September 5, 2016
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
|| Dubai Skyline
Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
June 13, 2016
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
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.
February 21, 2016
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
July 20, 2015
Moon rise can be as beautiful and dramatic as a sun rise. And the best part, you don’t need to wake up early ;-) This was from a lovely night at Door County, Wisconsin. The moon rise did kind of mess up with enjoying the milky way, but the dramatic light, compensated for it.
The moon light was so bright, that it lit up the entire cliff. Had lot of fun with trying out some fun compositions like this. Even a shooting star (Draconid) decided to accompany us.
Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 1600 : 20 mm : f3.5 : 30.0 sec
|| Cave Point County Park
Door County, Wisconsin, USA
July 15, 2015
The most fertile lands were built by the fires of volcanoes – Andrea Gibson
35 Years later, Mt St Helens is still recovering. It was interesting to read that time of the day (8:32 AM local time) and the season of the event play a lot in its recovery. Many nocturnal animals were already bedded down for the day and so were more likely to have been protected in burrows and to have survived the explosion than their neighbors up and about during the daylight. You just don’t think about that; that’s a chance event – But then nothing else is by chance either :)
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 12 mm : f22.0 : 30.0 sec
|| Mt. St Helens
Mt. St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington, USA
April 21, 2015
When ever I need a shot of tranquility,
When even I need to rejuvenate,
When ever I need a kick in the butt,
When even I need to find my self – I get to nature.
This shot is from a lovely night at Mt hood. It is always quiet an experience to be admits nature and once the sun goes down its even more intimate :)
It has been quiet a while – time to make some plans and shake some hands, with nature !
Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 : ISO 100 : 18 mm : f3.5 : 301 sec
||Reflections by Mt Hood
Trillium Lake, Oregon, USA
April 5, 2015
Witnessing the lunar eclipse was magical. Planning and shooting the same was a lot of fun. Out here, in the north east of US, the lunar eclipse was not total, so missed out on the blood moon, but it was still a scintillating experience. As the moon was getting into total eclipse, it set over the horizon. But at the same time it created for some interesting photographing options.
This involved a lot more planning than it meets the eye (and a bit of luck, as there were too many variables from the weather, location, time zone, the quality of the air etc. Will share more details on the planning and tools in a separate article, for my geek friends out there later this week.
Additionally, this is something new I had tried. Had always wanted to shoot a scene around sunset and into the night and highlight the same in a single frame as time-slice [A time slice is depicting a time range in a single frame]. When I learnt about the lunar eclipse, this past week, thought it might be a good candidate for time slice. This shot is a mix of landscape and time slice – in an attempt to highlight the lunar eclipse in the context of the surrounding landscape. These shots were taken from 4:45AM EST thru 6:25 AM EST (one of the shortest lunar eclipse of this century). This was a panorama made out of a composite. Though it does not look like a wide view, that is what helped capture the moon and the lighthouse in context (all 12 images [10 for the moon and 2 for the lighthouse] used to create the same, were shot at the extreme end of my long zoom lens). The long zoom helped actuate the size of the moon to some extent due to the much debated perspective compression effect.
Driving for couple of hours, setting out with the camera in the biting cold, witnessing moving ice by the lake, the planning, the execution and the processing – it all culminated in the below shot :)
Panorama Time slice made with 13 shots
||Time Slice of Lunar Eclipse 04.04.2015
South Haven, Michigan, USA
March 22, 2015
Proxy Falls is one of the most frequently photographed waterfalls in Oregon. It most certainly is once of the most photogenic waterfalls. But being surrounded by the lush forest and given its height, it is a bit tricky to photograph the same. As most of the PNW, getting to the spot is a major part of the experience. The trail goes over an old lava flow, then entering a mixed confer forest. From the end of the trail, the falls are viewed through a natural channel in the thick surrounding forest.
Proxy Falls is created as the Proxy Creek breaks over a high wall of basalt, which is adorned by mosses. At a height of 226 feet, the two streams that flow down is a sight to behold. This is my attempt to capture the falls with all its surroundings and the majestic mood !
Canon 7D : Canon 10-24 mm : ISO 100 : 16 mm : f27.0 : 30 sec
||Proxy Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness
Willamette, Oregon, USA
January 26, 2015
Getting to Mt St Helens by itself is fun. The Highway 504 enroute is just perfect – be it bicycle, motorcycle or a casual car drive. It has some sweeping turns and plenty of turn offs at viewpoints to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Pacific North West. The drive up takes you to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. A little rustic building filled with history and even more adored with a picture perfect view of the Mt. St. Helens.
The volcanic eruption of the 1980 created a huge crater, losing almost 14% of its elevation and resulting in the flattened top. The debris spurred around for ~250 miles, impacting the entire ecosystem. Even today, after decades, one could still witness the ashes on some part of the wilderness trees. Each element around – the landscape, the deteriorating but majestic trees, the mountain, the fissures of lava – each remind us of the power of nature.
