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Oscar Fever 2013

The Oscar StatueWith the Oscars around the corner, the Mrs and I decided to watch most of the Oscar nominated movies. We normally pick and choose films post the awards but this year we decided to try something different.  Below are my mini reviews of the movies, actors and directors nominated for most of the popular awards and have mentioned potential winners for good measure, apologies to critics and fans, I have not covered all the movies, just did not get enough time to watch them (and some I just did not want to watch for example Amour)

ArgoArgo – Great effort by Ben Affleck, the movie moves at a brisk pace and does not bore you one bit, the actors shine with very realistic performances and the movie is not about saving Americans, for a change this time it is Canadians. Argo has already won the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA this year, making the movie a movie top favourite to take home the Oscar, I do believe Affleck will win best Director for the movie as well. To add to that if this wins the Oscar also it will be a breakaway from the movies that normally end up winning the awards, ones that are arouLinolnnd disabilities addictions etc…

Lincoln – What can I say, this one is a show reel for the acting prowess of Daniel Day Lewis, my question is why did Spielberg decide to direct this movie? The movie moves at its own pace, the characters move in an out very quickly for you to remember anybody and the only excitement in the movie comes at about the 2 hour timeline. I think this one is a no brainer, Lewis will win for his brilliant performance how the hell did he get that voice down?? Costume design may also have a chance here along with Tommy Lee Jones as best actor in a supporting Role.

Life Of PiLife Of Pi – I will not lie to you I had really high expectations with this movie, the Mrs and I actually went to watch this on our wedding anniversary and man was I disappointed. The story is nothing to rave about, the acting I only remember The Lion, Tabu and Irfan Khan – The movie is loud and tries to make the audience think about religion, belief and a crazy boy who in my opinion needs therapy.  For me this one is going to be a no show at the Oscar, from a visual effect perspective it is brilliant the 3D is the best I have seen this year but beyond that Life of PI is a complete no show.

Zero Dark ThirtyZero Dark Thirty – This is a great movie in my opinion, it is long but its keeps you glued to your seat, brilliant direction, great acting by Jessica Chastain who is also nominated for best actress and definitely stands a chance to win. My concern with this movie, the Oscars don’t like such movies, they are a thin line between commercial and tragedy and year on year movies like these only win nomination hardly any awards, also if you have seen the History Channel Documentary on the Bin Laden killing there will be a lot of mismatches with this movie, lets just say the director took a few creative liberties.

 Django UnchainedDjango Unchained – Quentin Tarantino’s violent take on the classic western, the movie yells Tarantino all the way, stylish, abusive, violent and absolutely mad – if you can’t take violence stay away from this one. The portrayal of the slavery era is brutal and drives the point home, but for some Silver Lining Playbookreason the movie is just way too long and I don’t think will win the Oscar – surprisingly it was also not nominated for best costume but Snow White and the Huntsman is…go figure

Silver Lining Playbook – This movie kept reminding me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, while I watched it, don’t know why it’s a asylum style movie outside the confines of the asylum, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Nero are great in the movie but only Lawrence and De Nero stand a chance to win gold. Now this is the kind of movie Oscars love people with some sort of mental problem and overcoming it to find true love, in my opinion the only true challenger to Argo. It also gets brownie points because Anupam Kher is in it and has a pretty meaty role

Les MisrableLes Miserable, Amour and Beast of the of the Southern Wild are movies I have not yet watched, but they all may have winners in the Actor/ActrBeast Of the Southern Wildess categories – Amour may actually end up winning best foreign language film also. Few big names that are missing from these movies, Denzel Washington, for Flight and Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, I doubt they will win, even though Denzel’s role looks like it’s specifically written with Oscars in mind.  All in all I think the Oscars will be like they are every year no big surprises. All the images above are a funny take on these great movies they are in no way actual representations of the films themselves, check out the full list of all nominees here and as usual do share your winners list in the comments section 🙂

Checkout some awesome videos with behind the scenes footage from all these great movies below –

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Helmets & More

 

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The Slamdunk

With the NBA Allstar game around the corner, today was a good idea to do a post around the same. Actually, this post is about one of ours & everyone else’s who watches the NBA’s favourite play, the SLAMDUNK!!! Over a period of time, since the ABA & Dr. J (Julius Erving popularised this great feat) the slamdunk has come a long & high way ;-).

nba_slam_dunk_contest_history_widescreen

My brother, Mihir, & I have been watching basketball since forever. Although initially, we didn’t really watch it for the love of the game.. actually we did; we used to play Tecmo Basketball on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) & that, over a period of time, got us familiar with the teams and the players. Soon we migrated to watching the game. This was around the time cable TV was introduced to India & ESPN & Starsports were broadcasting matches. Anyways, the Slamdunk & its versions, the tip-in dunk & the alley-oop, were our all time favorite things to watch in the game. We also followed some great dunkers & their exploits; to name a few – Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Scottie Pippen, Spud Webb, Shawn Kemp, Kobe Bryant,  etc. etc.. For all those interested in seeing the history of the Slamdunk Contest check the link http://www.nba.com/history/allstar/slamdunk_year_by_year.html ; also below is the video for the Top 10 dunks of all time in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest:

