Friday, June 17, 2011

Darker, But Positive Side of Photography


So many times, seeing my images, very humbly, people ask a question, “From where did you get all these images?” I have to explain how we get all such photographs in detail, & most of the times listeners think that these places must very beautiful & its fun being there. Believe me, it’s not the case every time. When we see images from different part of the world, most of the times we only admire the photographs, but we forget to admire the efforts behind it.

Egyption Vulture
Here I would like to share an incident, which left a huge impact on my mind. Look at some of these images we made around outskirts of Ahmedabad city in Gujarat. My photographer friends loved these images & wanted me to take them; even I was satisfied with what I clicked.

White-Backed Vulture

Towny Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle
To make all these images we visited a place called Dabhala Village, where Panjarapol is maintaining solid waste dumping site. And the overall scenario of the place was like this… It was stinking like anything…

After seeing this image none of my friend wanted to visit the place… again…
Even Eagles have started feeding on carcasses
They are suppose to hunt the prey
This was another changing pattern of food chain we observed
This is the place you have to crawl to make eye-level images
Many times you have to hide yourself behind carcasses while making pictures

But story does not end here… It was the time we were leaving that place after making some decent images of Greater Spotted Eagle, Towny Eagle, White-Backed Vulture, Egyption Vulture… 

I wanted to make landscape of the place depicting the actual sense, so I climbed a tree near the place to get wider view…
I climbed a tree to make this scape
& this where we parked our car

While scanning the area from the view-finder, I could not believe what I saw…

Few women & girls entered the area with big knifes & vessels… 

Can you imagine for what…???

They collect fresh meat from the carcasses… 


A family members to on their routine, to collect their food from dead animals at solid waste dumping site...

I shot only one picture… because they did not want meto click any of their pictures… infect they were not happy with my presence out there… 

I could not even spoke to them… &  came back with heavy heart…

 In our country still many people who live like this… & they have to collect their food from dead animal from solid waste dumping sites…

Our country has top billionaires in the world… But at the same time…

India is a country witha extreme polarities in almost every terms… 

I am very very thankful to Falguna Shah & Dhaivat Hathi for all these images...
-Saurabh Desai


Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Afternoon at Little Rann of Kutch




Little Rann of Kutch, known as LRK to us, where ‘Nothing’ is ‘Everything’. This empty space has so many things to share amongst the people who want to explore some most amazing places in the world. I had seen thousands of images from the place stating uncomplicated beauty of Nature. Without any appointments this place is entertaining ‘N-number’ of nature lovers & photographers from all around the world. I am not an exceptional case too, and visited LRK for many times whenever I get loops from common man’s life, thinking what unusual & special this place can offer! & every time I have returned with no complains; totally satisfied.

I am thoroughly stunned seeing the disproportion that connects the wildlife prevailing there, people established there & the nature in its most complex form. Out of many vivid elements of flora and fauna in there, Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur) is my favorite, you know why? Because it can tolerably fit well into my 400mm telephoto lens. I have tried many compositions keeping Wild Ass as a prime subject, but finally after four visits I am able to discover what attaches the animals & the place as single constituent, and that is “Mirage in Sun-drenched Afternoon”

It was afternoon, & the Sun was intense enough to have you a second thought about burning your sensors. Ignoring the situation, I wanted to try some images of Wild Ass. I moved out of the car, located the animals and they were emerging like floated elements on the water surface because of heat waves. Horizon was missing, & fluttering ‘Mirage’ effect was just unbelievable. I decided to make an image of a bunch, standing calm & steady on the floating edge of hesitated horizon. They looked taller than they are. Shutter was disturbed for two times and I made my way back.
Sometimes we don’t have to give so much before we hit the subject off and this was the state of affairs where there is nothing between us & the nature, not even the camera. I consider this afternoon as one of my most amazing wildlife moments.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Making of Super Moon, A Trip Report

