Sagara- Home away from Home

Temple

Sagara has been my favourite place to visit and it is a kind of an annual pilgrimage , I undertake for photography to this pristine place. I was Invited to Sagara in 2018 by Mr KS Rajaram and “Sagara photographic society” ( SPS ) for their photography workshop at a place called Heggodu which is about 12 Kms from Sagara. The workshop was held at a temple for art and theater “NINASAM”. The place of workshop was enough for me to visit this place and share my knowledge. During my first visit to this place I fell in love with the place and its people!

I have visited Sagara many times after that , attended a workshop at SARA centre at Battemallapa, roamed around the area made lots of friends for life , shot many images and I thank Sagara photographic society for introducing me to this beautiful place.

I wish one day I make this town my Home.

Sagara the name :

The city of Sagara is located roughly 360 km from Bangalore, Karnataka. It has the state’s beloved Jog Falls in its proximity, along with a number of other places of attraction. Sagara is a name derived from Sadashiva Sagar, which used to be the name of the city’s lake. It is a man-made lake built between Keladi and Ikkeri, by Sadashiva Nayaka of the Keladi dynasty. The lake is now known as Ganapathi Lake.

Best Time To Visit Sagara October to April are the best months to visit Sagara. Since summer tends to get very hot and humid, the winter months are ideal to visit, when the temperature stays pleasantly low.

Photography trip January 2021.

We from Vismaya , decided to visit Sagara at the begining of 2021 and we (Sisir kumar and me from vismaya and an young upcoming photoartist Mr Nandan Hegde ) started from Bangalore and with the help of photography friends for (SPS) like Mr GR Pandith , Mr Eshanya Sharma, Mr Yogeesh Hegde , Mr AG Lakshminarayana did some amazing photography and here are some pictures from that trip.

Different Moods of a 17th century temple in the middle of a tank ( Champaka Sarasi )

Belligavi Kedareshwara Temple

Backwaters of Sharavathi

Misty Sharavathi

I would like to thank all my friends at Sagara Photographic Society ( SPS ) for being there with me and showing me these wonderful places

Good Light to all,

Goutham Ramesh

Poetry In Stone – Somnathpura

In India, the aim of art was never to imitate nature or to re-create reality through illusionistic devices. Rather, the goal was to produce an idealised form. Sculptors did not model their images on living beings: whether the subject was a god or a mortal, the artist strove to convey a stylised ideal. Here I present some images from Chennakesava Temple Somnathpura.

The Chennakesava Temple, also referred to as Chennakeshava Temple and Keshava Temple, is a Vaishnava Hindu temple on the banks of River Kaveri at Somanathapura, Karnataka, India. The temple was consecrated in 1258 CE by Somanatha Dandanayaka, a general of the Hoysala King Narasimha III. It is located 38 kilometres east of Mysuru city.

The ornate temple is a model illustration of the Hoysala architecture. The temple is enclosed in a courtyard with a pillared corridor of small shrines (damaged). The main temple in the center is on a high star-shaped platform with three symmetrical sanctums (garbha-griha), set in a square matrix (89′ x 89′) oriented along the east–west and north–south axes.The western sanctum was for a statue of Kesava (missing), the northern sanctum of Janardhana and the southern sanctum of Venugopala, all forms of Vishnu.The sanctums share a common community hall (sabha-mandapa) with many pillars. The outer walls, the inner walls, the pillars and the ceiling of the temple are intricately carved with theological iconography of Hinduism and display extensive friezes of Hindu texts such as the Ramayana (southern section), the Mahabharata (northern section) and the Bhagavata Purana (western section of the main temple).

Somnathpura – high star-shaped platform:
Godess

The outer walls of Somnathpura temple is covered with amazing sculptures of Gods, Goddess , warriors , people and Demi Gods. Each of these sculpture is a masterpiece; Intricate carvings of necklaces , bangles , toe rings , anklets and jewellery around waists are just pure bliss; Even the waist and the navel is perfectly carved! its beauty at its best . It makes me just wonder how it would have been during its glorious days.