Moving on….. what i wanted to talk about was the evolution of the sport and my top few dunkers. Let me start by talking about my most favorite dunkers & my top 5 in order are – at number 1 – The Reign Man, Shawn Kemp number 2 – Half Man Half Amazing, Vince Carter & current favorite at number – 3 Blake Griffin. Vince & Blake both have been Slamdunk Contest winners; Kemp, on the other hand, hasn’t won any Slamdunk Contests yet, though his Alley-Oops courtesy Gary Payton and his insane in-game dunks are absolutely revolutionary. Vince Carter’s showing in the 2000 dunk contest is probably the greatest showing in the history of the NBA Slamdunk contest ever!!! Blake also showcased some amazing dunks during his winning run in 2011, his bounce ball off the board elbow dunk was very cool & his over the car dunk was a showcase event. Also, through the years, the dunk competetion has seen a great many dunkers like Jason Richardson, Nate Robinson, the only 3 time winner, Gerald Green, Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, etc. Don’t miss Vince Carter’s performance in the Slam Dunk Contest, check the below video:

Dwight Howard, one of the few big men who won the crown in 2008 with the Superman dunk, which according to me is when the dunk evolved…. Dwight jumped so high that he actually threw the ball downwards into the rim from far. Further to that, and since then, Blake Griffin has taken that to another level with his crazy dunks over Kendrick Perkins & Pau Gasol. His teammate, DeAndere Jordan, also matches Blake’s ability to fly, and showcases monstorous dunks regularly. Gerald Green, with his insane dunk, wherein his head was above the rim & then he decides to windmill the same………. insane, I tell you. Then there is Jawal Mcgee who, according to me, should have been a co winner with Blake Griffin in the slamdunk contest. This guy is a freak of nature,  with the arm span he has…… every time he dunks his hand is above the white box! All these guys have taken the art of dunking to the next level. A worthy mention here is The King, Lebron James, who as per me, has some of the most insane & powerful ingame dunks! When he jumped over John Lucas the 3rd, it was a sight which not many will ever forget! Blake vs. Jawal in the video below:

This year’s competetion features some great dunkers, though, no real superstar … which is a bummer :-(. NBA, take notice! Get Lebron, Blake & a few others to take part. Having said that, the competition this year features……click on the hyperlinks to see highlights of the participants:

2013 Eastern Conference Sprite Slam Dunk Competitors

Gerald Green (Indiana) Terrence Ross (Toronto) James White (New York)

2013 Western Conference Sprite Slam Dunk Competitors

Eric Bledsoe (L.A. Clippers) Jeremy Evans (Utah) Kenneth Faried (Denver)

My pick? I don’t have a single one, but will go with boys from the eastern conference – each of them has insane ups!!!

Intresting Trivia:

1) Nate Robinson has won the contest thrice as part of the New York Knicks

2) Three Atlanta Hawks have won the Slamdunk Contest – Dominique, Spudd & Josh Smith

3) Julius Erving never won the NBA contest but won it when it was a part of the ABA

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Helmets & More

 

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Vintage Weekend

This weekend was more or less governed by a lot of activity. Also, I realized that it had been over 2 weeks since I put up a post & much was overdue. This weekend started off with an awesome motorbike ride, then general guitar playing in the morning, post which we (Ekta, Rachita & me) went to Oh! Calcutta & had some awesome seafood – there was fried fish, steamed fish, awesome naans and some superb daal, etc. which was eaten. The evening was spent visiting the super car show at Mahalakshmi racecourse followed by alcohol & home made burgers which were spectacular. Also, what deserves a mention & please to note there will be a more detailed post on the same is the start of our own little business called Out of the Trinket Box – http://outofthetrinketbox.wordpress.com/ serving awesome cakes, cupcakes & more. Our 1st order delivered is as below “Hulk Cupcakes!”

Hulk Cupcakes

Hulk Cupcakes

Archie's Jalopy

Archie’s Jalopy

Classic Mini Cooper

Classic Mini Cooper

Sunday morning started off with a bike ride towards Nariman Point, though on the way, parked right opposite the Trident (what used to be The Oberoi) were some awesome Vintage Cars! So I parked my bike next to them, and decided to have a look; post further probing, I realised that the same were gathering there as part of a Vintage Car Rally with over 100 cars taking part so I decided to hang there for a bit & take some pics & videos. After a while, there were a few Royal Enfields & Bajaj Avengers that came in which were also going to be a part of this rally.

