20 June 2009

Softbox setup and getting some cool studio type shots

Liked the shot!!! Since some time I was thinking about making some set up for myself to click some studio type shots. It looks fantastic when we see those crisp shots in white or black backgrounds in infinite mode and the product seated in between. Frankly, but just looking at those shots we don’t come to know what it takes to get those outcomes. I am not a professional and hence have limited knowledge which I gained from reading online and experimenting. So here are the things which i would plan to showcase: 1. Setup of creating a cheap softbox. 2. Using the softbox. 3. What other options I have seen. Creating a soft box setup: Now frankly I am very cost conscious fellow. Until and unless I see a reason or a measurable outcome, I don’t like to spend money, especially on photography stuff. Rather i would buy some stocks :). May be that’s the sole reason I haven't got my hands on a DSLR yet. Here are the items you would need to get started: 1. Carton box- After the Friday office, I went to the kiryana store round the corner and asked him the typical carton boxes which are lying with them in plenty. Asked him if he expected something for it but costed nothing since our regular groceries come from there only. Cost=0 Rs. 2. Scissors, Paper Cutter, Selo Tape - Available at home, so Cost=0 Rs. 3. Trace paper or Butter paper Sheets-2 Sheets from the stationary store @ 4Rs each. Cost=8 Rs. 4. White Chart-1 sheet @7 Rs each. Cost=7 Rs. So, all set with the initial items to begin with at the cost of 15 Rs. Pretty cheap rite. Here is how the carton looks like: Listing some steps which followed next: 1. I removed the top closing ends. 2. Now to the other three sides, Side 1, Side 2, and top side 3, I started cutting huge windows out to leave frames from the sides. I have depicted them with white line in the below diagram. That’s what you need to remove. 3. After you carefully remove those out, the box would now look like a frame ready with you for your studio setup. 4. The empty frames now need to be covered with butter paper so that you can diffuse soft light through that to your subject. Remember, the three sides, side 1, side 2 and top side 3 are the ones which would have the butter paper stuck to. This is how it would look like after sticking the butter paper. 6. Voila we are almost done…I cut the white paper sheet per the size of box and covered back side 4 with it and also spread it across the Bottom side 5 to give us a nice clear white background. And this is how it would look now. So, this is the point where the soft box studio setup is ready to be used for our purpose. Now towards our second step, Using the soft box. I don't have any external flashes to fire from any direction, so i planned to use my night lamps shades from the bedside for this purpose. Here are the items which i use for the next steps: 1, My tripod- You bet tripod is lot useful for things to hold other than the camera. 2, A lamp shade or simple bulb holder. 3, 100 Watts bulb. It suited my requirement. you can tweak that per your requirement. 4, Camera. My reliable Sony H50. 5, A subject to shoot. :) I mounted the lamp shade using my tripod and now the light was coming from the top of the subject. Here is how it looks with the subject "Ganesha" enjoying all the limelight. Here is a closer look at the setup. And just to give you an idea of how the tripod was used and how the light was hanging around :) And finally here is the outcome of the setup you just saw. I was pretty happy with this cheap and fast setup. I think a flash would be much more helpful which is something I feel could be among other options. Of course, I used a small thermocol piece (lying useless in the TV carton) to reflect light in some shots even better. I hope you find this tutorial useful and please do leave your comments If there are any more options by which things can be improved.

08 June 2009

Trip to Lepakshi

How could i showcase the eagerness inside to drive down to Lepakshi over a weekend after i had seen some road trip photos of this place. The day arrived soon, when we planned to start our Saturday morning early in the morning and pull over at this famous place. Indeed it had been a long time i had driven to some place and we choose the long overdue, Lepakshi.

The Drive: Neighborhood was still asleep and the weather was cloudy as we left Bangalore. Soon as the Sun surfaced over the horizon, we were nearing Chikabalapur.
The directions are pretty straight forward to reach this place. From any place in Bangalore, you need to head towards the new International Airport in Devanhalli and from there on, continue straight on Hyderabad Road. Lepkashi is actually a small village on the outskirts of Andhra Pradesh and hence lies quite close by as you leave Karnataka State Limits. The distance is around 125 Kms from Bangalore and may vary from which point in Bangalore you are starting.
We stopped over for a quick cup of tea and enjoyed the beautiful surrounding. The drive is extremely beautiful and the roads are quite good apart from minor issues. at few points the road has bad patches.