Hand of God

This is mesmerising! Look at that hand , every finger , including nails , rings are sculpted with amazing dexterity, this was good 900 years ago ;The temple was ravaged by war and time however even now this looks amazing, we can just wonder the grandeur in 12 century AD.

Stanakas-–-Static-Postures-Vaishnavam

This is a posture which is depicted in majority of sculptures of Somnathapura.

Vaishnavam pose . in this the feet are kept two and a half Talas apart from each other. One of them should be on the ground in the natural posture, the other is lifted and turned sideways with the toes stretched and turned towards the shin. This amount of detail implies the person who sculpted this had knowledge of the Bharatanatyam , a classical and one the most expressive dance forms of south India.

There have been lots of effort to destroy these sculptures during wars of medieval India, you can see a sword impact line on this sculpture.

Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana)

An intermediate yoga position involving a greater arrangement of thighs, hips, knees, ankles owing to the elevation of one foot. It is an ancient asana in yoga, predating hatha yoga, and is widely used for meditation in Hindu, Tantra, Jain, and Buddhist traditions.

Feet of the Goddess

Most of the sculptures in Somnathpura stand in this position with feet perpendicular to each other , the details of toe rings, anklets and even nails is something to notice and here every sculpture is decorated with these ornaments.

Krishna

Krishna , or Keshava with flute , conch, Chakra and in Vaishnavam posture.

God and Goddess

Here you can Goddess on the lap of the God and her feet on the lotus . if you observe closely you can see the lotus flower bent due to the fact there is a divine feet placed on it, What attention to detail! Blessed we are to witness these treasured art in India. Incredible India.

Dancing Goddess

Amazing details on this one with every hand holding corn ( not sure i always thought corn was a later import) , lotus , chakra etc There are musicians also and again every ornament is intricately carved along with laced clothing and the position of the legs in Vaishnavam posture.

Dancing Goddess accompanied by musicians

This is a classical depiction of Dancing Goddess accompanied by musicians . The size of the Goddess is big compared to others in this, probably the artist wanted to show the power of the omnipresent figuratively. The details , especially the ornaments and the feminine posture and the smile on the face is just pure beauty.

Thanks for visiting and reading this , Let me know your thoughts and feedback.

Good Light to all,

Goutham Ramesh

Light in scapes ( Monochrome)

Light is the most important aspect of any Image; Light can come from the sunyour camera’s flash, a lamp, or ceiling lights. The direction, brightness, and colour of the light can have a dramatic effect on the appearance of your photos. I will show some monochrome images and share few things… keep reading.

Highlights and Shadows

In any photo, the light will fall on the subject in a certain way, creating highlights (bright areas) and shadows (dark areas). The highlights and shadows create contrast, which can help to make the photo more interesting but can also create problems in some situations. It is absolutely important to control these two aspects in-order to create a good image. Here i will talk about lighting in outdoor images specially in scapes.

If you’re taking photos outdoors during the daytime, your main source of light will usually be the sun. Depending on the time of day and the weather, the sun can give your photos a  spectrum of looks. If you are aware of how the light can affect your photos, you’ll be able to make adjustments to get the best results. I will share few things that i usually do when I shoot scapes

  • Shoot in Manual Mode and never use auto*** : Auto mode in camera’s are a good things but most of the camera’s tend to read the entire frame to give a balance lighting throughout the frame ! Sometimes this can lead to a flat image .. so the best thing to do is go manual so that you can control the exposure
  • Expose for highlights : Switch to spot metering so that i can expose for highlights , so that the highlights are not blown away.. This may lead to darker shadows, however darker shadows can be pulled up in post processing but blown highlights cannot be adjusted
  • Use Bracketing : Bracketing is a wonderful tool which can expose the same image in multiple stops , I do it manually with aperture, I usually expose for -1 , 0 and + 1 stops . This gives me two things a set of images i can choose from and ability to merge them if required to give me a better dynamic range.
  • Process with a good calibrated monitor which can show you all shades of grey.

