July 17, 2016

Striking Sunset @ Everglades

Driving this past weekend was like a theme park ride. During thru the afternoon thunderstorms, the rain was lashing quiet heavily. All that was visible were the blinkers from the car ahead. Even with that visibility the traffic was flowing at 70 mph & there was no way to slow down. Once in a while, the lighting would remind and highlight miles of everglade wilderness on the right. Listening to beats of the AR Rehman , interrupted by the  far thunders – it all was like a adventure theme park ride :)

Was planning for the sunset, but driving for hours with out knowing, if the clouds would indeed open up, in quiet daunting :) Racing with time, arrived at the pristine lake just in time. But the horizon was still cloudy.

As the sun started going down, the sky towards southwest cleared & the colors started to bleed. Then something peculiar happened, the break of clouds, around the horizon added the much needed depth and the clouds were backlit with subtle shades of the pink. It was interesting to watch the sun set in a veil of clouds.

Finally, as I was trying out a time-lapse, the lightning from the distant storm made it for one Striking Sunset, with some pristine reflections :)

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 15 mm : f22 : 1.5 sec

     Pine Glades Lake
Everglades Wilderness, Florida, USA
June 13, 2016

Synchronous Fireflies of Smokies

For two weeks, each year, the secluded forests of Elkmont is converted into a magical wonderland.

Words can’t describe the experience, but let me try. As we venture into the forests, a light drizzle along with the cool breeze accompanies. Smokies as the name has it, brings in a rolling fog as the dusk sets in. After finding a remote spot by the trees and set the camera for a composition I liked, it was time to wait. Not long before the horizon begins to darken and the first of the fireflies beings to twinkle. Here a twinkle, there a twinkle and before you know it – everywhere a twinkle twinkle. The entire forest begins to glow, and then as if all lights are off, becomes pitch dark. After couple of seconds, the entire place is lit up once again. There fireflies surround you in its mythical glow. The thousands of lightning bugs gather in swarms and flash in harmony as the entire forest alternates between light and darkness. It truly becomes a magical wonderland.

 

The show is all made possible – thanks to Photinus carolinus – or more commonly known as Synchronous fireflies. Unlike other fireflies, this species uses the synchronicity of the flashing, probably to attract it’s mate.  Synchronous species of fireflies are very special—and they exist only in a handful of places throughout the world. Elkmont @ Smokies is one such place. Fireflies combine the chemical luciferin and oxygen with the enzyme luciferase in their lanterns (part of their abdomens) to make light. The light produced is referred to as a “cold” light, with nearly 100% of the energy given off as light. In contrast, the energy produced by an incandescent light bulb is approximately 10% light and 90% heat. So much for our human invention !

No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. Competition between males might be one reason: they all want to be the first to flash. Or perhaps if the males all flash together so they have a better chance of being noticed. What ever be the reason – it indeed is magical & Here is my take on that magical experience. Hope you like the same as much as I enjoyed capturing it.

 

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 640 -5000: 10 mm : f3.5 : 15-30 sec ; 100 shots

 Elkmont
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA


Tips to get your way to Elkmont

  • Elkmont is Part of the Smoky National Park.
  • Lottery : Starting this year (2016), NPS has introduces Lottery. You need to be on the look out @ the NPS Website and apply during registration period. If you are lucky and get selected, you would need to drive up to Sugarlands Visiter Center on the allocated date. Around 6:30 PM local time the trolley takes to the viewing area. The Trolley / shuttle runs thru 11:30 PM so you will have ample time to experience the fireflies. You can read more about the lottery here.
  • Campground : Don’t lose heart , if you do not get the lottery. The next best thing (or actually an even better option) is to get a camp site at the Elkmont Campground. This gets you within a mile of the Elkmont Viewing area. Additionaly learnt, one more huge advantage is the you could hike up the entire trail to avoid the crowds, much beyond the set area for lottery viewing. Just make sure to carry the campground reservation.
  • But you are warned, Elkmont campground is one of the most famous ones, thought it has only the basic facilities. You need to book a spot months before, or need to keep check every other for a cancellation to pop up, like it did :)
  • Be sure to follow the Fireflies Etiquette.
  • Do remember you are visiting them in their natural habitat, not the other way around. Take every step need to ensure they are not disturbed.
June 8, 2016

Car Camping at the Smokies

This past weekend, got a chance to drive by Smokies. As with last minute plans, needed a few creative ideas to make it happen. One of them was to just drive around and sleep in the car as needed. One of the huge advantage of car camping, is that you are always just a door away from a night full of stars or floating in a mystic fog or waking up to lovely view like this.