  • There are lot of diversions throughout since lot of maintenance work is happening but mind you, the stretches are beautiful and the road is fun to drive on. I was wondering that for miles and miles of that fantastic road, there was hardly any traffic. We were cruising above 100 kmph through the most of the journey. the drive has typical curves and most of the places, you could have a visibility of more than 4-5 Kms due to the levels which is a delight while driving. Soon as you enter Andhra, spotting the turn towards lepakshi can be tricky for some. You cross over the "RAKSA ACADEMY" on the left side which is nearly impossible to miss...the right side would be a RTO Check post. Be a little slow since you would need to take a left after the academy. I could not see any boardings to help but a small market and a broken road on the left is the point to look for. This place resembles the small bus stands in villages. Lepakshi is around 15 Kms inside from this point.Reaching In:
    The road inside is bad almost throughout, so the 15 Kms take a while to finish but suddenly you forget about hectic roads of Bangalore and the surroundings are soothing. As you reach, first is the Nandi Bull park with the biggest nandi statue in the country. The place is nicely maintained and amidst the village. The Nandi statue has been carved out of a single stone and faces the main Shiva temple of Lepakshi. You can ever seek help of a guide there to get to know the complete details of it. We got to know the Alzankar on the nandi and the other related stories to the carving of the statue there. We spent some 30-40 mins enjoying the place and clicking some shots. Still early morning(8:30), the weather was cloudy and we rested in the lawn for a while.
    The weather was magical for sometime and i could get a good photo of the Nandi against that backdrop of the sky. The well maintained park in front just adds to the beauty of this place.Also found some Murals and carvings on the stones lying down in the Park. The villagers around this place take very good care of this place. I could not see any traces of any garbage or something which tells me that the other way round. Even met a amma who every morning comes over and cleans the place for worship and sets up everything.We were the first to arrive there. Even a family of monkeys was sitting and sticking together on the temple wall. :) Though the temple opens up early and the place looked extremely hushed early morning time.Near the main gate, a young boy sold raw mangoes with salt and gave us a fantastic look as we just arrived. There was a drinking water station near by and a small place to rack up shoes for visitors.We got our first glimpses of the temple main entrance. The temple really looked beautiful and neat. The cleanliness of the place was just overwhelming by now.The main temple, is around 100 mts from the Nandi Bull park. The temple is built on a high platform and hence gives a very medieval feel. Outside the main gate, the board tells you that the temple falls under the ASI now and photography has been relaxed for this place, provided you don't film this place and use it commercially.After we got near the main entrance, the magnanimity of the temple could be felt. There were few guides available on the entrance, off whom we indulged one to show and detail us the temple. The insides of the temple are all stone carvings and have been maintained quite well.Also we could see some of the statues being damaged which is sad part. the priest and the guide both acknowledged that visitors try and temper with those carvings sometimes resulting in those damages.Shown here is the Durga Maa in her full grace. We were explained the complete story behind about Durga Maa by the Priest there.We went around the whole temple and kept getting amazed by the various facets explained by the guide. We were shown the main deity of temple and its complete story by the priest. The guide then showed us the carvings of Ideal man and Women and their characteristics. He then showed us that lepakshi is the only temple where lord Shiva and Vishnu Face each other, else everywhere else they are kept besides each other.He also showed up the Ramalinga which was setup at the place where jatayu was found by Lord Rama. The place got its name from the same story. While jatayu sighted Ravana taking away Sita, he fought and got hurt badly. he was found lying down at the same place by Lord Rama. Rama said " Le Pakshi" which in Sanskrit means "Pleas Getup, Bird " and on the same, the village was named Lepkashi.
    I was just mesmerized by the Parvati Aman and her excellent dressing here. The temple is really old and low on funds but maintained excellently.Then we saw the Dance hall formations or Indra and this was quite fascinating. he took us to this huge pole which is attached to the top but is almost 1 inch above the ground.The guide told us that long back a British Scientist researched on the same and confirmed pole being in air and also being the epicenter of the balance of the whole hall.
    We moved towards the back and found a huge Shiva Linga and snake mounted over it. The guide explained the complete story about it also as to how the linga was brought from kashi to be kept here since the snake statue was a little damaged. There are lot of excellent carvings through the temple and one can enjoy those there.The incomplete dance hall of Shiva parvati's Marriage engulfs in itself, some of the most unknown and amazing stories from our mythology.The Guide is a must have for exploring this temple to understand the actual details around the temple.Every portion of the temple engulfs some or the other story behind it. During a huge festival there, these halls are used for the visitors to stay there.While the day unfolded in front of us we were overwhelmed by the beauty and the historical past of this temple. We took around 2.5 hrs to go through this place completely, and then relaxed in the lawn of the temple, where we had our lunch. The day was setting in and the temperature was now increasing.
    Finally having a relaxed hour there and small nap and fun talks, we planned to start back. On the way back, in the village limits, we saw a huge gathering of people on the banks of pond. I stopped the car and we say that villagers were dealing in fresh fishes. they had lot of teams inside the pond and few of their people sitting on the edge making deal. You could order the type of fish you want and they would find that for you. these were full fishes being sold here and they were as huge as 15-20 kgs...i was just even scared to see those big fishes.
    The entrance of the village has these huge storks planted there to show you that birds have made this place as their natural habitat. The trip finally ended with we reaching back at home in Bangalore by 3pm.
  • Directions: Catch up the BIAL Road which leads to Hyderabad and continue till the RAKSA academy in Andhra Pradesh. from the junction on the road here, Lepakshi should be around 15 Kms.
    • The road is excellent all most throughout but the humps are bad in the Karnataka areas. drive cautiously and try to tackle those humps at 45 degrees.
    • We could sight very few petrol stations through the trips so just ensure you have enough fuel with you. The most of the petrol stations we could see was in the 25-30 kms stretch in Andhra. Don't know whats wrong with Karnataka though.
    • Also not many good places on the way to stop by so plan for your breakfast accordingly. We decided to take a munch around chikabalapur but could not find a place to stop for family. Luckily we had sandwiches packed for the lunch.
    • There are no options literally available at this village, Lepakshi apart from packed items like chips, biscuits for consumption and there is no good place to eat here. we had lunch packed with us so enjoyed the place the best way. If you plan well, the garden at the temple serves as a great place for a good picnic with the family.
    • Excellent grapes are sold mid way so do find out sometime and try picking few.
    • Do ensure that the extra tyre is in place since through the long stretches on this road, there is hardly any help available, if needed.
    • Enjoy the ride through excellent views and landscaping. Have a fun filled and safe trip.
    Warm Regards,
    Saurabh mittal,

