Friday, December 30, 2011

Delhi Fog – 30.12.11


Woke up this morning to a world that was wrapped in a cocoon of fog…..


some views from my rooftop at 0900 hrs….


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas….

even flowers bedeck themselves in red and green to get into the Christmas Spirit :-)

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Indian Bushlark @ Sultanpur….

The Indian Bushlark (Mirafra erythroptera) is a small bird that is quite abundant in arid areas. 




Friday, December 23, 2011

Painted Stork @ Sultanpur


The Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is a large wading bird in the stork family._MG_9863

They are found in the wetlands of the plains of India and other countries of South Asia.  Their distinctive pink tertial feathers give them their name. They forage in flocks in shallow waters along rivers or lakes. They immerse their half open beaks in water and sweep them from side to side and snap up their prey of small fish that are sensed by touch. As they wade along they also stir the water with their feet to flush hiding fish.


They nest colonially in trees, often along with other waterbirds.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter mornings at Sultanpur…. part 2


The sound of woodpeckers moved us towards this patch of trees, where we saw not one but two woodpeckers of different species, digging for insects from the dead branches of a tree.

_MG_9786This one is a Yellow-crowned Woodpecker (Dendrocopos mahrattensis), which is a pied (black and white) woodpecker.









and this is a Black Rumped Flameback_MG_9789 (Dinopium benghalense)












_MG_9787In addition to these two, the thicket was also home to a pair of Scarlet Minivets (Pericrocotus flammeus) which is a small, very brightly coloured bird.





And another Hoopoe, shown below.













Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Marsh Harrier @ Sultanpur…


The marsh harriers are birds of prey of the harrier subfamily. They are medium-sized raptors and the largest and broadest-winged harriers. Most of them are associated with marshland and dense reed beds


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter mornings at Sultanpur…. part 1

Come winters and enthusiastic bird-watchers flock to lakes and marshes around Delhi to view and photograph migratory birds that come here to breed in large numbers.

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is situated 40 kilometres from Delhi and is a delight to everyone who visits. Since the numbers of birds are numerous, this post will be split into several posts to share all the photographs.

The morning started off with us taking the past least taken :-) which was in a clockwise direction around the lake, as most visitors (non-birdwatchers usually) take the anti-clockwise path. Cosmerodius albus

The air was still a bit hazy although it was around 10 in the morning, but the nip in the air was really enjoyable. One of the first birds we saw was a Large Egret (Cosmerodius albus) (shown above) wading through the shallow waters while a Hoopoe (Upupa epops) was flitting in and out of the trees, and searching for insects on the ground. (shown below)

Upupa epops

But the most fun was when we spotted a (female?) Black-winged Stilt or Common Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) which usually feeds on insects and small crustaceans trying to swallow a fish. We spent  about 10 minutes seeing its attempts at trying to swallow the fish before moving on :-)


The next set of pics will be posted tomorrow

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Lunar Eclipse of 2011…

Clear skies and a early eclipse prompted a lot of shutter-bugs (photogs) to take to the skies to capture this beautiful phenomenon. Given the fact that most lunar eclipses that i know of usually happen late at night (around midnight) this was a lovely opportunity to shoot the lovely moon.


Normal moon photography is not too much of an issue, as the settings are more or less fixed,


but this was the first time I shot a Lunar Eclipse and it was a couple of hours of experimentation that went into the whole thing.  While the normal moon photographs like the one above and below were take with the following settings,

F/11, Shutter – 0.05 seconds (1/20), ISO – 400, focal length – 300 mm.


But these looked like photos of a normal moon, a bit orange – red coloured, but otherwise normal, while the moon i was seeing was awesome…. so once I tried to show the eclipse, as I was actual seeing it, I was stumped. Trying to get the parts in shadow meant that the lit part was over-exposed.


But persisted with different settings, and finally got some good pics….


Got a nice one of the total eclipse….


and finally the total eclipse….


And the return of light :-)



Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Fountain of life…


Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,

But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.

For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,

And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,

And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

~~ Khalil Gibran – The Prophet

Friday, December 02, 2011

Mud, dust and masti….

