Pulicat Lagoon!

Flamingo

Pulicat Lagoon is the second largest brackish water lagoon in India, after Chilika Lake. Pulicat Lagoon or Pulicat Lake on  the East Coast of India is located 60 kilometres north of Chennai City, in Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh.

In this blog , I will share some pictures of birds shot from this beautiful Lagoon and the Lagoon itself

The lagoon comprises of the following regions, Pulicat Lake in Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh, Marshy Wetland Land Region of Andhra Pradesh, Venadu Reserve Forest of Andhra Pradesh and Pernadu Reserve Forest of Andhra Pradesh. The lagoon is divided in the middle by Sriharikota Link Road, The barrier island of Sriharikota home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, ISRO separates the lagoon from the Bay of Bengal.

How to reach.

Pulicat is located 54 km away from Chennai. It can be reached in 1 hour 20 minutes. There are 2 routes to reach Pulicat. One can opt to drive via SH104. On this route, one has to follow Sydenhams Rd, Elephant Gate St and Basin Bridge Rd to Erukkancheri High Rd/Grand Northern Trunk Rd in Vasuki Nagar. From there on, you can continue onto Erukkancheri High Rd/Grand Northern Trunk Rd, 100 Feet Rd and SH 104 to Pulicat. The other route involves driving via SH 56 and SH 104.

Where to Stay

There are very options to stay at Pulicat , however if you need a comfortable stay look for hotels in Gummidipoondi / Ponneri ( 1 hr drive from Pulicat )

Hiring a Boat

I strongly recommend @pulicatlakeboating for anyone wanting to shoot Birds in Pulicat lake. Luke and his son Franklin are experts in tracking birds and are one of the finest you can hire.

Pulicat team!
Arjun, Shooting Flamingoes

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is between October to March. The temperature is mild and pleasant and makes travelling to the area easy. This is also the best time to observe the migratory birds and especially the flamingos.

Some Shots

Egret fight 

Exposure: F5.6 1/4000 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED + 1.4 TC

Pulicat Scape with a distance flamingo

Our eye is the best camera , however we take and whatever we use .. sometimes in hazy conditions we can’t get what our eye sees.
I tried to selectively process mist using layered mist to create a almost surreal yet natural looking pulicat scape with a distant flamingo.

Exposure: F8 1/2000 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

PP: Selective processing for mist /fog

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED + 1.4 TC

The greater flamingos

The greater flamingo is the most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family. It is found in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and in southern Europe

Exposure: F8 1/320 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E with 1.4 TC

Greater Flamingo

This is the main attraction in pulicat … these are magnificent and graceful birds .. they have inspired a ballet and many dance forms

Exposure: F8 1/400 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED with 1.4x TC


Golden Pulicat 

Sun set is special in pulicat .. with golden hues of setting sun lighting up water … and what a way to show with a distant cormorant basking

Exposure: F8 1/4000 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E + 1.4x TC

Painted Stork against setting sun reflection

Exposure: F8 1/4000 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED

Palla’s Gull

Pallas’s gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus), also known as the great black-headed gull, is a large bird species.
This species breeds in colonies in marshes and islands from southern Russia to Mongolia. It is migratory, wintering in the eastern Mediterranean, Arabia and India. This gull nests on the ground, laying between two and four eggs.

Exposure: F5.6 1/2000 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E

Eurasian oystercatcher

The Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) also known as the common pied oystercatcher, or palaearctic oystercatcher, or (in Europe) just oystercatcher, is a wader in the oystercatcher bird family Haematopodidae

Exposure: F0 1/250 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E + 1.4x TC

The lesser crested tern (Thalasseus bengalensis)is a tern in the family, Laridae. It breeds in subtropical coastal parts of the world mainly from the Red Sea across the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, and Australia, with a significant population on the southern coast of the Mediterranean on two islands off the Libyan coast. Accidental breeding has also been reported in Italy and France. The Australian birds are probably sedentary, but other populations are migratory, wintering south to South Africa.

Exposure: F10 1/640 , ISO 200 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E

Tern Scape , Surrealism

Love shooting and creating scapes to show minimalist surrealism

PP: Selective processing for sunrays

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED + 1.4 TC

Flamingoes

Exposure: F8 1/2000 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E + 1.4x TC

Evening Pulicat Scape

This is a typical activity in a lagoon as sun goes down . PS : This is as shot not a composite 🙂

1. Painted Stork with Fish
2. Lesser terns mobbing it
3. Pelican is checking what’s the commotion

Exposure: F8 1/500 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E + 1.4x TC

Flamingoes In flight

xposure: F8 1/2000 , ISO 800 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E + 1.4x TC

Bokeh and Heron

A good photograph is not just about subject , its about other elements too.. Bokeh is one such element .. use it to create pleasing images.

