Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Flamingoes at Pulicat

After days of going through the FZ18's manual, I thought it was time to try it out in the field -- last Sunday my friends and I landed up at the Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, near Sullurpeta.
Before getting into the sanctuary we had decided to check out the Shar Road (the road leading to Shriharikota) because the best time to sight flamingoes here is early in the morning before the traffic starts.
That was not to be -- we planned to leave Chennai by about 5.30 in the morning to be on Shar Road, about a 100 km from here by about 7.00. We were about an hour behind schedule even before we started. By the time we reached Sullurpeta the flamingoes had retreated and were a distant white patch on the horizon. We noticed a group of fishermen with their fishing boats by the roadside. Pretty lucky for us and quite unusual -- I have never seen boats by the roadside in this place. It just took us a moment to decide to go out on the boat. We asked the fisherman, and for four hundred rupees, he agreed to take us out to the birds or at least as near as they will allow us to come.
The sun was pretty high in the sky and there was quite a glare, the water vapour lifting off the surface of the backwaters added to the haze. But the Lumix FZ18 with its 504 mm reach -- with extended zoom I think it goes up to 700mm (not sure) -- was great. The images needed a bit of tweaking on photoshop to bring out the contrast and colour. Here are the results.

These birds just would not let us anywhere within a couple of hundred metres. They would just stride away from us as the boat neared them and moments later they would take off in a flurry of wings. There must of been a few thousands of these flamingoes and it was a sight none of us will ever forget.
All these pics were shot at the full extension of the FZ18's reach.

This was the closest we came, I thing these three guys below were about 100 metres

A pelican at the Nelapattu bird sanctuary.

Friday, December 07, 2007


in Camera is expanding to digital photography. After years of thinking about taking up digital photography, I finally decided to take the plunge - bought myself a Lumix FZ18. This little gem is an ideal fit for amateurs - affordable and has the features of a higher end camera. With a lens by the legendary Leica brand, it offers an optical equivalent of a 28-504 mm zoom that lets you stretch from table top to wildlife photography.
Of course there is the convenience of the digital tech -- the above photograph of a few samples from my vintage camera collection was taken just a few minutes back and I am now posting them here. No more waiting for the film to be processed and scanned, not to speak of the expense involved.
On the cameras in the pic above -
from left: Linhoff Technika, Graflex and Mamiya Universal. These names too were legends in their own time. These types of cameras were known as Press Cameras because they were popular with the journalists. This was before the 35mm versions came into being and despite their size these press cameras were more portable than the earlier versions.
But I think I will continue to use my film cameras also, after these last few days of experimenting with the FZ18, I do not think I can give up the fun of film photography... at least occasionally.
That Mamiya Universal brings back a fun memory.
As you can see, these cameras are massive and produce negatives 6cmX9cm on 120mm film. I had taken the MU to Mahabalipuram a few years back. At the shore temple, where only still cameras are allowed and you need to take advance permission before using movie cameras, the security guard could not believe that the Mamiya was only a still camera. It took some minutes of intense explaining, cajoling and downright begging before he would let me use it. That too, he followed me around to ensure that I was taking only `stills.'
Some of the pics I have posted in the Mahabalipuram collection were taken with the Mamiya. I think I have mentioned it there.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pacha Gundu

Last week I was at the Government Estate, on Anna Salai, where I saw these kids playing a game of marbles. They called it Pacha Gundu. The play area is that square, about three feet by three feet, drawn on the ground with 20-25 shallow pits dug randomly within it. One player stands about 10 feet from the square and tosses in three marbles so each drops into a pit. An opponent then asks the player to hit one of the marbles with a fourth -- the trick is not only to hit the chosen marble, but to hit it without displacing it from the pit.
The Government Estate is a huge wooded area with old and interesting buildings such as the admiralty house, banquet hall... During weekends the whole place comes alive as scores of kids gather here for fun and games.
Soon the State Government plans to build a modern assembly hall here. The fun and games and pacha gundu will be displaced and the kids will lose.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Serpent Eagle at Kaziranga

A serpent eagle at Kaziranga, Assam.
I think I used a tamron 200-400 mm lens at full extension to take this pic. (I was at Kaziranga earlier this year - check out the pics in the wildlife category). Then I cropped the picture to get the bird full frame. Never really expected to get even this result - bird almost merged with the brown background, low light. But it was the first day of the trip into the sanctuary and I could not resist exposing a few frames. Glad I did it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I took this picture a few months back on the outskirts of Tiruchi. I was travelling in an autorickshaw when I saw this beautiful pair on a wire. I did not have my long lens with me but decided to use the 210mm anyway. The guy with the grasshopper in his beak was jittery and took off when I tried to get closer.

This post is not just about the pic but the short conversation with the autorickshaw driver that followed.

