Frozen in Time- Lepakshi

Recently I had been to Lepakshi! This was my second visit. This time I wanted to shoot some different perspectives and also used a technique called hyper focal distance *** (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance ).

I also converted the images to monochrome , to eliminate the distractions  of colour and show the true character of the sculptures which have stood witness to grandeur  and also destruction.

Temple

The Veerabhadra temple is in Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.The fresco paintings are particularly detailed in very bright dresses and colours with scenes of Rama and Krishna from the epic stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas and they are well preserved.

The temple was built in 1530  by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda. The cost of building the temple was sponsored by the government.According to Skanda Purana, the temple is one of the divyakshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.

The presiding deity deified in the sanctum sanctorum is a near life-size image of Veerabhadra, fully armed and decorated with skulls. There is a cave chamber in the sanctum where sage Agasthya is said to have lived when he installed the image of the Linga here. The ceiling in the sanctum above the deity has paintings of the builders of the temple,Virupanna and Viranna, regally dressed and crowned with headgear similar to those adorning the Krishnadevaraya’s bronze statue in Tirupati. They are depicted, with their entourage, in a state of reverential prayer, being offered sacred ashes of their family deity.

 

Where is it located ?

The temple has been built on the southern side of Lepakshi town, on a low altitude hillock of a large exposure of granite rock, which is in the shape of a tortoise, and hence known as Kurma Saila. It is 140 kilometres away from Bangalore. The approach from the National Highway NH7 to Hyderabad that takes a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border leading to Lepakshi, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away. Another route to reach the temple is taking a route from Hindupur. It is situated 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Penukonda, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Poetry in stone  ( I will let the images speak for themselves )

 

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits : wikipedia

Raynox DCR250 Review – Jumpers In My Garden !

 

Recently after looking at some of the pictures that my friends have been taking using Raynox DCR250 , I decided to acquire one for my self and give it a shot!   Since pictures speak a lot , I would share pictures of few spiders that I have taken with Raynox mounted on Tamaron 90mm Macro lens on Nikon D750.

What is Raynox DCR 250 ?

The Raynox DCR-250 is a conversion lens that attaches to an existing lens. It comes with a universal snap-on mount that will fit lenses in the 52mm to 67mm diameter range.  With the DCR-250 you can have an instant macro lens when attached to your existing lens for a much cheaper price. You can also use it if you already have a Macro Lenses to get much closer to your subject, Like i did with my Tamaron 90mm

What the DCR-250 actually does is, it reduces the lens minimum focusing distance enabling you to get  much closer to the subject enhancing the magnification power of your existing lens.

 

Setup :

 

Pictures :

My Take on Raynox DCR 250 :

I was actually surprised with the result. The Raynox DCR-250 performs really well on my Tamaron 90mm ( Waiting for a step down rings to try it on my Sigma 180mm) . The DOF is very shallow and it needs some practice and it is not a easy lens to use, however with flash and macro rail  the  probability of getting good pictures is high !  At highest  magnification and with my setup  the lens gets really close to the subject , so I had use a flash with bounce diffuser to get some shots.  Aperture needs to be closed to get some decent DOF ( F16 and above )  , but sometimes shallow DOF can also create magic!

More Materials on the www  :

http://photography.designmotion.net/blog/2016/1/3/review-testing-the-raynox-dcr-250

http://extreme-macro.co.uk/raynox-adapter-techniques/

 

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh

Photographing Milky Way

Can we photograph milky way or part of it from earth ?

Yes we can ! Even  though not in full , a part of it as we are inside it!  and there are lots of photographs of milky way shot by photographers before. Just Google it.

Inspiration

When ever I used to see pictures of milky way photographed by using a DSLR,  a sense of awe engulfed me and always used to wonder how to do it , my cousin Arjun (http://arjunhaarith.blogspot.in/)  attempted it during his treks in the Himalayas  successfully and his pictures egged me to try on my own! And this set in the urge to get a decent picture and the quest began!

Successful attempt

Arjun’s picture instilled some kind of obsessive madness to record this on my camera. Me and  Murali (www.muralisantham.com ) had many discussions on cracking this code and we did try to shoot in Hampi , but the light pollution negated our efforts. We also figured out with right tools , technique and a mathematical formula we can crack this ( see method to madness below )

During our recent trip to mountains of south India  we cracked it and pictures are shown below. 