Super Awesome

Super Awesome

Saw a few women riders beyond Ekta for the 1st time riding Royal Enfields. There were Cadillacs, Mercedes,  Mini Coopers, Triumphs, Dodges, Aston Martins, Buicks, cars which looked like Archie’s Jalopy, Rolls-Royce & many more. Also, the cool part here was that the accumulated crowd was allowed to go near the cars, see the interiors, click photographs & all without any issue from the owners; some of the owners were more then happy to talk about their cars to the fans inquiring. Later on, once the place was filled with cars & people, there was a roaring sound like thunder which turned everyone’s heads towards Air India building as the sound came from that direction. En route towards the starting point of the rally came in the Harley Riders, only about 3 of them, though they sounded like an army. Immediately, everyone’s attention switched to these awesome bikes. I also checked them out, contemplated in my head a lot about buying one, though then finally got onto my Bajaj Avenger & rode back home. I am going to try & put up images of the rally in a slide show below this post.

Sensational Cadillac

Sensational Cadillac

Got home all excited, showed Rachita & Mihir the pictures of the rally, spent time with Astro, watched Stargate Atlantis. Also watched a crazy movie called Upsidedown which has an amazing concept – 2 Worlds circulating a single sun with opposite gravitational forces connected to each other, so in effect people in world 1 see the people in world 2 inverted & people cannot travel to opposite worlds otherwise they wont survive for more than 30 minutes, pretty trippy I tell you. Post a full-on family lunch, I passed out for a bit, woke up & decided to go for a random joyride with Rachita towards worli seaface to see the Worli Festival, got home went for a bike ride again past peddar road & marine drive, felt super cool about the same :-), got home had some super JD (Jack Daniels i.e.), ordered-in pizzas & watched a super comedy called Here comes the Boom to end the day and a super weekend. Don’t forget to check the awesome photographs of some crazy vintage cars!!!

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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Helmets & More

 

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Rocking The Blues

Our fascination with the guitar started about 8 years back, a friend of mine used to play and loaned me an acoustic guitar to learn. We took it up rather seriously considering we did not have much to do at that time, bought a few expensive guitars picked up tab books and started listening to Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen and other guitar virtuosos. I would like to believe that we were very good at playing the guitar, but in reality we sucked big time, could barely play a few phrases and even those were played in some whack timing…..anyways, post a few years of playing, life took over and we pretty much forgot about playing the guitar.

So why am I telling you this? Well, post our very eventful birthday in October, we have rediscovered playing the guitar. We also got a brand new acoustic guitar and started learning the instrument the correct way. This time around, we decided not to go the rock way, instead basis our love affair with the blues, we decided to learn the style. I do believe I have learnt more in the last month alone than I had learnt playing for 3 years; The reason is simple – better learning tools, the Internet and the fact that I am older and things are slowing down. Learning an instrument can’t be hurried, the slower you go the better it gets.
If like us you are into the blues he are some awesome tips to pick up this awesome style –
  1. Listen to the blues, learn to appreciate the music….if you don’t like the style you can’t play it.
  2. Start off with popular music: Eric Clapton, B.B King, Muddy Watters and so on. Don’t jump the gun…. Buddy Guy, Hubert Summlin, Howlin Wolf will come later…you need to develop a liking for the blues first.
  3. Start with the absolute basics, a 12 bar progression and then the minor pentatonic scale.
  4. Find a great teacher online or offline. There are few self taught guitarist in this world. Always learn from someone who knows better – we recommend Guitarjamz.com.
  5. Always use a metronome or a drum machine. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, there are dozens of free apps available for the same.
  6. Convert whatever you want to learn into an exercise. Play it ridiculously slow and don’t speed it up until you can play it in your sleep.
  7. Watch Cadillac Records and Nothing but the Blues.
  8. If you are playing the guitar for the first time, we would recommend you go in for an acoustic cut away. This will help you build strength in your hand and also ensure you can play beyond the 12th fret.
Take it from us playing the blues or any other style will take time and will require you to invest a fair bit of it. To start off, try 15 minutes in a day, but if you want to get any good let it go up to at least an hour. Don’t give up if things don’t come naturally, eventually you will pick it up. Playing the blues is probably the most relaxing part of the day and will definitely put a smile on your face. Hopefully, our post will inspire you to pick up the guitar or fall in love with it all over again. Check out some awesome videos to get you started and inspired below :-). If you have some crazy bluesy riff, share it with us in the comments below.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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Our Own Food Festival Part 2

So continuing from where we left off about 10 days ago, the journey continued in terms of awesome food. Also considering it was October, which also happens to be Mihir & my Birthday Month & yes we celebrate the whole month :-).  Having said that back to the foodgasm tour. This time around, Rachita had made some brilliant Shortbread with Caramel & Chocolate Ganache which was totally and absolutely amazing as you can see in the picture below.

Heavenly!!!

We also have my brother-in-law’s birthdays in the month of October & so we decided to celebrate the same with mine & Mihir’s birthday. Before we get to that menu I need to tell you guys about the crazy #beerfest we had at our residence courtesy Mihir & Yooti. About 10 days ago, Mihir & Yooti got me loads of Birthday Gifts. The same included the Das Boot Glasses (Glasses in Shape of Boots) & Loads of Beers from around the world; so that evening, we went crazy drinking the likes of Murphy’s Stout, Birra Morreti, Super Bock, London Pride & a choice of flavored Beers from Indus Pride which included Corriander, Cinnamon & Spicy Fennel….the same was absolutely unbelievable… We were all decently drunk as we tasted & finished all the beers; even Rachita who doesn’t drink had a swig of most of the flavors!

