Sunset at Sankey Tank

After spending an evening in Lalbagh, it was time to visit Sankey Tank. The sunset at Sankey Tank had amazed me the last time I was there in the evening. I did make a trip to the place early in the morning in May last year and although I had planned to click landscapes, I ended up using my telephoto to capture birds. So I had decided that I will visit the place again to click landscapes especially in the evening.

I reached the place around 5pm and had expected it to be the right time. It was quite sunny and hot until 6pm and I was not able to get good snaps as I was directly facing the sun. It was a clear bluish sky and I couldn’t see any interesting patterns in the sky. I was disappointed. There were hoards of pigeons near the entrance and it was quite a sight to see them fly but I didn’t manage to get a sharp snap of a pigeon in flight.

I waited until the sun descended behind the buildings and then managed to get a few snaps of the sunset with the reflection in the water.

One of the other reasons to go to Sankey Tank in the evening was to check out the musical fountain which was a recent addition to Sankey Tank. I was all prepared and I had taken my tripod with me. The show started around 7pm.

Although it wasn’t as good as I had expected it to be, I managed to get a few long exposures of the fountain and returned back content.

An evening in Lalbagh

Lalbagh offers the perfect spot not only for families who want a spot for the weekend, but also for shutter-bugs who want a place to get inspired.

I had never visited the Lalbagh lake side after I bought my SLR so, since we didn’t have any major plans for this weekend, I thought I will see what I can get spending an evening beside the lake in Lalbagh. I wasn’t disappointed.

I started off with my wide angle clicking snaps of the trees. The sizes of some of these trees amazed me – huge would be an understatement. They seemed easily a 100 years old if not more. I felt bad considering that the government could be reckless in allowing the Metro Rail Corporation to acquire parts of Lalbagh and cut down trees in the name of development.

Anyway, politics apart, I continued along the walking path. Most benches were taken by couples and there were a few people walking/running along the path. There were a few feeding whatever they could to the ducks in the lake and a few others returning with boxes of grapes from the ‘Drakshi Mela (Grape fest)’. A few workers were on to their routines of cleaning up the place and watering the plants.

And then there were squirrels, which were half-alarmed by the humans, but half-curious to see what they can get. The dogs seemed to enjoy it too – and were playing beside the walking path.

I also got to see quite a few water birds. It seems strange that these birds are generally not visible to the casual visitor but if you have a camera in your hand you tend to spot quite a few of them. There were egrets, pond herons, ducks, mynas, kites and other birds that I don’t know the names of. There was a huge pelican too and it was quite a sight to see it fly.

I clicked a few snaps and waited until sunset and returned back home content with my visit.

Trek to Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda – Day 2 experiences

This is a continuation of a previous post. Read day 1 experiences in the post titled: Trek to Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda – Day 1 experiences.

So with the experience from day 1, our spirits were low. Our guide who had been in this place for more than 20 years, didn’t know the exact route. People rarely visit Ombattu Gudda and of the people who do, most go via Gundya, and hardly anyone ever does both Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda together.

So we decided to take a slightly shorter path than the one which was decided earlier.

We started off early in the morning. We went towards Bhairaveshwara temple and met some local people and asked them for the route. The routes here are usually forest landmarks and needless to say there are no other signs. We started moving towards one of the hills as per the instructions of a person we met on the way. We were out of water and we had decided to fill up on the way. This, in hindsight was a bad decision – and in future I will always remember to always keep my bottles full whenever I come across a water source. It is a tradeoff – more the water, heavier the rucksack, but I guess it is better to be with water than without.

We asked the guide if he is aware of any water source on the way – we were noticing small streams of water as we walked – so he said there should be a bigger stream somewhere on top, so we decided to continue. When we started climbing the hill, we decided to take some water from a small stream there, just in case we don’t find a larger source further up. The water was very slow moving. We had chlorine tablets – so we decided to use them and fill up our bottles. This in hindsight was a really good decision as we would be without water for the next 10km until we reached Lakshmi Estate.

