Category Archives: Travel and Leisure

Beat of the Drums

Culture 5

Festivals in India take on a different dimension. There are lots of preparations that take place prior to the event, people and the entire community as a whole sets aside time for their participation in the festivals. Added to that is the fact that the events that take place happen in the open public areas, so everyone has access to it. In some areas (like the one pictured above), there was not enough open place for the celebration to take place, so it happened on the main road.

Traffic was diverted, the road was cordoned off, and the drummers and elephant, marched through the street. The drummers seemed to have endless amounts of energy, the beats kept rolling out in great rhythm, they kept swaying to the beat, much to the excitement of the crowd surrounding them. All in all a very festive and happy mood for everyone.

The drummers as well as the organizers of the festival were very receptive to the fact that we were taking pictures, however, being able to get good pictures was a bit of a challenge. It was late evening, almost sunset time, light was low…the drummers kept walking forward, swaying to the beat, and drumming, the crowds surrounding them were anxious to get the best view, so not too receptive to the photo making, there were people constantly walking in front of the drummers, and the road was not wide enough to accommodate all the activity happening on it. With a lot of moving around, coaxing of the viewers, making many apologies, we were able to get some good pictures of the event. Lesson learnt, talk to people, explain what you are trying to do, show them the images you are making, and they will help and accommodate you.

A Beautiful Beginning

IMG_7685a

Stop lazing in bed, get up early, – really early, and take a drive down to the Fujeirah coast, and in all probability, you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful spectacles of nature….watch magic happen as the sun rises, and another brilliant day unfolds!

Believe you me, the level of satisfaction and contentment that you get after having capturing this spectacle, more than makes up for all  the trouble you took to get up early and make the journey here.

This picture was taken on a day when there was no wind at all, but on the days when there is a wind, it does become a challenge. You need to weigh your tripod down, else the wind can blow your camera over, there are a lot of waves that come rushing in and beating on the rocks, so a slow shutter speed can give you the milky effect of the water, and add an element of dynamism to the image.

There are various points along the coast that you can shoot the sunrise from, lots of rocks, lots of mountains. Chose the point you favour the most, but remember to plan, and chose your spot in advance. Pre-dawn, the roads are dark and winding,  and it is difficult to find a spot in the dark. In lieu of the oncoming traffic (if any) as well, its advisable not to keep stopping along the highway in the dark, looking for a decent spot to make your pictures from.

A Time Gone By

Places 2

It was only after we took up photography as a hobby/passion, that we realized that there was so much about the United Arab Emirates that we knew nothing about.  We had read in some of the books on the UAE, that there were several tribes that had lived in the mountains in Ras Al Khaimah, but now that things had changed, most of them had migrated to the towns and cities around, and were leading normal modern day lives like all of us.

So after a lot of reading, studying maps, asking questions etc,  we decided to look for the Stone Houses that were somewhere in the mountains in Ras Al Khaimah. We spent most of the morning getting to the area, and then after lunch, we found the dirt track which would seemingly lead us to the Stone Houses. We followed it, and sure enough, there were the houses, or at least the remains of the houses ahead of us. Made with just stones, and in some places a modern looking window, these houses gave us a feeling of sadness…we could almost imagine the whole place as it might have been in its prime days, each house with its little compound (the boundry was a line of stones all around the house); a small community of people tucked away in the mountains….today there was only the ruins of these houses, broken down, dilapidated, and just memories of a time gone by.

We stayed for a while, took some great photographs, wandered around the place – all by ourselves. There was no other sign of human activity around, just a feeling that while the pair of us were all alone in the mountains, we were not really alone!

The Daily Walk

Culture 4

With the climate cooling down its the perfect time to travel to the desert to get some good pictures of the culture around us. With a little bit of patience and perseverance, and the fact that you may actually have to venture into the off-beaten track, you can find the trainers with their camels in the dunes. The satisfaction in getting these images is that other than the camels and their riders, there is no other trace of civilization around you.

We came across this group  more by chance…they suddenly appeared from behind a dune and we had to opportunity to make a few good photos before they again vanished behind another large dune. A few minutes after this the wind picked up, and we soon found ourselves in the middle of a lot of swirling sand, and very reduced visibility. There was really no way in which we could use our cameras without getting sand into them, and so decided to make our way back to our vehicle, all the while protecting our camera gear, while the sand kept getting into our eyes, mouth, hair and clothes. Something a little different from the normal routine day.

Moody Slopes

DSCF5539aWhile doing photography,one of the things that we need to keep in mind is that we have to capture the mood of the place/subject. It actually helps the viewer to get a better insight of what the photographer has witnessed and captured.

This picture was made in Manali, India. Although it was generally a very clear and bright day, there were several times when the sky would fill with clouds, sometimes so thick, that you felt that they would just explode into a heavy thunderstorm; there would be dark shadows of the clouds on the mountain slopes, giving the mountains a mysterious look; and then all of a sudden they would be gone, leaving behind a clear, sunny day.

Look for moments like this, it brings out the best in your pictures.

The Ferry Crossing

The CrossingCrossing a river or a small bay by boat/ferry in India is something that we always look forward to because it involves a lot of factors. Firstly, you have to wait in line with several other passengers, all dressed in brightly coloured clothes, carrying different kinds of packages and bags. Then there are the boats themselves which are crammed to capacity.  Needless to say, once the boat arrives at the jetty it is total pandemonium…there are passengers trying to disembark, while the others attempt to board. A lot of shouting, noise and confusion takes place in these 3-4 minutes, and then suddenly you find yourself in the ferry, sailing smoothly across the calm bay to the opposite shore.