After trying out some fun light experiments at the Clingmans dome, we decided to head out to NewFound Gap to catch some sleep. The intent was to be able to crash till twilight and be able to enjoy the sunrise from near a view point. But as it is aptly called – Smokies – the view was pretty covered with fog and overcast.

After some quick gamble, decided to see if we would have a better luck driving around. As we pulled out of the parking lot and within the next turns, we were greeted with this scene. The sun was just rising behind the mountains lighting up the horizon :)

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 250: 10 mm : f3.5 : 1/30 sec

Buy Print  NewFound Gap Road
Bryson City, North Carolina, USA
May 22, 2016

Hampi – In Dawn’s first light

Hampi, a village in northern Karnataka, India,  was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A trip to Hampi is incomplete without the trek to Matanga hills. Matunga Hill, being at the center of Hampi, and also the highest point, is the best spot to get an aerial view of Hampi and it’s surroundings. One can experience the true essence of any new place much deeper – in the first few moments leading to the sunrise and a few moments after, when the world around us is waking up from a slumber. And the rooftop of the Veerabhadra Temple at the summit is the ideal place to experience it. Apart from the Veerabhadra temple, there are  lovely views sprinkled around, like these.

Canon XSi : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100: 18 mm : f3.5 : 1/90 sec

Buy Print    Matunga Hill
Hampi, Karnataka, India
May 9, 2016

The Celestial Glow

Shooting Star …
now what would U wish for :)

 

This past weekend the weather was pretty warm and the skies clear providing a right mix for some star gazing. Being around new moon and the Eta Aquarids Meteor at peak was an added bonus.

Apart from the over hyped theme parks, Florida has much to offer. Despite what you may know, there are still some spots so remote and light stricken that on a clear summer night like this, the Milky Way glows, like a low lying cloud. Cedar Key, Florida is one of those places nestled on the Gulf of Mexico and provides a truly “Old Florida” rustic experience. I have a feeling this was just first of the many more night trips to come :)

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30.0

Buy Print  Eta Aquarids Meteor (05.08.2016)
Cedar Key, Florida, USA
May 2, 2016

Tampa RiverWalk by Night

Who said nights were for sleep – Marilyn Manroe

Tampa River walk is a phased open space and pedestrian trail along the Hillsborough River in Tampa FL, for about 2.3 miles, from Waterworks Park to Channelside. The river walk offers for a variant of activities from food to parks to walks on the land side and boats to kayaks to water bike rentals on the water. It provides for a fun walk taking you past many restaurants and parks that often have outdoor music and activities going on throughout the day and night. If the views aren’t enough to keep you interested, there are little historical and informative landmarks along the way. Just don’t forget to Wear sunscreen and/or a hat and bring water bottles. Or better at night come in at dusk to enjoy the season colors which is simply beautiful along the walk at night.

This was one among my many favorite views, highlighting the futuristic River walk along with the University of Tampa on the backdrop :)

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 400 : 22 mm : f5.6 : 8.0

Buy Print    Tampa Riverwalk
Tampa, Florida, USA
April 25, 2016

Moonrise by Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon ?
Great food, but no atmosphere …

I wonder how come its still full ;-)

After a couple of months, decided to plan for a full moon shoot for this year ! After scouting couple of locations, decided the Sunshine Skyway bridge would provide a nice backdrop. May be, without realizing, I was trying to mimic the mountains with this urban set up :). Anyway, weather had different things in store for the evening. It was so cloudy by the horizon, that the supposedly big moon, was not even visible during the rise. Then began a game of hide and seek. Eventually, she peaked out for a while, giving just enough time to capture this scene !

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 320 / 125: 169 mm : f5.6 : 8.0 / 1/15 sec

Buy Print  Sunshine Skyway Bridge
St Petersburg, Florida, USA
April 11, 2016

Life is Amazing

For a minute,
walk outside,
stand there,
in silence,
look up at the sky,
and contemplate
how amazing life is :)

 

A night under the stars always brings in thoughts of contemplation :) This was shot by the Wisconsin river late last year while chasing the Perseids. I love how a distant car left a trail over the distant bridge.