Super Moo
My new lens was still virgin & was impatiently seeking a photography trip after it was unpacked. It was yet to feel a walkthrough in forest, & getting anxious to focus chirping birds on trees. But my demanding office schedules had trapped me confined into the Surat city. What a paradox it was; this winter was dry in terms of wild-life activities, alas.
Somehow I could bunk a day from the office & quickly made a plan for Dang trip to make some pre-decided images of ‘Super Moon’. Shaival Desai, a keen Mountain-biker & a very good friend; was asking me for a trip since a long time & thus readily available to join me. Abhishek Patel, a master of long-exposure is always prepared with camera in his bag, to join any photography trips; lucky fellow to get so much time.
An Idea emerged when we saw this tree lines
 It was Saturday afternoon leading towards a Super Moon Night; I switched off my office cell phone and rushed back to home. Shaival reached home at 13:30 with his car & cycle suspended on a carrier. Abhishek reached after 15 minutes on his bike, & without delay we were on the way to Kilad Village via Vansda National Park. As soon as we entered the forest we started searching proper location to include some interesting subjects to get along with Moon-rise and Moon-set. Abhishek was not aware of an idea struggling to get executed in our mind, as he decided to drive his bike and was not there in the car. Some 20 km before the National Park area, one of the mountain varieties clutched my eyes. It was a wonderful range with leafless trees lined hand to hand, sky light was getting filtered through the summer effected branches at top of it, & the target was locked. We stopped there & I asked Shaival to start GPS application to understand Moon-rise direction.


Now it was 17:15 and we crossed the bridge near Kilad Village & parked our vehicles flanking the road. Our eye-balls were bouncing here & there to find appropriate location for Moon-rise. We decided to climb a small hill and reached there in 15 minutes, opened GPS application and found ourselves on wrong place. Still I managed to click some images with prinning Night Heron. Without losing much time we came down & climb another hill through farms and bushes, it was stiff enough to get along with tri-pod and the mammoth 300mm/f2.8 mounted on 7D with 2X II converter.
A Heron-scape from the first hill


   

We set ourselves in lined with a tall tree at a far far distance on the other hill, where we predicted Super Moon Rise. (By the time we made some warm up images with Sun-set and Egrets, returning to their roosting places) 
Warm up image with Sun-set


Egrets returning to the rusting place


But you know what, prediction was right, the ‘gentle man’ piped out through the hills at correct time; very punctual. As soon as we saw the orange reflection of Moon, we overcooked our sensor like anything. The silence of a calm evening was now broken with rapid sounds of 8 frames per second. It was fun enjoying Super Moon rise via our view finder at 600mm. 
Super Moon Rise


The orange ball started turning into white within few minutes, & we started chattering about what we clicked.
Full Super Moon
Hey, where is my lens cap? I asked, a very common question once you finish the shoot.
They said, No idea. I did not want to climb the first peak once again to find my lens-cap, but I had no choice. It exhausted my lungs in full.
After having tummy-tight dinner at Vijay Hotel, we drew our vehicles at the old bridge on the Ambika river. Narrow water stream was finding its way through gang of rocks, 2 men were performing prayer near orange rock with 2 eyes painted on it, sluggish sound of people dancing around the fire to warship the Goddess Holika was satisfying the mood & all was happening in blue ‘Moon-light’. What else we need now.


Villagers performing prayer on the river side


 By the time I realized that I should make some images in moon light, Abhishek was all set with his camera mounted on tripod & started taking long exposures. I also managed to create some decent exposures there. 
I tried my hands on Long Exposure in Moonlight


It was now 24:00, we packed our bodies in sleeping bags and tried to take a nap.
We tried to sleep, photo by Abhishek Patel
 Get up, Abhishek, get up-get up, we shall get late, its 4:00 in the morning and the Moon will wait for us. We left the biker alone on the river side, got into the car and drew back to the destination & climbed the hill. The moon was 30 degree away from the horizon. Summer wind was difficult to withstand an hour to wait till the Moon reached the horizon, but we did not have an option. 


Waiting for Moon to touch the Horizon, photo by Abhishek Patel
After an hour, the Moon organized the plan & was all set to melt between the dry branches a far distance. It hardly took a minute to cross the horizon, but it was enough to smack the display. What a moment it was.
Super Moon Set
Moon slept and Sun woke up. We went back to the river side, Shaival was enjoying biking on challenging rock patterns. We shared our excitement with him & got packed into the car for a birding trip to Vansda National Park, reached main gate & paid the entry fees.
Shaival Enjoying Biking on Ambika River, Photo By Abhishek Patel
The targeted bird I wanted to see was Malabar Trogon & White Rumped Shama. We walked and walked, searched and searched. But its nature, you have to take what you get or remain unclicked. We returned with empty flash cards. No birding at all except some few common  familiar species. 