The light on the left is not a fire but a light trail left by moving Car…

The red leaf is due to effect of my car’s tail lamp on the plant nearby …

Method to Madness

As always I’m happy to share the techniques used :

  1. Identify a place which is completely dark , which is devoid of any light pollution
  2. Next  figure out where this is in our night sky and and what time it is above the horizon , a simple google or a right kind of app will help! Yes we did do some research to find out where it is visible and we found out it will be visible at the horizon    in Northern hemisphere at 4 AM IST in Jan 2018. 
  3. Choose the right camera! For the Milky Way you are going to want to get as much light into your camera as you can before the rotation of the Earth starts to blur your image. So using a camera that can shoot a decent image at 1600 or 3200 ISO is a wise choice ( My Nikon D750 it was )
  4. Choose the right lens! When choosing a lens, I would recommend a very wide angle lens; something that will allow you to capture a huge portion of the sky. The main reason is because the Milky Way is massive! It will stretch across the entire sky and to get it in your composition can be challenging. The wider your lens the more you will see — by wide I mean small focal length. As you get more comfortable shooting the Milky Way you can move in closer with a larger focal length to capture the galactic core and so on. To start out look at something in the 14mm — 24mm range. (My 15 MM lens from Venus optics it was )
  5. Use a proper tripod! The exposure can go upto 30 seconds based on a formula, so usage of a tripod is a must. ( My Manfrotto 190DB it was )
  6. Point the camera at that location ( its not that clearly visible to naked eye )
  7. Exposure ! This is the trickiest  part .  For me ISO was 1600 and the aperture was fully open to optimise the light falling on the sensor , but shutter speed is something which is tricky , because a longer exposure will leave a star trail and lesser exposure will not be enough to record light on the sensor, but a mathematical formula comes to help. The formula is called 500 rule and it is 500 Divided By the Focal Length of Your Lens * crop factor  = The Longest Exposure (in Seconds) Before Stars Start to “Trail”!  so for me it was 500/15   ( 33 sec ) ( D750 is a full frame Fx camera so no crop factor )  I used a 30 sec exposure … ola I  got it and the result is there to see.

Cheers

Goutham Ramesh

 

Varanasi

Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.
– Mark Twain

Varanasi  also known as Benares or Kashi is a city on the banks of the Ganges(Ganga ) in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India, 320 kilometres south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and 121 kilometres east of Allahabad. A major religious hub in India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi, and is served by Varanasi Junction railway station and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.

it is one of the oldest cities in the world, which have been constantly inhabited. If we look at the archaeological evidences, remains from the year 1200 BC have been found here. While there are also indications that this city could be living since 3000 BC, or even older.

Legend

According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the god Shiva. There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the five heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva. It was a custom of the time that the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma’s head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground. The land of Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy religious site.

The Pandavas, the protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to atone for their sin of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya that they had committed during the climactic Kurukshetra War. It is regarded as one of seven holy cities (Sapta Puri) which can provide Moksha; Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchi, Avanti, and Dvārakā are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation.

Importance of Varnasi 

Varanasi has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years, and is closely associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe that death in the city will bring salvation, making it a major centre for pilgrimage. The city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. Of particular note are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead and the Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi are kept here.

Varanasi grew as an important industrial centre, famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, perfumes, ivory works, and sculpture. Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BCE when he gave his first sermon, “The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma”, at nearby Sarnath. The city’s religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi. During the Muslim rule through Middle Ages, the city continued as an important centre of Hindu devotion, pilgrimage, mysticism and poetry which further contributed to its reputation as a centre of cultural importance and religious education. Tulsidas wrote his epic poem on Rama’s life called Ram Charit Manas in Varanasi. Several other major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas. Guru Nanak visited Varanasi for Maha Shivaratri in 1507, a trip that played a large role in the founding of Sikhism.

I visited this city in last couple of months and have tried to capture the essence of the city in the following photographs …. let the pictures speak….