Some Images shot using the above technique

Morning Mist Valparai

As a photographer , I chase light .. not just any light .. it is light among shadows . Shadows and highlights are important in any image … both together creates drama.. IMHO a good image especially black and white should have all tones of grey .. from rich black to pure white …

Canopy , Munnar

The beauty in any landscape is not just looking at it in a wide angle lens.. some times there are many dramatic canvases that is painted by light .. i use tele focal length a lot in landscapes to capture the minute drama of light .. here i used a 210 mm focal length to capture play of light among the canopy of sholas in Munnar.

Misty Mountains

Shooting against the sun , is always a challenge .. and it takes lot of adjustments to get the right picture. As I mentioned earlier I usually shoot in manual mode .. Auto does not do a good job . Closing the Aperture gives starburts

Heavenly Rays : Munnar

Thanks for reading this small post , let me know if you have any questions / critique.

Thanks ,

Goutham Ramesh

Hoysala-a small glimpse into great empire

History:

The Hoysala Empire was a Kannadiga power originating from the Indian subcontinent, that ruled most of what is now Karnataka, India, between the 10th and the 14th centuries. The capital of the Hoysalas was initially located at Belur but was later moved to Halebidu.

The Hoysala rulers were originally from Malenadu, an elevated region in the Western Ghats. In the 12th century, taking advantage of the internecine warfare between the Western Chalukya Empire and Kalachuris of Kalyani, they annexed areas of present-day Karnataka and the fertile areas north of the Kaveri delta in present-day Tamil Nadu. By the 13th century, they governed most of Karnataka, minor parts of Tamil Nadu and parts of western Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the Deccan Plateau.

The Hoysala era was an important period in the development of art, architecture, and religion in South India. The empire is remembered today primarily for Hoysala architecture. Over a hundred surviving temples are scattered across Karnataka.

Well known temples “which exhibit an amazing display of sculptural exuberance” include the Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu, and the Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura. The Hoysala rulers also patronised the fine arts, encouraging literature to flourish in Kannada and Sanskrit.

Hoysala Architecture

The Hoysalas usually dedicated their temples to Shiva or to Vishnu (two of the popular Hindu gods), but they occasionally built some temples dedicated to the Jain faith as well. Worshippers of Shiva are called Shaivas and worshippers of Vishnu are called Vaishnavas.While King Vishnuvardhana and his descendants were Vaishnava by faith, records show that the Hoysalas maintained religious harmony by building as many temples dedicated to Shiva as they did to Vishnu.

In a Hoysala temple , a cuboid cell, the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) houses a centrally placed murti (enshrined icon) on a pitha (pedestal). The shikhara (superstructure), rises over the garbha griha and together with the sanctum they form the vimana (or mulaprasada) of a temple. A ribbed stone, amalaka, is placed atop the shikhara with a kalash at its finial. An intermediate antarala (vestibule) joins the garbha griha to an expansive pillared mandapa (porch) in front, chiefly facing east (or north). The temple may be approached via entrances with gigantic gopurams (ornate entrance towers) towering over each doorway. In the prakaram (temple courtyard) several minor shrines can be found.

The vimanas are either stellate, semi–stellate or orthogonal in plan. The intricately carved banded plinths, a distinguishing characteristic of the Hoysala temples, comprise a series of horizontal courses that run as rectangular strips with narrow recesses between them. Also, the temples themselves are sometimes built on a raised platform or jagati which is used for the purpose of a pradakshinapatha (circumambulation).

An abundance of figure sculptures covers almost all the Hoysala temples. These sculptures , shows stories from mythology and also act as a window into the culture at that time !


Hoysala Emblem

Hoysala Emblem

There is an interesting story associated with how the Hoysala dynasty was named. It is said that a young boy named Sala and his teacher were in a temple in Angadi when a tiger approached them menacingly. The teacher handed Sala an iron rod and said “Poy Sala” which translates to ‘strike Sala’. Sala took the rod and kill the Tiger with a single blow. Sala went on to set up a vast kingdom and took his teacher’s cry as his family name.

