January 28, 2013

Photography Challenge 2: Night Photography–London at night

Photography challenge this time proved to be very challenging. Reason, you may ask? Oh well, nothing more than poor old fate, I guess. For some reason, every time I tried taking my camera out this time, it snowed, sleeted and rained HEAVILY. The temperatures were sub-zero most of the time, which meant condensation on the lens, ruining any chance of taking a “Night” photograph (the lights looks awful if there is condensation on your lens).

Long story short. I had few very clear shots in mind when I set out to do this challenge. I did manage to capture a few despite all the adverse condition but not all the different ideas I had in mind. I will try them out some time later.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my shots for the Night Photography challenge:


Since I have been complaining about the weather, here is a picture showing the extent of snow. And yes, its a night time picture (see the street light in the background?). Don’t be fooled by the brightness of snow.


This is a picture of Piccadilly Circus (circus here refers to circle and not an actual circus) at night time. This is basically a junction of roads with neon lights (like time square in New York). And yeah, it is one of the posh place in London. It is part of London’s West End (It has now become the most expensive location in the world in which to rent office space, just FYI).

This picture has been inspired by +Trey Ratcliff’s picture of Piccadilly circus. Not as majestic as his work, but I did imagine this to be a night picture unlike his.


The next image is of the famous Regent street. It is a nice (read expensive) shopping place. This is a picture taken from the Piccadilly circus (yes, it is in West End). Interesting fact about Regent street: Every building in Regent Street is protected as a Listed Building, at least Grade II status, and together they form the Regent Street Conservation Area (from Wikipedia).


Last, but not in any means least, this is Buckingham Palace at night. The picture didn’t come out the way I would have liked. Partly due to the reason that it started to rain at this point and my camera lens had started to form a layer of condensation (see the street lights). Some day, I will get a better shot than this.
That’s all for tonight. For the people interested in visiting London at some point, here is my little map showing the relative position of the Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly circus from my last stop during my last trip around London. (I have these maps for my reference. I would like to take my friends around London without getting lost as I tend to do more often than not.):


I ended my trip at Westminster bridge (Big Ben and House of Parliament). Buckingham Palace is about 5 min walk from there and Piccadilly circus would be about 10-15 min more. That is, if you can get there without getting lost.

January 17, 2013

Why I don't like 'The Big Bang Theory'?

I am, of course, talking about the series and not the actual event. I am a firm believer of the event itself but I am not so sure about the series. Don’t get me wrong, like almost everyone else, I love the antics of Sheldon Cooper, adore and root for Leonard Hofstadter, and really not sure what to make of Howard Wolowitz or Rajesh Koothrappali. And since it revolves around physics I get quite a bit of references as well.

And yet, I am not too big a fan of the series. My biggest problem with the series being the depiction of “the geeks”. Honestly, Hollywood need to get over with their concept of “geekiness”. As if US is not already struggling with the epidemic of bullying that they have to add to it? The depiction of fairly smart, even genius, people as the social oddity is quite unfair.

Most of my friends are PhDs or engineers or equally well educated. Trust me, if you met any of us, you will not put us down as socially awkward. We are highly successful, confident and happily married (most of us, anyway). None of us dresses or look the way we are depicted by our dearest Hollywood. Most of us don’t even wear glasses (we know about the existence of contacts, thank you very much. I am, of course, referring to all the geeky ladies depicted in the series). Some of us are quite attractive. Most of us have interests beyond sci-fi movies, comic books and science projects. Few of us are good at sports (surprise, surprise), others are good artists. Some of us are more indoor types while others prefer outdoors. We are like any other random group of people you can find except, may be, a bit higher average IQ than the other groups.

So why do Hollywood insist on depicting all of us as socially awkward at all time? I may tolerate them depicting us like that in teenage school drama but depicting grown ups like that is like killing every smart student’s dream that they will ever be socially accepted. They can have successful careers but they will always remain a social outcast. Is this really the message that they want to send to the future brains of their society? Seriously?

All I am asking is to have just one cool, popular and attractive geek? Just one role model to inspire all the smart youngsters out there and not make them feel like losers. Pretty please? (And no, a geek getting a pretty lady is not what I have in mind).

January 14, 2013

Photography Challenge 1: Travel Photography–Walk along Thames Path


London is a culturally, historically, architecturally rich place (I could have added quite a few more adjectives but this is gonna be a long post anyway). It is, of course, a major tourist attraction. However, what most of the tourist miss in their haste to cover all the major attractions (and there are many) is one of the best feature of this city: the beautiful Thames path. 184 mile long, it snakes with the river Thames through the city of London and beyond. Most of the major attraction of the city lies along the river Thames, hence the tourist in the city do get to see part of it but only people living and working in the city gets to enjoy it. I do neither. I mean live or work in the city. So for this challenge I decided to cover a part of the Thames part (a mere 2 miles) to show you the part of London most tourists miss as well as some major landmarks along the river.

