Friday, March 9, 2012

Holi–Festival of Colours

I had written a blog on Holi last year (2011). If you would like to know more about the festival then you can read it here

This is going to be just a photo blog.

Last year I had used my weather-proof E-5 with 12-60 lens. So I had no qualms about going into the crowd and shooting close. E-5’s (and 12-60 as well) fantastic weather seal took every storm in its stride. This time it was different. This time I had to go to office, so I was wearing formals. As a result I couldn’t go into the crowd, I had to shoot from a distance.

Initially I had thought about taking my E-5 + 50-200mm SWD (excellent combo!). But I decided against it because I needed a lighter setup (my E-5 is always on with battery-grip, so its heavier as it is and with 50-200, its like a bazooka!). So I took along my E-P2 and Panasonic m4/3 45-200mm. The performance can be described in single word – WOW!!

Here are some of the details and observations

  • I used ISO-400 because the crowd was celebrating Holi in shades and I needed fast shutter speed to capture the action. The sun was bright so even the shades were well lit.
  • The Panasonic 45-200 is an extremely light lens, with E-P2 the combination is feather light.
  • I used VF-2 external EVF all through. I think it just gives you a better idea about the exposure than the LCD. Its fantastic!
  • I used burst mode for about 50% of the shoot. I took a total of about 125 pics.
  • All pics were RAW and processed in Lightroom 3.6 (minor adjustment for brightness, contrast, and vibrancy)
  • Panasonic 45-200 is extremely fast to focus. Not a single moment I felt I missed a shot because the lens was slow to focus. If I missed a shot then I was not ready.
  • The lens rotates clockwise to zoom in, opposite of all the Olympus lenses. Unfortunately this took me some time to adjust which contributed to some missed shots :-(.
  • I found the lens to be amazingly sharp at all focal lengths.
  • For image Stabilization, I turned on the 45-200’s MEGA OIS. I kept the E-P2’s in-body IS off. I feel the MEGA OIS is more reliable at long focal lengths than the in-body IS.

Here are the pics for you to enjoy

Holi Holi
Holi Holi
Holi Holi
Holi Holi
Holi Holi

Hope you enjoyed!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Random Trek (with a fellow photographer friend)

Well, that's what I like to call it, because if you ask her (my friend – Swati) she would say we went for bird watching! And the reason for difference of opinion? Well – We both had 35mm equivalent of 100-400 lens - me, with my reliable and fast ZD 50-200 and she with with her Canon EF 100-400. But the big difference was the bodies. I had my old E-330 and and she had EOS 7D! .

So the advantage she had was 2 fold. She could crank up her ISO and thus get a decent shot of birds without worrying about the noise, i.e. was able to shoot at fast shutter speed. Also her lens had IS (Image Stabilization), which ensured that she didn't have to worry about camera shake, especially when using longer focal length.

I, on the other hand, didn't have either of these. My E-30 had gone for repair, and my E-5 was in transit (both have in body IS). And I was not sure of the high ISO performance of my E-330 (which incidentally had max ISO rating of 1600). So i decided to play it safe by keeping the ISO around 800 and shooting at max aperture. Also, the morning was overcast which made it impossible to get fast shutter speed in shades with above settings.

Having said this, I think I made a blunder. I made a mistake of not trusting/testing the ISO limit of my E-330 . I was too afraid of getting too much noise. In the process, I ended up getting with quite a few shaky photograph pics of the birds (which i had to discard). As you may be aware E-330 doesn't have in body IS, and a 50-200 on it doesn't make the whole thing light. As a result, you have a lot of camera shake with lens fully extended, which could only have been negated by fast  shutter speed. But for most shots in shade, I was not able to get fast enough shitter speed with ISO 800 (even with aperture wide open), ISO 1600 may have fared better . So in the hindsight, I did not make a very wise decision of not testing the ISO limits of E-330.

Bottom Line A very wise advice from a very unwise man – If you have to make choice between shaky picture and a grainy one – always go for the latter, crank up the ISO as much as you can to get fast shutter speed. Remember – A grainy picture is a thousand times better than a shaky picture.

So we started our day with rendezvous at the regional engineering college (VNIT), Nagpur. This college is surrounded by marsh lands and lots of dense trees, like a mini forest. So its has lot of bird population of various kinds. I am not an avid bird watcher, I wouldn't know a crow from an owl. But the people who gathered there seemed to be very excited about spotting quite a few of them (they were refering to bird watchers guide and making notes). I tried to follow Swati’s lead and point and click wherever she was pointing and clicking, but unfortunately after a few shots, I realized that it was becoming tedious for me to get decent non-shaky pic. I was frustrated! So in order that I don't waste an opportunity which i had for some good photography, I decided to do some random clicking! and hence the name for this blog – Random Trek :-)

Here are some of the shots I took on that day! Hope you enjoy them.

