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The Zoo Visit

For the longest time I have wanted to visit the Zoo in Mumbai. Over the last year I regularly passed by it while coming back from work, but never visited it. Finally, over the weekend, I decided a little photography needs to happen and hence the visit to the Zoo was planned. For people who want to visit the Zoo, it is open Tues-Sun 9:00am to 6:00pm.

I picked Friday to go there, I thought it was a weekday and there would be less people, unfortunately that was not the case; due to it being Friday, there were schools and menacing kids waiting outside, yelling and creating general hooliganism. I manoeuvred through the crowds and managed to reach the front gate; it took about 5 odd minutes before they opened. I quickly ran to the ticket counter, out running about 50 kids and waving my hands as if I have won the 100 meters world championship. It cost about 5 rupees to enter the zoo and another 20 if you have a camera, I had 2 cameras so cost me double. As soon as you enter the zoo, the first thing you notice is all the greenery and vast space. I was surprised to see a dedicated work force of people running to keep the place clean and also take care of the animals in the there. I moved clockwise. The first thing I came across was a green house, the same can only be seen from the outside, visitors can’t actually walk through it, next on the cards the monkey cages; please note our zoo is prehistoric we don’t have open areas for animals we still have cages, which is very sad. It was early so there was limited activity in the cages just a guy cleaning the place. From there I moved on to the deers, these guys had it set, large open grounds where they can move around; unfortunately, taking pictures was a challenge, purely based on my distance but managed to sneak a few in courtesy the zoom lens. Next on the cards the elephant enclosure and the crocodile enclosure. The elephants were kept very far away and were having their breakfast so could only spot one of them, the crocodiles were lying in a dirty swamp motionless, onlookers watching them kept saying they’re dead……I wanted to throw one of them in the pond to test the theory 🙂

From there, I moved to the Hippopotamus shelter. There were two large hippos resting in the water all I could see was their backs, I was disappointed I was really looking forward to seeing a hippo in all its glory. As I moved away from the enclosure, I heard a loud noise that startled me a little, moving towards the sound I saw there was another enclosure where a Hippo was eating. I quickly grabbed a picture of the enclosure with a smile on my face. From there I moved to the lion cages, unfortunately there were 2 domestic cats sitting in the cage, the cleaner informed me the lion had passed away. Next was the birds, the smaller birds are kept in small cages which is sad, the silver lining here is the cages are clean and the birds are fed well. The bear enclosure was massive, but unfortunately I could not spot the bear, he probably was trying to avoid the morning sun. While I was near the bear enclosure, some kids yelled out “UNCLE, UNCLE”. I walked there, they called me to show me a Porcupine cage, where they had spotted an albino Porcupine, I quickly took a few shots and moved towards the last exhibit in the Zoo.

Final destination in the Zoo the very large Bird cages. While on my way there, I noticed a few large statues, placed in the middle of floral arrangements – these immediately reminded me of Gears Of Wars, do have a look at the picture to your left. After a fairly long walk and empty enclosures I reached the massive bird cages, these were birds that lived around water, Flamingos, Swans and so on, I was fairly impressed with the way these birds were kept, of course I could only stand a few minutes near the enclosure, annoying kids came and started going “Uncle one photo, one photo”. After not taking their pictures finally decided to exit the Zoo, all in all I was disappointed with the experience, not only the photography, the Zoo has become a barren place with hardly any animals; I would not recommend a visit here unless you want to be very depressed. Do check out some of the pictures around the blog and comment or send us feedback in the section below. All images shot using Nikon D5100.

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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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The Ganpati Photowalk

It’s that time of the year when everyone in India welcomes the Elephant God into their house, fondly known as Ganpati. 10 days of every Indian’s life revolve around the worship of the God.  Ganesh has been an annual feature in our house for as long as I can remember, we don’t get in the clay idol, we have an idol made of silver which we offer prayers to. As kids, mom would make us clean the idol and also decorate temples made of cardboard or Styrofoam. We would also get a whole lot of guests who came to our house during these 10 days to offer prayers and generally socialize with the family.  Over the years our beliefs have changed, we are no longer actively involved in the ceremonies pretty much Mom, Dad, Uncle and Aunty who manage the same. We on the other hand definitely go to see the awesome idols around where we live and take pictures creating our very own unique Ganpati Photowalk.