To start with, here is the map showing you the part of the path I covered in about 4.5 hours due to stops and detours. Google says it should take 45 mins by walk. (Click to enlarge)

Click to enlarge

I started from London Bridge and ended up at Westminster Bridge. I am going to post only few selected pictures here. For more, please visit my Facebook page.

Let’s start by one famous landmark, the Tower bridge as seen from the London Bridge on a murky day, only because that’s where I started my journey. Note that I said I took picture of Tower bridge from London bridge. Tower bridge is often mistaken for London bridge for some reason. Just wanted to make that clear.


BTW, just FYI, I walked upstream the river during my journey. Thames river flows primarily from West to East. The Tower bridge is downstream (or East) of London bridge.

The next stop was majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral. And I don’t use the word majestic lightly. I saw the St. Paul’s Cathedral for the first time. I had seen its picture and heard about it quite a bit. I have been wanting to visit the Cathedral for some time now since you can get a great panoramic view of the city from the top, however, I never thought it would be so impressive. It reminded me of what people say about buildings like Taj Mahal and Pyramids: no matter row many pictures of these places you have seen, its an experience to see them in real life. That was kind of awe I felt when I saw this from the bank of Thames:


Trust me when I say, the picture don’t do justice to this magnificent structure. Or may be I had too low an expectation for the place and hence was very impressed. Either way, in case you do plan a visit to London anytime, do visit St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Anyway, I think that’s enough for the landmarks. This is not a post to show you the major landmarks of London. I started the post by talking about beautiful Thames Path. As I said, it passes through the heart of London and is enjoyed by people living/working in the city especially, during their Lunch hour. Some people like to take a stroll by the river, some go for a run, few others simply sit on the benches and enjoy their lunch or a chat with a friend:IMG_7257_101

After work, many a people take the path and bridges on Thames to reach their home. Few of them stand and admire the view, while others are too engrossed in themselves:

IMG_7377_101IMG_7382_101Both of the above pictures were taken on Blackfriars bridge at almost the same time. Both subjects had the same view around them. Top picture is looking west from the Blackfriars bridge and shows Big Ben (now called Elizabeth tower) and London Eye (afternoon sun is making the scene hazy) while the bottom picture is looking east and shows London city skyline including St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I can’t end this post without talking about the street artists and street performers. London being the tourist spot, a lot of artist earn their livings (I hope) by performing at the tourist spots. Some of them are quite astounding. People who don’t have art to sell, they sell the looks. Like these two:



Well honestly, only the top one is worth mentioning. He/she was standing completely still for a long period of time in freezing cold near the bank of Thames. And he is not even wearing a proper winter jacket. I had about 3 layers on, gloves, cap, scarf, woollen socks and yet I was cold. If I would have been in his/her place, I would have been shivering. BTW, the background here is again my favourite  St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The bottom picture is more a case of right time, right place. The background of the picture shows the London eye. I like this picture as it shows the hugeness that is London eye. I have seen multiple picture of London eye but the scale of London eye is usually lost in those pictures.

Before I end the post, let me show you one more landmark picture. This is the house of Parliament and Big Ben at twilight.


Hope you liked the pictures (Remember I spent 4.5 hours walking in the cold, freezing weather on the bank of Thames so you better like them). Next Challenge: Night Photography. Worst part: Weather is going to go steadily worse for next few days with snow and everything. Wish me luck for the next challenge!

Remember to visit my Facebook page for more pictures.

January 8, 2013

Career choice without money consideration..

Watched this video on internet and realized that I will be doing exactly what I am doing even if money wasn't the object. Does this make me geeky? 

January 1, 2013

Photography Challenge 2013

As promised, am back with my photography challenge for 2013. I have kept topics quite general in order to give me some freedom to decide. I have also included few links with each topic to guide me through each topic. In case any of you want to join in the challenge, please do so.

The rules are simple. It is a fortnightly challenge (two weeks). The deadline for each challenge are indicated in the parentheses followed by the topic, a small description and few useful links.

Challenge 1 (January 14, 2013): Travel photography - Travel photography involves documentation of a place, its culture, its people, its custom, landmarks etc. You can be a local or a tourist in that place. My intention is to capture essence of London. How about you?  Tips

Challenge 2 (January 28, 2013): Night time photography - As name suggest, night time photography involves  taking pictures during night time. It usually plays with capturing the night time lights. Few examples can be found here.  Tips

Challenge 3 (February 11, 2013): Black and white photography - The classic black and white photography. Great for portraits, textures, simpler images. Few examples and tips.

Challenge 4 (February 25, 2013): Weather - Snow or rain, wind or sun, lighting or rainbow. Take your pick.    Few cool pictures are here. Some very cool pictures are here. And of course, few tips

Challenge 5 (March 11, 2013): Transportation - Its a big part of every Londoner's life. It has been a big part of my life for past year. Trains, tubes, buses, and good old feet. How about you? How much do you travel on daily basis?  Some tips and examples.

