To Vietnam: Huế

We arrived at Huế in the afternoon. As we made our way out of the railway station, we noticed the absence of Uber in the area. So, we settled for USD5 for a Toyota Innova to carry us with our baggage to the Serene Shining Hotel. The hotel was quite a nice one, with rooms facing the river. But, we did not have time to enjoy the views from the hotel, for we were already late for the day’s plan.
Huế has a lot of tombs scattered all over the place and the imperial citadel as its main attraction. There is also a bridge, Truong Tien Bridge, on the Perfume river, designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel. Now, the problem was that all the tombs and temples and pagodas close for the day by 1700h, and it was about 1600h already. We decided to skip the tombs all together, and went directly to the Thien Mu Pagoda.

A boat on the Perfume river, Hue, Vietnam

We had hired a couple of bikes for us, cost us USD 25 for 24h. Fuel extra. So, Ritwik and Ankita were on one bike, while Manas and I followed them. The roads are wide, clean and people seem to follow the traffic rules here better than Hanoi. So, without any scare or incident, we made it to the pagoda. It was beautiful, peaceful and serene.

The Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue, Vietnam

Incense sticks, prayers, Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue, Vietnam

Since we were in no hurry, we spent quite some time there. While Manas and Ankita sat on the stairs of the pagoda, listening to distant chants from boats on the river, I and Ritwik were experimenting with long exposure shots of the gates of the pagoda.

Gates of the Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue, Vietnam

Then, some time later, as the dusk had passed and night descended, we rode our bikes on the way back. Agenda, to take shots of the Truong Tien Bridge.

On the way we passed the citadel, which has a huge flagpost and a gigantic Vietnamese flag fluttering in the wind. Looked nice. Took a shot 🙂

The Vietnamese Flag, Imperial Citadel, Hue, Vietnam

In my opinion, the best view of the Truong Tien bridge will be from the parallel, Phu Xuan bridge with a wide angle lens, 18mm-ish. Since the parallel bridge was under renovation, we chose a park kind of place, between the bridges on the citadel side bank and set up our cameras.

The Truon Tien bridge, Hue, Vietnam

The Perfume River, Hue, Vietnam

I found the results quite satisfying. To watch the water of the river turn into a mirror and to get the glittery lights with starbursts, I was happy.

We had our daily dose of Banh Mi for dinner, and rode our bikes back to the hotel. Be aware, in the evening, you will find men on bikes, come at you with offers of girls, marijuana and cocaine. Tread carefully. The Phú Hội district of Huế is a hotspot for tourists, with numerous bars and backpackers hostels all around.

Next day, we would be off to the citadel. But for now, a couple of beers and a good night’s sleep was on the charts!

Cheers!!

To Vietnam: Hoi An by the night!

After we were back, we had just crashed into our beds, tired and exhausted. We had planned to go to the beach, the An Bang beach. When we woke up, twilight was fast fading. So, we quickly got on our bicycles, and rode for about 4 kms to the beach.
We paid 30000 VND per bicycle as parking fees and went in. It was dark by then, and we could see lights of far away ships near the horizon. There were deck chairs on the beaches, and it seemed that they were free to use. We sat there for some time, and were hungry. A hour and a Banh Mi later, we were ready to leave.
As we were retrieving our bicycle, Ankita noticed that here phone was missing. She had put it in the cycle’s basket an instant earlier and now it was gone. We started searching for it desperately everywhere. Our primary suspect was the attendant, who had suddenly turned deaf and mute! We glared and growled at him, and bared our teeth, and he slithered away to a hidey hole. Ritwik followed him, came back victorious with the phone. We made a swift exit out of the area to avoid any such risks any more.

Lit up entrance to the old town, Hoi An, Vietnam

We crossed into the old town soon, and it was just wow! Lights all around, lamps, lanterns, LED lights. Best bit, no vehicles. We parked our bicycles beside the Japanese Covered Bridge and hit the streets.

Camera set on lowest ISO, long shutter exposures and deep apertures, I went about shooting.