Looking for Bird


Scanning bushes


 At 11:00 we started our return journey to Surat & reached at 15:00.
Started return journe
After a long long time it was a fantastic day in Dang.
Thanks to Shaival & Abhishek for accompanying me on this trip.
-Saurabh Desai
-Creative Mind is the Busiest Bug

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Brigu Trip Report

 It was a pleasing moment for me when my boss told me to take a break for few days from my office after an exhausting project in my company (L&T). It was a very short take in to me to arrange my trip, because I am not a person who can stay at home during holydays, not at all. So I started looking for booking my train tickets and other accommodation and in wild destinations. But it was a summer vacation time and its not easy to get train tickets and all, so I just took a chance to call our Nature Club Surat (NCS) friends, to enquire about any camps those we arrange. And I luckily get two sits available for me and my wife for our Manali Camp.

 (Our Manali Camps are arranged in accordance with Mr. Lavkumar Khachar. He is the one who gave a vital source of inspiration to snehalbhai to start our NCS.)

And just after two days latter we started our journey to Manali. Our Camp site is situated near Vashishtha, which is almost 4 km away from Manali town ‘in the palms of nature’. The location was extremely mind-blowing, face of our camp site gives us glance of Himalayan range where river Bias flows with full grace. We (volunteers of NCS) and all other participants (33 no.) were enjoying the place and the accommodation from Lavkumarsir.

In a whole, all of us, and specially I, were very much excited for the day when we were planning to start climbing Brigu Lake. This lake is to be found on 14000 ft high in Himalayan range and the Brigu peak is around 14500 ft. For me it was a great moment when we reached Brigu peak, so after coming beck I decided to share my experience with every one. 

During 4 days at base camp where we stayed to get acclimatized, we moved to top camp and started practicing and got geared up to clime Brigu. The world ‘Brigu’ occupied our mind like anything and boosted up our enthusiasm & moral up to their extremes.

It was 17th may and climate was looking great in our act of kindness, so we decided to start climbing at 18th may 2 am in the middle of the night. We were very delighted when Lavkumarsir himself came to top camp on 17th evening to make our enthusiasm double. After an early dinner at around 6 pm we went to sleep in our tents and before sleeping we made our belongings ready to climb.

It was 18th may 1.30 am at night when we woke up, tents were fluttering in high Himalayan wind and it was chilling cold outside. We came out of our tents and took early breakfast at middle of the night ;-) . We checked our gears, put our packed lunch and water bottles in our begs, and started walking towards the Brigu with a troop of 25 participants, 4 guides and our team leader Girishsir. I, Viral & Nirav was there as volunteers to handle and guide our participants. 

The Himalayan wind coming form Saibiria was blowing at its best momentum and it was from the peak to bottom side directed because of a valley, so it was very difficult to walk in uphill direction. But this wind was a sign of wonderful sunny day ahead as per Lavkumarsir, and it was going to be a good day for climbing. But temperature was very low and air was quite thin which was creating problems in breathing while walking. After walking 500 meters 3 of our participants gave up and decided to reach beck to top camp so now 22 remained with us.

While walking when we though our eyes to sky, and what saw was unbelievable, sky was full of stars and we could actually saw the galaxy passing from the middle of the sky, wohh!! What a seen it was. All natural wonder of the world were giving us strength to walk in our direction. We used to walk around 50 steps and then take break for 2-3 minutes and then again start walking. That time I understood that if you walk in high mountains you have to breathe in particular radium, otherwise you will loose you stamina soon and will not able to walk much. It was around 4.15 am and the Sun was about to rise, so I was continuously looking at the ‘Hanuman Tibba-the mountain in west side’. Because I was told that Hanuman Tibba gets the first ray on the Sun in the morning. And finally after walking around 10 mins in east direction, when I looked beck at the pick, the snow on the top was glowing like a pure gold, I stopped everybody and made them looking beck. It was a lovely seen and slowly the whole top of the mountain rang started glowing in the morning light. We enjoyed this moment with some chocklets-we kept some chocklets with us because it give you energy and you have to consume less water and you can save water for a longer time.