Challenge 6 (March 25, 2013): Abstract Photography - Now here is the real teaser. Abstract photography uses patterns and colours to capture the audience's attention. You are only limited by your imagination here. Use it wisely. Here are few tips and some examples.

Challenge 7 (April 8, 2013): Still life Photography - Now this is something I have been wanting to work on for a while. Simply put it is a composition consisting of inanimate objects. The advantage of still photography is that you can compose the objects as per your choice and aesthetics. Here are few tips: tips 1tips 2. Few cool examples can be found here.

Challenge 8 (April 22, 2013): Texture Photography - It is a specific type of abstract photography. Few great tips are here: tips 1, tips 2

Challenge 9 (May 6, 2013): Urban decay Photography - Have you passed the remains of an old church, a building in middle of a busy street? Or an alley way that has that decaying quality. We are all taught to walk away from such places quickly, look the other way. This topic deals with photographing such places.  But remember: Safety first. You can instead photograph a rusting instrument/tool, an old doll etc in safety of your home (or your garage?). Tips

Challenge 10 (May 20, 2013): Skyline Photography - Living in big cities has an advantage, one of them is the city skyline. I have always wanted to capture the skyline of London but haven't been able to do so successfully so far. This will give me a chance to fulfill that. Here are few tips, some examples. Also places to capture London skyline. Just to help me out with the challenge.

Challenge 11 (June 3, 2013): Architectural Photography - This is one type of photography I don't indulge in often. However, living in the heart of London and not trying it out will be such a shame. So I have put this in my list. Here are few tips for architectural photography: Tips 1, Tips 2

Challenge 12 (June 17, 2013): Street Photography - Believe it or not, this is my favourite genre of photography. It used to be fun doing so in American continent. I made quiet a few friends while doing so. However, I haven't tried it in Europe so far. I have been scared quite a lot by my friends enough. So for this topic I am hoping to catch some street performers and take their picture. Hopefully that will work out. Here are few tips for street photography: Tips 1, Tips 2.

Challenge 13 (July 1, 2013): Wildlife Photography - Oh well, in my case it would mean a visit to local zoo, of course. I have heard quite a lot about how great the local zoos are so it will be fun to explore it for this topic. Here are few tips for taking wildlife pictures: Tips 1, Tips 2

Challenge 14 (July 15, 2013): Environmental Portrait - Yet another category that I love. I actually prefer taking portraits of people in their environment (if you don't know what I am talking about, you might want to read this: What is an environmental portrait?) instead of filling the frame with the portrait. Although I would need to look up for people to take portrait but hopefully I will be able to figure out something. Here are few tips: Tips 1, Tips 2.

Challenge 15 (July 29, 2013): Reflections -  Mirrors, water surfaces, metal surfaces, glass windows and doors, any surface that reflects can be used for this one. The reflection can be used to create a self-portrait or simply giving an extra dimension to the landscape, street photography etc. What you choose to do with it is up to you. Here are few more tips.

Challenge 16 (August 12, 2013): HDR Photography - I have tried this before however, I am no expert so I don't promise good result. For those of you wondering about what the heck I mean by this, here is the link for you: What is HDR photography?. Few tips for beginners: Tips 1, Tips 2. I will come up with an alternative topic for this one, just in case it doesn't work out as planned.

Challenge 17 (August 26, 2013): The golden hour - The dusk and dawns are supposed to be the best times to take a picture. Find out why and how here. Few more tips can be found here.

Challenge 18 (September 9, 2013): Shallow depth of field - This is way out of my league. And that's why I want to try this out. My shallow depth of field (blurred backgrounds) usually turn out to be a fiasco. Let's see how this one goes. Here are few examples and tips

Challenge 19 (September 23, 2013): Macro photography - Another way-out-of-league topic. I am going way beyond my comfort zone. Few tips for those who are as scared as me.

Challenge 20 (October 7, 2013): Landscape Photography - I have done quiet a few landscapes in my time however challenge for this one would be to find a place to get the picture. As you know, I live in London. It will take some research to get a perfect landscape spot here. Few tips for beginners can be found here.

Challenge 21 (October 21, 2013): Food photography - I have never done this. This is beyond zone of comfort. This is in the zone uncomfortable. It actually lies in middle of that zone. I guess I will need these tips more than any one else.

Challenge 22 (November 4, 2013): Lights - November 3rd is Diwali. This topic is placed here to honour the festival of light. Hopefully I will be able to get some nice shot for this one.

Challenge 23 (November 18, 2013): A day in my life - I have been wanting to do this one for a while now. I have a set of pictures in mind although I don't know how feasible it will be for me to take these pictures. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Challenge 24 (December 2, 2013): Miscellaneous - Guess this is what people call a wild card.

Challenge 25 (December 16, 2013): Christmas decoration (festival) - Of course, there has to be a Christmas topic in December.

Challenge 26 (December 30, 2013): December - And finally a collage/picture to summarize the month of December. What's so important about December, you ask? Well it's my birth-month silly. Of course, it is important. At  least to me.

Hope you join me. If not, then wish me luck!