We also had some quick breakfast to recharge our batteries since we had a steep climb ahead. The climb was the steepest in the entire trip – but it was quite short. As we finished this, we could see the legendary jeep track that most people know of (who have done this trek). The scene from here was really good – there were hills on all sides and of varying sizes. The jeep track that we see in the shot below is what we had to take and the place where it disappears is somewhere were Ombattu Gudda summit would be.

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As you can see, there are hardly any trees on the way and it was extremely hot and humid and we had limited supply of water. We started following the jeep track.

You think that on day 2, since we have a lesser stock of food, it will be less treacherous – but you are wrong. You have all the tiredness from day 1 and so that compensates the decrease in weight.

As we moved towards what we thought was the summit, the guide was still clueless as to how much of the distance was remaining. The water stock was very low – we hardly had a liter of water per person. Suddenly I noticed that my phone had signal – so we decided to call a person who could help us out. We described our current position and I am not sure if he misunderstood our position, but he said that we were in the wrong path. He asked us to retreat back 1km and take an alternate path. We decided to do that and realized that the alternate path was a dead-end. At this point, we lost hope – it would be extremely dangerous to continue with no hope of finding water and not knowing how much of the distance remains. The guide also seemed exhausted. So we took the decision to retreat.

We had to go about 7km back to Lakshmi estate – I found this very tough because of the heat and the humidity. I also twisted my ankle a couple of times because of the heavy rucksack and the uneven roads. We were exhausted by the time we reached Lakshmi estate. We drank as much water as we could and rested for a while. We realized that we were just a km away from the summit. 🙁

The people at Lakshmi estate agreed to cook food for us. Meanwhile, we wanted to have a bath and what is a better place than a small waterfall nearby! It was a heavenly experience after all the things we had been through. Post that, we had a wonderful meal and rested a bit more.

We then had to go another few kilometers to the gate where our driver was to pick us up. When we sighted the Tempo Traveler we were shouting – it was a sigh of relief that all went well and we were heading home!

Trek to Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda – Day 1 experiences

It had been over a year since I did some major trek. The last one I did was to Kalawara Betta (Skandagiri) in Feb last year.

So when Manja asked me if I wanted to come for a trek to Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda, I was in 2 minds. On one hand, this is an opportunity not to miss. It had been a long time since I had gone on a trek and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. On the other hand, both Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda are moderately tough treks and require the help of guides. In fact, Ombattu Gudda is known for people getting in and never coming back, and then being found unconscious. There have been incidents of snake bites, and people getting lost forever. In fact, most of the people who had come with us on the trip had gone to Ombattu Gudda just a couple of weeks back and had lost their way in the woods. Thankfully they found their way out to tell us the story. They said even the GPS was useless because of the dense vegetation. This time, not only were they planning to go again, but take an altogether different route which was seldom taken. Further, it was 2 treks in 2 days. To add to it, I was kind of busy with my office work and the fact that it had been a year since I did a trek made me a bit uncomfortable. It is in these situations where the decision that you take in the moment makes a difference. I decided to go.

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Continue reading Trek to Ettina Bhuja and Ombattu Gudda – Day 1 experiences

Trip to Turahalli, Chudahalli, Agara and Begur

About a couple of years back, when I had just finished the solo ring road trip, a thought came to my mind. I wanted to visit 100 unconventional places around Bangalore. I started creating a document with places around Bangalore, which soon became a list of places in Karnataka.

The recent trips are all from the list and this trip was one of them.

Continue reading Trip to Turahalli, Chudahalli, Agara and Begur

Trip to Horanadu, Kalasa, Kadambi Falls, Kudremukh and Hanumangundi falls

We went on a 3 day trip to Horanadu, Kalasa and Kudremukh from January 14th to 16th.