Street with colourful lights and people, Hoi An, Vietnam

Street with colourful lights, Hoi An, Vietnam

Every other street had lamps in them lighting up the street. The shops had various happy hour offers and it was thronging with tourists and locals alike.

The Thu Bon river, now had multiple boats with tourists on board, rowing up and down. Some had the floating prayer lamps with them while some were simply enjoying the ride. Ritwik and I got interested in the long exposure opportunities while Ankita and Manas went ahead to a nearby museum.

The Bridge of Lights, An Hoi Bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam

Boats on the Thu Bon river, Hoi An, Vietnam

A lady selling the floating lamps, Hoi An, Vietnam

The Thu Bon river at night, Hoi An, Vietnam

Now, it was almost 2100h and we were hungry too. So, we crossed the river and went to the other bank, where it was as if a carnival was on. All shops were glittering with lights, live music being played, food and ale galore. And then, the street which had every kind of food imaginable.

Busy street with tourists and locals, lights, food, Hoi An, Vietnam

Lamps for sale, Hoi An, Vietnam

The other bank also gave a perfect shot of the Japanese Covered Bridge.

The Japanese Covered Bridge at Night, Hoi An, Vietnam\

Promptly at 2200h, the lights went out and the music subsided and it was the end of a long day. We lingered back to enjoy the quite and calm atmosphere of the place for some time, and shot some more photos.

The calm Thu Bon river at night, Hoi An, Vietnam

We reached back around 2330h to find the receptionist at our hotel fast asleep. Had to wake her up for the keys though, guess people sleep early in this side of the world. And, that is how our stay in Hoi An ended. Next day, we would leave Hue, via train! The journey would be something to look forward at.

Cheers!!

The Elephant Parade : Mumbai 2018

With the novel objective of raising awareness for elephant corridors across the country, The Elephant Parade India arrived at Mumbai this month.
Along came exquisitely designed and painted elephant replicas, each having an interesting story to its own. Apart from being an awareness raising tool, it is also an amazing means to showcase the artist’s expertise and talent. I met with the following elephants at the Phoenix Marketcity at Lower Parel. The elephants shall be on display in various locations within the city and details can be found here.

Iridescent Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Black Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Blue Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Black Shiny Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Brown Exotic Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Green Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Black Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

Forest Elephant from Elephant Parade, Mumbai

These beautiful elephants are also available for sale using the website mentioned earlier. It is my recommendation that you go and have a look at these elephants as and when possible.

As a note to my readers who may be in Mumbai from 14-18 March, a set of these exquisite elephants shall be at the Bandra Fort during the above mentioned days. The opportunity to capture stunning photos is quite an unique one.

A trick to reduce the influence of crowds on the photo is to have a long exposure. The elephants being stable are sharp while the crowd fades away due to them moving swiftly. In case there are posey people in front of the elephants, they shall show up.  There shall be ghosting, for sure. This is the minimum hassle method to obtain a clear picture. Drawback being it can be used only when you can shoot a long exposure, meaning, day time shots are not possible. For the daytime shots, you can set your tripod and take a series of shots and then use the “Median” command in Photoshop to eliminate the crowd. Ghosting shall be minimal.

Go have fun, use a different technique and share your results in the comments below.

Cheers!!

 

Long Exposure : Demystified

Time and again, I have had requests and queries on how to take the amazing “trails” photos, today, I shall try to demystify them.

Long Exposure, Trails, Diwali Night, Marine Drive
The technique is called Long Exposure. As the name suggests, we make the photo’s exposure long. In doing so, any light source, or lit up object, that is incident on the sensor, shall be registered by it. In technical terms, we extend the time the shutter stays open, by decreasing the shutter speed. This causes the exposure to be “long”.

Here’s an example:

Long Exposure, Queens Necklace, Marine Drive, Mumbai

Now, to achieve this, we need to have a shutter speed that is low enough to form the light trails, while the aperture has to be such that the photo does not wash out, all the while maintaining the ISO at a level where there is not a lot of noise.
We can get to this unique combination by fiddling in the Manual mode:

Nikon D7200, Manual Mode setting

Or, by setting the camera in the Aperture Priority mode (AV mode in Canon).

