A travel that taught us almost everything, from trusting the slightest of our sixth sense to being the dumbest at making decisions. A journey that taught us the phrase "When God takes away something, he opens the door to something better", in literal sense.. In this journey through the state for 9 days, we learnt it all. We knew when something went wrong, something better was in store for us, and that trust helped us cope through the trouble that we went through to make some great images at the end of the day. Photography as everybody thinks, is very easy, but to make some good images for the viewer and most importantly for yourself, you need to sweat it out, you need to get into the trenches and make your mark.
Here, we will give you a gist of what we went through and then followed by the images we made in the day. This blog could easily sound like a rant, but trust in the word we say, we really are just sharing our experience and not writing this for any sort of sympathy. It is totally cool with us, and if we never go back to Rajasthan, it isn't for the reasons we state.
Day 1 - Book a room with OYO. Reach the hotel, and the hotel says their tie up with OYO was cancelled 3 months ago.
When you make such images, you tend to forget about what you faced during the day. We ended up with a sumptuous dinner at the rooftop of our hotel. Diwali fireworks added to the charm at the end of the day.
Day 2 - Leopard sanctuary visit without a leopard in sight!
So we managed to reach Bharatpur in one piece. The problem in India is you get advice from strangers about not talking to other strangers in their own hometown! This happens especially if you travel by train. With our good friend Devendra Singh, the cycle rickshaw expert guide, he ensured our safety at all cost! It was time to call it a day with some good dinner at Iora guest house. The owner himself was a naturalist at a couple of national parks and is a photographer who has some amazing photographs printed in the dining room. If you are in Bharatpur, we would highly recommend this guest house.
Day 3 - Keoladeo national park - A birder's paradise, a heaven that unfolded it's beauty.
Day 4 - Sarus crane and the fight for our seat in the train!!
The struggles don't really matter as long as you take it the right way. The images for a photographer at the end of the day is equivalent to gold or platinum.
Day 5 - The golden city and the infinite expanse of the desert sand..
So we had some local cuisine for dinner with Daal, Bhati and Churma being the highlight. Good food lifts your mood instantly, and it also prepared us for an eventful day the next morning.
Day 6 - The dunes and the GIBs!
Bidding adieu to such a scenic landscape was not easy, but life in the desert is extremely tough. Without rains, the locals have to go kilometres together to get water. City dwellers like us have it easy with resources coming to us from far and remote places. As tourists and travellers, these places look very inviting, but living conditions are difficult for the locals.
Day 7 - Almost missed the bus!
There's a small cool drink shop before you enter Gadisar lake pathway. It is our request for you to try the Makhaniya Lassi over there. It is pure heaven.
Day 8 - Missed luck to amazing luck
This is the exact moment when we realised that sometimes when you let go of something, or when you don't get something, you are given something of equal or better importance. We missed our train to Sambhar lake for the reason to go to Jhalana, and the safari to be available with a notice of an hour's time is something we'll remember for a long time.
Day 9 - Fort on a hill, but respect for Uber goes downhill
Yes, Rajasthan was a bitter sweet experience. The photographs are definitely alluring and might make us go back, but the joy of learning from travelling on your own and not depend on a tour agent makes the experience worthwhile. The ever blue skies, the warmth from the sun, the infinite expanse of deserts of Jaisalmer, everything was a joy. Like they say in Rajasthan, "Padharo Mhare Desh".
A realm of vastness,
A poetry on it's own,
Yet a story unknown.
A journey that could easily make you want to get off that boat, yet the peace that keeps you in place, Sundarban was one such love affair for us. A 3 hour journey by road from Kolkata and a 2 hour boat ride to our stay at Sundarban kept us longing for a great experience. Home to the mighty Royal Bengal Tiger, the infamous man eating tiger of the Mangroves. Although (and sadly enough), we did not have an encounter with the beast, we heard folklore and stories from the locals which made us feel its presence. I think it's the anticipation of seeing a tiger that makes it all the more exciting.
This blog again will be a photo blog, with little facts about the place. I think the folks of Sundarban write their own stories, and live their struggles everyday.
A boat ride for the locals costs a mere Rs.2 to get to one's destination. Some hands are clutching onto their umbrellas, while others have to run errands.
Life is not a rat race here. It is slow paced, and you get to see different shades of life.
Fishing encompasses majority of the survival means. The man-animal conflict arise due to the fishermen, crab collectors and honey collectors who wander into the deep and dark forests. Despite the intervention of the authorities, the conflicts continue on a regular basis. Fencing is done using Nylon nets which serves as a psychological barrier for the tigers. These nets are laid if there is a village nearby. A beast tamed by a mere net sounds surprising on its own.