Beers!!!

Super Awes

Delicious Cupcakes!!!

We had Ritika & Suneel over for an evening where Rachita had made some Paprika Puffs with Devilled Mushrooms. There were 3 types of dips with tortilla chips, pretzels and pita chips. There were some awesome Grape, Basil & Ricotta sticks which were off the charts!!! There were also some amazing cupcakes with butter icing. That was the 1st party! The 2nd one was with the family & in-laws where we had made like an interactive meal – the same consisted of Chilli Beans, Chick Peas with a Caribbean Seasoning, Panner Chilli & French Fries in Mustard. The guests were served hot Roomali Roti’s & they could decide the roll they wanted to make, the concept was a run away hit… For dessert that day, Rachita & I had put together a 6 Layer creation that included Red velvet Cake, Shortbread, Chocolate Ganache, Caramel, Coconut Flavored Cheese Cake, Fresh Fruits with a drizzled of chocolate & Icecream. The same we layered into individual glasses, so the helpings were easy to eat and also the same let the flavors sink into the dessert which was absolutely & totally sensational!!!

Goo!!!

Sensational!!!

Yummmmyyy!!!

The rains have also gone away which is great news as I have been going on my bike rides very regularly. Also Ekta’s bike was here this weekend so I decided to take the same for a spin which was awesome fun. The weather in the mornings is absolutely perfect & just makes the whole experience brilliant!!! Last week Ekta & I went for a ride in the evening – she on Goo & me on my Avenger, stopped at Woodside Inn for a drink, rode back home had more to drink & totally killed it. This Friday we went to Soul Fry Casa, one of our most favorite places & got shitfaced on some watermelon Martinis & Sugarcane, Ginger & Vodka mix… Over the weekend, i.e the one which just went by, we went to Karma for lunch, had Pizzas, Sizzlers & Wok Tossed Noodles. Also, we were celebrating Vishal’s Birthday & for the same, Rachita had made a brilliant Rainbow Cake. You have to see the pictures in the slide show below. For dinner there was super salad, grilled vegetables, a chunky roasted potato mash, polenta topped with a mushroom reduction which was unbelievably delicious; not to forget, we had some roasted fennel as well!!!  Yup, so that’s been our crazy food experience since the past coupla weeks. Do check the pictures in the slide show for a yummy visual treat & till next time, happy eating 🙂

Olympic Rainbow Cake Rings!!!

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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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Our Own Food Festival Part 1

While the country celebrates the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, we have been celebrating our own food festival which is totally in sync with the Ganpati festival as the elephant god also loved food & sweets!!! So since last week, there have been multiple places visited & also loads of great food cooked at home by the lovely Mrs. (Rachita). Do continue reading for the details of the same its yummylicious!!!

Best Cheesecake Ever!!!

Yummyyy!!!

Cinnamon Rolls to Die For…

Last week, we were working from our fort office & right next to the same is a quaint eatery called Lalit Refreshments which serves fabulous value for money food. We ordered some awesome rotis, paneer in a red gravy, papads, pickle and dosas from there for lunch! As you can see in the picture, the food was pretty damn awesome!!! The next day was a holiday, as it was the start of the Ganpati festival. For the same, Rachita baked an awesome cheesecake with cinnamon dusting on it…. matlab post eating that we are totally clear about our patisserie business 🙂 The next day we decided to make Cinnamon rolls. Please note I was there helping Rachita a.k.a. The Food Magician in making this piece of awesomeness; for a 1st attempt, the rolls were delicious & we made a lot of them & kept aside and ate them regularly till end of the week. For dinner that night, was Samosa Chaat which was courtesy my very lovely mother; needless to say it was totally killer… In this whole thing, I forgot to mention that the Bike Rides were also happening regularly considering the weather has been super awesome, I mean no rains. How awesome is that!

My Prized Possession!!!

Hand Tossed Home Made Pizzas!!!

Then came the weekend & full-on party mode was in progress as Ekta was back from Baroda so Beers, Rum, etc. flowed like the Nile… In the morning, Rachita & me had made preparations for hand tossed Pizzas. Do check the pictures in the gallery below. Also then there was some super sensational chocolate cake with yellow butter icing which was in the shape of modak (ladoos) ha ha ha ha! Our tribute to Ganpati 🙂 Next day post morning bike ride & general chilling, Rachita & I decided to go & check some speakers at Phoneix Mills. Visited JBL, Croma & also Bose, the experience at the Bose showroom was the best! They showcased  a demo of the crazy Video Wave Experience which was the greatest sound experience of a television ever!!! If you guys are around a Bose showroom, do walk in and check out the demo its sensational.

You have to taste it to believe it…

Delicious!!!

Droooooooooooooooollllllllll!!!

