Damselfly: Extreme Close Up

Back in 2011 I had shared a blog post with photos of dragonfly. The photos were shot using my old camera Canon PowerShot A710 IS. Now that I am using a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, I go out more often to capture birds, bugs and bees. Well, by more often I mean every weekend. I have discovered this new place in our neighboring colony. This place is lush green with tall grass and wild plants. This huge area has small paths to walk inside and gives me every opportunity to get closer to creatures like chameleons, grasshoppers, dragonflies, some nice birds like Spiders, Bulbuls, Sunbirds, Ashy Prinias and Scaly Breasted Munias. I will write more about this place in upcoming posts but today, I would like to share some photos of the dragonflies which I noticed where present in a big number in this small jungle :-)

Food Photography Experiments

Tri-Color Pasta in White Sauce
My wife Mukta is quickly becoming a PRO Blogger with her blogs Mum-Mum Time and Mumbai-Foodies. Mumbai Foodies is still in its nascent stages. As of now it is about the interesting places to eat in Mumbai, she soon plans to start posting articles about interesting eating places in other cities as well. Her other blog Mum-Mum Time, as the name suggests is all about healthy food recipes for babies, toddlers, and kids. For her blog she requires photos of the food that she cooks and puts up recipes for. When we started we had a big debate about how to present the dishes. She was of opinion that the whole dish should be shown by clicking the photo from TOP. However, I felt it would make the dish look flat and that food would appear more interesting if it is shot more from front-top perspective. Later we realized that since our visitors would want to see how the overall presentation of the dish, we decided to go ahead with the TOP view of the dish.

Birds in Mumbai - II

Last Sunday, even though it wasn't raining much, it was cloudy with the sun playing hide and seek. The light was just about perfect for some Bird Watching and Bird Photography. In the afternoon when I went to our colony's garden, it seemed like it was lunch time for birds as most of them were out looking for food. There were a lot of Mynahs around and they moved about freely without being scared of the human intruder—me. Some of them were not afraid of coming as close as 2-3 feet from me. 

Among other birds there was a pair of Oriental Magpie Robin. Both of them found one large worm each for their meal. It's amazing how they can spot the prey hiding in the grass. 

There was also a Greater Coucal and Scaly Breasted Munia which I saw in our neighboring colony on the same day. The Red Whiskered Bulbuls and Common Tailorbirds are the regulars, they are always there but they look amazing and photograph really well. :-)

The Greater Coucal

Red Whiskered Bulbul
  
Oriental Magpie Robin (Female)

Oriental Magpie Robin (Male)

Red Whiskered Bulbul

Scaly Breasted Munia

Common Tailorbirds

Miniature Photogaphy Part 2

Life's been busy and hectic of late. After a long time, I managed to take some time out to view a few tutorials on Youtube to learn about some more features of Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. I found one really useful video which explains about the custom settings and how to ensure your camera is ready to shoot with most favorable settings for Bird Photography as well as Macro. Basically the two custom settings options (C1 & C2) available on Canon PowerShot SX50 HS can be set with one setting saved for a full zoom shutter priority mode and the other one can be saved for Macro. This ensures you don't have to spend a lot of time setting up  your camera when you are out to capture some birds. So, with C1 selected on the dial, if I switch on the camera it straightaway zooms to 50x. All you need to do is point the camera at the subject, adjust the shutter speed if needed, focus and shoot.

When I tried these settings on my camera, I also learn't about a setting which I had not explored at all. In the MENU, there are options like AF FRAME, AF-POINT ZOOM, CONTINUOUS AUTO FOCUS, these when set correctly and saved to your custom settings, help you focus quickly on your subject such as a bird hiding between the thick branches and leaves.

Basically you need to set AF FRAME to FlexiZone. The other options in the AF FRAME setting are Tracking AF and Face Detect. After making these changes and setting my camera's C1 option with FlexiZone, I continued with the experiment I had mentioned about in my last post, Miniature Photography. I placed two of Devansh's cars at a distance from each other and tried focusing on each of them turn by turn. After setting my camera's AF FRAME to FlexiZone, the shifting of focus happened really fast. The video tutorial about custom settings option that I referred to earlier can be seen here.

