Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Yalan excursions

Yala national park ,one of the largest parks in Srilanka is located in southeast part of Srilanka.In spite of yala being noted as the one of the national parks having the highest densities of leopards in the world, I had little expectations of the sighting of leopards from yala ,  given the shy nature of the predator. I am glad that I was proven wrong. The times in yala were one of the most amazing times I had spent in jungles , in company of smallest predator from the cat family and one of the biggest mammals ,the asian elephants, and of course the mouth watering pineapples.
Here is a brief account of the small time I spent there in October 12.
As we entered the park, we were greeted by many water birds like pelicans, storks, stilts etc. This was natural since yala is  home of many lagoons. Eye catcher amidst this lagoons was a shikra bird ,that landed briefly in it for a small instant and flew away.

Driving ahead through the jungles , in search for the elusive predator(which I was going to learn later that it isn't elusive here) we sighted many species of mammals , birds and amphibians. As we parked our chariot to get the sense of the woods , we sighted a monitor lizard climbing a tree trunk.We were  lucky it was bold enough for some seconds ,so we managed some pics.

A mother elephant and her kid showed a nice camaraderie amidst nice backdrop of a lagoon and dense vegetation. The beauty of habitat always adds up to the charisma of the animals residing in it.

Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.So one really cant afford missing his wide angle lenses.Two of the very different landscapes in yala, sadly I still miss not having a wide angle then.

The kind of variation in flora,fauna and landscapes can be seen in above pics, crocs, deers and buffaloes in dry arid pic and the colony of storks in above pic.

Now as we moved ahead in search of the predator we were surprised to sight a couple. But to my chagrin they had moved away when our jeep arrived at the location and we could not manage a pic together. we then spotted the same male ,but in low light. Was kind of ideal condition for panning the motion of a leopard, a weird experiment.

The next drives through the park were pure blessing as far as the leopard sighting was concerned.As we were heading towards the inner parts of the jungle early morning next day, we saw a male leopard lazying around on one of the rocks.A typical yala shot of the leopard on the rocks is what everyone got.As many jeeps began to gather around and created ruckus it just walked around through the foliage to the other part of the jungle. Drivers proactive thinking led us to the other spot faster than the leopard. As expected it came out through the foliage ,not before it sharpened its nails by scratching the tree trunk.It was kind of lucky shot as its eyes were clear in spite of being in foliage.

It so happened that the leopard probably found some hunt and hence came crossing through the road.It showed almost all the stealthy ways that leopard exhibit and silently stalking its prey until it is within striking distance where it unleashes a burst of speed to quickly pursue and pounce on its victim.Unfortunately our sadist prayers on seeing leopard kill were unfulfilled, and we only saw its futile attempts.

Being close to the roads ,the predator came very close to the jeep and offers some close perspectives.It was worth notable to see the rusty yellow coat with dark spots and close-set rosettes, which are smaller than in Indian leopards

The muscular frame of the leopard ,and its curves getting accentuated is a sight to watch for.

A yawn, by any member of the cat family is a classic sight to capture. The white canines and the pink tongue and its expressions create a superb combination.

Yala offers some very different habitat shots of the leopard, in the open , having its big territories overlapping with other females. They rarely haul their kills into trees, which is likely due to the lack of competition and the relative abundance of prey. Since leopards are the apex predators they don't need to protect their prey, which is primarily the reason they can be seen in open unlike rest of the regions where leopards are seen.

Apart from the favorite leopard sights there were many other interesting things yala offered. The landscape of yala rock , with brahminy kite and the elephant in foreground, the colony of storks and crocodile were something mesmerizing.

A painted stork quenches its thirst in predated waters. It was very surprising to see crocodile not bothering pelicans n storks , opposite to what we had expected .crocodiles were super quiet and behaved like a kid being reprimanded by its teacher.

A brahminy kite sat on a perch with backdrop of yala rock was something again spectacular and unique habitat of a bird.

One of the most interesting inmates of the forests of yala is the srilankan endemic monkey. Honestly i had never seen anything cuter than this species in real.Perched high up in the trees , it made itself naturally very photogenic.

The trip to yala was way beyond expectations. Although nothing very extraordinary was sighted ,but still ,the leopards and elephants and rest members of avians, mammals and amphibians made the day.
The trip to yala certainly rose a satirical question in mind while leaving "why does the srilankan flag
has a lion on it and not its apex predator?????......

Friday, 16 November 2012


Nature has always riddled the humans with his own ways in many more ways than one. As someone who likes to imagine and think loud, there are myriad ways to see ,think, record and portray those as vignettes. Nature has always had its own ways of surprising us with its displays , just that we should appreciate its beauty with a rather different eye.
As Ansel Adams says "The only things in my life that compatibly exist with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit." it always implies portraying things the way they are not.Or we can say ,expressing them eccentrically.
Some of the pictures below are just my loud imaginations......

A stream flowing in the western ghats along the pebbles and wild grass created a view that if viewed from the top seemed like a portrait of a very old man. The hair and beard turned white due to slow shutter speed and a little blur gave it some unreal lifer. I just made it black n white so it looked more like dumbledore.

Streams and pebbles form amazing contraptions that can be given any shape as desired.Just that we should appreciate things differently.

There are some pictures where horror looks beautiful.The rock in above picture looked like a skull to me. Just seemed as if I saw some pillar outside a haunted castle. Again thinking loud , but why not try something different....

 This is a dew drop perched on the tip of a twig.The flash fired left reflection at spots that, to me ,looked like a caricature of a cartoon. With eyes, as reflection of flash, green line between eyes as nose and faint little smile. Well I hope you all don't doubt my rationality , but there are times I just love to think loud.

This is a spider web, that I colored with a flash. The greens of the leaves near the web glowed in a very unconventional way due to the flash and so did the part of the web. I viewed a shape of a person in the left side lighting up the strings or say tinkling the strings.....

Nature always has a way of expressing itself. In a subtle different manner. The contraption of a twig and a creeper in a garden made itself look like a signature of nature.The shapes of 'A' and 'S' that is...
Also there are exclamation marks too....just check out drops of rain sometimes.....here is one...

Wrath can be one more form of nature that can be expressed. The dry trees, leafless branches ,and clouds can be a perfect recipe for such a picture. 

I saw an arm coming out of the earth , showing the mankind the finger, an expression of wrath for all our misdoings. 

This is kind of stuff that everyone perceives with his own unique visions, and everyone has a difference. Every art imitates the natural forms, this is greatness of nature. Just as art and its form vary, so do the expressions and the visions. We just have to know one thing , There are no fixed sermons in stones, we can read and imagine the way we want it to be.........
Signing of for now, in search of more such visions.....

Friday, 19 October 2012

Elephas Maximus

It had always been my desire to photograph wild elephants in jungle since a long time. Though elephants sighting are reported to be comparatively scarce in month of october in yala,yet I had a wonderful rendezvous with a family of elephants and also some solitary bull elephants. The experience of witnessing the behavior of these elephants was truly enchanting and unforgettable.

 This bull elephant came to quench his thirst in water body and showed some amazingly slow movements.It would take one feet forward, stop abruptly, again its other foot forward , cling to tree trunk nearby and wait. In between he would dust itself to protect its skin from extreme heat.

 This elephant waited at the same spot for almost forty five minutes before it ventured into the forest shadows. Having observed this elephant's sluggish movements made me feel that this particular bull elephant was extra lazy, but totally carefree as if it had no deadlines to maintain and no stress to encounter.......
In the late afternoon we sighted a family of elephant who were fiddling, eating and may be shaping their young one for the future....

As we moved into other part of the forests in a hope to sight leopards, we lost the track of this particular family. Since elephants normally keep moving ,we again had a sighting of an elephant family may be the same as above or a different set, but as usual it was totally overwhelming to make pictures out of them in diffused evening light and against backdrop of famous elephant rock in yala.....

The camaraderie that the elephant family shows and the way they connect with their young ones just heart touching. Nature always has amazed human beings and taught it some lessons, this one is surely one of it. No other mammal that I've seen displays emotions so splendidly....

Its very interesting to observe how the elephant teaches its young one to relish food and how it has to be plucked and devoured. Elephant normally kicks its feet into grass, loosens the grass' grip in soil and plucks it.....

Even more awe inspiring thing is to observe the herd move, as depicted in one of the pics above, most elephants have the same formation having young ones walking in middle with their baby feet alongside mammoth elephants. Also Elephants are very aggressive in herd specially those who have young ones. It would not be a surprise if elephant charges towards your vehicle or trumpets loudly as elephants get very temperamental since they are protective towards young ones....

one more behavioral habits that elephants shows is the dust bathing. There are many reasons to why they do it viz to create a protective layer on body for protection from insects or cooling their skins etc, but it certainly is a sight to capture.

Amongst the best things to observe in elephants is to watch them run. Its a fact that elephants can run quite fast with respect to their size. There is only one way to describe the running of elephant - Cute. of course if you are not standing in their way. Mammoth guys running parallel to your eyesight , trumpeting and wobbling around is a sight to watch for....

Elephants, are certainly one of those species who have fascinated the mankind since ages, both due to their size and intelligence. I was lucky enough in yala to observe a chunk of their behavior right from the morning to late evenings. I observed them stranded besides a tree trunk and also running around.I observed them solitary and in herds.Certainly a trip to remember and moments to cherish for a long long time.........

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Excursion to Siddeshwar

Everyday while traveling to my workplace from home, I used to see a  sprawling waterfall from an appreciable height just outside the outskirts of my town (Alibag). Monsoons bought the life again in the falls and it began to flow in full swing. I had been planing to take a detour towards its base since a long time,but it took a power shutdown of 4 hrs to finally execute it. One should really thank the electricity boards, they have really taken a step to transform the young generations to change them from being couch potatoes.
Siddeshwar is basically a miniature western ghats landscape coupled with a Shiv temple and a fort.It has pristine green covers all over ,with hills beyond and a stream that converts into a huge falls in monsoons. So it can be summarized into what we see in paintings- hills,green scapes ,waterfalls,occasional hut to fill in the puzzle.The place is kind of crowded on shravan somvars (mondays of august) as there is a shiv temple. But mostly people flock here on weekends to the falls for all the kinds of reasons they have.To have a glimpse of the waterfalls from a distance is kind of tough here as the way to approach it is tricky.To reach at its very base ,even difficult.

 The base is where the stream from above lands and divided itself vertically to continue its flow deep down. Since there is not a road or a easy path, its tread by only a handful of people.The way towards it is through a small gorge besides the hill on one side and valley towards other. Moss on stones adds up to the difficulty to walk up at the base.

Walking through the dense covers of small trees and perches,climbing from stone to stones, it may certainly be not a arduous trek but still the satisfaction to reach there is immense. To welcome you there is a gentle stream and sprays of water jets reflected from the falls. It really is worth a small trek.

The view from the spot is spectacular and has good scope for photography too. But certainly to carry tripods and dslrs is too tiring here. Glad I was having my mobile to take some snaps.

The winds sway the falling waters in there directions and that creates a different shape altogether,much different from the conventional one.

The dense cover of vegetation around the place has plethora of flora and fauna. Its home to amazing birds like crested serpent eagles, owls,thrushes , shama, oriole, paradise flycatchers ,drongos ,munia you name it. Its also a place where oriental dwarf kingfisher visits every monsoon to breed. But to sight it in this dense cover is another question and photographing it, well you need luck for it.

Wildflowers as in above pic, orchids, mushrooms etc are in plenty here. Also myriad of other flowers and trees which I don't know anything about.I just see ,watch , get surprised and return.

Vegetation is so dense that the light is really low on the ground.The stream flowing nearby, the chirping and incessant calls of the birds around, the croaking of the frogs, create an ambiance that is mystic and certainly one of a kind that will always induce thoughts in your mind to go back in the open. Same happened with me and huge shaking of the nearby tree by some mammal ,still wondering what that was, made sure I went back soon.Not before I clicked a stream flowing nearby and tasting some fresh and cool river water.

I headed back to my home after,happy to enjoy the falls and the ambiance of the untouched,unscathed jungles.It is only at these kind of places that we realize that what amazing places we have near our homes and it just takes a stroll near some hills,some jungles. It also makes us realize how respected and feared even small creatures like scorpions,snakes,crabs etc are. Every step you take induces that thought in you.Above all we realize how our planet before some years was and how it is now. It just takes a stroll into some rarely visited wilderness.......

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Says Sven Nykvist,
Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.
This obviously was put forth for life but is apt for all genres of photography. Light is unarguably the most important element in photography and holds all aces about photography with it. How you play with light shows up in your picture and most important thing that can add that "WOW" factor.

A serene landscape of Tso moriri is an ideal place where the light changes its nature in a little spaces of intervals due to play of winds, clouds and sun. We can get different effects with the diffused light and direct sunlight falling on the lake and hills.

Nature offers plethora of colors as light changes and this change is most evident when we observe the changing colors between dawn and dusk.

There are ways to alter the light artificially but nature does its work best. The pictures show the way how nature has altered the light between sunset and sunrise. The mood and serenity of an image changes drastically with time and light.

Sea scape picture is one more of its kind that used ambient light changes in surroundings to create good pictures.

Similarly composed pictures taken in a span of half an hour shows how light creates visual treats for eyes.

photographing structures in different parts of the day is one more thing where we can portray different moods. This is where the night photography aspect comes into play and we can play around with the artificial lighting to create drama.

Above picture shows the magnetic laboratory in alibag, my hometown. I took this normal picture in evening and tried a kind of long exposure shot some time later to use effect of city lights in background of the structure.

photographing structures ,industries etc in form of silhouettes along with a dramatic background really a recipe for a good picture where the shadows add to the drama in a picture.

clicking the picture of the same industry in night ,creates a magical background of dark blue hues of the skies and the tungsten yellow. Playing more with the light and exposing it for a long time made a trail of the smoke through pillars and movement of the trees.

Better to light your candle than to curse the darkness is true but when it comes to photography,the only candle that we have is nature and we need to learn how to use it for our advantage. 
Here both the candle and the darkness have to be ours and we need to script our story with it........