March 22, 2017

By the Falls – Looking Glass

Looking Glass Waterfall is one of the best and easiest accessible waterfall in Pisgah Forest. And did I say there is no admission fee and its always open. The name "Looking Glass" comes from Looking Glass Rock, where water freezes on its sides in the winter and then glistens in the sunlight like a mirror or looking glass. Looking Glass Creek, which flows past the rock, is also named for the impressive natural structure.

With a roadside pull off, an overlook and steps to the bottom, this is definitely a great place to stop and enjoy nature’s power. The falls cascade into a river below.  Steps lead down to the falls for a close-up view. Once you are there, definitely venture onto the rocks by the side of the stream. On a warm day, some wading and swim underneath the falling water would be great.

 

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? – Chief Seattle

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100: 18 mm : f8.0 : 10 sec

   Looking Glass Waterfall, Pisgah Forest
Brevard, North Carolina, USA
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March 8, 2017

Be Still

Once, while driving to Atlanta, the evening sky was so dramatic, that it would have been a sin not to stop. Luckily, Maps showed a blue patch near by, indicating a water body. But only in a crunch, you realize how much time it takes to drive up, even a few miles, when it is not the highway :) Shot this literally scrambling to find a spot, from where I had parked …

The light was fading down quickly and there was not enough time, but was real glad I had pulled over !!!

 

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. – Deepak Chopra

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 160: 10 mm : f3.5 : 1/60 sec

   Lake Hartwell State Park
Fair Play, South Carolina, USA
March 1, 2017

Be like the tree …

Be like the tree, and let the dead leaves drop – Rumi

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 10 mm : f3.5 : 1/20 sec

   Pisgah National Forest
Brevard, North Carolina, USA
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February 26, 2017

Let The Change Change you

Starting from the political scenario currently here in the US, to that back home in Tamilnadu,India there seems to be lot of uncertainty.

Added to this, on the personal front, it has been one unexpected start of the year, with change in work and locations. Though it was unplanned, I realized that anchoring ourselves with an abundance of security can actually become a dangerous habit :) Agreed, Uncertainty is scary, but may be that is what keeps us alive … Uncertainty and life go hand in hand. So if you want to make the most of your life it is critical  to embrace uncertainty.

I sure would miss the lovely colors of Florida Sunset, but am sure the sun does set every day, where ever you are :) So here is to life, embracing uncertainty & back to share sharing my shots from my travels ! Happy Living !

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 10 mm : f22 : 2 sec

   Sunset by SandKey
Clearwater, Florida, USA
December 13, 2016

December Super Moon

For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us :)

– Richard H. Baker

The last quarter of 2016 had been treating us with Super Moons. To the casual watcher it does not make much of a difference in size, but it does give an excuse to go out, shoot and enjoy.

All the planning did not come together during Oct and Nov, as the weather Gods had other plans. The third and final installment of this supermoon trifecta adored the sky earlier this evening (Dec. 13, 2016). And Oh boy, was it awesome ! 

This is not a composite (not that there is anything wrong with composites). But it was much more fun and challenging to plan and get it all together, restricting to a single focal length.

As I came to the spot shortly before the moon rise, was worried the anchored boat would be a hindrance. But once I walked around, the composition fell in place – and in this case, I feel it adds to the scale of the shot :)

 

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 320: 270 mm : f5.6 : 1/8 sec

Buy Print    Moon Rise 12.13.2016
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
November 15, 2016

Million Shades of Magical Colors

Fall colors do happen in Florida, it just happens in the sky and all around the year :)

The name Sunshine State might bring in memories of crisp & sunny days at beach, but Florida also is the home of some amazing & best sunsets. This was shot at a secluded spot, from a not very well know local beach. The low tide enabled the kids (look close,  there are two of them) to play and venture out for shell combing. As the sun was fading behind the horizon, the entire sky burst in million shades of twilight colors. It was just magical :)

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 10 mm : f22 : 6.0 sec

    Sunset Beach
Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA
October 26, 2016

Fall Colors by that Crooked Road

Door County by Hwy 42 in Wisconsin is one of the premier spots for enjoying fall colors. During the peak fall season, any of the country back roads will treat you with a palette of colors, but this crooked road definitely takes the crown.

It really is a neat road, connecting the village of Gills Rock, Wisconsin with the Washington Island Ferry dock at Northport. At the right time, this winding stretch of road is encapsulated by a burst of fall colors. Thanks to the ongoing road work during my visit, it added a rustic feel to the shot !!!

 

There is no path to happiness
Happiness is the path :) – Buddha

 

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100: 119 mm : f5.6 : 1/45 sec

    That Crooked Road 
Gills Rock, Wisconsin, USA
October 19, 2016

First Strike

Just because you
didn’t see me
Doesn’t mean that
I wasn’t there

Did u know that on average there are 25 Million cloud-to-ground lighting hits per year or  ~48 strikes per second … and that is only counting continental US. Still I had managed to capture only a very few till date, this being the first strike ;-)

Being one of the most unpredictable forces of nature, lightning storms present unique challenges in photographing them. Lightning is probably happening all thru the day, but is more rewarding to photograph them once it is dark or during twilight, when the foreground accentuates  the composition. I had been trying to capture lighting for a while now, but it all came together only this particular evening at Everglades National Park. How do u like it !