Post the retail therapy session, we decided to go to Cafe Zoe as we had never been there with Analushka / Anus who’s picture is also featured in the slide show below. The place has a nice decor – is very spacious. Post being seated, we checked the menu. Immediately I ordered the steak burger which was extremely inviting also added some bacon to it, Rachita ordered a basket of breads, fries and also some vegetables with red and white quinoa, also ordered some Hoegaarden. Post a leisurely lunch and a gossip session, we decided to head home and crash for a bit. In the evening, I decided to go out for the bike ride. While riding, figured it’s Gauri day which is part of the Ganpati festival where in a statues of the Goddess Gauri are also bought home & immersed in to the water in a day’s time. There was crazy traffic across the roads but on the bike it was totally a breeze, en-route also visited the in-laws house which I was stalking through the day as it was my random activity of the day (stalking the in-laws building). Ekta rode the bike home with me after the in-laws meet & greet. For dinner there was some crazy super awesome Enchiladas. You have to check the pictures of the same in the slide show. All in all, we been eating awesomeness and just thought the same needed to be posted on the blog. Hope you have had fun reading this post as much as we have had eating the food 🙂 Don’t miss the Slide show below it has some delicious & yummy pictures!!!

Heaven!!!

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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HDR for Beginners

High Dynamic Range Photography – this has been the debate basis the ever growing photographer community for the past few years now. HDR, as it is popularly known, is definitely gaining momentum; pictures taken using this method are regularly displayed in museums (Trey Ratcliff’s famous fireworks picture at the Smithsonian) and considered works of art. Then there are the DSLR snobs, people who believe that manual mode is the only way to go; if you use a photo editing software you are a scar on their perfect portrait, they noise police pictures and so on. My take on this is fairly straightforward I love HDR, I also use a lot of editing tools and 99% of the time I don’t shoot in manual mode. I am what you may term as the rogue community; please note this community is much larger than the DSLR snob community. I thought it would be a good idea to share my experience with HDR on this post; also have added a few tips in there so you can get started with HDR if you are already not an addict.

I happened to stumble on HDR by chance, a couple of years back when I bought my first camera. I was looking at tutorial videos online and just happened to catch a video showcasing HDR images, I was hooked from that point on. Unfortunately, I used a bridge camera then and hence could not really work on the technique. About a year ago, I bought my first DSLR – and that’s Tip 1 also, when buying a new camera, get one with a bracketing option it’s a must for HDR. Moving on, it’s been a year now and I do believe I have the basics down and am moving in the right direction basis the technique. Below are a few standard questions and answers which will get you started on this awesome technique:

1) What is HDR photography?

Putting it simply, HDR is a photography technique where images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight. In normal English, it shows you what the eye see but with enhanced colours and lights.

2) Do I need a special camera for shooting HDR?

Not really, any camera will do, but it helps if your camera has a bracketing option.

3) What is Bracketing?

Bracketing is basically when you take pictures at multiple exposures. Most entry level cameras allow you to take 3 such pictures – normal, over and under exposed.

4) Do I need a special software for this?

Unfortunately yes, there are tons of them available in the market; I would recommend Photoshop and Photomatix for the same.

5) How do I get started with HDR?

The following is a simple guide to start using HDR in your regular photography. I have tried to keep it simple and easy to understand, but if you do have questions, please add them to the comments below. Start with setting your camera to multiple shots, then go to the bracketing option it will be listed as exposure bracketing in most cameras. Set the value to 2. This will take 3 shots at different exposures once you press the shutter down. If you are like me and your hand is not very steady, use a tripod. Another tip here: shoot in Raw mode, the flexibility raw images give you while editing is amazing. So now that you have your first images, what do you do next? Download the images on your PC and import them into Photoshop or Photomatix, you will have to use the bridge option in Photoshop and then select merge to HDR; in Photomatix, load Bracketed pictures will do the same for you. Now this will open Pandora ’s Box for you, I will briefly touch on Photomatix options here to give you an idea of what each does and how it will shape your pictures; in Photoshop the same happens but for some reason it is not subtle and images tend to look un-natural. This holds true for CS5… I have not yet used CS6. Note: this part of the tutorial only covers the first few options, I will be covering others in a more detailed post. The first options you will see once Photomatix merge options, you can align pictures here, remove ghosts and reduce noise. Once done the following options will show up:

Strength

Controls the strength of the contrast enhancements; a value of 100 gives the maximum increase in both local and global contrast enhancements.  I prefer this to be at around 80 as 100 makes certain colours bleed.

Color Saturation

Controls black and white to colour settings; the greater the saturation, the more intense the colour. A value of 0 produces a gray scale image and 100 pushes colour all the way up.

Luminosity

This controls how light or dark your highlights are in the image. Moving the slider to the right boosts shadow details and brightens the image. Moving it to the left has the opposite effect, and gives a more “natural” look to the resulting image.

Detail and Contrast

This is self explanatory; this will increase detailing and contrast giving your picture a smooth or a hard feel.

