Trip to Gopalaswamy betta and BR hills

We went to Himavad Gopalaswamy betta and B. R. hills last weekend. The main intention of the trip was photography.

We left Bangalore on Friday night and reached Mysore early morning. There were some adhoc changes to our plan; we were supposed to go to Mysore by train, but later realized that a car is going to cost the same and so hired a car in the last minute.

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Photography Technology

Warming up your images using GIMP

Cameras allow you to adjust the white balance setting in your images, but, I prefer to have an original version with me just in case I want to experiment with the original image.

Now let’s say you want to add warmth to your images. In cameras, you would set the white-balance setting to cloudy or overcast to get this effect.

Now how do we do the same in GIMP?

Original image:

Warmed up image:


Early morning in Lalbagh

So as part of the weekend photoshoot series, I visited Lalbagh today.

Over the past several weeks I realized the importance of aperture in the photos and I felt that a full manual mode gives me a lot of control over my images when compared to any other modes. So my intention this time was to try the full manual mode.

Photography Technology

Color level editing with GIMP

If you want to change that:

to that:

you need to understand something called Color Levels. The original image is overly underexposed, and the edited image has the brightness and shadows better than in the unedited image. This tutorial teaches you how to rescue such underexposed images and also how to optimize the shadows and highlights in your image.

The Color Level tool in GIMP allows you to adjust how bright or how dark you want your image to be. Many a times, we face this problem of over exposure of whole or portions of an image and we just can’t get it right with a camera (unless you are a pro)! So GIMP to the rescue.


Trip to the Smoky mountains

I visited the Smoky Mountains last weekend. It was about a 6 hour drive from Raleigh. Krishna arranged the entire trip.

Smoky Mountains is a big range of mountains along the North Carolina border. The range has a lot of greenery, has hundreds of trails and a very long history aging back to the Native Americans. It boasts of creatures which are found nowhere else in the world. Wikipedia has a detailed description of the Smoky mountains.


Trips to Ranganathittu, Varthur lake and Sankey Tank

Ever since I realized the limitations of my Canon PowerShot A630, I started hunting for a new camera.

My initial plan was to go for a Canon Powershot SX10IS; the 20x optical zoom for a camera worth 17k (US price) was too hard to believe. But I got a good deal for a second hand Canon Digital Rebel XTi (EOS 400D). I had no second thoughts when I got a Sigma 70-300mm Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens and a Velbon tripod along with the camera which came with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens.

In order to test the camera before buying, I planned a trip to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Vinay, the guy who sold me the camera asked us to go early in the morning. So we left at around 4am from Bangalore and reached Ranganathittu around 7am.


Sankey tank – sunset

I had been to Sankey Tank today to experience the sunset and also click a few pictures.

My Updates Photography

A very productive weekend

With 5 movies and a solo trip on my bike around Bangalore on the ring road, clearly, this is one of the most productive weekends ever! 🙂

Movies I watched:

  • Cast Away
  • Forrest Gump
  • Road to Perdition
  • Insomnia
  • Whole Nine Yards

And now about the trip:
I was bored. That is when this thought came to me that I could go round the city on the ring-road. I had planned a similar trip around the Mysore Ring road during Engineering, however the road was not yet complete.

So I started off at 3:25 pm from Indiranagar. I reached the Marathalli junction at around 3:45. My plan was to return to this exact same location and then return home.

Just to give you an idea of the route I took, here are some places I came across during my trip:

Marathalli, Sarjapur road, BTM ring road, Bannerghatta road, Deve Gowda petrol bunk, Kathriguppe, Pantar Palya, Bangalore University, RVCE, Kengeri, Papareddy Palya, Peenya, Tata tea, BEL circle, Hebbal fly-over, Devanahalli (had lost my way), back to Hebbal fly-over, Banasvadi junction, back to Marathalli.

I lost my way thrice during the trip. On one occasion I was on my way to Hyderabad. Little did I realize that I had taken the wrong way from Hebbal. It was only after I reached Devanahalli a good 25 km from Hebbal fly-over that I realized I had hopelessly lost my way!

After having travelled for about 150 km, for about 4 hours 15 minutes, I returned home safe and tired. Wow, that was a memorable journey!


