down. Why wasn’t I able to shoot those pics. I had no answer, only to find it out years later when I started to study photography seriously.

My friends were happy, because their photos are looking so good. I was in disappointment because I didn’t prove I was a good photographer.

Note: Later I found that the camera fixed lens has no close focusing ability. Of course it was not made for macro shots back in 2002.

02 March, 2011

Love at First CLICK!

I still remember that day, exactly 10 years before, in 2001 hot summer in Tirupati, AP, India. I was going with my friend to see a professor of him, who returned recently from a trip to England where his son works. I thought of asking him if he would help me get some books from UK.  

But I got a bigger surprise that day!

When we entered his house premises, his wife, in her mid 50s invited us inside. It seems my friend is so familiar with his professor's family. When we sat down on the sofas, we heard that the professor was busy in almost a dark room.

"What the hell is he doing in that darkness?", I asked my self.

"He is making some photo prints. He had taken so many photos in UK zoos and some nature locations", told the professor's wife, giving us some tea to spend the time.

My friend seems not to care about that but it triggered an interest in me. Ever since my childhood I was curious about these gadgets called cameras that take pictures. I never fiddled with one but was very curious about them. So I thought may be I can see some of his equipment.

While I was in my imagination, the professor came out with a big grin on his face, with a feeling of joy. It was not certainly for seeing my friend though.

"Young men, you are so lucky today. You are the first to see my wildlife pictures taken in London. If you have a photographer's eye you will be amazed."

Surely I was mesmerized. I didn't know if I have that photographer's eye, but I was able to feel the deepest desire in me, to take similar photos. Those photos of close encounters with wild cats, beautiful birds and pleasant scenery made a sweet and compelling effect on me. I started longing to have a camera and capture the beautiful nature.

Yes, that was my Love at First CLICK with Photography story!