Its at times like this that you envy the luckier ones who have their own colourful rowing boats to take them across. No chaos for them.

Overall, its an experience not to be missed, and it helps if you have a camera, because there is a lot of colour and the crossing itself presents many instances for photography.

 

 

A splash of Colour

Just Boats

Making a trip back home to Cochin in South India always gives us a lot of inspiration because there are so many oppportunities to do some good photography. There is so much of colour all around you, the place in itself is quite beautiful, will loads of tall trees, so may areas with backwaters, and blue skies filled with puffy white clouds.

We  had gone out the previous day and did some good photography, but it was extremely hot and humid, and we had ended our outing earlier than we expected to, mainly because of the climate. So this morning we were not too sure as to what to do. Finally, we decided to brave the heat once again, so armed with our camera’s, off we went. We soon came to the waterfront, and decided to look around a bit.

We saw a few colourful fishing boats in the distance, but they were too far away to get a decent picture, so we went looking for a way to get closer to them. The road led us away from the sea, but we came across a small winding alley, with a lot of garbage, a couple of cats, and lots of crows, (the latter two being rather surprised at seeing us there). As we had hoped, this alley led us out back to the backwaters, and there the boats were !

We spent the next half hour or so clicking away to our hearts content, and we did get some really good pictures of these boats. The lesson learnt ? Keep exploring your options, dont settle for the standard shots…if we had not looked for a better angle/viewpoint, we could never have got this picture.

Abandoned Truck

Abandoned

How often have we gone out with the camera only to come back home dissappointed, saying that it was “not a good day” because we could not find a good subject? Or maybe the lighting was not right? Or there was nothing scenic in the vicinity?

This is when we have to make a little more effort, and try to look at things from a different point of view, because the opportunity to make a picture is all round us. We have to be able to see the beauty that is around us, and be able to capture this beauty in a manner that makes it asthetically pleasing.

This old abandoned truck looked its worst, but there was something about the way it stood there in the grass that caught my attention.  It seemed to be giving the plants on the ground a support to climb on and spread even further, almost as if it were trying to support  life after it had passed the best years of its own life, and the bright colours of the bonnet and parts of the cabin worked in total contrast to the rich green colour of the grass.

Overall, a simple, yet interesting picture, and this is the what photography is all about. We all have our own views and opinions as to what is and is’nt a good photograph; but it is the ability to go out there, form a picture in your mind of what is around you, and then capture and share that idea/thought process with the rest of the world, that makes photography an art.

 

The Dubai Creek

Sunset Cruise

Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek) is the local name for the saltwater creek that separates Dubai into two main sections – Bur Dubai and Deira Dubai.  It is of great significance to the UAE, because it was here that trading first started between Dubai and traders from India and Africa, – as early as the beginning of the 20th Century. Although not deep enough for large vessels to enter, this creek became the first harbour that Dubai had. Dubai’s “Pearl Industry”  which formed a major section of the country’s economy was based on the trading that happened here.

Since then, this creek has had several changes, it has been dredged to accomodate larger vessel, and is today a major hub for the Dhow traffic that carries almost all forms of cargo, and Personal Effects from Dubai to the neighbouring countries. With the introduction of major ports like Port Rashid, Port Saeed and Jebel Ali, the significance of this route has diminished, but it still remains an important port for the Dhow traffic.

Today the Dubai side of the creek hosts the bustling Textile market and the Museum, while the Deira side has the traditional Spice market, the Gold Souq, the Dhow harbour, several impressive buildings, and a busy trading centre slightly inland.

The easiest, and probably the most enjoyable way, to cross the creek is by the “Abra”, – a traditional wooden craft, powered by an engine. It has a sunshade to protect you from the heat of the day, but thats about it !  You have to sit on a small raised platform in the middle of the Abra, as it makes it way across the creek. There are two points on either side of the creek that are connected via the Abra’s, and this mode of transportation is used by thousands of commuters daily.

The best time however to visit the creek is in the evening. Just as the sun is about to go down, take a stroll along the quay, and you see a flurry of activity as people hurry to get back home, and prepare for the next day. If you are patient enough, you get the whole creek turning a deep blue, reflecting the colours of the sky, as the day slowly turns into night, marking the end of another day.

 

 

 

 

 

An evening in the Land of Kings

A fun evening

Jaipur, the capital of India’s largest state is a city filled with forts and monuments,  by virtue of  its Rajput Rulers. One of the largest tourist centers in India, this city (also known as the “Pink City”) allows you to experience the culture, heritage and grandeur of days gone by; and there is no better place in Jaipur to experience this than the “Chowki Dhani” village.

Half an hour of driving through the crowded streets and you find yourself at the  entrance to the Chowki Dhani Tourist Village. As soon as you enter the doors, you pass into another place and time. Brightly painted haveli’s, colourful costumes and rich colours, traditional music and dance forms, pottery and handicraft, handprinted block printing, rides on colourful camels, puppet shows in the most basic form, traditional musicians and dancers; – all this followed by a sumptous Rajasthani Thali – makes your trip to Rajasthan truly unforgettable.

But thats not all; after you have dined; (I must warn you here…it involves sitting cross-legged on the floor, on large cushions, which is uncomfortable for those not used to it, but its when you have to get up that you really have a problem), you take a stroll acroos the open sands, and you will come across many traditional coir strung beds. Stretch out on these crude but extremely comfortable platforms, enjoy the gentle warm breeze as it travels over the hot desert sands, and gaze up at a sky full of stars. Its another world !

One can easliy spend a whole evening in this place without being able to fully participate and take in all the excitement and activity that it has to offer. You generally leave wishing this magical evening does not have to end !