Lighting Adjustment

When you’re just starting, I would suggest you click the check box in this option and use the preset tools – natural for a natural look, surreal for a look which is more HDR like with Halos and medium for a combination of both.

Once you are done playing with these settings and happy with the image you have, select process and you will have your first HDR image. I hope to put up a more detailed article on HDR in the future, but the post above will get you started in a short period of time. I have put some HDR images on this post. These were shot during our recent Monsoon Roadtrip. One point of advice: first try HDR in the day time, night has its sets of challenges and you will need a lot more equipment to get it right. Like with everything, the more you practise HDR, the better you get at it. Do share your pictures with us via comments or on twitter. Enjoy shooting! Incase you’re wondering which camera I use?  Nikon D5100.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Avengers Crew Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Avengers Crew, please note these are my least favorite heroes in the crew, I do believe it is related to them not having any super powers –

The Hero we all know as Captain America –

Really not interested in sharing details here, I would suggest you watch the movie(they have done a good job ), anyways here goes – Steve Rogers was born July 4, 1920, to poor Irish immigrant parents, Sarah and Joseph Rogers, and grew up a frail youth during the Great Depression in America. Rogers’ father died when he was a child and his mother died from pneumonia later, when he was in his late teens. Horrified by newsreel footage of Nazis ransacking Europe and atrocities in Asia that the Empire of Japan committed in China and Korea, Rogers tried to enlist in the Army, that rejected him as 4-F because of his frailty and sickness. Overhearing the boy’s earnest plea to fight for his country, General Chester Phillips, of the US Army, offered Rogers the opportunity to take part in a top-secret performance-enhancing experiment called Operation Rebirth. This give him extraordinary physical abilities, of course, what people missed was that the good Captain went on to receive extensive training before he was given his first assignment (Three months): to stop the Nazi agent called the Red Skull. To help him become a symbolic counterpart to the Red Skull, Rogers was given the red, white, and blue costume of Captain America

Decades later, his wartime comrade, the Sub-Mariner, stumbled across his still-frozen form, which was being worshiped by a far-flung Inuit tribe. Enraged, the Sub-Mariner threw the ice block into the ocean. While opposing Namor, the newly formed Avengers happened upon Rogers’ thawing body and soon revived the legendary hero. Do note I have cut pasted most of Captain’s data, I just did not have the inclination to write it.

The not so “Black Widow” –

Rumour has it Natasha Romanoff (Romanova) was somehow related to the last ruling Czars of Russia, but was never proven. Nazis set the building Natasha was in on fire in Stalingrad(Nazis liked doing such things), and her mother threw her out the window to a Russian soldier before dying. The soldier’s name was Ivan Petrovitch, and he watched over Natasha for her entire life, to this day remaining by her side as her chauffeur.

As Natasha grew and matured, she proved to be an amazing athlete and scholar, while gaining distinction in the USSR as a ballerina. Eventually, she married Alexi Shostakov, a distinguished Soviet test pilot.

Soviet government intelligence (KGB), poached them both and trained them, Alexi would go on to become Captain America’s counterpart in Russia, he was not called Captain Russia but went by the name the Red guardian. Eventually Natasha was told that her husband died in an experimental rocket crash, and was drafted into the KGB. She became their best operative from being trained in the infamous Red Room Academy, becoming excellent at fighting and information gathering. During this time she had some training under the Winter Soldier. It was there she was first dubbed the “Black Widow.” After a few encounters of getting shot and brainwashing she joined the Avengers, she has always had a soft spot for the next character (Hawkeye)

The strictly Bow and Arrow type Hawkeye –

Clint Barton and his brother were orphaned at a young age they made ends meet by working in a circus; Clint was trained by the original Swordsman and by Trick Shot. Like most wannabe Super Heroes Clint saw Ironman in action and wanted to emulate him, he draped a fancy outfit and decided to fight evil in the world using his bow and arrow skills.

Due to his outfit Hawkeye found himself running from cops, during this time he came in contact with the Widow, she recruited him and also became romantically involved with him. Although Hawkeye became romantically involved, he was unhappy being a criminal. When he approached the Avengers and told them of his desire to reform, Iron Man sponsored his membership on the team. There’s not much beyond this about him to write, moving on…

Nick No D&%# Fury –

The eldest of three children, Nicholas Joseph Fury grew up in Depression-era New York City with his brother Jacob and Sister Dawn. Fury’s mother died while he was very young.  It wouldn’t be until Nick Fury became a solider himself overseas that he would learn of his father’s military service. Living in the tough streets of Hell’s Kitchen, Fury himself was no stranger to trouble, but more than often confined it to the boxing ring where he would bout, or in the Police Athletic League where he became one of the finest marksman.