The figure representing Sala attacking the tiger became the emblem of this royal family and can be seen in almost every temple built by the Hoysalas. However, the story has a number of discrepancies and is considered folklore by many historians.
Another interpretation of this emblem is that it represents the victory of King Vishnuvardhana over the Cholas as the tiger was the emblem of the Chola dynasty. Here is a sneak peek into the rich history of Hoysalas.

Poetry In stone, some images

Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Nuggehalli
Typical Hoysala Temple outer wall
Intricate Sculpture
Dancing Godess, Nuggehalli
Mantapa, Somnathpura
Lord , Somnathpura
Somnathpura
Poetry
Temple wall
Shila Balika
Shila Balika
Stacked Gems
God
God
Inside Somnathpura

” My Wish , is to capture these Hoysala Gems and present it as a Coffee Table Book this year”

Hope you liked the post,

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh

Mahamallapuram – Confluence of Heritage and Sea.

Into the sea

As part of our Vismaya ( www.vismayaforcause.org ) outing , I visited Mahamallapuram and this blog is a collection of my pictures , thoughts and commentary about the place.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site in Tamil Nadu, India. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE, it became an important centre of art, architecture and literature. Mahabalipuram was already a thriving sea port on the Bay of Bengal before this time. A significant amount of coins and other artefacts excavated from this region also indicate a pre-existing trade relation with the Romans even before it became a part of the Pallava Empire.

Mahabalipuram’s early history is completely shrouded in mystery. Ancient mariners considered this place the land of the Seven Pagodas. There are others who think that Mahabalipuram suffered from a great flood between 10,000 and 13,000 BCE. Controversial historian Graham Hancock was one of the core members of a team of divers from Indian National Institute of Oceanography and the Scientific Exploration Society based in Dorset, UK who surveyed the ocean bed near Mahabalipuram in 2002 CE. He is more inclined to believe the flood theory. His exploration also afforded him a fair glimpse of the vast extent of submerged ruins of the city. After his underwater exploration, he reportedly commented, “I have argued for many years that the world’s flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject … But here in Mahabalipuram, we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong.”

Many opinions exist about the origin of the name of the site too. The most popular explanation is that the place is named after benevolent King Bali, also known as Mahabali. The ancient Indian text of Vishnu Puran documents his exploits. After sacrificing himself to Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, he attained liberation. “Puram” is a Sanskrit term for a city or urban dwelling. Mamallapuram is the Prakrit version of the original Sanskrit name.

Architectural Master pieces (Pallava Gems)


During the rule of Mahendravarman I (600 CE – 630 CE), Mahablipuram started to flourish as a centre of art and culture. He himself was a well known poet, playwright and orator. His patronage helped the creation of a number of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This period of artistic excellence was duly continued by his son Narasimhavarman I (630 CE – 680 CE) and subsequent Pallava kings. Here are some of the Monuments

Shore Temple :

The Shore Temple (built in 700–728 AD) is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. At the time of its creation, the site was a busy port during the reign of Narasimhavarman II of the Pallava dynasty. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India.

Shore temple
Shore temple
Monolithic Tank
Monolithic Tank
Nandi and the temple
Nandi and the Temple
Bull and the temple
8th century Tank

Beaches and Life !

Mahabalipuram is also known for beach amidst the rocks and lagoon; It makes it a perfect combination of history, tourism and beaches ideal for vacation. The beach stretches for about 20 km and there are numerous lovely beaches present all along the coastline perfect for a little relaxation. Also, at this captivating beauty of Mahabalipuram a dance festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Tamil Nadu every year where one can get to see extremely talented classical dancers performing against the backdrop of the sea.  Here are some images

Beach Blue hour
Beach Blue hour
Prayer
Prayer
Sunrise
Sunrise
Into the sea
Into the sea
Morning chores
About to be reclaimed
About to be reclaimed
Sea shells on sea shore
Sea shells on sea shore
Morning surf
Morning surf
Sunset
Sunset on the beach
In Love with the sea
Splash on the rock
Splash on the rock

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits :wikipedia

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!

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