Nikon D7200, Aperture Priority Mode setting

The objective should be to have an optimal exposure, despite the slow shutter speed.

Nikon D7200, Aperture Priority Mode setting

With enough practice, taking stunning photos shall not be difficult at all.
Long Exposure is amazing for smoothening out ripples in water, or giving the water a milky flowy look. Do try them out.

Long Exposure, Smootheing of Lake, Bangla Sahib, New Delhi

Slowing down water flow, Elephant Falls, Meghalaya

It is also useful to take photos in low light environments such as this dimly lit monument at the Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi.

Long Exposure, Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi

I shall conclude by stating that unless you practice, you shall not be perfect. Go out there, and explore the amazing world of long exposure.

Cheers!!

Bokehs and Starbursts!

There are some amazing things one can shoot during night. Long exposure shots of light trails, amazing bokehs, starbursts, star trails, and much more.
Tonight, like many before, I was at office past sundown, and I had camera with me. Had a concept to try out too. So, off I went to the terrace to try out the shot.

Western Express Highway at night, bokehs of the lights

While I was up there, the Mahim bay glittered and tempted me to take the long exposure shot. Looks damn nice, right? Worth climbing up to the terrace for a peek!

Long Exposure shot of the Mahim Bay, Bandra Worli Sea Link in background

Something I noticed, while processing the photos, if you suspect that there may be some dirt on your lens, shoot a bokeh at night, the dirt ll show up as a shadow in the orb!

Guess I need to clean the prime!

Cheers!!

Diwali Night – 2017

This Diwali, I was at Mumbai. Had just a day of holiday, so it was out of the question to go home then. Instead, I came to office that night, went to the terrace, which is on the 42nd floor for a view. Looked quite nice, I must say, the photos didn’t come out to be that amazing though.

But, I wanted good photos, so, I went to the Marine Drive to watch the fireworks. With the rounded curve of the road, it is always amazing to watch the light trails. The glow from the lights add to the beauty, and the occasional police van on a patrol, makes it an interesting picture.

Fire works on Diwali Night at Marine Drive Mumbai
Fire works on Diwali Night at Marine Drive Mumbai

This, here is a composite image of 5 to 6 photos, each of 30 seconds exposure, and then stacked on photoshop. While I am not very deft at photo manipulation, it does help to know bit of retouching.

A bit of advise dear readers, always use a tripod and remote while shooting long exposures for stacking. No matter how stable the surface is, each time you press the button, the position shifts just a tiny bit, and that shows up blurred in the final stacked image.

Cheers!!

Mumbai Nightscape Encore

A few weeks back, I posted a few photos of the city of Mumbai, at night, shot using a Lenovo K6 Power here. The photos were not of the quality that I would have wanted, hence, a few days back, when the opportunity presented itself, I was there with the camera. The location, the terrace floor of L&T Realty Crescent Bay.
We waited from dusk to nightfall and thankfully, it didn’t rain this certain evening.

Silhouette of Mumbai Cityscape

Wide angle shot of the Mumbai Cityscape

Bandra-Worli Sealink and nearby areas at night

Tall towers of Worli, Mumbai, India

Long Exposure shot of Wadala and Freeway, Mumbai, India

The next post, dear readers, I shall introduce you to something new. Do keep an eye out, the post shall be up soon!

Cheers!

TTL: Delhi: Lodi Gardens and Bangla Sahib

These were the last two stops on our list, and there was a specific condition I had for the Bangla Sahib gurdwara, I wanted to visit it at night.
So, we made it to the Lodi Gardens in the evening, and spent some time.

Dome in Lodi Gardens, New Delhi, India

Girl standing at the doorway of Lodi Gardens, New Delhi, India

One of the tombs in the Lodi Gardens, New Delhi, India

The garden is quite mesmerizing and the tombs are simply beautiful. It would be an amazing place to do some light painting experiments. Maybe someday, when I visit Delhi again.

Nearest Metro station will be Jor Bagh (Yellow line).

Next, we went to Bangla Sahib Gurdwara. After quickly depositing our shoes and donning a headscarf, we went ahead. Crowded, yet quite organized this place is. The best bit of the gurdwara, is the lake, and once we went to the other side of the lake,  another of those pre mediated shots, came into being.