Read more about bokeh in my blog https://gouthamramesh.com/bokeh/

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED + 1.4 TC

Ibis

Pulicat gives you an opportunity to shoot birds almost at eye level and when you shoot a silhouette of a bird against the reflection of setting sun … you can see bokeh…

Exposure: F8 1/4000 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED + 1.4 TC

Egret

Exposure: F8 1/2000 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E with 1.4 TC

Flamingo and Dusk

Pulicat is a paradise ,, fog in the morning can be an issue for ppl who want to shoot flamingoes .. but with certain through process you can shoot landscapes by playing with white balance

Exposure: F8 1/3200 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E

Gull with Fish

The brown-headed gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) is a small gull which breeds in the high plateaus of central Asia from Tajikistan to Ordos in Inner Mongolia. It is migratory, wintering on the coasts and large inland lakes of the Indian Subcontinent.

Exposure: F5.6 1/1000 , ISO 200 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6E

The Caspian tern 

The Caspian tern is a species of tern, with a sub cosmopolitan but scattered distribution. Despite its extensive range, it is monotypic of its genus, and has no accepted subspecies.

Exposure: F8 1/2500 , ISO 400 , Natural Sunlight.

Grear:
Nikon Zfc
Nikkor VR 200-500mm F5.6ED

Thanks if you like the blog, you can leave a comment at Home Page

Cheers

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Goutham Ramesh

Long Exposure Photography

Long exposure photography is  recently very popular , due to the dramatic effects produced with the technique. The advent of more advanced digital cameras have made it much easier to produce these images, since the calculations, guesswork and luck have mostly been eliminated from the process.

Long-exposure, time-exposure, or slow-shutter photography involves using a long-duration shutter speed ( from 1/15 of second to minutes ) to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements. Long-exposure photography captures one element that conventional photography does not: an extended period of time.


4 Second exposure to get the blur effect of this fountain on lake Geneva


As mentioned Long exposure is achieved by using slower shutter speed and this longer exposure times allow you to capture clouds, water, or other moving objects in a smooth, flowing manner, while maintaining sharpness and clarity on still objects.

One of the post important aspect to get longer exposure is  to shoot during early morning or late evening when light is little low; However we can also use an ND filter (Neutral density filter ) , which actually cuts down the exposure.

A neutral density filter essentially allows for this extended amount of exposure time, without altering the hue or colour of the image. Adding the filter is equivalent to stopping down one or more f-stops, and allows you to avoid making the photo too hot/bright due to the amount of time the shutter will be open.

Again as I said If you don’t have a ND or polarizing filter available, you’ll need to attempt these captures in lower light, such as in the early morning or late evening . Many photographers use long exposures to capture shots at night also!

Here the main objective is to increase your exposure time for the shot without overexposing the image!

Whether you use ND or get up early in the morning  using a “Tripod” is a must as these shots involve too much open shutter time to attempt holding by hand.


1/5 Second exposure , this was shot around 3 PM , so had to use ND Filter


How to start ( Some Tips )

Begin experimenting with very small apertures during the golden hour (the hour before sunset or after sunrise) such as f/22 or higher, and bump the aperture up to f/8 or larger after night falls.  Please note You’ll end up with several attempts, since nailing a great exposure is largely trial and error. You’ll also need to play around with exposure times, and this depends on what moving object you are capturing.


30 Second exposure to capture moving vehicle tail lamps at KR Circle Mysore


2.5 Second exposure to capture the flowing water


Waves at 1/6 second exposure


1.6 second exposure to capture the BG water stream


Clouds need much longer times to properly capture their trek across the frame of the shot; 5 minutes is a good place to start. Rolling or crashing waves at a beach require much less, sometimes 15 to 30 seconds is enough to create the necessary motion in the image.


20 second exposure at shiva temple Hampi , lit by a flash ( Light Painting )


Due to the sensitivity of the camera during exposure times of this length, a remote shutter release would come in handy. Anything you can do to minimize shake will help preserve the sharpness of the non-moving elements in the photo.


