Friday, February 22, 2008

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Free'

I need not say much about how my photo below fits this week's theme 'Free'. This flock of pigeons symbolize freedom and free spirit as they fly past a Buddhist 'stupa' or 'chhorten' in Sikkim, India.

Enough said...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Heavy'

Taken at a small railway station in India. Railway wagons are the primary means of transporting heavy industrial material across India. They are cheap and they are fast. Indian Railways incidentally is the second largest employer in the world. Apart from transporting an incredible number of passengers each day, it also carries more than one million tons of freight every day.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Narrow'

This is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (not to be confused with the famous 'grand' Grand Canyon at Arizona). Over millions of years, the narrow Yellowstone river has carved out this canyon from the bowels of the earth. Notice the red tinge on the canyon walls - this is because the canyon wall has 'rusted'! Rust is iron oxide (chemistry, anyone?) - and that is exactly what the rocks in the canyon walls are made of.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Oh Calcutta! Part One

Ever since I first started my blog, I had been thinking of featuring the city in which I was born and where I have spent all my life (well almost, but for a year or two here & there!). Its better late than never and from time to time I will try to present different facets of my beloved city in this blog.

Calcutta (or Kolkata as it is called now) is rather difficult to summarize, or introduce in a few sentences. In terms of age, Kolkata is rather young (believed to have been founded in 1690) as compared to Delhi or Beneras (Varanasi). Despite its short history, it was the capital of British India till 1911. During that time the city was at the forefront of a mini-Renaissance and produced some of India's greatest thinkers, social reformers, politicians, poets and scientists in the nineteenth & twentieth centuries. On the other hand, post India's independence in 1947 and especially post the politically turbulent period in the 1970's, Kolkata slumped into what some called (rightly, or perhaps a wee bit too harshly) a 'dying city'. It's fortunes have since looked up and it has regained some of the earlier economic & social dynamism.

The short, yet eventful, history of Kolkata has had a deep impact on the basic fabric of the city. I will be touching upon the various facets of Kolkata's life & culture in the forthcoming posts. For now, I wish to touch upon currently the only visible aspect of the British 'Raj' in Kolkata - that is the architecture. Many monuments and important buildings in Kolkata are a remnant of the 'Raj' and examples of typical nineteenth century colonial architecture.

The Victoria Memorial was built by the British as a tribute to Queen Victoria. The white marble palace stands now as perhaps the most famous landmark in Kolkata's skyline. It now houses an musuem where many valuable artefacts of British India are on display. The Victoria Memorial is an even more dramatic & enchanting sight in the evening when it is brilliantly lit up.

The Howrah Bridge spans the Hoogly river and connects Kolkata to it's most important railhead at Howrah. Thousands of people use it every day, both on wheels and on foot. Due to its age (it was built way back in 1943), movement of trucks and other heavy vehicles have been restricted. Apart from being a vital artery of the city's traffic movement, the bridge is also an engineering marvel. It is a cantilever bridge held together by rivets and bolts.

More on other facets of Kolkata in coming posts..

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Old Fashioned'

"Have been out of the blogging world" is a refrain that I keep using. As much as I enjoy blogging, there are times that I just don't feel up to it. Recently it has been a combination of work, multiple preoccupations at home, and some photographic pursuits that have been keeping me busy. I have been reading a lot on post-processing of images via Photoshop and that is something about which I will be posting shortly. I also have been experimenting a bit and you can check out these results of some abstract shots that I took recently.

Anyway, back to this week's theme of 'Old Fashioned'. The one thing that I keep telling my friends & colleagues from abroad who want to know about India is "Never Generalize". India to me is a country of contrasts. Culture, language, dress, food, ideas, beliefs, religion, economic well-being - you name it. Also at the heart of this study of contrasts is the conflict of the old and the new. An example of this is the shot below - this is a National Highway, where you will get to see trucks and the latest cars blazing the trail. What you also have is this - an elephant on the road! So while the well-off zip by in their swanky cars, for some people life goes on as it did perhaps hundred years ago.

If you are not from India, remember not to judge 'Incredible India' by one story or one shot. The understanding of the sheer diversity of the country is at the heart of visiting and enjoying it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Delicious'

'Delicious' is the theme of this week's PhotoHunt. Say 'delicious' and the obvious, obvious thing that comes to mind is food. Now food photography is a dififcult genre - it requires specialized skill and lighting, and above all practice. I cannot say that I have shot a lot of shots, leave alone good shots, that fit this theme. Here's one that I managed to dig out of from my collection.

