Saturday 30 January 2010

The Backyard


Often the most overlooked place for photography is your backyard. We go in search of exotic locations for photographing landscapes that could become a poster, or go into the forest to photograph birds and animals that could be showcased in the Nat Geo magazine, but how many times have we stopped to photograph our backyard.

Of course the backyard cannot be any of the above ones, but it could still be an interesting place for photography and overlooking that possibility is not a good idea.

Even I have been doing such a mistake, until one fine day things changed all of a sudden. The backyard started looking very beautiful and lively. It always used to have lots of flowering shrubs, some plants that bear colourful flowers, mango trees, squirrels playing in those mango trees and in the backyard, pigeons in neighbouring buildings and not to mention the numerous butterflies happily moving around (that reminds me of something that I read somewhere lately – the eco health of a place can be determined by the availability of butterflies in that place). But I have never bothered to stop and watch all these activities.

One day, some couple of months ago, when I was just getting up in the morning around 6:30 or 7:00 I heard some different sounds. Usually it will be chirping of the squirrels, but this was different. Without getting out of the bed I just looked out of the window and saw some Mynas have come to the mango tree in the backyard. This was new. Usually we used to see only crows perched on the branch of the mango tree waiting for the food that we and most of our neighbours keep for them. But I was a bit good to see some Mynas. Still I was not much excited because of two reasons. One, I have seen quite a few Mynas. Secondly, since I was still sleepy, I did not realize that though I have see lots of Mynas I have not seen any behind my house.

I continued with my routine without much bothering about the backyard and the activities in it. Two weeks later, around the same time in the morning, I was once again woken up by a strange call. No, it is not the Myna this time, the sound was very different. This time, I really jumped out of the bed and stared outside the window. The sound was coming from the mango tree behind and initially I could not see any thing clearly, except for a couple of crows in a branch. Certainly the sound was not their’s. I went to my other room from the bedroom to get another angle of the branch.

From this angle I could see something grey jump from one branch to another, but was not clear what it was, since the tree had thick foliage and covered the bird. One thing that surprised me is that when this bird jumped from one branch to another, the crows nearby jumped away to a distance out of fear. It was very clear that it was some large bird, but still could not see anything.

I held my ground without making any movements. I was able to hear the sound of this new bird but could not see it. After stalking it for about 5 minutes, the bird made another movement and came out of its hiding and perched on a outer branch. This time it was very much visible and I was surprised to see that it was a Shikra!!!

Never in the 26 years of living in Annanagar, a posh residential place, at the heart of Chennai, have I seen a Shikra. I was watching for sometime and I did not want to make a move since I wanted to observe it and be really sure that it is a Shikra indeed. The bird was there only for a couple of minutes and then flew away. I really felt bad that I did not pull out the camera to take a snap of the bird.

The same night, before going to the bed, I took out my Olympus E510 and loaded the 70-300mm lens and kept it ready, just in case the bird arrived again. The next morning I was up by 6:00am itself to make sure I was not missing out anything. Without any disappointment, I did hear the call of the Shikra and was ready with the camera by the side of the window. When I saw the bird perched on the same branch like the previous day, I immediately took a couple of photos. Since the tree was within 20 feet from the the window, the bird clearly heard the noise of the camera clicking and sensed some sort of danger and took off.

Though the bird never returned after that, I nowadays, never fail to stand by the window and watch the activities in the backyard and take some occasional photos. Of course, parents do sometimes laugh at me for standing by the window and staring outside, but I do not mind about that.

So guys, have you ever spent time watching your backyard and the activities going on? If you are nature lover, do not ignore your backyard as who knows; it could hold lot of beautiful things. Unless you look for something you won’t see it!

Here are some Backyard Photos. These were taken from the balcony of my house in first floor, over a period of time!

Sunday 10 January 2010

New Year 2010

New Year 2010

There could be lot of ways to celebrate the New Year. One would want to party all night from 31st December into the New Year, another would want to get up early in the morning on 1st and go to some temple. Some may want to watch all the programs in the TV and some may visit their friends and relatives.
I and Shrinidhi decided to catch a glimpse of Chennai from a few feet above. No, certainly no aerial stuff involved here, just travel from Park Station to Velachery and back in the MRTS train and click some snaps. Though there are no great photographs of the city, we did have a good time traveling in the train and again for a short distance in the bike.
We met up in the Park Town station at around 10:30 on Jan 1st, boarded the train to Velachery and started clicking a few photographs of the city while on the move. When we crossed the Taramani station, we saw some ponds created by recent rains in the city and some water birds. This water could also be from the Pallikaranai Lake, but not sure. We noted the spot so we could return there sometime and proceeded to Velachery. The total travel would not have been more than 45 minutes in the train. Once we got down from the train in Velachery the patterns created by the railway track attracted me. When I tried to take a photograph, a cop stopped me and reminded me of the fact the railways stations are not be photographed, for security reasons. I informed him that I completely forgot the fact and kept the camera inside and thanked him for reminding me. Also thanked God that they did not find me photographing some of the stations when the train stopped. J
I am not posting those pictures, as I do want to cause any security breach.
We came out of the railway complex and walked up a bit to a nearby pond, again I think, created by recent rains. There were some birds, which we photographed and decided return back after strolling a bit for some time. We had an alternate plan, as always, hope you guys did not really believe that we would stuck to our original plans. Did you? Anyway, we got down at Tiruvanmiyur station itself, where Shrinidhi had parked his bike. This time we took the path along the path (there really was none) along the railway track. We reached the Taramani station where we spotted some birds, spent a few minutes there and took a couple of pictures and returned back to Tiruvanmiyur. It was already past noon, so we decided to have some refreshment and return back home.
I got tickets till Nungambakkam station from Tiruvanmiyur, which requires a change over at Park Town. So got down at Park Town and while I was about to cross over to the other platform for my train, I caught sight of some parrots and other birds in the erstwhile Central Jail within the compound on the other side. So, needless to say, I spent a few more minutes there clicking a couple of more pictures and then returned back home for a deserving full meal and nice, short, afternoon nap.
End of story guys, will catch you soon with more updates. Hope you guys also have something to share about the activities of the NEW YEAR 2010.