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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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The Crazy Car and Tech Expo

I am not that into cars, don’t get excited seeing many of them (Jaguar is an exception) or drool when people talk about speed, etc. This year however, I went to the Autocar Expo which showcases some of the most awesome cars and bikes across India. Of course, I had a hidden agenda here, the Stuff Gadget show was also in the same premise, the very lovely Mrs works for the magazine and hence would not miss it for the world.

We started off early to avoid the mad crowds, got to the venue by about 10:30. As soon as I walked in, the first thing that caught my eye were custom bikes – a company called Verdanci – I had seen their work before online, but was very impressed with the quality of bikes they were making. As a promotion activity, they had decided to build a bike at the expo and launch it on the last day. I spoke to one of the promoters there and he told me the bikes cost anywhere between 5-10 lakhs basis customer requirement – a bit expensive if you ask me, but then again, the bikes look kick ass! Further on, there were more bikes – BMWs to start with – they look like cheetahs ready to pounce, I quickly took a few shots and then moved towards the cars…. the first few Porsches, Audis, Mercedes – while I was shooting the Porsche, a gentleman approached me and asked me for my email, he apparently forgot his batteries on his Nikon and wanted pictures of the event; this was a first for me also so I happily obliged (just sent him all the pics last week). Moving on, I stopped at the Jaguar booth for about 10 minutes and just stared at the car, that is one car that I would love to own in my life :-). Post the foreign cars, there were the standard India brands on display; what impressed me was how they had setup their booths and were rallying people around with contests, pictures, etc., something international brands definitely need to learn.

Moving further, reached the Ducati booth, 4 monsters parked there, that’s about it no flash lights, no booth babes, nothing – just 4 bikes and it was spectacular – these are monsters, not ordinary bikes. Post these, I did catch a glimpse of a Harley, but the crew there was rather unfriendly, they had issues if people came close to their bikes, so I said thanks but no thanks and moved on. By now, I was getting impatient as I had not yet reached the Stuff enclosure, I quickly asked someone and he directed me towards it. On my way there, caught a glimpse of some awesome car systems – they looked like they are straight out of The Fast & Furious… beautiful. Just before the Stuff enclosure, I ran into the Bat Mobile, well not really the Bat mobile but the Lamborghini Aventadore – hands down the greatest car that I will ever see in my life time – pity the Lamborghini booth was very small and restricted movement for Photography.

Finally made it to the Stuff enclosure – the walkway towards the expo was lit up and paintings of movies with gadgets lined the walls, my favourite the Godfather and the Guitar on display; from there the first store I caught was the LG TV booth. People! the booth babes in there looked like aunties, but the products on display pretty much killed it. The Stuff gallery had Bruce Lee guarding it and had some really fancy Lomo cameras, speakers, television and video game rigs on display; talking about rigs, the car simulator was suspended 4 feet off the ground and moved basis the steering wheel, please note even the screen moved giving the user a visual like none other. There were people riding Segues, trikes around the area and the sound system on display were to die for, they cost a crore+ so yes to die for. The mandotory smartphone displays drew in crazy crowds. I did hear a rumour that the Iphone 5 was going to be made available for display, but did not end up confirming the same. Another interesting toy/gadget was qaudrocopter or A.R Drone. It was in this huge enclosure and was being flown around by some very talented kids, it moved in all directions and could hover seamlessly in one place. After all the gadget porn, I went to meet the Mrs and all her collegues at the show. As usual, they were all working tirelessly for days but greeted me with a smile and offered to take me for a whole lot of demos, etc. I politely refused, have one policy in life if I can’t buy it, I don’t try it. After exchanging pleasantries, I decided it was time to leave, I had had a late night due to a kickass office party.

Going out, I noticed car companies had created drag, dirt and mountain tracks for people to try. There were also ATVs available to ride, honestly I was very impressed with the setup. All in all, it was a great experience. I definitely look forward to the Stuff show next year, Autocar may be but only for Photography. DO check our slide show for all the pictures from both the expos and don’t forget to favourite the blog 🙂

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Posted by on November 24, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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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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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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Friday the 13th Trip

Last week on Friday the 13th, Rachita, Ekta & me were heading to work. 15 Minutes away from office we decided to take a detour and head to Panvel which is just off Vashi / New Bombay to have some awesome Vada Pav’s, Missal, etc. There is this quaint but extremely popular eatery called “Dutta Snacks”. Before we move forward, for people who dont know what Vada Pav is, check the image below and also the wikipedia description. Vada pav (Marathi: वड़ा पाव), sometimes spelled wada pav, is a popular vegetarian fast food dish native to the Indian state of Maharashtra. It consists of a batata vada sandwiched between 2 slices of a pav. The compound word batata vada refers in Marathi and Gujarati to a vada (fritter) made out of batata, the latter referring to a potato. Pav refers to unsweetened bread or bun. Vada pav was supposedly devised by snack vendor Ashok Vaidya outside Dadar station in 1971.