Offerings to river Ganga 

 

 

Ganga Aaarti ( Salutations to River Ganga )

Life on the Banks of Ganga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarnath ( Holiest Buddist Site )

 

Conclusion

Couple of visits to this city does not do justice to this place … for me personally it attracts me like a magnet and the city has something to offer…

 

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© Goutham Ramesh. You may not, except with my written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content/image. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic storage systems

 

 

Lepakshi

The Veerabhadra temple is in Lepakshi in the Anantapur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Built in the 16th century, the architectural features of the temple are in the Vijayanagara style with profusion of carvings and paintings at almost every exposed surface of the temple. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.

Location

The temple has been built on the southern side of Lepakshi town, on a low altitude hillock of a large exposure of granite rock, which is in the shape of a tortoise, and hence known as Kurma Saila. It is 140 kilometres away from Bangalore. The approach from the National Highway NH7 to Hyderabad that takes a branch road at the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border leading to Lepakshi, 12 kilometres away. Another route to reach the temple is taking a route from Hindupur. It is situated 35 kilometres from Penukonda, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh

History

The temple was built in 1530 (1540 is also mentioned) by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna, both brothers who were Governors under the Vijayanagar Empire during the reign of King Achutaraya, at Penukonda

According to Skanda Purana, the temple is one of the divyakshetras, an important pilgrimage site of Lord Shiva.

Mythology

Lepakshi’s origin has two interesting myths associated to it. But, both the tales are impregnated with grief and pain. But, he couldn’t withstand Ravana’s power and fell off to Earth after losing his wings. It is believed that Jatayu’s wings fell on the rocks here. When Lord Rama commanded the bird to rise (Le-Pakshi), the place got its name. Moreover, we can see footprints of Lord Rama at one of the rocks in Lepakshi.

Lape-Akshi

Another prominent legend is that Veerupanna and Veerana were two brothers who worked for the Vijayanagar King. Veerupanna’s son was blind since birth and it is believed that he got back his eyesight while playing around the Shivalinga in the temple premise. This story reached the king that Virupanna was using the royal treasury to cure his son. The king gave orders to take away Virupann’s eyesight and blind him.

Hearing this, Virupanna himself took off his eyes and threw them against the walls of the under constructed Kalyana Mantapa inside the temple premise. Thus, the place got its name as Lape-Akshi (village of the blinded eye). Even till date we can see blood stains on that wall and those stain marks has been confirmed as real blood stain marks by British scientist.

Le-Pakshi

This story originates from the epic Ramayana. It’s said that Jatayu had a furious battle with Ravana when he tried to rescue Sita from Ravana’s abduction attempt.

There is a very large Nandi (bull), mount of Shiva, about 200 metres (660 ft) away from the temple which is carved from a single block of stone, which is said to be one of the largest of

Conclusion

Visit to Lepakshi is a divine experience in itself and it makes you wonder about the immaculate skills of artisans which were displayed in building this marvel. Their hard work and determination has been truly immortalized!

Here are some of my picture’s where I have tried to capture the beauty of this divine and enchanting place

 

 Text Source 

Great Indian Desert

The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world’s 17th largest desert, and the world’s 9th largest subtropical desert. About 75% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining 25% is in Pakistan. In India, it covers about 320,000 SqKms, forming approximately 10% of the total geographic area of India. More than 60% of the desert lies in the state of Rajasthan and extends into Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana. This desert comprises a very dry part, the Marusthali region in the west, and a semidesert region in the east with fewer sand dunes and slightly more precipitation.

Since i’m a man of few words and more a man of images I would like to convey the beauty of this magical place through my Images. Feel Free to browse them and let me know your thoughts

Jet d’Eau On Lac leman

Camera : Nikon D5100

Lens : Nikon 18-55 VR

Exposure :  1/200 @ F8

Location : Geneva, Switzerland

Thought Process :

Walking along the shore lines on Lake Geneva, I was searching for a view point where I could capture this wonderful fountain as i reached the shoreline towards the old town , i noticed this cruise ship which provided a nice foreground; The clouds were magical …

About the Subject :

 

The Jet d’Eau ( Water-Jet) is a large fountain in Geneva, Switzerland, and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, being featured on the city’s official tourism web site and on the official logo for Geneva’s hosting of the 2008 UEFA Championships.Situated at the point where Lake Geneva empties into the Rhône, it is visible throughout the city and from the air, even when flying over Geneva at an altitude of 10 kilometres (33,000 ft).