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 2500 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30.0 sec

Buy Print    Wisconsin River
Blue River, Wisconsin, USA
April 5, 2016

Just be

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. ― Rumi

Excessive judgments weigh you down and make you feel heavy-hearted and unsatisfied. While we are judging and discerning, sometimes it is just wonderful to allow the radiance of the universe to permeate and just be, and let go. We are always making distinctions and labeling things as right and wrong, good or bad, true or untrue … Sometimes it is exhausting to carry all the burden of excessive judgment.

Just be :)

This shot is from an early morning by the countryside of Wisconsin, as I was returning back from shooting the Milky Way & Perseids. It is always fun to shoot thru the night and into the light !

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f4.5 : 1/60 sec

Buy Print    Countryside Corn Fields
Blue River, Wisconsin, USA
March 31, 2016

Sea Shell by the Sea Shore

The tide recedes, but leaves behind
bright shells on the sand.
The sun goes down, but gentle warmth
still lingers on the land.

The music stops, yet echoes on
in sweet and soulful refrains.
For every moment that passes,
something beautiful remains.

– Unknown   

 

Met this guy during the stroll by the beach. He too was taking the time to enjoy the sunset and strolling even more leisurely to get a dip in the warm waters. If you look close, you could see his legs as he is dragging lazily towards the sea :)

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 500 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 1/20 sec

Buy Print    Sand Key Park
Clearwater, Florida, USA
March 27, 2016

Milky Way by Night

Somewhere, Something incredible is waiting to be known. – Carl Sagan

As Spring comes up, so does the galactic arm of the milky way. Due to the curvature and constant movement of the earth, the Milky Way is below the horizon during the months of November to February, and can be enjoyed with the galactic center from March to October (if you live in the northern hemisphere).

This shot is from the one of the most known Perseids meteor shower from the past year. We drove around the Green river state wildlife area and luckily chanced upon a remote road. As I light painted the foreground with Coast HP7,  the meteor sparkled across the night sky. One of the stars even decided to play the head of the comet.

Looking forward to more adventurous nights this year :)

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec

 Perseids (08.13.2015) @ Green River State Wildlife Area
Harmon, Illinois, USA
March 20, 2016

Pirates of the Gulf

Now that is a reason to call Florida – the sunshine state ! And Tampa, FL seems to be one of heck of a place to enjoy sunsets. This particular evening, as I was strolling on the beach of Sand Key Park, just off of Clearwater, was treated with a lovely sunset. The pop corn clouds were making their journey across the sky, the sun was about to hide behind the ocean, the Caribbean blue waters were frolicking the shore and a distant pirate ship was heading back with the loot.

As I later found, the pirate turned out to be Captain Memo, jaunting across the horizon. But nevertheless, it did not take away any of the magic from the evening …  After all not all treasures are Silver and Gold , right :)

 

Not all treasure is Silver and Gold.

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 1/125 sec

Buy Print    Sand Key Park
Clearwater, Florida, USA
March 6, 2016

Live Everyday

Everyone eventually dies,
But only a few make sure they lived.

Canon 7D : Tamron 10-270 mm : ISO 100 : 169 mm : f5.6 : 1/10 sec

  Chicago Botanic Garden
Glencoe, Illinois, USA
February 21, 2016

Adios Chicago

Moving from salting side walks to salting Margaritas, hopefully ;-)
Read somewhere that not everything can be bought, but looks like even Sunshine can be :)
Looking forward to what Life & Sunshine State has in store …
Adios Chicago !!!

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 13 mm : f8 : 30.0 sec

   Buckingham Fountain
Chicago, Illinois, USA
February 5, 2016

Spouting Horn

A little further from the Devils Churn, there is a parking pull out for this ocean anomaly – Spouting Horn. One could hike down to the view point to enjoy the same. Just make sure to watch ur steps. Spouting horn is kind of an Ocean Geyser. It was interesting to reflect how this is evolving. Over time the pounding waves gradually widened a fracture in the rocks forming Cook’s Chasm. The edge of the Chasm was undercut, forming a cave. Eventually a crack on the top of the cave created a perfect setting for the Spouting horn.

