Saturday, May 26, 2012

Feeling Lucky

This post is about luck in photography. About having the (right) camera right at hand when you need it. About uttering the most clichéd photography advice, “it’s not the camera that takes the photo, it’s the person holding it”. And hence I believe my Nokia’s 3.2MP camera does a better job than iPhone’s 8MP one. Since it’s about belief, I don’t need to furnish any proof! Smile

So let’s start with an insect

on the edge

of a book. Compare the insect’s size with one of the words in the title of the book! Guess this word… Should be simple enough!


So these photos were shot with my Nokia phone, which has no Image Stabilization but it captured nice presentable photos in low light nonetheless as you can see for yourself! Now we move on to photos taken from my usual Olympus camera. Two edge-on shots of a dandelion, to demonstrate the effect of why auto-focus of the camera cannot always be trusted!

Near Focus

Far Focus

Another way to put the above photos in context would be to say how manual zoom can be chosen to give what you really want. The following set of photos demonstrate the effects of choosing different shutter speeds:

1/160 s

1/10 s

My first proper photo with ‘long’ exposure leading to capturing acceptable water trails (of a fountain in this case; someday it will be a waterfall) and imparting a feel of hazy veil over the scenery. (Ah, such poetic lines, I amaze myself!) Now, we come to the real ‘luck’ aspect of photography. How many flies do you see in the following photo?


I was about to leave the place after taking this photo but then I saw that the fly had moved up the flower and without studying the camera’s LCD screen much, I just snapped another pic. The following is what I got. Now how many flies do you see here?


That’s right! Only when I uploaded this photo on my laptop was I able to realize that what I had snapped was a photo of two (mating) flies! I don’t know the exact name of the species and am not bothered to search for them. However, if you know the name, I would be more than glad to learn! This is what being lucky means: I captured an interesting moment in a photo, which is also sharp enough as far as the focussed subjects are concerned to give the camera’s auto-focus system some well-deserved pat on its sensor (not ‘literally’ though)! Obviously, these puny flies are not that interesting subjects when we have the brilliantly bluish Damselflies hogging all the spotlights in such a fine display of orchestrated choreography! Anyway, enjoy some more of my photos at

Summer 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Some Shers of Shaharyaar

When you don’t have any good ideas about a post, fall back to Shayari. Nothing beats it; if you understand it, that is! So I’m translating a bunch of Shers from different Ghazals by the poet simply named शहरयार (Shaharyaar). After skimming through the page titled ‘Shayari’ above, do dive in:

ऐसे हिज्र के मौसम अब कब आते हैं
तेरे अलावा याद हमें सब आते हैं

Aise hizr ke mausam ab kab aate hain
Tere alaawa yaad hamein sab aate hain

Such seasons of separation are now few
I tend to remember everyone except you

जागती आँखों से भी देखो दुनिया को
ख्वाबों का क्या है वो हर शब आते हैं

Jaagti aankhon se bhi dekho duniya ko
Khwaabon ka kya hai wo har shab aate hain

Watch this world with wakeful eyes’ sight
Ignore dreams for they appear every night

सीने में जलन आँखों में तूफान सा क्यूँ है
इस शहर में हर शख्स परेशान सा क्यूँ है

Seene mein jalan aankhon mein toofaan sa kyon hai
Is shahar mein har shakhs pareshaan sa kyon hai

Why is inferno in the heart, typhoon in the eyes
Why is every single person in this city troubled

क्या कोई नई बात नज़र आती है हम में
आईना हमें देख के हैरान सा क्यूँ है

Kya koi nai baat nazar aati hai ham mein
Aaeena hamein dekh ke hairaan sa kyon hai

Is there something visibly new about me
Why does the mirror look surprised to me

हमराह कोई और न आया तो क्या गिला
परछाई भी जब मेरी मेरे साथ न आई

Hamraah koi aur na aaya to kya gila
Parchhaai bhi jab meri mere saath na aai

No regrets that no other companion came along
Given that my own shadow did not tag along