Focus on the Green Car

Focus on the Yellow Car
  
Devansh offering his cars for the shoot....??

Miniature Photogaphy Part 1


My son, Devansh, is 2 years and 3 months old now. He's been crazy about cars much before he turned 2. And not only cars, he loves just about all kinds of vehicles. Even while travelling he would point out at cars, trucks, cranes, excavators, and trains in an excited manner.

Coppersmith Barbet

f/6.5, 1/250 sec, ISO-800, Focal length: 215mm
You must have heard the sound of tuk, tuk, tuk made by the Coppersmith Barbet. It sounds as if a coppersmith is striking some metal with a hammer. I’ve heard the sound many times but spotting this bird hasn’t been all that easy.

I was out in our colony to click photos of a pair of Oriental Magpie Robin and a pair of Common Tailorbird. That's when I noticed a Coppersmith Barbet in the same area. I tried getting as close to it as possible. It's quite easy to lose this bird in lush green trees so I had to hurry. Luckily for me, this bird wasn't very shy and stayed put for more than 3-4 minutes allowing me to take a few good shots. All the pictures were shot in "aperture priority" mode. It was late evening and there was no direct sunlight. I had to step the ISO up to 800. I usually don't go beyond ISO 400 in order to avoid the noise.

Coppersmith Barbet was announced as the official bird of Mumbai in 2011. This bird has survived the unrestrained, rapid development of the city and thus symbolizes its spirit. Coppersmith Barbets are mostly frugivorous i.e. fruit-eating birds but sometimes they eat insects, mainly winged termites. These birds are usually found solitary or in pairs, and in small groups (rarely) in gardens and groves. They are often seen sunning themselves in the morning on top of bare branches of tall trees.

More info about Coppersmith Barbet can be seen here.

Juhu Beach in Mumbai: Revisited

f/6.3, 1/1000 sec, ISO-100, Focal Length 103mm

I remember visiting Juhu beach in Ville Parle, Mumbai, Maharashtra, with my parents and sisters during the childhood days used to be like a novelty. Although we didn't go there too often but it was fun whenever we did visit the beach. The waves plus the food from the stalls would be the most inviting parts of the visits. Also one of my aunts used to stay in Ville Parle. Most of the times we went to the beach at Ville Parle and only once or may be twice to the Santacruz portion of the beach. It used be quite clean and there weren't so many of those 5 & 3 stars hotels at the shore.

I revisited the beach last week. Quite shocking it was to notice that a big portion between the Santacruz and Ville Parle Juhu beach was loaded with garbage, mostly plastic bags. All washed out to the shore right near those new 3 & 5 star hotels. A posh and modern looking building on one side and a shore full of garbage on the other side was a very sorry state for a place which once used to be so beautiful.

But, as I walked along the shore from Santacruz towards Ville Parle, better portion of the beach began to appear and soon I reached an area near Novotel Hotel where the shore was really clean but due to high tide there was very less portion of the sand seen. A lot of people still visit these areas of the beach with family and a lot of people still do not understand their responsibility and duty about keeping the shore clean. Hope whatever is left of Juhu Beach, it stays as good as it is now.

Share some more photos of Juhu Beach here.

A common Kite in flight at Juhu Beach
f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO-00, Focal length 172 mm

Take-off

Violent waves
f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO-00, Focal length 56 mm

Waves during high tide at the Juhu Beach, Mumbai

A little calm ...

Cessna 310 ARF in flight

This dog really enjoyed with waves...

Waves at Juhu Beach, Mumbai

Waves at Juhu Beach, Mumbai

The not-clean portion of Juhu Beach between Santacruz and Ville Parle

This is a really sad state

Bokeh: Experiments with natural light

Experiment with setting sun in the background
Experiment with setting sun in the background
Bokeh? I always thought it was simple and that you just need to know how to take photographs. And, that knowing basic photography should be enough to create a bokeh effect. Last weekend I was out for some bird photography and noticed during evening that, with the setting sun in the background behind the trees, the light was falling amazingly on our garden trees. I always wanted to experiment with lights trying out the Bokeh effect (Bokeh means out of focus) with light blobs showing in the background. Well, I thought instead of having to set up the tiny Diwali lights background, here was an opportunity to do a similar effect with natural light. 