Fury jumped from mission to mission, post the attack on Pearl Harbour he was elevated to command the “Howling Commandos,” a specially-trained band of soldiers who undertook some of the most dangerous missions of the war. As leader of the Howling Commandos, Fury struck blow after blow against the Nazis and their allies through missions that ranged from deep infiltration missions behind enemy lines to undercover work and even some home front action. It was during this time that he met Captain America, Reid Richards and confronted enemies like the Red Skull and Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. This was also the period where Fury suffered to major injuries – both would impact him later in life: a grenade blast that began the slow deterioration of his sight in his left eye, and a landmine accident that led to Fury being inoculated with the Infinity Formula by Professor Berthold Sternberg in France.

The Infinity Formula substantially slowed his aging process, and Fury was thrust with a double edged sword: although his life was saved, the consequences of the Infinity Formula would haunt him throughout his life as he would see many friends age and die, as well as become the target of various villains seeking his secret. In the early 1960′s Fury was contacted by the Board of Directors of the newly organized international espionage organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division) and offered directorship by Tony Stark. (An alternate theory adds that the Deltite LMD manipulated events so that Fury would be chosen). The rest as they say is history, Nick went on to form the Avengers to defeat Loki and Hydra. We can go on about his secret wars and all but the same would not be relevant here…

So that’s my take on the Avengers, big thank you to Marvel Wiki for a ton of information – I hope this post will add to your movie watching experience and give you some details on why the Avengers are the way they are.

Do check out the Blue-Ray Clips below for extras that feature in the movie 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Avengers Crew

Today’s post is about the Avengers. The reason for posting Avengers? The DVD is out here in India and it is one of our most favourite, if not the favourite Super Hero movie ever! The post is way too long so am breaking it into 2 parts.

I have been a super hero’s fan all my life… as a child I used to love the colour green and in turn, the Hulk became my favourite character; my brother liked blue and he chose Batman. Over the years, we have pretty much owned, lost, bought most action figures, seen both real and animated movies, put up posters at home and done all the standard things that Super Hero fans do. This morning I was thinking what to put up on our blog and the Avengers hit me. Over the last few years, Marvel has done a great job introducing us to individual movies of the heroes but very little is known about their origins, at least the normal fans don’t know much; below you will find interesting reads about your favourite Avenger characters, apologies if I missed all the generations, but currently they are inconsequential.

Starting off with The “Incredible” Hulk –

Few of us know that Doctor Banner’s full name is Robert Bruce Banner. The doctor was present in the instrumentation bunker at the test site for the first underground test detonation of the Gamma Bomb. Observing that a civilian had breached security and entered the restricted test area, Banner told his colleague Igor Starsky to delay the countdown while he tried to get the civilian to safety. Starsky, secretly a Soviet agent, did nothing, confident that Banner would die in the explosion, bringing the project to a halt. Reaching the civilian, a teenager named Rick Jones, Banner threw him into a protective trench. Before Banner could get himself to safety, the Gamma Bomb detonated, and intense waves of radiation reached the surface. Banner was irradiated with highly charged radioactive particles. Due to an unknown genetic factor in his body, Banner was not killed by the radiation, which instead caused him to frequently transform into the vastly powerful, humanoid monster named “the Hulk”. There are various theories on how and why Banner changes into the Hulk, the most popular being, he gets “MAD”.  Hulk joining the Avengers was more accidental then planned; he became a pawn of Loki who tricked Hulk into battling his half-brother, Thor. This plot was foiled, leading to Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp joining forces to form the Avengers and defeat Loki.

The insanely flamboyant Iron Man is next –

For all the retards who have no idea, Tony Stark’s full name is Anthony Stark; he is the  son of industrialist and inventor, Howard Stark, is an undergraduate electrical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with Double majors in Physics.  Contrary to popular belief, Starks did not become Iron Man after the Vietnam incident; he was injured in Vietnam and worked with Ho Yinsen to design and built an electrically powered suit of armour equipped with heavy offensive weaponry. The armour also contained a pacemaker-like device that enabled Stark’s heart to keep beating after the shrapnel entered it. He used this to escape; this is not how he became Iron Man – these experiences made him realize that the suit was too dangerous to be made available to the public. Eventually once he returned home, he was forced to use the suit to thwart a terrorist bombing attempt. Wishing to retain some degree of anonymity, Stark established the fiction that Iron Man was his paid bodyguard wearing a suit of armour that he had invented. Only his most trusted aides learned that Stark and Iron Man were one and the same.

There is only one God and his name is Thor –

Thor is the blood-son of Odin, All-Father of the Asgardians, and Jord, who was also known as Gaea, the elder goddess of the Earth. Odin sought to father a son whose power would derive from Earth as well as Asgard, and hence he sought to mate with Jord. Odin created a cave in Norway where Jord gave birth to Thor. Months after the infant Thor was weaned, Odin brought him to Asgard to be raised. Odin’s wife, the goddess Frigga, acted as Thor’s mother from that time onward. Thor became Asgard’s greatest warrior before he was twenty.