The sun actually sets behind you as you enjoy the mountain view. But this particular evening the light was just magical and it was fire across the sky. Given the vicinity to the visitor center and the concrete paved walkway, it lends itself well for night photography, especially if ur worried to hike up in the dark. It is amazing to view the milky way above St. Helens. Additionally the expansive view also opens up possibilities for some creative panoramas too :)
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 13 mm : f22.0 : 20 sec
||Sunset by Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington, USA
November 30, 2014
After driving for 14 hours straight, I thought, all I would want was to get some break and sleep. But I was wrong ! As we reached the Smoky Mountain National Park and set the tent well into the darkness, the conditions were just ripe to explore some stars and was too tempting to miss ! The moon was not up, it was one of the darkest skies that I had seen in a while. It took a while to drive around and identify a spot, safe enough to shoot shoot the stars with some interesting foreground. Being new to the place, the mystery of the night and the sound of the rushing stream near by, added to the experience. The clouds were moving pretty fast, and helped set the mood of this shot to a great extent.
As for the processing of this shot : it was aided by the nifty Photoshop script(s) – Creative Trails UI & Creative Effects UI. I wrote a whole article about these scripts over the weekend. You can download the scripts here (for free, of course !) . If you are into photography do take some time to check it out.
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 2500 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec
||Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Elkmont Road, Tennessee, USA
November 13, 2014
The trip to Wisconsin was awesome this past season. Not only was the falls colors great at door county, but got a chance to hike along the cliffs, capture a shooting star, shoot a moon rise, some star trails and opened some portals too :)
The Gibbous moon lit the cliffs from behind the bushes !
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 1600 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec
||Cave Point County Park
Door County, Wisconsin, USA
October 29, 2014
Buckingham fountain, in the middle of Chicago downtown, had become a favorite spot for me when it operated during summer. It was amazing watching the water and light show. Lining up the fireworks was an added bonus.
In Chicago – Navy Pier the fireworks go off pretty much twice a week (Wednesdays / Saturdays) in summers and for additional preplanned events. I am always on the lookout of interesting foreground for fireworks like this at Seattle or this one from St. Louis (my favorite).
TPE helped with the initial planning. But with just a tentative navy pier area for fireworks, it was a hit or miss. To add to it, that was one of the last weekend of regular firework show for this season (the next one for the year being on Halloween). After quiet a bit of planning and lot of uncertainty, decided to try out the shot I had in mind. The distance between the foreground and the actual firework show was not advantageous, but the grand bursts from the finale just made up for it !
At the end, it all came together. I love it, when a plan comes together – or may be I was just lucky ;-)
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 20 mm : f11.0 : 15 sec
||Fireworks @ Buckingham Fountain
Chicago, Illinois, USA
October 16, 2014
After a long planning decided to head to Door County for capturing the palette of fall colors. As I was scouting the locations online, read about Cave Point to be a prominent spot. Being close to the the place where we stayed, decided to head there first thing in the evening to capture some stars. Reaching the spot after sunset did not help navigating in the dark. With the moon scheduled to come up, did not have much time either.
The water, aided by the wind was crashing against the cliffs and caves. This bellowing of waves helped traverse to the edge of the cliff. But by the time my eyes got used to the darkness, the moon decided to come out. It indeed was a lovely moon rise across the Michigan lake. But the best was yet to come …
I decided to use the moon light to capture the rugged cliff from below. The cool breeze, the sounds of the water crashing against the walls, the night sky … and just as I was exposing for the same, this lively meteor decided to adorn the sky. It took around 12 – 15 seconds to span across the sky before burning off.
Given the waxing gibbous moon, I was not even expecting a meteor sighting. I could only imagine how bright it would have been, if not for the moon :) With my wife and kid atop the cliff (look keen), this definitely was a treasure of a moment captured !
Once I came back from the trip. looked up online and identified this as Draconids based on the date and direction. The Draconids owe their name to the constellation Draco the Dragon, and are created when the Earth passes through the dust debris left by comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner.
Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100 : 18 mm : f8.0 : 1/90 sec
||Draconid Meteor (10.11.2014) @ Cave Point County Park
Door County, Wisconsin, USA
September 17, 2014
Cloud gate, also affectionately called by the locals as bean is a lovely spot amidst downtown Chicago to spend an evening. As if the bean by itself is not interesting enough, there are numerous areas of interest near by, all walk able. Be it the amazing architecture or the beautiful fountains or interesting shows at Jay Pritzker Pavilion (mostly free) or the lovely lake – this spot has got it all !!!
Canon 7D : Canon 10-24 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f8.0 : 30 sec
Chicago, Illinois, USA
August 17, 2014
Buckingham Fountain at Chicago, is seriously beautiful. A favorite spot in the city, one can literally spend hours hours watching the fountain. The backdrop of Chicago or the lake, behind the fountain make it even more gorgeous.