Five hundred litres  of water per second are jetted to an altitude of 140 metres (460 ft) by two 500 kW pumps, operating at 2,400 V, consuming one megawatt of electricity.The water leaves the nozzle at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph). Diameter of the nozzle is exactly 4 inches (10 cm). Maximum height of water jet is about 140 metres (460 ft) above water level. When it is in operation, at any given moment there are about 7,000 litres (1,500 imp gal; 1,800 US gal) of water in the air. Unsuspecting visitors to the fountain—which can be reached via a stone jetty from the left bank of the lake—may be surprised to find themselves drenched after a slight change in wind direction.

Text Source :  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_d’Eau

Thoovanam Falls

Camera : Nikon D5100

Lens : Nikon 18-55 VR

Exposure :  1/40 @ F8

Location : Chinar Wildlife Sanctuary , Tamil Nadu India.

Thought Process :

This was a amazing site , but the exposure was challenging , i decided to expose the highlights , knowing very well i can bring the details in the shadows out. Conversion to monochrome was required to eliminate  distractions of colour

About the Subject :

Located within the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thoovanam Falls is a breathtaking cascade that originates from the Pambar River. The magnificent cataract, cascading from a height of 1400 feet, fascinates many nature lovers and trekking enthusiasts. Visitors can avail a guided trek from Karimutti Forest Station to the falls. Being a part of the sanctuary, visitors are not allowed to trek without an entry ticket.

This falls is a visual treat for visitors. Set amidst wilderness, the falls offer unparalleled photo opportunities. From cascading waters, lush flora to untamed animals, visitors can click several photos that would remind them of their visit to this wonderful place.

Jewel among leaves ( Gram Blue)

Gram Blue

Camera : Nikon D750

Lens : Sigma 180mm Macro HSM EX

Exposure :  1/200 @ F3.5

Location : Lalbaugh Botanical Gardens , Bengaluru India.

Thought Process :

Have been shooting Macro’s for close to 2 decades and the challenges are always new. Here I composed to include more space and opened the aperture to get shallow DOF ( Depth of Field)

About the Subject :

Euchrysops cnejus, the gram blue, is a small butterfly found in India that belongs to the lycaenids or blues family.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Lycaenidae
Tribe: Polyommatini
Genus: Euchrysops
Species: E. cnejus

Source :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euchrysops_cnejus

Kadlekai Parshe ( Ground nut festival )

Kadalekai Parishe (Kannada: ಕಡಲೆಕಾಯಿ ಪರಿಶೆ), is an annual groundnut fair held in Bangalore. This two-day fair is held near the Dodda Ganesha Temple in Basavanagudi. Apart from the Groundnuts, there are numerous stalls in the fair, selling Bangles, traditional toys and clay trinkets, plastic and glass dolls, Mehndi tattoos. There are a variety of food items, such as Bajji, Bonda, Batthaas (Coloured sugar candies), Kalyana seve or Bendu (Sugar coated gram) and Coloured sodas on sale during the fair.

Legend
In the past, Basavanagudi was surrounded by villages like Sunkenahalli, Guttahalli, Mavalli, Dasarahalli and other places where groundnut was cultivated. On every full moon day a bull would charge into the groundnut fields and damage the crop. The farmers then offered prayers to Basava (Nandi) to stop this and pledged to offer their first crop.

Subsequently, an Idol of Basava was found close by. It has been said that, the Idol was growing rapidly, and the farmers nailed an iron peg on the head of the idol, which is visible in the form of a trishula even to this date. Legend says that the night on which this Kadalekai Parishe used to end, Lord Basavanna – The big Bull, used to come in the animal form and eat up all the groundnut and peels left overnight on the streets.

After the idol was found, in the year 1537, Kempe Gowda, dedicated a temple to ‘Dodda Basava’ on top of the Basavanagudi hillock and installed the Idol. This temple is known as Bull Temple. Ever since, the farmers from surrounding villages come here every year and offer their annual harvest of groundnut as offering to Lord Basava. This is accompanied by the annual fair, which is known as the Kadlekai Parishe.