By the time sun rains touches us we could reach the snow line and during morning you will find snow very hard and it becomes easy to walk on it. So all of us were enjoying the walk but few of us including my wife Swati, were feeling very tired and some of us were victim of high altitude sickness, and they were suffering from headache and stomachache. But still no one wanted to leave it half way. The entire guide along with girishsir, Viral and Nirav were encouraging everyone and pushing them to climb very nicely. While walking in snowfields we were enjoying songs and poems. Our guide, Govindsir & his team members were making steps in snowfields wherever possible, so everyone can walk properly. I must be very thankful to all of them who did help in this great task. And I must say, because of them only all our participants were able to walk and could reach up to the destination. By the time Sun was gaining height, snow started getting soft and slippery, and walking on it was more difficult now.
It was around 7.30 am when we reached our breakfast point and pull out our packed break fast. It was noting but a bread-butter and jam, heheheh…. We spen some 20 mins there and again started walking.

Now there was a huge snowfield there and then 80 degree peak was there just before the lake. It was looking quite easy which actually was not the way we were thinking. It took 45 mins to cross field and everyone were tired like anything. Temperature was slowly rising and we started taking off the layers of warm cloths. When we started 80 degree climbing many of us was about to give up their stamina but some how we managed them to walk and we finished the climbing & reached lunch point. When we reached our lunch point we thought we have reached and after the next peak in front of us we will reach the lake, but we were wrong. The last peak after lunch point where we left our extra warm cloths, the next peak was the most difficult climbing we faced. At that point my wife Swati gave up, and said that she can not walk any more. I and Girishsir told her to walk slowly and to take enough time, because she was just 800 ft away from the lake, she was convinced and started climbing.
Some how with huge difficulties we reached the top of the last peak at around 9.00 am, and what our eyes could see was the Lake Brigu. Wow!!! What a great site it was…almost full circle lake under the frozen ice was creating an unbelievable soothing effect. We forgot everything there, no body was tired now…they were enjoying their achievement…. And collecting the moments how they could reach this lake with great difficulties… when we asked “who is tired???” no body said anything, they were busy in enjoying the Spartan beauty of nature in the palm of Himalayas. We set their and did meditation for some time.

Then one of the youngest boy-9 years old, asked us, ’sir, what is the name of that peak behind the lake?’ and Viral said, ‘That’s the Brigu Peak, my dear & it is 500 ft higher then the lake, and we are aiming that only.’ And he was ready to go their, every one of us were amazed with his spirit. Then we asked every one who is going to climb the peak? And 18 of us were ready with their hands up. Peak was just behind the lake but it was quite far from and on opposite side. And we knew that it was not going to be en easy task. As per Lavkumarsir’s instructions we took our flag on the shoulder and started walking towards the peak. And very nicely everyone walked and with in 45 mins we were at the top of it. Great moments it was….and I will never forget it in my life. These kinds of small small achievements give me more strength and boost my moral to work for nature more effectively.

Nature itself is a great artist, and human can never compete with its creation. We can make plenty of things in our life but we can’t create things like Brigu, and many more natural wonders of nature around us.. So please preserve this beauty and understand the values of it.

I am very thankful to Lavkumarsir, Snehalbhai, Viral, Nirav, Girishsir, Govindsir & his team, who helped me a lot during this journey.

(‘Brigu’ lake was named after a monk who came to meet ‘Vashishta rishi’ and asked him to show the most beautiful place in Himalayas. And Vashishta showed him this lake, Brigu rishi fall in love with this place and decided to stay their, until his soul melts in this beautiful lake in Himalayas.)


Thanks & Regards,

Friday, January 14, 2011

My First Encounter with Photography…

Wow, What a fantastic gadget, what kind of ‘Camera’ it is? I asked.
‘SLR’, he said, and continued adjusting the settings. 

I kept watching what he was doing, until he packed it back into the bag & got him-self ready for a photography walk towards river side. Quickly I put on my shoes, picked up my bag-pack & started following him. Walking through the volunteer’s tent & then kitchen tent, we reached rocky patch on riverbank of ‘Giraa’, where this mischievous river flows like a playful deer & shears the ‘ Daang Forest’ into two parts. Peacefully, he kept walking on his way besides the riverbank. His eyes were frequently penetrating through the binocular for birds. I was still walking after him. Trailing him almost for half an hour, he set himself on a rock near the flow-edge; in this part of the river, flow was unruffled & acting like a mirror.