Canon 7D: Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 200 : 18 mm : f22 : 1/45 sec 

Always do what you are afraid to do – Ralph Waldo

Spouting Horn
Cape Perpetua, Oregon, USA
January 24, 2016

Sunset by The Garden of Three Islands

Japanese Garden also called as The Garden of Three Islands is one of the many gardens within the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Here it is indeed easy to overlook how the Japanese respect for nature and age are revealed. If you look closely, though, the effect is evocative, as seamless as a traditional haiku. The larger rocks are partially buried, as if they have been in place forever. Flowering plants have a short bloom time, reflecting the yin-yang balance between the ephemeral existence of human life and the timelessness of nature. Many of the trees are pruned and trained to give the illusion of age.

This 17-acre lakeside garden includes three islands. Only two (Island of Clear, Pure Breezes & Island of the Auspicious Cloud) are open to the public. Across the lake, the inaccessible island (Island of Everlasting Happiness) is symbolic of paradise—in sight yet elusive.

Sunset is particularly an awesome time to take a walk by the lake around these islands :)

Deep within each one of us lies a garden – Julie Moir Messervy

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f22 : 8.0 sec

Buy Print    Chicago Botanical Gardens
Glencoe, Illinois, USA
January 12, 2016

Whitetail Doe by Snow

I am not much of a wildlife photographer, but once in a while I do get lucky, This was one such instance while scouting the Thatcher Woods in the suburbs of Illinois, for capturing the fresh snow.

The snow was still falling with a light drizzle. The white blanket of snow was spread around everywhere. It was biting cold, but there was a serene feeling in the air. As I was snow shoeing thru the trees, there she was. Just at hint of slightest sound, she turned back, posed for a second & went back to what she was doing. ignoring me completely. Luckily had my camera ready to get that shot :)

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 200 : 270 mm : f5.6 : 1/250 sec

    White-tailed Doe
Thatcher Woods, Illinois, USA
January 3, 2016

The Moon and the Mountain

If you have read the “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”, you would known about Minli who sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

Here is a magical shot from valley of Sandy River, as the full moon dances with the majestic Mount Hood. A big cheers for all the adventures and answers you seek for in the coming new year. A Very Happy New Year – 2016 to my Friends out here. May this new year be beautiful, sweet, creative, and happy one for you.

 

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100 : 270 mm : f11 : 1/20 sec

    Jonsrud View Point
Sandy, Oregon, USA
November 29, 2015

Fire & Ice

It is an adventure just to even witness the lava flow. But it is all the more intriguing and intimate to follow the lava from the crater to the ocean entry. They make the way thru lava tubes and eventually culminate at the ocean.  The lava flow, when it happens, is mostly over multiple days. To get this shot, I planned for the morning twilight, when there is enough light to capture the surrounding and the sun is not yet out, so the lava can be captured in its beauty.  Sleeping in the car at the parking lot, helped, but still had to plan for the time to actually get to the spot. Personally for me, it was such a intimate experience, shooting from the water and witnessing the raw beauty of earth being created.

For some reason this reminded me of Robert Frost. And also kindled me to scribble my own (in no way to be compared to that of Frost !!!)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
– Robert Frost

 

Every end is a new beginning
Weather it is fire or ice,
it does not matter –
All that matters
Is finding that end, and beginning new
It is in realizing that you are far beyond
both the fire and the ice –
the beginning and the end.
– Sathya

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 1250 : 70 mm : f5.6 : 1/125 sec

Buy Print  Lava Flow, Ocean Entry, Kalapana Lava Refuge
Pāhoa, Hawaii, USA
November 15, 2015

Enchanted Rainforest of Hoh

Hidden in the north west corner of Washington state is a treasure of a primeval, temperate & enchanted rainforest – Hoh. Walking thru these forests brings in an overwhelming sense of the timelessness. The huge amounts of rainfall and the storm dumps from the near by pacific ocean results in the lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Layers and layers of green, moist moss adorns the whole place, making even the once dead trees & logs of long time, come alive.

Hoh – The place is whimsical and magical, but is still as much real :)

 

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100 : 18 mm : f13 : 10 sec

   Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Forest 
Forks, Washington, USA
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