The auto-driver told me they are known as `panan-g-kadai.'
(Panai: as in `panai maram' (palm tree) and `Kadai' as in quail.)
Do you like birds, he asked.
Yes, I like to take pictures of birds, I said.
I too like birds. They are very tasty, he said.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Car and dance

A couple of pictures from an event - a car company setting up a facility near Chennai. I had taken the camera with me hoping to take photos of some new models but the subject turned out to be more interesting than I had expected.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

STAMP OF CHENNAI - 11: Madras Day 2007

A special cover released by the Postal Department on August 22 to commemorate the 368th Madras Day. It is on August 22, 1739 that the East India Company received a piece of land from the Vijayanagar Kingdom to set up a trading post. Fort St George came up at the place and was the root from which Madras city grew.
Check out more details in Stamp of Chennai - 9, the Madras Day 2006 special cover.
The special cover this year carries a map of the Fort St George and a cancellation with a drawing of the flag mast -- the tallest in India -- in the fort.
A nice cover, though a very cluttered design. Last year's was definitely more simple and elegant.
The back of the cover carries ten black and white photographs of various locations in the Madras of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I just thought I would add a picture of the Ripon Building, the headquarters of the City's administration. The Corporation of Madras, the oldest in India, came into being through a charter of September 29, 1688. It was decided that Madras Corporation would the area up to a distance of 10 miles (16.09 km) from Fort St George. Madras city, Chennai now, has grown several miles past that limit but the boundary remains the same.
In another two years the Ripon Building will celebrate its centenary.
(Check the Chennai Corporation's official website for an interesting history of the City.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Aadi Maasam

July-August -- the tamil month of `Aadi' -- is an auspicious period for all the `amman' temples in Tamil Nadu. It is during this time you can run into these colourful processions vending their way down the Chennai streets. These pics were not taken this time but I think about two years back.

This little guy was all smiles before the procession started... one look at the pierced cheeks, he started screaming his head off. He did not want any part of it... I think they left him alone.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Butterflies in the stomach


... on camera

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


A few pics from Srivilliputtur Vadabadrasayee temple and Andal temple.
I happened to visit the place a couple of weeks back.
An interesting detail about the temple `gopuram.' This is the gopuram that is featured on the official State Government emblem/seal.
Wonder why this particular temple tower was chosen - I have not been able to get the details yet.

A corridor at the temple. Vishnu is in the form of Vadabadrasayee, a representation of which can be seen in the painting at the left hand top corner of the frame.

The following two pics were taken at the Andal temple. The inside was poorly lit and I managed to get a few pics.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

SEEDS AND FLOWERS - from USA, soon in India

Krea, a nonprofit, theatre group from the Bay Area, USA, plans to tour India in July.
They will stage an English play, Seeds and Flowers, in Chennai (July 7), Bangalore (July 12) and Mumbai (July14).
Check out their blog for more details - The proceeds of the play go to support other nonprofit organisations.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Kapaleeswarar Chariot

Two images - a close of the Kapaleeswarar Temple chariot. I liked the way the evening light brought out the colours. The second a black and white version converted digitally.

Two pics of the Kapaleeswarar Temple Chariot - in colour and Black & White
- digital conversion of the colour pic. It was just a few days after the temple festival. The chariot was at rest, awaiting the next year's festival.
I liked the colours brightened by the evening light and the two kids playing among the idols provided a bit of relief...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stamp of Chennai - 10

A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar - a member of a family with a history that can be traced back more than a century and a family whose links contributed to one of the most famous and well known names in the City - Parry's Corner.
India Post released a stamp of A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar in October 2005 to commemorate his centenary.
From the information sheet published on the occassion: Son of Dewan Bahadur A.M. Murugappa Chettiar (the founder of the Murugappa Group, which is now headed by the fourth generation), A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar was born on January 22, 1902 at Pallathur in Ramnad District, Tamil Nadu. His vision resulted in teh establishement of the well known Tube Investments India Ltd in collaboration with the famous British Group, Tube Investments Ltd, Birmingham. Along with other companies in the group such as TI Metal Sections, Wright Saddles of India, TI Diamond Chain Ltd and TI Miller Ltd the group produced world famous brands of cycles -- Hercules, Phillips and BSA.
He was also responsible for developing Carborundum Universal in collaboration with the Carborundum Company, UK.
He set up a charitable trust, A.M.M. Charities, now A.M.M. Foundation which established A.M.M. Hospital, Murugappa Chettiar Memorial Polytechnic, Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar Higher Secondary School, Vellayan Chettiar Higher Secondary School, and Sir Ivan Stedford Hospital...