The biggest challenge with the photowalk is the crazy and erratic Mumbai rains, I personally don’t like my camera and gear getting wet and hence have to wait for the right time to get out there. Saturday began with crazy rains in the morning but eventually the day turned out to be sunny, at about 4:00pm I decided to head out for the photowalk, please note the objective was clear take pictures of Idols, a few minutes away from our house is Grant Road vegetable market, this also houses the biggest Ganesh idol in our area – I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was no security in and around the Pandal (temporary temple), people moved in an out easily and it was not mad crowded, I quickly setup my camera and started taking shots, to my surprise nobody disturbed me or said not to take pictures, instead they were more than happy to let me keep shooting, the kids there also volunteered to look after my bag so I could move around easily -Absolutely awesome

From there on every pandal I went to I was extended the same courtesy, my next destination was Grant road station, the Ganpati there was lit up, so time to crank ISO and shoot, note I hate using flash, I think it takes away from the reality of the image. I retraced my steps from the station towards the BMC station at D-Ward, this area has always had very creative idols, I was surprised this time around instead of going creative, the committee there had gone for a simpler much larger idol, it was very impressive. This pandal also had some kids playing carom; they were very excited when I took their picture. Next destination Papanas Wadi, this is a small lane next to my house, their theme eco friendly Ganesh, I did not realise I had friends here, these were kids who I had grown up with, in turn I was treated like a star, they cleared the floor and let me take pictures and fed me a whole lot of sweet meats. Next I moved onto a lesser known destination, this is a small bylane near Nana Chowk, they generally get a small idol but it is always very unique, this time around was exactly the same. Moving uphill I got to Kemps Corner, the Pan Gali idol was a black and gold idol and was huge, post taking pictures I moved towards my final 3 destinations August Kranti Maidan (Tejpal)  and Geeta building and old Gamdevi.

The final destinations are also the oldest as far as we are concerned, they have been housing idols long before it was fashionable to host them. The Tejpal idol was simple but they had surrounded it by envelopes of Ganpati, to my suprise there was nobody around the mini pandal, forgot to mention, I missed the Ganpati which use to be there at the Kharegat intersection, don’t know why it was not there. Anyways moving on the Geeta building Ganesh, was mounted on the shoulders of Hanuman, very different from anything I had seen so far. The volunteers there let me get close to the idol and take pictures, by now I was losing light so cranked up the ISO even more. From here I quickly rushed to Old Gamdevi, this idol was surrounded by women who were waiting for the evening Aarti, I did not waste time here, moved quickly and shot a few images and headed home. All in all the photowalk was an amazing experience the pandals are amazingly peaceful and people don’t bother you, also there are no annoying kids going ‘uncle take photo, my photo please’ and so on.  Really enjoyed this walk, and will definitely do this again on the day of immersion, this time around with my zoom lens.

Do check out our awesome Slideshow of Ganesh Pics below – Shot using a Nikon D5100 with a 18-55mm lens

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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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We Ride & We Eat

This is where this post begins…

Raju Omelette!

By now most of you have figured that post the whole biking experience the next thing which we obsess about is food 🙂 Also continuing from the last few weeks where bike rides have come to a stand still due to rains in Bombay, most of our lives are revolving around food. Today’s post is also about food and mainly it takes off from a post last week “The Rainy Weekend” wherein Rachita had made the most awesome Omelette Pav (bread) even surpassing the great Raju Omlet of Baroda. For all you egg lovers and foodies, the below post is a must read and also if you are travelling to Baroda then you have to visit this destination.

One of my most favorite places in the city of Baroda and the one I recommend to all my family & friends who visit the city is Raju Omlet. This is an iconic  place run by Mr. Raju and thus the name for people who didn’t get it..  My first visit to this place was around 2 years ago basis my in-laws recommendation. The place clearly didn’t disappoint and thus the visit back. This time around, I carried my  camera so as to capture all the awesome sites of the legendary “Raju Omlet.”

So back to the main story –

We ordered Everything!!!

Raju Omlet, from what I hear, started off many years ago as a small cart which has now evolved into this one small restaurant. Please note, the food available here is only egg preparations – the most famous being OMELETTE and thus the name “Raju Omlet”, As soon as you enter the compound, you can smell fresh butter and hear it sizzling on the tava… Loads of people sitting around staring down at their plates with a singular focus of devouring the food. As soon as you walk towards the order counter, you can see the menu which has a selected few options – egg bhurji, egg rice, bolied egg masala, etc. and also egg omelette, which is the trademark dish. So out of pure desperation and hunger, we (accompanied by in-laws and the Mrs) ordered everything on the menu. Post ordering everything, felt very proud and cool considering people at the cash counter looked at us in amazement!

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This is Heaven!!!