What are you doing, Snehalbhai? I murmured.
Dang Forest, Gujarat

We are going to witness ‘Solar Eclipse’, & I will try to capture it with the help of shady broken glass of lantern, take one piece of it & do not see it with necked eyes, it may result in damage to your eyes. He fetched his camera from his shoulder bag & clicked few photographs.


That was the day, I had a deliberation in my mind about photography, I wanted to enjoy the eclipse even after it dissolved back into the light & I wanted to explain it to everybody who was not with us. Then suddenly I thought not only this, there are so many beautiful moments in this world, which should be brought into everybody’s focus & ‘photography’ is the best way to do it. Since that particular day I was thinking of learning still photography to bring this world clear & closer to my heart, because I wanted all my friends to know about our own surroundings, which is more important than our demanding, money minting & hectic life. After these brain stimulating thoughts, one fine day I decided to buy a camera for me. Unrecognizing the outlay of this hobby, I was happy like anything as if I have already perused it. Unaware of the possibilities, I was in high spirits.


“But I was contented about my trance”.

During all these episodes I was a boy with dreamy eyes & mammoth size thoughts in my undersized mind, which was absolutely unheard of the fact that this hobby of photography is a ‘BIG’ cup of tea for me, which I cannot even pay money for. Finally one day directly after my school hours, I went to a shop, selling photo goods, which actually was just a photo studio, to inquire about basic instruments. That studio owner started showing me a chart with so many photographs of camera & lenses. Uninformed about the prizes of those pictures, that chart put my spirit one step ahead from where it was. Suddenly a camera body Nikon FM-10 took a hold of my eyes on it & I asked the prize for that. Studio owner said, ”ohh, this one? Rupees 16000 only”. My mouth went opened for 15 seconds. Without saying anything, I left the place, drew my bicycle at home & went to bed as soon as I finished my dinner. Till late night I could not sleep properly, kept staring at the fan. That night I decided to ask for 16000 rupees to my father. But next morning when I woke up I lost all my courageousness in front of him. I thought how I could ask for 16000 rupees to my father at the age of 13 & that to for a hobby, which cannot give me anything except pleasure of fulfilling my desires!!! No-no! I dropped the idea.


………….After 3 to 4 years………


Now I was studying in standard XI, I had persuade good enough marks in X-board examinations, so that I can ask for money to buy FM-10 from Nikon. {That time Nikon FM-10 was a dream machine for me, because I did not know much about advance camera market of the that particular era} With all my courage I asked with a clumsy voice,” da...d, I want to buy a camera for me, as I am interested in photography since a long time & the time has come I should start learning it”. He was reading newspaper; he folded the news paper, looked at me & said,” ok, tell me whenever you want money “. Although I was very happy with his answer, I did not express my joy, because I knew that once he would come to know the amount, the reaction would be different. And I even could not say the amount there. He again started reading newspaper. Then for couple of months I did not dare to speak out the prize…& suddenly after 3 months Dad himself called me and asked ‘how much amount I needed to buy a camera?’. Without having a second thought in my mind, I said,” only 16000”. My father stared at me & did not say a single word but I could read his eyes, I understood each & every word of his hush. I was again disappointed, but did not lose the hope & now I was more committed towards my significance. Since that day I started saving money for camera. I used to save every single coin although I knew it was not enough.


………….After 4 to 5 years…………..

I was again in Daang forest, in a Nature Education & Adventure camp held by NCS, where Mr. Sahil & Snehal gave me my first S.L.R. camera, not being used by Mr. Sahil. That was a ‘Cosina’ fully manual camera machine with Vivitar 70-200mm tale–lens. It was roughly 20 years old that time, but I was extremely joyful & turn out to be so fanatical (over enthusiastic). I started clicking photographs without having any knowledge of camera. The only thing I knew was, how to reload camera, he.. he.. he…!!!

I did not know anything about photography… But you know what!!! At least, I started

If you cannot attain the triumph as early as others,
Do not wary,
You will be the most conquering then everyone else.

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