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 15 mm : f5.6 : 4 sec

   

Pine Glades Lake
Everglades Wilderness, Florida, USA

September 22, 2016

Guardians of the Sunset

Almost always, things happen for a reason.
For the remaining times, it still happens for a reason, but we just don’t know it :)

 

This particular evening, planning for a full moon shoot, I headed to Fort de Soto Park. But since it turned out to be pretty overcast by the horizon, decided to head to the other side of the island for the sunset. Turned out to be a great evening.

It was a nice walk by the waves, enjoying the sunset. As the sun was going down the horizon, there were these two White Ibis playing by the coast. Watching these guys was fun and in the end, it was just a matter of waiting for things to align. Glad it all came together !

Eventually, on the way back, we got to see the full moon in its glory too. After all, things happen for a reason :)

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 10 mm : f3.5 : 1/350 sec

 Guardians of the Sunset
Fort De Soto, Florida, USA
September 18, 2016

Sunset over the World

Was surprised to learn that Palm Jumeirah isn’t the only artificial island out there in the coast of Dubai. When I was in the area, learnt there were quiet a few more – The World, The Universe and may be they will even come up with a Multiverse sometime in future :) Standing on the world’s tallest man made structure (Burj Khalifa), watching ones of the largest man made islands (the world) & the Sun going down the gulf – it was quiet a tranquil.

Though there was definitely an awe on all the man made structures (and islands & its eco systems), in the back of my mind, one thought did linger – how would we justify the energy required to desecrate natural, aquatic ecosystems in an effort to fabricate a habitable environment that is in no way sustainable merely, for the sake of being able to say that it was done.

Only time will tell …

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100: 70 mm : f5.6 : 1/90 sec

Buy Print    Sunset over The World
Archipelago, Dubai, USA
September 11, 2016

Turquoise Gem of Agumbe : Jogi Gundi

Deep in the forest of Karnataka there are some pristine spots, largely untouched (yet). Jogi Gundi is one such lovely waterfall tucked in the wilderness of Agumbe. The Jogigundi Falls is located around 3 km from Agumbe. Situated on the way to the Barkana Falls, it can be reached by a small trek of around ~500 mts.  When the conditions are right, you can also enjoy swimming in the turquoise green water. Even during the monsoon time, water was inviting and pretty refreshing from the afternoon heat.

I was lucky to visit the place, at the right time, when the water was just right to highlight the beautiful structure of the waterfall, while the entire surrounding was still lush green from the rains. Heavier rains would definitely make it more majestic, but also would increase the challenge of accessing the falls. Also heard that the leeches might decide to join the trek, if the rains are continuous :)

Be advised and cautious. This is a rain forest.  You are entering the habitat of the wild. Respect their place & space. Leave only foot prints and carry back all that u carry in, along with some lovely pictures & memories!

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100: 10 mm : f22 : 1.0 sec

Buy Print  Jogi Gungi Waterfalls
Agumbe, Karnataka, India
September 5, 2016

Iconic Skyline of Dubai

Generally urban cities each boasts an iconic skyline. But Dubai – it boasts a skyline where ever u look ! From being a dry desert in early 80’s to being the world’s biggest shopping & transient travel hub now – these skyscrapers play a vital role in making Dubai.

The effort to capture the iconic buildings started much before I landed here. Thanks to Google maps & street views, most of the planning was done even before I boarded the plane. After reaching out to couple of friends and scouting the location on street view, it was a matter of getting to the spot at the right time and pray that the visibility was good !   

When I got in the cab and asked to dropped on the side of the road @ Palm Jumeirah, the cabbie might have thought I was crazy. He asked several times if there is an restaurant or an hotel I would need to get dropped … Eventually he joined me in enjoying this lovely skyline view and did drop me back at the next stop :)

The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) is the world’s only 7 star hotel and designed to resemble a billowing sail . At 1053 feet (321 meters), it dominates the Dubai skyline making it the fourth tallest hotel in the world. Tried getting in, but looks like one cannot even enter without a reservation ! Though the visibility was reduced , Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower) adorns the distant skyline. At 2722 feet (837 meters) and being the worlds tallest structure, it houses a combination of residential, commercial & business entities. With both Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa this view definitely makes one iconic Dubai skyline.

 

Dubai was totally the opposite of what I prefer in travel – simplicity, native, one with nature – but somehow it made me intrigued. Was surprised with how much you can see and do in Dubai even in a short time.

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100: 59 mm : f5.6 : 30 sec

Buy Print    Dubai Skyline
Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
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
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