बिछड़े लोगों से मुलाक़ात कभी फिर होगी
दिल में उम्मीद तो काफी है, यकीन कुछ कम है

Bichhde logon se mulaakaat kabhi phir hogi
Dil mein ummeed to kaafi hai, yakeen kuch kam hai

Will meet those again, who have parted ways
Enough hopes in the heart, the belief sways

अब जिधर देखिए लगता है कि इस दुनिया में
कहीं कुछ ज़्यादा है, कहीं कुछ कम है

Ab jidhar dekhiye lagta hai ki is duniya mein
Kahin kuch jyaada hai, kahin kuch kam hai

Wherever you look in this world, it feels
Somewhere it’s more, somewhere it’s less

आज भी है तेरी दूरी ही उदासी का सबब
यह अलग बात कि पहली सी नहीं कुछ कम है

Aaj bhi hai teri doori hi udaasi ka sabab
Yah alag baat ki pehli si nahin kuch kam hai

Even today, being far from you makes me sad
Though, compared to the past it’s not that bad

-शहरयार (Shaharyaar)

I felt weird that day in Feb when I, after reading his Ghazals, searched for him and found the above article containing his obituary, which was barely a week old! Such ‘fragile’ coincidences…

I have presented here 8 Shers spanning 4 of his beautiful Ghazals (break-up: 2+2+1+3) and I will leave you with yet another beautiful Ghazal of his:

ये काफिले यादों के

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nested Conversations

Before I get to the stuff related to the title, let me just shout out, “What the hell?”! How the hell is this chapter the end of ‘Claymore’? This is much worse than what happened with ‘×××Holic’! If this chapter came out in April, it could have been labelled as April Fool’s joke but this is May for the Reader’s sake!

Anyway, forgive me for that small excursion into the field of my dislikes, let’s now enter the like-field as it is supposed to be bad to keep dwelling on the negatively charged field of thoughts. So, how many fields have we crossed and has my intention of using the word ‘field’ for at least 5 times in a paragraph fulfilled? Who is to answer such questions in a vast field of equally irrelevant questions? So, let’s get back to the like-field and explore the field of general ignorance in the form of this small field-view of QI’s last episode in Series I – The Immortal Bard:


After seeing this very likeable video, I thought people do indulge in such weird rituals like inventing names for others despite their given names being already available for use! Ok, the parents do need to indulge in such trivialities of naming their child(ren) otherwise the child will grow bitter with resentment as years pass by for being kept nameless. But why do others, those beings usually labelled as ‘friends’, indulge in such meaningless activity of creating a ‘(nick)name’. Their work has already been done: Just pick up the name already present (thanks to the parents) and Use it to your heart’s content! I know I have used the nickname for Shantanu but I didn’t create it – it was created by someone, who thought there was a need to drop the first syllable and mutilate the last syllable. Anyway, he doesn’t mind so why should I hesitate: Jai ho T da… Smile

But this view of mine changed recently (like Charlie Brooker’s view of babies did) when I got the urge to ‘create’ a name for my superpartner. You know how these things happen: One day you are bragging about never ever driving above 60 Km/Hr and the next day you find yourself on an Autobahn. I got over that a while ago just in time to see the video above and get another idea to figure out what ‘affectionate’ but at the same time ‘funny’ name would suit her! You do know that superpartners are apparently required to do this and it is supposed to be an important part of the checklist titled “Things to do to piss off others around you:”. Nobody has handed me the full checklist for now so I guess they don’t have to think about alienating me just yet.

With this long preamble, we finally get to the crux of the title. In trying to come up with names for each other, we indulged in a conversation on SkyDrive using OneNote (Web App) [Microsoft should be thanking us for advertising their Awesome products and using it extensively on almost daily basis… Oh, holy crap! I just realized that’s too much usage with some deep & dark & personal thoughts passing through their servers… Oh well, it can’t be worse than using Google…] where stuff is synced in real-time and simultaneous editing is seamless unless you’re editing the same sentence (even then, resolving conflicts is pretty easy). So the following ‘nested’ conversation started after I called her ‘sly’ for asking me to find purple chocolates and then other ideas started pouring in. This conversation spanned a few days and got too colourful for my taste, which led me to think, “that’s a blog post right there” and so here it is (obviously, the details are smeared out in view of the fact that no one is going to read the post this far and it will remain an inside joke between us):