In addition to being the God of Thunder, Thor is also the Norse God of Strength; as such he is physically the strongest of the Norse gods and one of the most powerful beings in the Universe. His strength has been called unlimited. People don’t realise but he always restrains and holds back his vast strength against mortals, he has been capable of stalemating an enraged Hulk in strength (despite the fact that the Hulk was constantly increasing in strength every moment) for hours without tiring at all and while restraining himself as always, and knocking out the Hulk eventually. Loki was the reason Thor joined the Avengers – his manipulations forced several of earth’s mightiest heroes to band together to stop the Hulk, Thor was amongst them and became a founding member of the team of superhuman champions.

Here is the Home video announcement, for the lucky few who dont live in America the DVD and Blue Ray are already available 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Super Bike & Food Weekend

It’s been a while since I wrote about the weekend that was; the weekend that just went by was pretty damn awesome & so I decided to write about the same. Friday evening started off with some general chilling at home didn’t do much just marathoned Supernatural season 7 with Rachita. Also the plan for next days lunch was being figured with Ritika. Before I forget, Friday evening we also started playing Sleeping Dogs on the Xbox360 which was awesome. The game has a brilliant feel and has hints of Yakuza & Shenmue, 2 of our all time favorite games!

Goo & Avenjer ignore the cycle 🙂 Lol!!!

Sleeping Dogs on the Xbox360

Astro!!!

Saturday, though, began with a bang as I had 2 bikes at my disposal – Ekta’s Royal Enfield & my Bajaj Avenger – Ekta was in Baroda for the weekend & had left her bike at my place. Gaurav & I took the bikes out for a ride which was totally awesome! We rode past Haji Ali & Worli Seaface braving the rains; when we started there wasn’t an iota of rain, but when we reached Peddar Road it started drizzling; Gaurav & I decided to continue as the drizzle wasn’t fazing us. On the way back from Haji Ali, though, there was a decent downpour which we managed & reached home safe. Post some general chilling, shower, etc. we played some more Sleeping Dogs on the Xbox360, exploring the open world finishing mini missions, etc. Come 9:30am we needed to take Astro to the vet for a general check up & then meet Ritika, Mihir & Yooti for lunch. We were done at the vet by about 11:00am & proceeded for lunch after dropping Ash home :-). So lunch was going to happen at Soul Fry Casa, a restaurant serving Goan food at Fountain / Kala Ghoda. Ritika, though, was not informed about the same, as whenever we have decided to go to this restaurant or discussed going there, something or the other has gone wrong. This time we decided to keep the POA a suprise. Ritzzzz met Mihir at Churchgate station on the pretext of going to some place around that area and once Mihir got her around the restaurant he whisked her in. She was pleaseantly surprised, if I may say so myself.

Love the Ambiance at Casa Soul Fry

Beer!!!

Pickle!!!

Moving onto the restaurant which has a brilliant old world charm with memoriabilia across the walls; also the furniture is from an era which you just dont see nowadays. The plates & glasses you get are of copper, menu has a good balance of Veg, Non Veg & Sea Food. We decided to start off with a few drinks – I was having beer, Mihir had ordered a brilliant sugarcane based cocktail, Ritika was having a watermelon Martini, Yooti ordered a Vodka based cocktail the name of which i cannot remember & Rachita who doesn’t drink alco was having a mocktail. Ritika & Mihir had already ordered some Prawns & Rawas, Rachita added to the same by ordering some chicken moelho. Please note here, Mihir & I haven’t had prawns in about 20 years as I have an allergy to the same. Though once the food was on the table, we decided to try the prawns which were exceptional and also eat the Rawas which was divine. Lunch ordered was some chicken in red gravy & because we ate shell fish everyone got super excited that there was no allergic reaction and ordered a crab sukha with some nans. The food was simply awesome! We went through everything & loved every moment of it. Special mention to the Naans which are the best I have ever had. If you are in the fountain area, then you must try Soul Fry Casa it is CUMPOLSORY!!!

Awesome Spread!!!

Then headed home, slept for a bit, while Ritika & Rachita went shopping. Evening dinner was Falafal which Rachita had made. The brilliance of the same cannot be explained. After dinner, watched some UFC on Sony Six, then moved to Supernatural and then passed out.

Sunday Bike Ride!!!

Yummy!!!!

Sunday morning started off with an early morning bike ride on Ekta’s Royal Enfield aka Goo, which was followed by another bike ride on my Bajaj Avenger, aka Avenjer. The weather was perfect, cloudy skies accompanied by some sensational winds…. Marine Drive, Nariman Point, Haji Ali & Worli Seaface were passed on both bikes one after the other…. rode for a good hour & half :-). Once home, finished Astro’s bath, then played Sleeping Dogs again for a bit, Also helped Mihir pack as he was heading for a week’s vacation. Lunch in true gujju style was sev tameta nu shak (fried gram dough noodles in tomato gravy); then it was nap time. Woke in the afternoon, watched some Supernatural again, had a few beers. For dinner, Rachita decided to make some super duper awesome boiled egg sandwiches with tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, onions, her blend of secret herbs & eggs marinated in mayo & mustard. Matlab mouth watering awesomeness it was! Again watched some more episodes of Supernatural and then passed out. All in all, a brilliant food & bike weekend 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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