This bamboo trees with long leaves in the foreground i.e. the subject is about 2-3 meters away from me. In the background of the bunch of bamboo trees is a greenish silhouette of a huge Gulmohar tree full of leaves and only small dots of lights showing up due to the sun behind it. This is very similar to a large background full of tiny bulbs. This Gulmohar tree must be about 60-70 meters away. This is why when I focused on the bamboo tree leaves, the light dots in the background being out of focus appeared with the Bokeh effect.

Nature provides us a lot of opportunities to experiment and take some good pictures. We just need to explore, identify and capture. So whenever possible be in the right place at the right time.

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Oriental Magpie Robin

Oriental Magpie Robin on a Tree Branch
Oriental Magpie Robin on a Tree Branch
Oriental Magpie Robin. I've always thought of this bird as a corporate bird :-D Yes, because of the way it is colored, it appears as if it has worn a suit. Magpie robins too have a very sweet voice and are found almost anywhere in India. These are very well known as urban garden visitors. Although, in many areas, the number of Magpie Robins is now on a decline and the species is considered as one of "little concern" globally. I would also like to some day photograph the American Robin better known as the thrush. 

Common Tailorbirds

A pair of common Tailorbirds resting under a large leaf

Right since I started looking closely at the birds around our house, I noticed that a couple of Tailorbirds have been visiting our neighbor's garden very frequently. Although I'm not sure why this beauty falls under the common birds category. As do the other birds, Tailorbirds too have a specific time for visit in the morning and in the evening just before the sunset. These tiny birds, mainly feed on insects.

Taiorbirds have bright green upper body and white underparts. I've noticed them easily sit on the most thinnest of the branches very easily. Well they can comfortably do that since they weigh approximately 8-10 grams.

Tailorbirds build their nests by sewing leaves together to form a deep cup like shape with a very small opening. These tiny birds have a beautiful voice and they do make my morning beautiful by singing their amazing songs almost everyday. 

More Information about Tailorbirds can be read here. You can also get some  bird photography tips here.

Sharing some photos of Tailorbirds shot using Canon Powershot SX50 HS.

Bulbul: The singing bird


Red Whiskered Bulbuls at Aksa Beach
Red Whiskered Bulbul at Aksa Beach, Malad, Mumbai





Bubul, another exotic looking bird found in a good number in Mumbai's concrete Jungle. Bulbuls are highly vocal with a very sweet voice. Well, at least the three kinds that I've seen do sing well. There is a large variety to this bird with different names such as Finsch's Bulbul, White Throated Bulbul, Puff Throated Bulbul, Brown Eared Bulbul Gray Cheeked Bulbul, White Browed Bulbul, Red Vented Bulbul and many more. You can find more information about this species here.

I've so far only seen 3 of these. Red Whiskered Bulbul, Red Vented Bulbul and White Browed Bulbul. Wish to see more types of Bulbuls soon.

Sharing some photos of Bulbuls, shot using Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.

Rock Dove or Pigeon

Rock Dove, Pigeon
Another species found in a large number in Mumbai, but, it's beautiful.
Rock Doves, more commonly known as Pigeons or Rock Pigeons are pale grey birds with black bars on each wing. These birds are very easily seen almost everywhere in the world. To me, these are the birds I practice some bird photography with when I don't get to see any of those exotic and colorful species around. Pigeons are known to stay steady in the same place for a long time and thus very easily photographed. 

It's also absolutely amazing to see them in flight as the way they spread their wings to fly makes them look very beautiful. The white under-wing with a dark thick border gives an awesome look to this bird when in flight. 

We had a pair of pigeons staying in our balcony where the female had laid 2 eggs. We gave them some space to stay till the eggs would hatch but all those days we had a hard time cleaning up the mess.

Anyways, sharing some photos of this beautiful looking but very common bird:
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