Remote Controlled Car Racing or RC Car racing is a very popular sport around the world, with dedicated grounds /  areas  although in India, due to prohibitive costs, this sport is yet to gain popularity…. below are some images of some trial runs held at a field outside Bangalore….




_MG_0272 _MG_0198

Thursday, November 17, 2011

if tomorrow never comes ….

This was sent to me by a friend, and i really liked it so wanted to share it here….

I have no idea who wrote it, but it was lovely and worth sharing…..


If I knew it would be the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute or two
to stop and say I love you,
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
well I'm sure you'll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything right.

There will always be another day
to say our I love you's,
And certainly there's another chance
to say our "Anything I can do's?"

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget,

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance you get
to hold your loved one tight..

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you'll always hold them dear,

Take time to say "I'm sorry, please forgive me,"
"thank you" or "it's okay".
And if tomorrow never comes,
you'll have no regrets about today

Sunday, September 11, 2011

butterfly pea….

Clitoria ternatea 1

The butterfly pea is a common wildflower seen all over the country. The flowers of this vine have the shape of human female pudenda, hence the Latin name of the genus "Clitoria", from "clitoris". This plant is scientifically called Clitoria ternatea. The flowers have a vivid vivid cobalt blue colour with a white throat  and are locally used in Asian cuisine as a food colouring.

The roots of the butterfly pea are used for curing whooping cough in children. The blue flowers are used as a food dye. The extract from plant is known to have anti oxidant properties.

The flowers are used in Ayurveda to enhance memory and sharpen intelligence.

The flower is also called Shankha Pushpa in Sanskrit and is the favourite flower of Ganesha, the elephant headed God.



Wednesday, September 07, 2011

chocolate frosted chocolate cake…..

This recipe is taken from the very popular baking site - Joy of Baking ….

For a double dose of chocolate, there is nothing better than a chocolate frosted chocolate cake. This single layer cake has a moist and tender crumb with a rich and creamy frosting made with just chocolate and cream (Ganache).

What makes this chocolate cake unique is that it is a "mix-in-the-pan" type of cake. That means all the dry and wet ingredients are mixed together right in the pan it is to be baked in. This recipe does not contain eggs. We also add a little lemon juice (or vinegar) to the batter, which causes a reaction between the cocoa powder and the lemon juice giving the baked cake a red tinge (reminiscent of a Red Velvet Cake).

Once the cake has baked and cooled, it is frosted with a Ganache frosting which is simply a mixture of heavy cream and semi sweet chocolate. Normally, to make a Ganache, you pour boiling cream over chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Then, once the Ganache has cooled to room temperature, you simply pour it over the cake. Now, while this makes a lovely frosting, what you can also do is to let the Ganache cool until slightly firm, and then beat it until it becomes light and creamy. Same great taste but it has a slightly different texture which I find is perfect on this cake.

This cake recipe is adapted from Canadian Jane Rodmell's excellent cookbook Best Summer Weekends Cookbook. This is a cookbook that I turned to often, both for savoury and sweet recipes. Her recipes are easy to put together and have excellent flavour.

Chocolate Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in centre of oven.

In an ungreased 8 inch (20 cm) square cake pan, stir together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the melted butter, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. With a fork, mix all the ingredients together until well blended. Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.


Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature until slightly firm (about one hour) and then beat the ganache until creamy smooth and light. With an offset spatula or knife spread the ganache over the cooled cake.

Serves 8 - 10 people.


Rodmell, Jane. Best Summer Weekends Cookbook. Cottage Life Books. Toronto: 2004.


Chocolate Cake:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 cup (25 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed), sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup (240 ml) warm water

1 tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting:

6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream (35% butterfat)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

ji huzoor .....

In this age of pseudo democracy, practices of sycophancy spread even to birds.....

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

‘Grave’ injustice…..


ashes to ashes,

dust to dust,

earth to earth….. 

while one hears these lines in a lot of movies, especially in scenes involving a burial, it was interesting to see a perverse example of the same at Lodhi Garden. This tree was growing out of a forgotten tomb in the park. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “pushing up daisies”.