Long Exposure shot of Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi, India

A five minute exposure turned the lake into a blurry mirror and it was just amazing.

Again, I have Tuhina to thank for taking me to all these places and being my guide and my model and as always, my cherished companion.

I left Delhi the next day, and as I type this out, am in Mumbai. I have shifted here and am based here, as of now.

 

Star Trails: What is and how to..

Shooting at night, and in long exposure is quite fun, one must agree. With a little tweak, the night can be turned  into dusk, if not bright day.
This shot, 0230 h. 30 seconds of exposure does this trick.

Long exposure photo of lake with landscapes mirrored into the lake.

We get enamoured by the photos of trails of lights across the sky, often in round or elliptical patterns about a stunning landscape. Some of my readers may already know what it is. What you have seen, is a star trail.
What is it? Well, as the earth rotates, from our point of view, fixed on the earth, we find the stars shifting. If we capture this shift, over considerable span of time, we shall get the path traced by the star. That illuminated trail, is the star trail.

Star trail photo over landscape. Multiple long exposure photos combined in one.

Things we need are quite minimal. We need a tripod, a camera with a means to take a certain number of shots over a period of time, a landscape and a starry night.

Set the camera appropriately on the tripod. In the settings menu, make it take photos till the battery runs out or at least 8gb worth of photos are captured. For the exposure settings, you ll have to take a couple of cold shots. Try with the minimum ISO and shutter speed at about 15 seconds. Take a shot and inspect it, if you can see at least one star in your display screen. A few trial and errors and you shall get the exposure right. Once done, set the camera on the interval shooting mode, and wait.

Now, what you shall get out of the shots is a series, where the only movement, preferably, will be of the stars. Get hold of the software, StarStaX, and load up the images. Follow the instructions and let the software process the photos. If done correctly, you should get yourself a beautiful star trail photo.

If you have reached till here, you have definitely earned the right to know what may go wrong. Take a look at the photo above, once more. Zoom it. Do you notice that there are tiny gaps between each trail. That gap is what 5 seconds looks like. Between each of my exposure, I had set a gap of 5 seconds. If you want a continuous trail, ensure, no gaps. You may have to shoot on JPEG for that, turn noise reduction off, so that as soon as the camera shoots one image, it can continue to the next one. You have got to ensure that there are no movements on your end. Before you put the photo into StarStax, it is advisable to convert them in JPEG, if you have shot in RAW. And while you are at it, make the uniform changes in all the photos using sync (Lightroom) or similar functions.

My exposure is about 120 photos, half an hour long. This was a proof of concept shot, to try out whats and hows. Now that I know, in near future, better, seamless shots should be expected.

Till the next post.
Cheers!!

The Supermoon Post

This is a late post about the most recent supermoon that the world saw. I was determined to shoot it.

So, I made my way to a nearby temple, which rests on a hill top to try shoot the moon, and the city underneath, and this is what I got.

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trail
Not exactly the way I wanted it to be. The temple, being on elevated ground, was a perfect vantage point for some nice cityscapes though 🙂

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So, when a bunch of friends suggested we go the nearby Singhagadh Fort to capture the moon before it sets, I was ready in a snap.

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Now, these were more like it. We were there till sunrise, and then made our way back to our daily routines.

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Recently, I joined a group of amazing photogs and have covered an event of international fame. Shots from them, shall be up shortly. Stay tuned.

Cheers!!

Light Chaos

In a train, you dont have a lot to shoot, until, you stick the camera out of the window…chaos!!

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Predetermination and Mystery

Sometimes, we have a shot stuck in our head. We know what we want, how we want it, and from where we shall get it. The following is one of such shots, predetermined, preconceived and executed, just the way I wanted it to be.

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Once the shot was done, I turned around, on my way back, and realized, the setting was quite amazing to shoot, one more frame, with a little mystery, this time.

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No, it didn’t rain 🙂

These are my entries for Blogging University: Developing Your Eye I : Streets and II: Mystery

Cheers!!