Lioness on Rock at Seronera

This photo taken in the Seronera region of the Serengeti, Tanzania. There was a pride of lions (2 lionesses and 5 cubs) who clearly appeared hungry and looking for prey. We followed them for a while and then this lioness scaled this big rock to get a panoramic view of the surroundings. Unfortunately for them there was no prey nearby but as we drove on we saw a huge herd of wildebeest further ahead. I’m sure the lions found them eventually. Photo taken with Olympus OM-D EM-5, Panasonic Lumix 35-100/f2.8

The next photo was taken shortly afterwords as she was descending the rock. Photo taken with Sony A6000 and Sony 55-210 lens.

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Visiting a community school in Mumbai, India

We had gone to India for our summer vacation this year. While in Mumbai, we visited a school for relatively underprivileged kids, where one of our friends volunteered. It was a wonderful yet humbling experience. These kids have relatively little but they were so cheerful and the joy on their faces was just infectious!

I had not taken any digital camera on this vacation. These shots were all taken with the Contax G2, Fuji Superia 400 (first time I used this and I really liked it), the Carl Zeiss 28 f2.8 and 50 f2 lenses and the Contax TLA-200 flash.

In Mumbai, India

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We had organised some snacks for the kids and a drawing/ art competition with some small prizes thrown in. The kids were delighted and had so much fun. Our children had also come along and I hope they got something from the experience.

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In Mumbai, India

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Couple more from Angkor Wat

Found and worked on a couple of interesting Angkor Wat photos lurking in Lightroom. The one above is actually an exposure blend of 3 photos. As always for any exposure blend, the challenge is to make sure that it still looks natural, with good contrast.

The photos below was taken in blazing heat during the middle of the day. Barely got the ladies to pose fir a moment or two before we fled to the shade! Used a flash for filling in the harsh shadows. Both these photos were taken with the Sony A7R and the 16-35 F/4 FE lens.
Angkor and the ladies

Pier Abstracts

I woke up at 5am one morning when we were staying at Lorne along the Great Ocean Road. That was quite an effort for me in the middle of a family vacation with a lot of driving around. Grabbed the Sony A7R and the 16-35mm lens and walked down to the pier. I did not have a tripod but had a small Gorillapod. Woefully inadequate given the conditions – windy and not too many places where the pod could be positioned while giving an interesting viewpoint. Got this one semi-nice photo while the light was ok.

Pier Light

But then the light just got boring – no interesting colors, no interesting beams through the clouds. So, I just converted the photos to b&w and some abstract compositions. These photos are not much to talk about but I still keep them because I find the results kind of interesting and I remember the effort it took to wake up in the morning.

Pier at Lorne, Victoria

Long Exposure Abstract

Black and White

Off Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

I really like black and white conversions for certain types of photos. The color photo above is straight from raw. It’s ok but rather bland. Given the leading lines and the strong contrast in the photo I decided to convert into b&w to see how it would look. The conversion was done in Lightroom using the standard tools. An important tool I have found, is to play around with the color blending in the B&W panel and moving the temperature and tint sliders in the Basic panel as well. This opens up some really interesting contrast possibilities.

As an added tweak, I reduced clarity for the photo and then brushed loosely along the path with a high clarity brush. Helps in drawing the eye through the frame. This photo was taken with the Sony A7R and Sony Zeiss 16-35 FE lens.

Kodak Ektar 100

So, what film would I take to a desert island?! It’s a really tough question but I guess push comes to shove, I would choose Kodak Ektar 100. I love b&w but end up capturing in color more often – there’s so much color in life, it would be shame to lose them. After all, one can always convert from color to b&w but not vice-versa.

Boat with Ektar 2

My favorite film has got to be Velvia 50. But shooting with slide film is not always the best option. Exposure latitude is razor thin and the whole process is also quite expensive. So color negative film is the way to go more often than not. Then its usually a face off between some of the Fuji films, Kodak Portra and Kodak Ektar. I love Fuji and my favorite medium format film is Fuji Pro 160. But for 35mm, I prefer the Kodaks. If I know I will be shooting mainly portraits, then I will take the Portra (160 or 400). For everything else, its the Ektar.

I love the vibrancy of the film. It can make ordinary situations come alive in a really pleasing ways. The way it handles reds is very appealing to me. And greens too. It is almost Velvia like in many ways. Sometimes the vibrancy can get too much but a little bit of saturation/ vibrance reduction usually solves the issue.

Contax G2, Kodak Ektar 100
Contax G2, Kodak Ektar 100
Contax G2, Kodak Ektar 100
Contax G2, Kodak Ektar 100

The Zeiss 35mm f/2 ZM Biogon T* on Sony A7R

The¬†Zeiss 35mm f/2 ZM Biogon T*. ¬†This is ¬†small but not insubstantial lens for Leica M mount. I use this on my Sony A7R as well as my Leica M-P. ¬†And I love it. There is a perennial debate about this lens vs the Leica 35mm summicron. ¬†I’m not going to go into a technical debate here. Ken Rockwell and Steve Huff¬†have written about this. Personally, for my needs, the Zeiss is all I want. I also have the Leica 35 1.4 Summilux, which is just sensational but the Zeiss comes really close for a tiny fraction of the cost. ¬†Very often, when I just want to carry one lens, I find myself reaching for the Zeiss for its light weight and sensational 3D pop, color and contrast. ¬†The Leica summilux¬†scores on build quality, 1 stop advantage and the smoothness of out of focus transitions.

I love how the focus transitions on this image. And who wouldn’t love an Alpaca!
Zeiss Alpaca

The sharpness and contrast on this image are so beautiful.
Zeiss Doorway

And finally, here is the Zeiss color! This Peruvian girl is making natural dyes.
Zeiss Girl with Dye

London Eye and Serendipity

This photo was taken way back in 2008 and remains one of my favourite photos ever. It was taken with a Canon 30D and EF-S 17-85 lens. In decent light, this remains a really good combination but of course the ISO capabilities are nowhere close to modern gear.

This photo was quite an accident. These were early days in my photography adventures and I was just pointing the camera and shooting. What really makes the photo for me is that 3 objects entered the scene creating a very interesting frame:

1. The bird on the lower left
2. The small bird on the top right
3. The even smaller plane on the top left

Ofcourse, I fully recognize that this photo is not composed very well (for instance, I would have liked some more breathing room on the right) and has other issues as well. But it still works for me, especially given that this was taken shortly after I had just picked up photography.

Cambodia: The flooded forest in film

The Tonle Sap lake is a good excursion from Siem Reap. We went in late December 2014. I carried my Sony A7R as well as the Contax G2. The Contax was loaded with Kodak Portra 400, which I rated at ISO 100. Now, that’s a tip for any newbie to film. Overexpose by 2 stops or so because color film (not slide film!) as a lot of latitude in the highlights but very little in the shadows. So just overexpose and then pull back the shadows in Lightroom or similar software.

Tonle Sap

One fascinating attraction connected to the rivers that drain into the Tonle Sap is the Floating (or Flooded) Forest. These are flooded mangrove forests surrounding the cluster of Kompong Phluk villages. You visit them on small boats rowed by local villagers. These small boats are owned by separate families and is often their only source of income.

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Flooded forest 1

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Flooded forest 4

Flooded forest 3