Best Vada Pav Ever!!!

Brilliant Open Roads

Doesn’t get any better!!!

Moving on, so post deciding we are going to be heading to Dutta Vada the excitment was immense and uncontrolabale 🙂 the weather was perfect – cloudy, raining and nice & cool! We started to go towards the express highway from vashi & took a turn just before the expressway bridge, the turn connects to the road to Panvel. The road leading to this place is simply amazing, super empty with scenic view of hills and in this season the greenery, etc. is simply brilliant!!! All through the journey we were listening to hardcore Bollywood music, also multiple discussions on random stuff was happening. Ekta, our in-house Google Maps expert, was helping navigate the route. After about 25 minutes of driving from Vashi, we finally reached our destination, parked our car, and then went in for the order…

Our Destination!!!

The Circle where the Dutta Vada is…

The Place is situated at a circle and in a quaint corner next to a garage. Though unassuming, this place draws in some serious crowds basis legacy, quality & taste of food served. Also considering it was a Friday, there was a decent crowd as you had people travelling to short destinations for a weekend getway. While the women went to freshen up, I ordered a couple of plates of Vada Pav, Missal & Sabudana Khichdi. Post getting the order & finding a quiet corner to eat, we devoured the food pretty damn fast as it was totally awesome! Vada Pav & Missal to die for though I didn’t like the Sabudana Khichdi as it was covered with Peanuts. Post the brunch we decided to pack some stuff for colleagues & head back to work… The drive back was absolutely unreal considering we are super excited about the fact that we had actually gone through with a random plan, ditched / postponed work gone had some awesome food, add to that we were listening to music from Rowdy Rathore. Point to note here Ekta believes the first 3 songs of Rathore sound alike… Hmmmm Pagli hai bhai pagli (slightly crazy is the literal translation).

What a View!!!

I have also taken some amazing pictures of our trip which I have posted in the gallery below, do take a moment to check the same out. Also a sincere suggestion post our experience to all of you who read this is do try something like this occasionally, the same just changes your perspective on the day and in turn the week seems so much better. You dont have to go to a eatery only, there might  be days when you feel like having a icecream at work or you feel like leaving on a half day or whatever, my suggestion go with the feeling and see how things turn out. Trust me you won’t be dissapointed… Also what made this trip super sweet is that it happened on a Friday post which Saturday & Sunday happen which is totally Ulti Bakka!!!

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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Our First DSLR

It’s been a while since I wrote a post on photography; anyways, this post is about a DLSR that we picked up a few months ago.

Here is the story in brief – After months and months of contemplating and mental masturbation, we finally gave in and bought a Nikon D5100 DSLR. Before this purchase, we used to used an Olympus super zoom and a Sony Cybershot – this has been probably the longest debated purchase in our life – check the picture on the right, the camera looks pretty kick-ass. As soon as I bought the camera, I thought I was Yousuf Karsh – for people who don’t know who he is, Google/YouTube him – legendary photographer, shot some of the most iconic pictures of our time (Click here to view his work).

Moving on, the” Karsh feeling” crumbled in seconds as soon as I tried manual focus; could not shoot any image without it being blurry. At a point, my uncle and I started questioning the store owner, if the camera had an issue; finally figured that the lens has an option and quickly switched it to auto and then everything was fine. Rode home and realised the shopkeeper has removed the lens, struggled for about 15 minutes on that – finally saw a video on Youtube and figured it out (Thank God for Youtube and some awesome Tutorials). Intense studies followed basis the manual, online guides, etc. I think I got around to using the camera 2-3 days after actually buying it; by now I knew most of the important navigation buttons.  Like with most new things we buy, I started carrying the camera everywhere, (if you have read my earlier posts on mobile photography you know this is a obsession), made an effort to go on photo walks, try and take weird angle pictures and all that jazz, I would even walk up to people and ask permission to take their pictures – have put up some pictures showcasing my photography escapades in this post.

After about a month I realised that the lens I got with the camera was not good enough….. actually the kit lens was fine, it’s just that I am so used to a zoom lens, so after another month of mental masturbation I went and picked up the 55-300mm lens. Again that had its own learning curve, but adapted to it faster due to a comfort with using zoom features in my earlier camera (do note, still manual focus is a massive challenge). By now, I had started using photography jargon also: DOF, Shutter Speed, Aperture, Lighting Conditions and everything that one needs to convince themselves they are photography experts….

So what is the point of all this? A couple of things I would like to highlight here; nothing comes remotely close to a good DSLR – people will tell you a lot of things, will you use it regularly, too expensive and so on, but once you use a camera like that everything else feels sad. Personally, I think one needs a lot of commitment to actually see some results with a DSLR, an insanely expensive camera does not guarantee superb shots, like with anything you need to practise to get good at it. Some base level Photoshop understanding is required, purists can fight this, but generally all photographers use some amount of post processing. All the reading in the world will not get you practical experience – need to go out and shoot, after a while it will become a pain to lug the camera around but you need to make that extra effort. Be ready to spend money – these things are an addiction; have bought new lenses, a camera bag, automatic shutter control and a camera stand so far.

I try and take the DSLR on all my bike rides, have put up some pictures in this article and across the blog, but to be honest, sometimes it is just about riding, so photography takes a back seat, I do hope to use the video recording function on the camera to share some awesome trips on the blog. Till then, check out some shot using our new DSLR and do share any of your photography and Bike stories in the comments section below.

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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Photography and Bike connection

To start with, I think we are both wannabe Photographers and Bikers. At some level, both these hobbies are interconnected.

Let me explain. Both these can only be enjoyed to their fullest once you are financially secure – that would be between 30-50 for most people; the excitement and adrenaline rush one feels riding the bike on an empty road is equal to a great picture taken; like a camera, a bike needs constant attention and customization, this to fit your style of shooting/riding, both activities are social and get you to meet new people who share similar interests. The list goes on and on….

I generally carry 3 cameras when I mix both riding and photography; an Olympus SPUZ 565, Nikon D5100 and my handy telephone camera, currently it is a HTC sensation XE. It is a pain to lug all these around with additional lenses for the Nikon but the end result is definitely worth the effort. I would like to emphasize all hobbies or past times do require effort; people generally have a perception that one can pick up a hobby and magically he will find Utopia! Reality check does not happen………..you have to put in effort. That being said, I have been learning about photography for about 4 years now. The facilitation started pretty much after getting married and seeing awesome wedding pictures clicked by a friend (the gorgeous pictures were of the Mrs. I look scary on camera). Anyway, after a lot of R&D and debates, I bought a super zoom Olympus SP 565 UZ camera, read up everything there was to about camera and photography. To give you an idea I was familiar with words and phrases like aperture, depth of field, HD, FPS, Shutter Speed 1/2000, bulb, macro etc. From then on it’s been a snowball effect, pretty much live with my camera; I don’t take that many pictures though.

By now you are hopefully getting where I am going with this. Post the purchase of our bike, both my photography and riding have merged together seamlessly; the locations I discovered while travelling across the city are absolutely amazing. Check out some of my work in the gallery below. Beyond that, it has also gotten rid of my reservation with communicating with strangers. I end up speaking to people about both the bike and taking their picture; also strangers will randomly come and help you when you are juggling trying to change lenses while holding up the bike.

About the pictures – I generally shoot using the P mode on both my camera; this is where you control the aperture and the camera does the rest for you. I find pictures with controlled depth of field to be more dramatic, I try to follow the rule of thirds and general best practises but most times the discipline eludes me. I shoot because I enjoy doing it not because I want to boast about my technical genius with the camera. Over the last few months, I have found my zoom lens to be an invaluable tool; this especially when I am shooting from bridges or getting in a portrait from across the road. The Olympus has now been restricted to shooting panorama and macro images (the Nikon is just so much better). I am still figuring the ideal way to carry my camera stand on the bike… currently the bag I have does not support a stand. Once that is done I pretty much will be sorted.

Do share your riding experiences and images if you enjoy either of these hobbies. I hope to cover a lot more of photography while adding to our riding, food, movies and other escapades as we publish more articles on the blog. The street Panorama is where we live – do enjoy the gallery and leave comments.

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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