Sly is one of the most sought after compliments in today's times, so thank you! :) - Sure, welcome; some more: cunning, foxy or vixen-y ;) - hehe ;) - Happy to know that there is something else too - oh, come on! I do come across as cheap but at least not as cheap as you're making yourself believe by thinking I'll bring just a packet of chocolates - c'mon dude! don’t know what has made you imagine all this; you are very hp (how is this name, not as good as pw, right? - Ya, Not at all Good! hmm... what about ct, mt How did you stumble at these combo? head-dumps Just being cm… how about that? sounds super cool) or a very simple one dm ;)... don't shout at me now [No, am not shouting but dm is such a nursery kid's abuse… you can do better than that! ;) hehe... ok Also I was thinking we're trying to find some endearing names for each other but the last one makes your 'dislike for me at times' a bit too transparent, doesn’t it, pw? hehe… :) That's not right cm ;)]) and don’t struggle for those chocolates… I’m creating a hue and cry for purple may be (so even you’re not sure why you chose purple, huh?) just to irritate you a bit ;) - I have not had one in such colour for a long time now, no great reason as such - Well, I found some and have ordered them already. Just to irritate you too, I'll try some and hand you an unsealed packet. ;) - thanks but don’t hand over an empty packet and I will be more than happy :) - Good :)

Could you figure out how many levels does this conversation have? Assuming each level was created per day, how many days did this conversation last? Are the brackets matched up? [If they are not then it’s not my fault, it’s hers... Which is the last line or in other words, who had the last word? And philosophically, is this possible in ‘linear flow-chats’ like those that occur in various messengers? [I’ll say NO and refuse to listen to any of your contradicting answers!]

And finally, this colouring method is a great way to

“See” Four-dimensional Space

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How NOT to…

… do Macro Photography. This could have been another “Spot the…” post but instead let me document (actually I guess there’s only one follower here who’s interested in this topic so “Hello SD!”) something about how (not) to take photos of flowers & insects during springtime.

First of all, if it’s cold outside, wait for another day or dress properly. Don’t go out in shorts and sleeveless shirt and get frozen like I did.

Second of all, be patient. The flowers will always be there (for that half an hour you’re there) but due to winds, they’ll sway so turn on that in-camera (or in-lens but only one) Image Stabilization, tie yourself securely to the ground, focus on the equilibrium point of their oscillations and start clicking in continuous shutter mode. (Wish I’d done that.) You should be able to get at least one well-focused image.

Third of all, have a sense of humour. The insects will scurry about without even giving a moment’s thought that someone is trying to snap their photos. Thus, we need to pounce on them metaphorically: follow their flying patters, predict their trajectory, pre-focus on the flower they are going to land, hit the shutter button as it comes in the camera’s live view and curse have a laugh for getting an ‘unsatisfactory’ shot.

Fourth of all, blog about all those failed techniques / shots:


Wait for it to appear in full view... Here the flower has obstructed the view.


Bad Focus & Insufficient Zoom… At least you can notice its proboscis.


It is way in the background and so focus is on the wrong objects.


You know what’s the problem here even without me spelling it out but appreciate the pattern on it’s back.


Again focus on wrong objects but with better zoom, notice its proboscis again.


Ridiculously and Completely off-focus both above and below.


For the last two photos: I pre-focused on the flower while the bee was roaming around on other flowers and when it landed on that flower, I hit the shutter button congratulating myself on the timing and what not. But now that you see the results (& when I did it way before you!), you realize that since it’s macro, the depth of focus is really shallow and the body of the bee was large enough to be out of that depth and be ‘out of focus’. So learn to use manual focus. But my camera doesn’t allow manual focus in macro mode… aaahhhhhh!

Fifth of all, Hit & Trial is the best way to go (for amateurs like me to gain ‘experience’) and I managed to get a few decent shots. To prove that I did get some interesting shots and that half an hour was not a total failure, here’s an interesting perspective of a pretty flower (to start with):

Green Stamens