The Mangroves are truly mesmerising. Their survival in the harsh and saline delta seems nothing short of a miracle.
After a 2 hour boat ride, we reached the Eco village where we would stay put for the night.
We then headed deep into Mangroves on a rowing boat. The river made a gentle sway and we were eagerly anticipating what would come next. Here are some of the scenes we witnessed from our little boat.
All species and animals here have to adapt to their environment. Seeing crabs on trees is something you will notice only in these regions. For us city dwellers, this is scary when you see yourself so close to a crab, but the locals are not disturbed by its presence at all.
After a bit of a struggle getting out of these inner waters, we managed to witness a beautiful sunset. The vastness is so inviting, you feel like a speck in front of the grandeur.
We got to witness the stories of Sundarban via the folk songs - Baul. The light was very bad so you will have to excuse the quality.
We did try some Astro photography. Failed attempt perhaps? Here are a couple of images nonetheless. We also have this debate of whether we could see the Milky way in these photos.
The next morning we bid adieu to Eco village and it's lovely and lively faces that kept us comfortable.
The quest of finding some unusual habitat was in store for the day. Unlike other forests across the country, this one has to be covered on a boat, there is no land safari. You do get to go into the forest watch towers by foot, but they are guarded from tigers. Sundarban is divided amongst the two neighbouring countries with the maximum coverage belonging to Bangladesh. The waters are also less saline in Bangladesh which makes it more habitable for wildlife. For now, we were going to be amidst the peace of the forests, except for the motor noises of our boat, of course.
These Saltwater Crocodiles can grow upto 20 feet in length. We saw one which was about 15 feet. Could you see that in the below image? The tides in Sundarban alter every 6 hours. So you have 4 tidal changes every day. These animals hunt and attack during low tide and go deep into the forest lands during high tides.
These waters also make for some abstract images.
As much as we were disappointed without sighting the Royal Bengal Tiger, we were happy enough to see some wildlife which justified the money we spent.
What excited us most was spotting a Red tailed Green Pit Viper. According to our guide, finding snakes is more difficult than finding tigers in Sundarban. That was quite a fascinating fact. The Pit Viper is a highly venomous snake. This slender and long snake was well camouflaged amidst the bushes and only a trained eye could spot it.
Sundarban is a vast expanse of over 20000 square kilometers of nature. The forest is named after the beautiful Sundari tree. It was a completely different experience altogether. Our trip can be summarised with this below shot taken at the Panchamukhi Point - The confluence of five rivers.
I sat, looking into an endless dream,
Heard tales of struggles and toil..
Of simplicity and care,
Smiles that moved cyclones,
Feet that swayed with the folklore,
The hands that clasped for the Goddess,
For protection from the royal beast,
All under the abundant stars of gleam..
Sneha and Vinod
A first time visit, a new experience to be unraveled in the infamous City of Joy. Was it going to be a flowery or a joyful experience for us? This blog by any means isn't a 'What to do in Kolkata' experience. It is a journey of a few days through the city and a personal state of a photography blissfulness that we achieved. The photos in the blog is purely in 2 colours - Black and White. We will link some images which we think also look good in all colours. So feel free to click on those links and enjoy the other rendition.
Reaching there from Bangalore definitely made us realise what a difference of weather would mean to us. When the sun just starts to peep out in Bangalore, Kolkata is already on its feet with smaller business units thriving and the trams ringing their bells. So it's early in the morning, when dawn breaks and the trams are in full throttle, and the tram drivers are managing traffic because the traffic signals aren't switched on.
In the image above, on the right hand side, a horse was stranded on a tram line. The irony is that the first tram to cross the Howrah bridge was a horse driven tram.
The interiors of the tram is a sense of melancholy, and that the seats that have heard multiple stories of millions of lives of the people. To see the above image in colour, click here
We explored a lot of these hidden scenes and spaces with the help of Soham, our friendly guide at Calcutta Capsule. You can find him here. If you are a photographer, we suggest the Magic Hour Tour.
A distinct image of Kolkata is from the yellow taxis driving their age old Ambassador cars. Your time in the city is incomplete without a ride in it. Yes, be ready to bargain with the pricing.
Yellow is apparently a colour of beautification. So here's a coloured version of the above shot.
This was our first time at street photography. The unresolved question of 'What will people tell' when we photograph them has partially been resolved, as we haven't yet tried this in our hometown. Street photography is definitely a storehouse for candid shots, of emotions, of character, of significance and of life. Were we stopped when we tried to take pictures of strangers? Yes, perhaps once or twice, but that was also declined politely, which is what you would like as a photographer with trembling hands. Below are series of images taken on the streets, in flower markets and of life springing alive for the day.