1/2 second exposure to create a blur effect of the moving mist on a lake


1 second exposure to capture the moving mist on a lake


Finally, be sure to do some pre-planning before actually clicking the shutter; try to visualize what the motion of all elements will be in your composition, including flowing elements (clouds, water, car lights), and still elements (rocks, buildings). This can help you better determine what settings you’ll need to capture the image you see in your mind


1/6 second exposure to capture movement of waves


0.4 second exposure to capture moving waves


0.6 second exposure to capture moving waves


Thanks if you like the blog, you can leave a comment at Home Page

Cheers

Goutham Ramesh

Hyperfocal Distance – A required technique in Landscape Photography

Hyperfocal distance can be a confusing topic, both for beginning and expert photographers. However, if you want to take the sharpest possible images, particularly landscape photographs, it is simply invaluable. In this blog I will try to demystify this topic.  

Please Note : Please note: Although the methods I present in this Blog are quite easy to understand, hyperfocal distance itself can be a complex topic. If you are a beginner, I highly recommend reading about aperture and depth of field before you delve into this Blog. Please read about exposure , aperture , shutter speed and ISO  here!

What is Hyperfocal Distance?

  • Hyperfocal distance, at its simplest, is the focusing distance that gives your photos the greatest depth of field. 
  • Hyperfocal distance is a distance beyond which all objects can be brought into an “acceptable” focus.
  • Hyperfocal distance is the focusing distance that provides equal sharpness between the foreground and background.

Role of Aperture

  • Hyperfocal distance of your lens will vary with aperture. Why? Think about it like this – if your aperture is wide, such as f/2, you will need to focus quite far away for objects at infinity to appear in focus. However, at a small aperture of f/11 or f/16, distant objects will continue to be sharp even if your lens is focused more closely. So, in this case, hyperfocal distance moves closer to your lens as you use smaller apertures.

Role of Focal Length

  • Hyperfocal distance of your lens will vary  with your focal length ,Your focal length also has a huge impact on hyperfocal distance. As you zoom in, your hyperfocal distance moves farther and farther away. For a 20mm lens, you may need to focus just a few feet from your lens to get the horizon (distant background at infinity) acceptably sharp. On the other hand, for a 200mm lens, your hyperfocal distance may be hundreds of feet away.

When to Use Hyperfocal Distance?

Not all photographs require that you focus your lens at its hyperfocal distance. Consider, for example, an overlook of a distant mountain. If you are standing on the top of the overlook and there are no objects in your foreground, it would be silly to try and calculate the hyperfocal distance, since your nearest object is effectively at infinity. Just focus on the distant mountains! And your aperture does not really matter either – since the closest object is so far away, you could shoot wide open if you wanted to (probably not a very good idea, since most lenses aren’t as sharp at wide apertures, but this is just in theory). Hyperfocal distance is only important to calculate when you have objects both close and far away from your lens that need to be sharp. Since you are actually focusing between these objects, neither is “perfectly” sharp; they are both simply close enough, or “acceptably sharp.”

Using a Hyperfocal Distance Chart.

One way to calculate Hyper focal distance is to use a chart , here is the chart for calculating hyperfocal distance

15mm at F16, HyperFocal distance of 2.5 FT

Here the Idea was to use stones in the water to be in sharp focus along with subjects in infinity . Shot at 15mm at F-16 made sure the stone was beyond 2.5 ft ( Refer the cart above )

Using Apps.

FotoTool ( Android ) :

FotoTool is a free application that contains several useful tools for both amateurs and professional photographers, This includes a tool to calculated HyperFocal distance.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alfbishop.software.fototool&hl=en_US&gl=US

Simple DoF Calculator (iOS)

Simple DoF Calculator allows photographers to calculate the depth of field and hyperfocal distance for any given settings.

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/simple-dof-calculator/id301222730

How to use Hyperfocal Distance

  1. Choose a lens, and be sure to note the focal length that you are using.
  2. Pick an aperture value.
  3. Find the hyperfocal distance that corresponds to your chosen focal length and aperture.
  4. Focus your lens at the hyperfocal distance. This can be done by estimation, or by the focusing scale on your lens (if you have one).
  5. Now, everything from half that distance until infinity will be sharp.