Needless to say, these are strawberries. They look fresh and yummy - don't they?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Wishing everyone a very Happy New year 2008 !

I don't believe in new year resolutions as such - just hoping that 2008 brings something new (every few weeks, I keep asking myself - "When is the last time that you did something for the first time?") and that I get to travel a lot.

Looking back on 2007, it has been a significant and enjoyable one - in more days than one. Here's my pick of the 5 best things to have happened to me in 2007

1. The Prince is now the King!

The triumphant return of Sourav Ganguly to the Indian cricket team. One of the most remarkable and inspiring comebacks in Indian sporting history. A victim of politics, tainted by a obnoxious-minded coach, barracked by the media, ignored by selectors, backstabbed by his once friend and deputy, a ripe old of 35 - the odds were stacked pretty high against him all through 2006. But he showed what courage, grit and bloody minded determination can achieve - he made the mother of all comebacks this year. His story has been inspiring to many, including me. The lesson he has taught us all is to believe in the ability we have and never give up hope.

2. Over the Moon!

Attending Roger Water's Dark Side of the Moon concert in St. Paul, USA. As I have said here, this is THE most memorable event in my life so far. Even 6 months from that day, I still cannot believe that I was lucky enough to be there.

3. Champions again!

India winning the T20 world championships in South Africa. Nobody gave them any chance, but the young team surprised us all. The confidence and the zeal with which they played lifted the entire nation. Yuvraj hitting 6 sixes in an over will remain an abiding memory of last year.

4. Trip to the US

I had been to Australia and Europe, but never to the US. That wish came true in February last year. It was a very satisfying 6 months, in many ways. I met some great people from the US office and made many new friends. I also got the chance to travel a fair bit. First to Chicago, then to San Francisco and finally to Yellowstone National Park & Grand Tetons. In particular, the trip to Yellowstone was a memorable one - the raw beauty of the place was mesmerizing, to say the least.

5. My new toy!

This year I bought myself a digital SLR - a Nikon D40X. I had been interested in photography for the last 2/3 years or so, but this year I got really hooked on to it. I am now starting to appreciate and understand the different nuances of the art, and the digital SLR gives me flexibility and quality which I never had before. I am far from being even close to a good photographer. As some great photographer had said "The first 10,000 shots are your worst shots". So I guess I will just have to go on clicking - and hopefully I will improve :-)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Light'

'Light' is the subject of this week's Photo Hunt.

Capturing light and its amazing effects on Nature requires both patience and luck. The best time for nature photography is during sunrise and sunset. It is not without reason that these times are called 'Golden Hours' by photographers. At this time, the sunlight is not harsh and hence the details are not washed out. There is an interesting mix of light and shade, more so when cloud patterns form myriad textures. Here is an example -

Photo Hunt

Taken with Nikon D40X with 18-55 AF-S DX Lens fitted with Tiffen 0.3ND filter

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time Is Not An Issue

Digital clocks, multifunctional (calendar) clocks, neon clocks, quartz clocks, this clock and that clock - but what can beat the charm of an old cuckoo clock?

This is a shot taken at a cuckoo clock shop in Interlaken, Switzerland. The clocks, we were told, were manufactured in Black Forest (Bavaria, Germany). The clocks are all handmade. They do not have any electronic circuitry and therefore don't need batteries. The gears are driven by a mechanism of chains & counterweights - to wind the clock one has to simply pull on the chain once each day.

And yes, I did buy one for my home too :-)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Photo Hunt - Theme 'Small'

This week's Photo Hunt theme is 'Small'. Somehow I struggled to identify a photo that would fit the bill. I am not very good at shooting macros, which I think would have been the best bet.

Then I settled on choosing the following shot. This is a baby Himalayan Leopard, and being small (in size, and in age!), I hope it matches the theme.

Even if it is a baby, the big cats are always a sight to behold. Sadly in India their numbers are dwindling rapidly. Rapidly growing human population is resulting in alarming deforestation and loss of habitat. Poachers are at large too - skins and all other body parts of a big cat fetch a fat price in the market. Coupled with that is lackadaisical governance and lack of public awareness.

The question is how much longer will these gorgeous creatures be able to hold out?