Why are humans fascinated with death? After clicking these photographs this morning, I did a short internet study on the subject …… and found this link of 10 bizarre death rituals….. 

_MG_7366 Why have we invented rituals to deal with this inevitable fact of life. As someone said in an sms, Life is a terminal illness….

One of the ways humans deal with death is by burying the dead, be it in simple earthen graves, or something as elaborate as the ‘Taj Mahal’ although, as someone aptly said…. tombs are for the living, the dead do not care about them…… or as a fellow photographer, blogger and friend Pratibha says “do we really need stone markers anyways, when we leave so many memories behind…..”

Friday, September 02, 2011

shivoham, shivoham…..



manobuddhyahaṃkāra cittāni nāhaṃ
na ca śrotrajihve na ca ghrāṇanetre
na ca vioma bhūmir na tejo na vāyuḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo'ham śivo'ham

I am not the mind, intellect, thought, ego, or some form of the supreme being;

I neither have ears, nor tongue and I neither have nose, nor eyes;

I am not the sky, earth, light or the wind;

I am consciousness and bliss. I am Shiva, I am Shiva.


Given below is a beautiful rendition of the same shloka. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

how safe is facebook….

a friend of mine posted a message that if one is connected to facebook though a mobile phone, then facebook stores all the names and phone numbers you have on your phone in your facebook account. Weird but true. Now for me, the numbers in my phone book are not state secrets, but as a photographer, one always worries about the rights that one loses when one uploads images on the web.

there was conflicting information available from my fellow photography enthusiasts, so I decided to do some research on my own, and this was what I found. I have copied the relevant portion of the statement of rights and responsibilities of Facebook and have reproduced the same below for the benefit of fellow photographers.

Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

Sharing Your Content and Information
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

  1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
  2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).


One needs to read the fine print to realise that once you upload your photo(s) / video(s) on Facebook, they can be used in any manner  without paying you, the photographer one penny. Not only that, the ‘privacy’ and ‘application settings’ that are hyperlinked above only allow you the option to share with friends, friends of friends, everyone or other. No where is there an option for restricting the use of the image/video by facebook. FB also indicates that even if you delete your IP content, if it has already been shared, then they cannot do anything about it.

This needs more study and I'm sure there are other blogs / websites that go into this into detail and that is going to be the focus of my attention over the next few days.

I am also aware that most of the people reading this are shaking their head and saying, ‘so what’, my pics are not that great anyway. But I would like to point out to my friends, that it is the principle that counts and for those who feel your photos / videos matter, BEWARE OF WHAT YOU UPLOAD.

still ‘life’


Lovely colours tend to spring unexpectedly from gaps ….

Sunday, August 28, 2011

thoughtfully thoughtless……



_MG_7055The serene environs of the Jantar Mantar, the astronomical  wonder  located at  New Delhi are no longer serene.   The peace is shattered by periodic shrill whistles, reminding one of old Hindi movies, where the villains try to escape their ‘alleged’ crimes, by running  through narrow gullies, pursued by over-zealous, pot-bellied policemen.

_MG_7058Even the doves who rule the roost in the structures and are the only ‘permanent’ residents here, were sent aflutter every few minutes…

But then, this is no movie, or even a shooting of one….. this was the reality that greeted a few dedicated photographers who were at Jantar Mantar trying to capture its lines and shapes for digital posterity. Considering that this was happening at 7:30 in the morning, when there were about 10 odd people in the entire area, the entire situation  was even more preposterous and Orwellian.

_MG_7060 A search for the offender brought us to a semi-officious, semi-literate, uniform-clad moron, who gruffly informed us that he has strict orders to make sure that no-one stays at one spot for  more than 5 minutes or sit anywhere. In confirmation with his ‘orders’ our friend in uniform, blew his shrill whistle at random intervals'.

After a while, realising that we were not going to listen to his dictates, especially after we pointedly asked him for his name and other particulars, he dumped his bright yellow plastic bag containing  God knows what, into one of the niches, and promptly sits down on the steps ( the selfsame place where he was supposed to roust people from) and dozes off. The scene was too attractive to resist and so here are the photos, that portray another attempt to add a nail in the coffin of India’s freedom.