Some Pictures using Hyperfocal distance

11mm at F22 , Hyperfocal distance of 1 ft

This is 11mm at F22 , Hyperfocal distance of 1 Ft .. So made sure the leaf is one feet away from the camera

15mm at F8, HyperFocal distance of 5 FT

This is 5mm at F8 , Hyperfocal distance of 5 Ft , so made sure the rock is on5 feet away from the camera


Credits

https://photographylife.com/landscapes/hyperfocal-distance-explained

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperfocal_distance

Thanks if you like the blog, you can leave a comment at Home Page

Cheers

Goutham Ramesh

Magical Munnar with Vismaya group

I have been part of team Vismaya, which propagates the thought of helping the needy using our photography skills.  We do conduct photography exhibitions of our pictures and entire income from sales is donated for a cause.

As part of process of making pictures we do go on trips to make pictures; One of our annual trips is a to a beautiful place called Munnar ( We started visiting this place in 2012 ) and this blog is about Munnar and some of the pictures that I have taken at this beautiful place.

Team Vismaya in 2012 AD: ( L-R) Amar, Vinod Balan, Myself, Murali, Venu
Team Vismaya in 2020 : (L-R) Harish, Myself, Amar, Venu, Vinod, Murali ( Sridhar is missing )
Team Vismaya in 2020 Munnar trip : (L-R) Amar, Murali, Harish, Myself, Venu, Sisir)

Munnar

Munnar rises as three mountain streams merge – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years, will bloom next in 2030. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m.

Trip Route:

Our trip usually starts with a date and checklist by Amar which gives a fair indication of what to carry and what to do. We start from Bangalore and reach Munnar on the same day. The route we usually take is shown below

  • Take Hosur Rd, Bengaluru – Chennai Hwy/Electronic City Flyover/Hosur Rd in Bommanahalli.
  • Follow NH 44 and NH544 to Mangalam Rd/Tiruppur – Vanjipalayam – Avinashi Rd in Avinashi. Exit from NH544.
  • Follow Mangalam Rd and Udumalpet – Palladam Rd to Munnar – Udumalpet Rd in Nullatanni, Kannan Devan Hills.

Team’s Kit:

Apart from our equipment considering that we shoot pretty much whole day starting  as early as 3.00 AM we do carry portable kitchen with stove , table, chair water and lot of ready to cook stuff ( These not only help us survive very cold temperatures , it also fills our stomach and is fun )

Maggie on the road
Chef Sisir and Harish, Munnar
Refreshments on the way

Our Typical Day in Munnar

3.00 AM – 6.30 AM, Top Station: Subjects include Milky way, Sun Kissed peaks , Mist and dawn.

Milkyway , Tops tation
Milky Way Top Station ( There is also a head light lit mist which looks like fire in the distance )
Sun lit peak, Top Station
Above the clouds , Top Station
Top Station after sun rise, we are still above the clouds

6.30 AM – 11.00 AM, Kundala Dam: Subjects include curvy roads, Misty Lake, Misty Canopy and Mountains.

Mist Covered Kundala Lake
Vinod Balan , contemplating a composition
Boats at Kundala
Mist Covered Canopy
Early Morning Mist and Mountains
Sisir thinking about composition
Venu Shooting Lone Tree
Myself at Lone Tree
The result!

11.00 AM – 2.00 PM, Hotel: This is where we cook our own food and discuss the day’s shoot mistakes and what we can do better next day and plan for next day and catchup with sleep

Harish and Murali reviewing images and discussing next shoot

3.00 PM – 7.00 PM:

  • Travel to Devikulam tea gardens, scout for places with sun rays and also shoot sun set.

OR

  • Shoot The sunset at Kundala Dam or Echo point
Tea gardens of Devikulam
Rays and Tea Garden
Rays
Trees and Garden
Sunset on the way to Munnar from Devikulam
Sunset and Kundala
Boats during Sunset at Kundala

7.00PM – 12.00 AM, Top Station: Shoot Star Trails.

Star Trail Munnar
Star Trail Munnar

Link to Star Trail Photography Blog

https://gouthamramesh.com/2021/08/star-trails-photography-method/

12.00 AM – 3.00 AM, Hotel: Much needed rest.

Usually we repeat this every day and plan to shoot differently every day and being in mountains the weather is unpredictable, so we do spend good 3 days doing the same thing.

Heading Back

Our drive back is also fun filled with a customary Masala dosa at Asai Dosa at Saravana Bhavan , Salem.

Harish with his Topi Dosa ( A type of South Indian pancake from a fermented batter of rice and lentils )

If you want a personalised photo tour and workshop at munnar in December/January you can contact me from home page!

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh