A whole new meaning!!!!

I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?

I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under

On a magic carpet ride

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming

A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here
It’s crystal clear
That now I’m in a whole new world with you
Now I’m in a whole new world with you

Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky

A whole new world
Don’t you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath – it gets better
I’m like a shooting star
I’ve come so far

I can’t go back to where I used to be

A whole new world
Every turn a surprise
With new horizons to pursue
Every moment red-letter
I’ll chase them anywhere
There’s time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you

A whole new world
That’s where we’ll be
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me

Some things are sometimes perhaps best left unanalysed – this used to be just a fairy tale romance song – till someone sent this emphasized version and drew attention to this and several other innuendos in Disney movies – Yes, the discussion context was indeed once again DaVinci Code and allied topics

Flash news!

Scaly-breasted munia

Sometime last week I acquired SB800 Speed light but it was only yesterday that I could take it out for a real field test and I am pleased with the results – the flash can indeed reach the distances given by the Guide Numbers. This shot of Scaly-breasted Munia was one of the pictures taken yesterday. The sky was heavily overcast and there was a slight drizzle. Without the flash all I would have got would be dark shapes!!

Anyway no more excuses like “I indeed wanted the bird to be back-lit” or “Dude, thats rim lighting – the bird is not meant to be visible” ;-) However rim lighting still remains my favorite for most of my models and perhaps thats got something to do with my models

I also tried to get this lens, yes has the same one, but both the pieces which the dealer got would not play with my TC20e II (no autofocus – menus jumping etc) – anyone with more info on how to mate the two properly would be welcome. For now I have given up on trying to get a longer focal length – correctly mentioned that it is time Nikon had a decent offering in the 500mm f4 range like Canon does.

Talking about not playing well, yesterday I changed my LJ style from the old S1 to an S2 -to my surprise most S2 styles get messed up if you have a picture in your post which is taller than the text of your post – may be just like the lens + tele-convertor I am missing something with the styles as well.

The new bride

Velvet mites

Known variously as Velvet Mite, Rani Keeda, Rain Mite, Beerboti and Bir Bahuti. These insects are related to mites, yes the same mites which you can find on dogs! Scientific name – Trombidium grandissimum. They emerge from the ground just after first rains and are found almost through out the central Indian plains…

As children we use to go to the grave yard to collect them and make them race, keep in glass jars – we knew that they are used in traditional medicine and felt very yuck!! who would want to eat them.

It turns out that amongst it purported medicinal property is some similarity with Viagra… in fact the name Bir Bahuti – literally meaning “the new bride” is an allusion to that very myth.

This myth will probably be the cause of its ultimate destruction – over the years a huge international market has emerged for it and they are collected not few at a time but by kilograms!! They are then dried in sun and shipped to Varanasi where there are Bir Bahuti oil extraction factories.

These specimen were collected by Aasim from a location where I suspect that a population of them is thriving unknown to these collectors – I just hope it remains that way.

Monsoons!!

Red-rumpted swallow

Monsoon finally hit Nagpur in all its glory on Friday – We celebrated the event by going out for a drive by the Telangkhedi lake side in near zero visibility with some friends.

Well, honestly, it was not planned that way, the plan was to go and see all the birds which feast on the flying termites which come out after the first (pre-monsoon) shower but we were expecting rains and the children were wanting to soak in the rain and for a few minutes all the adults revelled in being children :)

We later stopped at the famous Samosa walla and had piping hot Sams – apparently a whole lot of people had the same idea as us and the fellow was doing a roaring business.

Saturday saw us again out… The picture on the left was taken when suddenly this pretty bird alighted right in front of our car as soon as we stopped – It was a pair of Red Rumped Swallows and they were collecting mud for their nests. That day we also captured a Leucistic Jungle Babbler.

Sunday was spent tucked pleasantly indoors :)

Fine Lines of discrimination

fine lines

Been grappling with some fine lines of discrimination lately – no this has nothing to do with the picture! More on the picture later. It is about the small but significant differentiations between some very similar looking birds for example the difference between Oriental Skylark and Syke’s Crested Lark. Hint: Look at the crest and beak. This confusion is at its prime when it comes to warblers – almost half of them look like the other half of them ;)

With ornithology getting big in our daily routine – this is one thing which I have to master as best as possible. Another exciting thing on this front is that we have been able to garner substantial support from bird watchers of the city and have in hand a lot of data – hope to put it to good use very soon, the data contains some almost unbelievable reports but with our own sighting of European Roller and Cinnamon Bittern I am inclined to believe anything….