With 134 jets and a fountain water capacity of 1.5 million gallons, it roughly pumps 14,100 gallons of water per minute. Water is re-circulated from the base pool after the basins are filled and not drawn from the outside except to replace losses from wind and evaporation. Some amazing engineering – be it the stupendous architecture or the the lighting at the dusk or the synchronous music that goes along with the lighting. The fountain located in the shores of Lake Michigan also symbolizes the lake itself, with four pairs of sea horses representing the four states that border its shoreline.
It was really lovely to see the Cassiopeia (Constellation) shining atop, even amidst all that man made city light. By the by, that lovely blue building, that u see there – that is where I work out of, lucky me … or not ;-)
I present to you Sea horse, Skyline and some stars at Buckingham Fountain, Chicago. Definitely well worth checking out in large. How do u like it ?
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 13 mm : f8.0 : 10 sec
Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA
June 30, 2014
Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of India, is around 90 km away from Trivandrum and is located in Tamil Nadu. Kanyakumari has now become a famous tourist spot and anyone who goes there does not miss visiting the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.
Swami Vivekananda himself visited Kanyakumari in December 1892. It has been debated that Vivekananda plunged into the roaring waves and swam across to reach those large rocks. People, even today, dare the swim across, hence it definitely was a possibility. He spent three days and three nights on that rock. The roaring ocean was all the company he had. He saw religion to be the life-blood of India’s millions. He realized in the silence of his heart that India shall rise only through a renewal and restoration of that highest spiritual consciousness. He saw her greatness; he saw her weaknesses as well, the central one of which was that the nation lost its individuality.
There was a lot of controversy on the initiation of the memorial at this location, predominantly relating to religious clashes (according to Wikipedia). Though ironical, it is really sad that many a times, we miss the forest for the trees.
Anyway, today you can take a ferry to the rock. It is peaceful, serene and well maintained. It definitely is a place to sit and reflect, if you really want to :) And as you can see, it is a pleasure even watching this rock from the shore, once the sun goes down and it is all lit up. On right is the Thiruvalluvar statue. At 133 feet high, this depicts the 133 chapters of the Thirukural.
You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul. – Swami Vivekananda
Canon XSi : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100 : 46 mm : f4.0 : 30 sec
||Vivekananda & Thiruvalluvar Memorial
Kanyakumari, TamilNadu, India
October 24, 2013
A whiff of crisp and cool breeze, water cascading down the rocks, lovely fall colors – now that is a scene that would rejuvenate any mood. Something I definitely needed now :) Ultimately, fall is about the inevitability of change. The beautiful colors of the season is a reminder to embrace change.
This is from couple of years back, when I used to shoot with Canon Powershot S2 IS. It was and still is – a lovely camera :) It was a lovely drive up the Cottonwood canyon near Salt lake city.
Canon S2 IS : ISO 200 : 18 mm : f5.6 : 0.3 sec
||Unnamed Cascade @ Little Cottonwood Canyon
Sandy, Utah, USA
April 22, 2013
The lovely Lower Lewis waterfall looks more graceful during lower water levels, as it cascades down. Add to it – a dense fog settling down and a bit of fall colors sprinkled here and there … What more can I ask !!!
fall leaves fall
caught by a blanket of
fog or fall
Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100 : 25 mm : f22 : 1.5 sec
||Lower Lewis River Falls
Skamania, Washington, USA
April 10, 2013
Abiqua Falls – There is something magical about this place. Grandeur is not a feeling you get at less than 100 feet high. The overpowering and humbling feeling is probably from the enclosed canyon like walls covered with lichen and the serene aqua pool that it falls into. Abiqua is all about the journey of getting there – starting from the rugged roads, hike up, some sliding, scrambling under and over the logs , wading thru the water etc. Having such a gem at the end of it is an added bonus :) Check this out for the view from the other side. This had been one of my favorite fun adventure hikes from the pacific north west !!!
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : 3 stop ND Filter : ISO 100 : 14 mm : f22 : 3 sec
March 27, 2013
Wayanad is a prominent district in Gods Own Country – Kerala. Places of interest around here are abundant ranging from water falls, Caves, Dam, Viewpoints, reserved forests and many more. But among all Meenmutty falls definitely tops the list.
Meenmutty falls at 300 meters is majestic (if you are keen, you can see people down at the foot of the waterfall for scale). The three tiers of the waterfall requires separate hike through the forest. After a perilous and tiring 2 kms hike, one is rewarded with this amazing panoramic view. At a few points the trek is treacherous and steep – but once you get out there, you just forget everything. The milky water tearing apart the dense greenery of Wayanad forests is a sight to behold.
Canon XSi : Canon 10-22 mm : No Filter : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f22 : 1.0 sec
Wayanad, Kerala, India