We started from Bangalore at around 5 in the morning. The route from Bangalore to Horanadu was mostly fine except for the last stretch. We took the following route to Horanadu: Bangalore (NH4) -> Nelamangala on to NH48 -> Kunigal -> Yediyur -> Channarayapatna -> Hassan -> continue on SH57 to Belur -> Chikmagalur -> Aldur -> Balehonnur -> Magundi -> Balehole -> Horanadu. The road from Magundi to Horanadu was not very good although it is very scenic. It is a stretch of about 40km.

You can very easily make out when you enter Chikmagalur district. The place becomes more green, you can see quite a few hills, lakes, areca nut trees, coffee plantations, and the air is cooler and pure. We clicked a few snaps on the way.

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Continue reading Trip to Horanadu, Kalasa, Kadambi Falls, Kudremukh and Hanumangundi falls

Trip to Chitradurga, Chandravalli – Ankali Caves and Holalkere

Our first trip in 2010 was to Chitradurga. Chitradurga is about 200km from Bangalore and is quite hot in the summers so this is the best time to visit if you intend to.

We had done the required preparations for the trip – mapping out all the places that we intended to visit and the distances to each of them and the things that we had to carry.

We left Bangalore at 5am in the morning. Our plan was to reach Chitradurga by noon with a visit to Vanivilas Sagar Dam on the way. The road to Chitradurga is very good; it is part of the North South corridor. The driver of our car felt like we had paid the price (toll) to rip on the roads and he was treated to a wonderful road where he was easily reaching 120-150 kmph (the maximum speed of an Indica).

We visited Vanivilas Sagar Dam around 10:15. Vanivilas Sagar Dam, aka Mari Kanive, is the oldest dam in the state. I had been to the dam just a couple of months back and so I knew that there is a way to the top.

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Continue reading Trip to Chitradurga, Chandravalli – Ankali Caves and Holalkere

Steps to follow to get the right snap everytime

I am a technologist. I try and identify patterns in anything I do and try to come up with a general abstraction that applies to the whole everytime. So it is with photography. Ever since I got a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, I began to wonder if there is a way to define the steps such that if followed we get the right snap every time.

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So here are the steps I have been following with full manual photography:

  1. Composition – Photography is an art. The most important aspect of a photo is the composition. We have seen how sometimes an image taken even with a point-and-shoot turns out to be better than the best of the DSLR’s. Composition is more important than you may think! So whenever you intend to click something, look at what you want to capture – move around to see what might be the best position from where to capture. Decide on horizontal or vertical orientation of the camera. What is the amount of noise (unwanted things in the image). Can it be reduced? Can the noise be made interesting? Think about what your image should look like before clicking – don’t leave it entirely upto the camera. Sometimes you may actually have to take a couple of snaps to see what it looks like, before you get the right shot but don’t that’s only for minor recorrections.
    The composition determines the focal length – distance from your camera to the subject that you want to capture. We then look at the exposure triangle.
    Continue reading Steps to follow to get the right snap everytime

Lalbagh Flower Show – August 2009

One of the reasons why I visited Lalbagh in June was to make sure I know what it takes to click flower macros using a SLR. While I did get a few good snaps, I was in for a very different treat when I visited the flower show last Saturday.

The last time I visited the Lalbagh flower show was in January 2007, which meant I hadn’t been there for 2.5 years!

Continue reading Lalbagh Flower Show – August 2009

Selective editing using image decomposition and the threshold tool using GIMP

Have you seen photos where parts of the image are enhanced more than the others? Have you come across situations where color level editing over the entire image darkens some portions of the image so much that they become invisible or when you apply warmth to an image, some parts look artificial? If so, what you need is selective editing and this post covers how to use GIMP to do selective editing.

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This post covers quite a few aspects of GIMP image editing:

  • Image decomposition
  • Quick mask
  • Alpha channel
  • Selective editing

Using this, we convert an image that looks like this:


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Continue reading Selective editing using image decomposition and the threshold tool using GIMP