Coming to picture adjacent the aim was to produce just the outline of the body using only a single light – this was successfully achieved by placing the light at 10 O’clock position in both planes. The fair skin of the model helped a lot in this case.

Nivedita

Nivedita

You have seen her before, but I won’t blame you if you do not recognise her. She is one of the very few whose face can almost be sculpted with light to give new looks. Yes, she is Nivedita, who once again agreed to be my muse for an evening…. hopefully I will now onwards see her more often.

The lighting was done using two studio lights the main placed at 7 o’clock and the hair light at full intensity placed diametrically opposite. Shot using the normal lens on D70 at f20 for the great depth needed in these kind of pictures… focused manually to prevent the camera fixating on the cloth in front.

Erotic Minimalism

Bend

I am not too great a fan of Minimalism when it is applied to painting or philosophy or for that matter most of photography, however when it comes to erotic photography I very much prefer pictures which develop not through stark visual narrative but through visual suggestion. Pictures in which the viewers inscribe their own story in the fertile grounds of their mind’s eye.

True to my own tastes there are several of my photographs where I strive to create a mood, prompt certain themes and concepts in the mind of the viewer by showing less, by association of ideas, by dabbling in erotic ambiguities rather than through a complete picture. In these pictures, because I am operating in the realms of open-imagination I can insinuate the inexplicable or the unmentionable taboos and still get away with it ;)

Judging from the number responses that I get I can safely presume that this kind of photographic art is widely appreciated and from the content of those responses that I have achieved a fair degree of success in taking these pictures.

Yes, there have been detractors who have accused me of pornography or something as opposite and inane as the “pictures do not show enough”! For them all I can say is – Surf on please…

P.S. I keep my promises

Sloth Bear (Bhalu) (Melursus ursinus)

Bhalu the bear

Bhalu the bear

These animals are reputed to be the exact opposite of what has been popularised by Rudyard Kipling as “Bhaloo the bear”. Some reports say that they can be more dangerous than Tigers which is probably true as the eyesight of Sloth Bears is not too good and they are known to attack at the slightest provocation.

Trackers and guides also say that tracking / spotting a Sloth Bear in Kanha is 10 times more difficult that doing the same for a Tiger, this I can vouch for as till our previous visit we had only heard about the Sloth Bear but never seen one.

However this time we had very close encounters with not one but two of these creatures on two consecutive days. Each time the bear was least bothered and we could observe the first one for almost 1.5km as it ambled along marking trees and the second one as it demolished and clean up a termite hill at his leisure.

These pictures are from the first encounter – taken early morning – light was poor and I was too scared to use a flash. Swati however has a great 10 min video of the entire episode.

Long Live the Queen!!

She is Indrani the resident Queen of Indri, Kanha. Named by Uncle Denzel Stephens after the region where she reigns and the English news reader from Radio Sri Lanka of the same name. Seen in the picture are two of the young prince born barely 6 weeks ago!

She embodies in her the resilience to survive despite all odds and the majestic beauty of Indian wildlife at its best. We were fortunate enough to be granted attendance to her court for the royal viewing on Saturday morning, 11th June 2005

So as the Prime Ministers Task Force for Tiger conservation bumbles, stumbles and mumbles along giving importance to everything but the Tigers, the Tigers themselves are doing a great job, Indrani is just one of the three tigresses with a litter in the park. Currently including Indrani’s 4 there are a total of 10 cubs recorded more or less the same age but sadly, lament the conservationist and the naturalist, that it is almost sure that by the age of 15 to 18 months all of them would be dead – mostly gunned down by poachers and listed in records as being killed by other male tigers!!

Aasim has very innocently named the strongest cub “Rex” and hopes that he will see him as the King – I really doubt that he comprehends the irony of his naming of the cub but I do pray that the fate of these cubs is different

Amen