The Howrah bridge or the Rabindra Setu is a synonym to the cities Kolkata and Howrah. India's only cantilever bridge, connecting the two cities is full of vehicles and life 24/7.
We also took the ferry from Howrah to Kumartoli. More about Kumartoli after the next few images from the boat. There were kids who would hang on to the ferries and jump off board into the water. It was one of the most interesting sights to witness.
Kumartoli is a place of art, it is a place of craftsmanship and of hard work. Here skilled workers create beautiful idols of Gods and Goddesses with clay extracted from the beds of the Ganga. Durga Puja is when the city comes alive with the festivities spread over 5 days and the workers at Kumartoli are the ones people reach out to for their idols. This was a very intimate connection to the artwork as both of us enjoy it very much. This is a place where you can really ask, who came first 'God or Man'?
We whine and complain when God doesn't take care of us, but what does a God do when humans discard them? A typical example in the below image.
Did you notice Newton reincarnated?
There are some doors that lead you into silence. This was one such door(below image), that led us into a temple at least 200 years old. This was a distinct Red coloured door, we think it looks fabulous in B&W, but here's the coloured version.
Kumartoli is a must visit if you're in Kolkata. The process of softening the clay, the structuring, the designing and the finish is all seen here. The lively and non intimidating people add to it's charm.
Some narrow alleyways in the Southern side near Bhawanipur made for some interesting subjects.
There are some iconic landmarks of Kolkata like Victoria memorial which has opened up it's gallery for photography. We definitely took some advantage of that.
Yes, since this is a long exposure shot that we really liked, we would like you to see the colour version here
Before we headed to Princep Ghat, we wanted to satiate our hunger, so we headed to an Italian restaurant called "Fire and Ice". It has an Italian ambience and feel to it. What stood out was the Bottle of oil placed on our tables. We have the colour version of it here.
We then headed to James Princep Ghat for the sunset view of the 2nd Hoogly bridge and boy was it beautiful! We had almost given up on the sunset due to the low cloud cover. It added to the mood and drama, but the sun peeping out would have been glamourous. We patiently waited in the rain with the umbrella covering our cameras when the sun decided to pop out of the clouds and light up the sky.
The above shot looks gorgeous in colour too. You can view that here.
Kolkata was a fun ride for us in terms of photography. As residents of Bangalore, it was a tough experience in terms of getting adjusted to the weather over there. We can ignore that considering we have some memories and first time experiences for ourselves. It has brought in way more confidence in terms of street photography, in terms of meeting new people, spreading smiles, thanking them for offering help and giving us a holiday to remember.
Sneha and Vinod
P.S. We have another blog exclusively on Sundarban coming up shortly.
In our first visit into the hearts of the Rain forests in the Western ghats of Karnataka, we experienced the local environs and truly understood what it felt to be a part of nature.
We had totally different expectations of the trip and ended up having a surprisingly sweet and a different experience. We have tried our best to come up with the journey through narration.
Please do consider subscribing to our YouTube channel if you liked this video.
This short film was shot on Fujifilm XT2 and the 18-55mm kit lens in 4K. Absolutely in love with the camera and it's still and video capabilities.
The macro shots were taken with the Raynox DCR 250 snap on lens fit on the 18-55 lens.
Painting by Sneha
Image inspiration - Monkey eyes by Tim Flach
Subscribe to our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmWE7b7SYmJAmy6XOwE2kUw
This is a short clip of the videos that were shot on 4k in the Fujifilm X-T2 and scaled down to 1080p.
This is a gorgeous camera for stills and we will be putting up a sample image video soon (along with a review probably?)
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more and stay tuned. :)
P.S. Wished the Fuji did a good marketing job in India. The colours and skin tones rendered are absolutely out of this world.
If you like this video, do give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our YouTube channel :)
If you like this video, do give it a thumbs up. If you want us to shoot a similar product video for your products, do contact us via the Contact page.
This is the second one of our perception short clip series. Do give it a thumbs up if you like the execution and idea.
If you haven't watched the first one here is the link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzaID...
Higher by Silent Partner (YouTube Audio library)
Run by Max Sula - Media right productions (YouTube Audio Library)
Voyeur - Jingle Punks (YouTube Audio library)
Sound effects - YouTube Audio Library and soundjay.com
Pixel reflections presents their first short clip series on perceptions.
If you like this video, do give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel for more.
Comfortable_Mystery_2_Film_Noire - Kevin Macleod
Scraping_The_Sewer: Doug Maxwell