Friday, June 29, 2018

The Segway

One more item ticked off from my bucket list. Have seen people simply gliding around and I always thought “I have to do this one day” 
Well, got the opportunity to do it a few days ago when we were in Chicago. 

They do give training for about fifteen to twenty minutes before you venture out on to the public road. The training is initially one to one where one gets to know the controls and then there is the practice session within closed doors. 

The Segway came into picture about 17 years ago, but unfortunately it did not take off as a public transport utility vehicle (or even as a personal transport vehicle to be used on the public roads)
It works on a pair of 2 horsepower brushless DC powered electric motor and the acceleration is done simply by leaning forward on the handlebar. 
The surprising part is that this can be driven by anyone, even those who have not had the experience of riding a bicycle.
We got to see the complete Navy Pier of Chicago with the help of the Segway. 

Your confidence gets a boost when you realise that you can easily manoeuvre inbetween motorised vehicles and bicycles.   

There were halts in-between for photoshoots having the Chicago skyline as the backdrop.  

Some came well prepared with body fitted go-pro cameras. 

Made a small video on the complete experience.    

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How to find great shots while on the road

Took part in a blogging competition at Dreamstime and got the first prize. The topic given was “How to find great shots while on the road” Reproducing the blog here.

Great shots happen when you least expect it. So whenever that inner instinct tells you “this can be a good shot”, just grab the camera and click.
Rule number one, never click when the vehicle is on the move and you are driving. It can instead be a good opportunity to take pan shots (videos) if you are the co driver and the road is smooth. If you are in the car and while taking photographs, make it a point to roll down the window. A piece of glass in between your object and the camera reduces the quality of your picture.

Recently I had been to Bhigwan (in western India) with my friends to click photos of the Flamingos.  On the way I saw an assortment of birds fishing in the shallow waters and it was perfect against the rising sun. I requested my friend to pull over for a few minutes and clicked these pictures  

On the way back I saw this truck being loaded with sugarcane. It occurred to me that this could be a good picture to show how things got transferred from the farm to the factory. The bullock cart added to the effect. I took the pictures from the car.  

Once while travelling in the Nilgiri hills, we turned a curve. It was a neat perfect curve and I got out of the car to take a picture. The white lines and the wet road added to the effect. 

On the road, does not mean being in a car. I was in a buggy in Bruges when I saw this lady opening up her flower shop. Buggies on cobblestones can be very shaky especially when you are trying to click. Luckily for me the buggy momentarily stopped and I could click this. 

Always be on the lookout for something unusual, like this car I saw in Mumbai, in front of the Taj Hotel. It looked like all the crows were waiting for the driver to take his seat and start the car so that they could go for a spin. A rare sight and worth a click. At times like this you don’t have the time to set up the camera and wait for the perfect light. You just click before the moment vanishes. 

While on long drives, do stop in between to stretch your legs. And while you relax just look for the smaller creatures that make this universe spin in a balanced way. They are beautiful and fascinating to watch and in the process one learns to respect and give space to every creature on this planet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The 60 Sec Film Festival

The Batasia Loop was commissioned in 1919 to take care of the sharp fall of 1000 feet when the Darjeeling train leaves Ghoom. An Engineering feat, back in those days. There is a war memorial at the Batasia Loop in memory of the Gorkha soldiers of Darjeeling. 

On the upward journey the train halts there for ten minutes and I alighted to take some pictures of the surroundings.

I was almost done when I heard someone singing the National Anthem. I saw some people standing in attention while a boy was singing. I managed to capture a little video footage of the tail end of his singing. 

When it was over I asked the parents about it. They said that they had just asked him to stand next to the National Flag so that they could take a picture of him, but as soon as he stood there he decided to sing the anthem catching everyone by surprise.   

Later on the way back I could get a good pan shot of the Gorkha memorial when the train circled it. 

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is considered a World Heritage under UNESCO and its one of its kind in India with the track crisscrossing the road all the way from Darjeeling to Ghoom. 

Last week there was a Film Festival held in Pune, where entries were invited and the challenge was to tell a story in 60 seconds. I suddenly thought of the footage I had with me of the train. I thought, what can be better than to merge the World Heritage train and the Indian National anthem culminating at the Batasia Loop. But the real challenge was to fit it in one minute. I finally uploaded the film and submitted it. It was screened but did not make it to the finals list.
Talking of the Film Festival there were some good entries and I particularly liked “The Chocolate Cake” which won the best film trophy. 

Like I keep saying, if you get the right cast, half the battle is won. The shopkeeper and the child were perfect for their role and they were equally good in their performance.  

The Festival in itself was good and a new experience for the Pune people. There were some minor flaws which could have been avoided, like pictures screened in the first half were screened again after lunch. But the thing that irritated me (and others) was the DJ and his loud music. They feel that they are showing their efficiency by blaring the music. (some fine print should be included in the contract when hiring such guys, no playing the music beyond so and so decibels)
I have uploaded the first cut of my film on YouTube which runs for 72 seconds.
Hope to do better next year.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Urban Sketchers

Its been more than four decades that I have been in Pune and I found this gate at Koregaon Park always locked with a board outside saying “Botanical Survey of India” 

I took it to be one of those government offices where getting in won’t be easy as you have to obtain the “permission” from the right quarter.  Well, yesterday I did get a chance to get in, as the Urban Sketchers of Pune were visiting the place to sketch the Heritage building Moti Mansion which happens to be in the premises.
Moti Mansion was the home for some renowned elites of the first half of the twentieth century.  More on the heritage part later. 
I was fortunate enough to be in the midst of so many artists and to see them produce wonderful sketches and paintings with ease in a short time. 

Each one had their own comfort zone for painting, like some were comfortable standing and painting while others had an easel stand. 

Some had low slung chairs while others just squatted on the floor. 

Many used the brush directly (without any preliminary  sketches) I found sketches being made by fountain pen, sketch pen, charcoal and finger, marker pens which goes to prove that creativity is in your hands and you can create it by using any medium. 

You can see some of them in action in the ten minute video I created.

I was worried about this lady as her water colour bowl was perched at an impossible angle always threatening to tip off and ruin her creation.  

It was good to see that people from all age groups took part in the sketching. 

Coming back to the historical background, this piece of land belonged to Sir Shapoorji  Bharucha of Bombay. It was jointly inherited by his family members after his death in 1920. One of the owners , A Nanjee built this large house here and named it Moti Mansion. 

 You can see the etching AN (A Nanjee) on the glass of the doors and windows.
Moti Mansion was leased out for some years to Mir of Khairpur, who lived in the Mansion. (Khairpur was in Upper Sind and was forcefully annexed to Pakistan by the British) Thereafter the property was looked after by the Shapoorji Bharucha Charity Trust till 1977 when it was bought by the Government of India for the Botanical Survey of India.  

After having a look at all the paintings, I am tempted to dabble with the paint and brush.

On second thoughts, I think I will stick to telling stories with my camera.

Getting together for the mandatory group photo after the session.