Egg Bhurji

Also next to the counter was this gigantic tava with Rajubhai (you guessed it! he is the gentlemen who owns this place) cooking some awesome stuff!!!. I kid you not, he put in 500 gms of butter on the pan, broke a few eggs on it, added tomatoes, chilli, garam masala and made 3 plates from the same!!! That’s when we realized this was not going to be a meal for the faint of heart. Please note, to accompany most items on the menu, there is Pav soaked in butter, soaked to such an extent that in the shine of the same you can see your face – brilliantly delicious! Moving on to the food, we had the bhurji floating in butter, boiled egg masala and egg rice which were worth mentioning. The other dishes were spin offs of these and strictly average. Though post eating all the dishes on the menu, it was time for the trademark omelette. So this it 2 portions of Pav (bread for you firangs) soaked in butter and sliced omelette sandwiched between them served piping hot!!! The taste….unmatched!!! We went through multiple portions of the same in like minutes. Side by side, took loads of photos to confirm the claims of butter utilization, limited menu and brilliant food. Also took a photograph of Rajubhai, the owner, who in his moment of attempted humor, said he was worried that because of his picture being available someone would kidnap him! Lol!!! All in all, this is a must place for people visiting Baroda to go and eat – its simple and totally brilliant!

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Though, the butter and its quantity does take away a few years of life… though totally worth it 🙂

Insane Amounts of Butter!!!

The Legend Mr Raju Bhai!!!

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Raju Bhai & Butter!!!

Spicy!!!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Mobile Photographer

Off late, I have been obsessed with Instagram, the popular photo sharing tool on my phone. To be honest, I got into phone photography a little late, only a few months back – 2 reasons for this, I own a DSLR so thought using the mobile is beneath me and I had an iphone3G with a 2MP camera covered with dust, so totally avoided taking pictures with it.

My reason to get a high end phone was the camera which accompanied it; currently I use an HTC Sensation XE with a 8MP camera.  I end up using my phone for both, taking pictures and processing pictures on the go, these are images taken earlier with my DSLR. Yes yes I know some of you are saying why post production on a mobile? The answer is pretty straight forward – it is “simple”, Photoshop is fairly complicated and time consuming; layers and more layers, I am all for Photoshop only if I have ample time on my hand, 99% of the time that is not the case.

For shooting while on bike rides, I mostly use the phone’s default camera , it starts up the fastest and hence, my next favourite application is Panorama. The phone makes it so easy, at least 3-5 slide panoramas are just a click and moving the camera left to right, very intuitive and opens a whole lot of options for the rookie panorama photographer. What stands out in all these apps on the mobile is the fact that they come with default effects, Black and White, Sepia, HDR and so on, these are the kind of effects you would only find in a high end software a couple of years back. Personally, I do a lot of correction, mix and match using applications, filters, cropping till I get the right image. Once done, generally the images go up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – just so convenient using the mobile, no searching in directories and so on…select check boxes and upload one time.

There are multiple schools of thoughts basis mobile photography, there are people who love it and some who say it is a gimmick – let me explain why. Like I mentioned earlier, the current generation of phones offer multiple corrective tools and filters. These help make average pictures look rather dramatic Instagram is a good example of the same. The purists believe there is no effort there; the shot is not setup, the lighting is not adjusted, post production skills are zero and hence even if the shot is nice it is still gimmicky. I disagree just because it is easy does not take away from creativity and effort. Take mail for example, it use to be a painful process until e-mail came along now it’s easier, of course this does not take away that like the original mail the email has to be written/typed, similarly a picture need to be taken.

I still use my DSLR on weekends and will continue to do so, the control it gives me is phenomenal. The phone on the other hand is like a higher end digital camera that I carry around everywhere. Most pictures you see around this post have been taken or treated using my phone while i was riding my trusty Bajaj Avenger. I would highly recommend using the phone to shoot candid shots and difficult to reach areas (I know what you are thinking and that is not what I meant). Below are a few tips that will help you snap some really awesome images using your mobile –

  • Like your DSLR know your phone camera, the newer ones have similar functions, DOF, ISO, Scenes etc, check settings on your phone for more
  • Activate the Grid and use the rule of 3rds very important for all rookie photographers
  • Try and use the phone the same way you would use a DSLR, look at the lighting around you, create the composition in your head and then shoot.
  • Touch Screen phones allow you to focus on objects just by touching the screen, check how that works on your phone
  • Use filters on multiple applications till you achieve the desired effect on the image
  • Crop ruthlessly, mobile devices attract a lot of distractions in the background, it is the nature of the beast, ensure you cut them out as required.
  • Share your pictures in social networks, beyond the morale boost it will keep you clicking
  • Follow professional photographers on various social networks, try imitating them, there is no shame in that.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading the post, do share links to your pictures in the comment section below, my instagram ID is mihirshah1975 if you are there drop by to say Hi!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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