Here is an extract of the history of Dare House, the headquarters of the Murugappa Group, from the Group's Website.
"History of Dare House
The foundation of Dare House was laid in 1938 but the need for the building was felt as early as 1915. The existing building was inadequate spacewise for Parrys and architecturally better looking buildings were coming up in the vicinity. This contrast it was felt was not good for business. However the London office did not share similar views. Due to pressing demand for space the tenants in the lawyers block were turned out in 1919 but this did not help much and the need for a a new building become imperative. William Wright, the then chairman wrote to the London office that Parry's dingy approach and entrance would not fail to give the impression that the firm was out of date. Finally in 1938 the requisite money was mobilized for the new building and the foundation stone of Dare House was laid. With Parrys expanding year after year, Parry House was built behind Dare House and Parry Annexe came up in Moore Street.
Dare House is today one of the finest landmarks in Parrys rooted in a rich heritage and housing one of the futuristic conglomerates in the country - Murugappa Group."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Healing sands?

Do you believe Chennai's beach sands have healing properties. Many do... and not just the morning walkers. People in the local areas with children suffering from nervous or muscle disorders believe the sands can heal. They bury the kids hip-deep in the sand and pour water around them to pack the sand tight. A session seems to last for about 15-20 minutes. This is supposed to help strengthen the bones and muscles.
I don't know if it cures the kids but they certainly seem to enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Triplicane Parthasarathy Temple - B&W

After quite a long time tried my hand at black and white photography -- not the digital version but good `old' black and white film photography (stress on old because what got me going was a roll of neopan that had been in the refrigerator for several years and was well past its best-by date) followed up with processing at home with D76 chemicals.
Digital came in handy for scanning and getting the image on to CD.
The topic is ofcourse an old favourite -- the festival at the Parthasarathy Temple Triplicane. Last month when the festival was on I decided to use the film just on a whim and rediscovered the joy of b&w processing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Here are a series of pics that I took at the Kapaleeswarar Temple festival. Initially, I did not want to post them on the blog as they were of no particular interest. In this ritual parents let their babies be placed near the deity to seek the goddess' blessing.
As I was going through the images I noticed an interesting aspect I had captured unintentionally... There was this kid sitting at the base of the deity assessing blessings in a more tangible form. His interest in the `hundi' (donation box) I found quite amusing...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Vadapalani - Aeroplane Kavadi

Talking of aeroplanes in the previous posts, I happened to see this sight a few days back - I realised it was what is nowadays referred to as the `aeroplane kavadi.' A rickety structure of casuarina poles tied together to form a frame from which people were suspended by hooks. These were devotees fulfilling a vow to the Vadapalani Murugan -- the temple gopuram can be seen in the background. Luckily for me, I happened to have the camera with me...

It was a hot afternoon with the air around shimmering in the heat.

... and these two guys were dragging the cart on which the frame was built...

... the whole thing was hooked to their backs... the road was so hot they had to stand on a piece of sacking to avoid blisters...
...that they had some help in pulling the cart was no consolation... the whole structure was swaying and there were two-three chaps on the cart to stop the frame from keeling over...
...I do not know about them but I was certainly relieved when the group reached the temple and people helped get the devotees off the hook.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Did You Know?
Air India was the world's first all-jet carrier. So says this ad marking its 30th year of operations. Just picked it off an inside page of a Life magazine from the late 1960s or early 70s.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

At the Beach

The Chennai beach never ceases to offer variety - each time you land up there it has something new on offer. About ten days back it was a special occassion - the Indian Airforce was putting on a special show.
Just minutes before the show was to start, the beach was getting crowded and I saw this group serenely going through their prayer. I kneeled down to one side and waited to catch the eye of the guy leading the prayer - got his go ahead - and started clicking away. What caught my eye was the unhurried way they went about their ritual without being bothered by the crowd... like I had mentioned in the Kapaleeswarar Temple posting earlier... this too was an island of concentration in the midst of the hurry and bustle of the crowd.

Minutes later they packed up and left and the crowd was treated to a cloudburst, I think that is the term to this particular move, by the Suryakirans - the aerobats of the IAF
...and this...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kapaleeswarar Temple Festival

Just for effect - Tried sepia toning on photoshop a pic I have posted earlier on the topic.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Chennai Beach fishing

Fresh fish being fried on the Marina -- Chennai Beach.

But for that to happen the fishermen need to leave at dawn.

Here is a style of fishing at sea that one can watch from the shore. I think this net is called the `peruvalai' (big net). Beach goers can usually see these nets piled up in a big mound on the sand. It is loaded on to the catamaran first, in a carefully arranged layer...
then with one end trailing the fishermen set out to sea...
setting out... the catamaran goes following a big U route, and the fishermen trail the net out in a big `U' and come back to the shore with the other end... I would guess the net would be a few hundred metres long...
Once on the shore two teams of fishermen drag the net in, a process that takes more than an hour.
And well on time to keep the snacks ready by the time we hit the beach later in the day.