At the entrance of the college a MiG-23 fighter plane. 5 frame HDR from single RAW (+2 to -2EV) in Photomatix Pro (Base RAW ISO 400, 1/80, f/5) Mig-23
Another view of MiG-23. Same HDR processing as above. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
My friend - the ever calm photographer – Swati


A Lantern! Kept finding interesting things to click once I stopped worrying about the birds! :-)
A loner! B&W processing in CS4. Added grain
F/7.1, 1/2000, ISO 800
The National Cadet Corps – Girls battalion on march. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A Young bird watcher :-) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Serious bird watchers! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Labourers on their way to start another day at work OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Yeah…. we are still in the wired world, still! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Only one decent bird catch. Not sure which is this.
F/5, 1/2500, ISO 800.
An interesting art in front of one of the buildings… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
And finally…I thought trash bin IS for the trash! no? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nice, carefree trek… loved it!



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sinhagad Trek


Well folks this is short blog. So be happy :-)

One day, we (Suni, I and my colleague at office) decided to go on a trek. There is an old historic fort not far from where we live, its called Sinhagad (or loosely translated Lion Fort). Situated on the Bhuleswar range of the Sahyadri Mountains in western India near Pune, its about 1300 meters above sea level. Finally 7 of us made it to the top!

I always prided myself to be a tireless trekker. However this mountain, although not arduous, gave run for my money. I had to take frequent 5 minute breather at regular intervals to make it through. In the end I made to the top of the mountain in about 1hr and 35 minutes. My son, Adi, fared much better – he made it in 1hr and 20 mins!!

We decide to take all precaution, so we had our sunglasses, trekking shoes, caps, 1.5 litres of water per person (I was carrying 5 bottles of water in the back pack!) and Snickers & chips (which I need not have bothered, as you will see below) .

Although this trek is pretty gruelling (it does test your stamina and resolve), its still a called – a “Gujju Trek”. Its an intersting story why its called a gujju trek. The Gujaratis in India are called gujjus. They are known for 2 things – one is for their Food and other for their stinginess. So whenever they travel, whether alone or in group (mostly in groups, so they can avoid any extra cost of travelling alone), they are known for getting everything packed from home and eating all the way through the entire journey (this way they avoid wasting any money in buying things on their way and they are always well fed throughout). This trek gets its name Gujju Trek, because you will find a small shanty hutment stalls every few hundred yards, which will serve you refreshments. So, if you choose to, you can have refreshments in all these stalls you want and by the time you reach to the stall, you wouldn't have broken a single drop of sweat and be as fresh as if you have never left home :-). So you would be well fed as a Gujju! hence the name Gujju Trek :-)

Now to interesting part - a surprise!– I decided NOT to carry a camera! Can you believe it!! But as they say, a camera always follows a photographer :-) (don’t ask me who says it – i have no clue!). My friend had got his PnS camera Canon Powershot D10. Its a lovely little camera, fantastic JPEG processing engine and weather proof to boot! I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality!. So this will be my first blog with a Non-Olympus camera :-)

Here are some pics after we reached the top.

Soon after we reached the summit IMG_0454
In front of the fort entrance


At the restaurant inside the fort. There are number of local eateries inside the fort. All of these are well kept and serve local maharashtrian  food. The food includes Chaas (spicy buttermilk), Kanda and Alu Bhajji (Onion and Potato batter fried), thecha (hot chilly and garlic chutney), bhakri (local bread) and pitla (made from chick peas flour). Here is Suni getting Chaas.
This is also a very good example of how NOT to take a photograph! Notice all the sun+shadows on subject’s face? Nothing can make a picture worse than that!


All of us waiting for Food to arrive. Hungry as hell (you can see from their faces)!!
There it is – the lovely Kanda bhajji and Alu bhajji!!

Anu – this and the next few pictures are especially for you!! Smile
More food!! IMG_0463
Yummy!!! finally the photographer gets his share! Smile IMG_0464
Enjoying!! IMG_0466
Food done – now for bit of family pic!  
Suni inside one of the empty  hutment stalls having a kulfi (homemade ice-cream)! IMG_0470IMG_0467
Nice scenery! IMG_0472
All pics are taken in native JPG. Only Contrast, vibrancy and cropping adjusted in CS4 IMG_0473
Shivaji was the king who captured this fort from the Moghuls. This is Shivaji’s bust. IMG_0474

A lovely way to spend your weekend!