Trip to Honnemaradu

Our team had been to Honnemaradu this weekend.

Honnemaradu is famous for its water activities. It was the first time that I got into water and camped in an open place it was a wonderful feeling. We also camped on the island and learnt canoing, coracle riding, tying tents, etc.

We took a train to Shimoga from Bangalore on Friday night. The train reached Shimoga around 5 in the morning. We then took a ‘bus’ which runs on a narrow-gauge railway track to a place close to Honnemaradu. This journey took us close to 3 hours – but it was an excellent experience. As we passed through vast plain lands, we got to see the sunrise. The sky was orange on one side of the bus, while it was completely dark on the other side.

We then took a Maruti van which dropped us at our destination. On our way we had breakfast – little did we know that we would be welcomed with breakfast at the camp.

After a couple of rounds of breakfast, we went to the backwaters. The camp is beside the backwaters of river Sharavathi. The backwaters engulf small hills and so the water gets very deep a few feet from the coast. We were told that the depth is easily more than 50 feet. This is on the reasons why the water has different shades of blue.

We wore our life jackets and plunged into the water. It was a wonderful feeling – especially since I did not know swimming at the time. We splashed in the water for a couple of hours.

Since we went in February, it was extremely hot and we were already sunburnt. The 2 rounds of breakfast was all gone and we were damn hungry with just a couple of hours of activity.

We were treated to a wonderful and heavy lunch – with our night journey, the water activity and the heavy lunch we were all very tired and dozed off for a couple of hours.

Towards the evening, we had some light snacks and then headed to the island where we were to stay for the night. Honnemaradu is all about learning various water sports – so the plan was to go to the island on a coracle. We had to row the coracle ourselves.

The currents in the water was moving towards the mainland and away from the island – there were 3 coracles – the first one went off on a complete tangent. The second one was off by a few degrees. We were the last one to leave. We decided to go a few degrees in the other side, so that we will be going in a straight line towards the island. It is so easy to lose your orientation when you need to row for a long time. Also the distance which looks short, turns out to be really long as you get tired because of the currents.

I was one of the guys rowing the coracle – and within a few minutes my arms starting aching. We were not even midway and I knew that if I give up I won’t be able to start again; I kept rowing. It was extremely painful.

As we reached the island, the sun was setting and it was getting dark. We clicked a few snaps of the setting sun and immediately scurried to collect wood for the campfire at night. The guides told us how to light a fire, and what needs to be done in case of rain. We were also asked to pitch our tents ourselves.

After this, we rested for a while and waited for the guides to go back to the coast and get us our dinner. We enjoyed the warmth of the campfire and played a few games.

After dinner, we went to the coast of the island. In the remote darkness, we could see the lights from the dam. The water was splashing and it was a wonderful feeling to sleep beside the coast. We then went back to our tent and called it a day.

The next morning, we were to get up early and go in the other direction to witness the sunrise. 2 problems though – 1. We were a bit late in getting up, the sun had already risen, 2. There were clouds and we couldn’t see it still.

Nevertheless it was good. We could see a few fishes swimming in the water and could see the sun rays piercing through the clouds onto the water surface.

We were taught how to put off the fire, and how to dismantle the tents. We then loaded everything in the coracle and headed back to mainland. We got ready and had breakfast. Food was generally good – above what you typically expect from these places.

We then had various options for the morning – we could either use the coracle and go around, or could take a kayak and visit some other islands nearby, or we could learn to surf on a surf-board.

I decided to try out the kayak – me and Kulki took a kayak and headed in the direction opposite to the island – we rowed for a few minutes until the mainland disappeared from sight. The feeling here is undescribable. There was pin drop silence – something that I guess I have never experienced in my life. All sides we were covered with water. We placed our paddles in the kayak and just experienced the silence.

We then rowed back to mainland, played for some more time in the water and then got ready to leave.

All in all, Honnemaradu was a wonderful experience of a world away from the air and sound polluted city life. It was the start of a series of nature adventures I was to embark upon.


Lalbagh flower show

I visited the Lalbagh flower show today along with Ashwin and Debarshi.

In continuing with my photography craze, I clicked about 400 photos today! I have uploaded about 50 of them in Flickr.