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.