02 June 2009

Sunfeast 10k Marathon, Bangalore:31st May,09

This was the Big day. 31st may, 2009. The day when Bangalore was Slated to run, and Run for a cause. This was the day for Sunfeast 10k Marathon and other host of various runs for different categories of runners. It looked to be a beautiful and a promising day from the very beginning. We Rose early and sipped our share of coffee at a near by Cafe Coffee Day on Lavelle Junction.
Not Everyone was excited and there were sure some surprised faces seeing so many people early morning. If you are statistics man, the count of people was a whopping 23,000 but believe me, it was even more than that counting the required volunteers and policemen to manage such a huge Show. It appeared as the whole town was awake this early.
First was the turn of Elderly folks to start their Run which was so fun filled that everyone on the sidelines would have felt left out. At least i did. All of them wore yellow tops and they were so enthusiastic about it, that one cant put in words. Some of those were in groups and used this opportunity to loud their voices, some simply enjoyed the attention from the fellow photographers and onlookers on the sidelines.
There were some curious faces also seen around. Lot of visitors looked anxious and looked confused. Although they were raring to go.
Some of the elderly didn't pay much attention and in-fact called out to people on the sidelines to not stand there but join in for walk/Run. Now this was serious stuff for them.
There was a good arrangement of aid available for all different walks. Lot of volunteers carried medical kits and there were ambulances on the stroll.
The inside of the Stadium started getting filled up in the morning itself. It was nothing more than riot of colors where everyone was coming in to participate, have fun or cheer this big event.
Then was the Turn of Elite Women's 10k Marathon and whole stadium roared and cheered and these ladies zoomed away out of the stadium.
If it was time for the Open 10k to start and people were lining up for that, this RJ started to get the ball rolling for the Kingfisher 'Run-In Costume' event where they choose people with diverse and exquisite themes to dress and awarded them hefty prizes.

As the Gates opened for open 10k, people thronged out of the stadium and most of them looked at ease and well prepared for the event and rather looked to be enjoying that.
The Open 10k saw a sea of people running through it. notice the back of the stand where from all the people are coming and are waiting for their turn.
Honorable Chief minister Mr. Yedurappa came to the stadium and looked cool in his Nike track suit, though he strolled through the Lap inside the stadium and spoke to the media.

On the other hand it was time for the ladies to fire all cylinders and touch down the finish lane for the Elite 10k Women's marathon. This was quite a close finish.

Police men had their fair luck of getting close to the celebrities and enjoying the day, though i found the security to be lousy. i Saw lot of photographers jump those grills and get down near to anywhere they wanted and i was wondering if the CM or anyone around had any security at all. In fact the event of this level where thousands of people are all stuck in a stand before they go out for a run, the security should have been a point of most importance. But the complete event was soft on this end.
As Deepika Padukone came in to the stadium, she got lot of attention but first on she went on to give away awards to different winners.
The VIP box had lot of colors and cameras pointed to them while Deepika enjoyed a good gallery view of this whole event.
The most enjoyable of the day was the Majja run where people dressed in most interesting of costumes to run for different reasons.
Kids had good time with their parents and sure they got the best of views of this event.
This group of corporate folks too ran in their effervescent yellow colored Ts.
A fellow dressed in Indian clothing and carrying map of india showed the situation of the country and how the blood was flowing throughout...
A kathakali Dance also put up lot of effort to get dressed and walk for this run.
Some volunteers just carried their Placards and cheered through the crowd.
Now this group was quite inspired by mythological characters and also carried their message on different issues.
A fellow dressed fully with CD carried his message about Piracy.
Another huge Group from CUPA carried their message across and all the members dressed like animals.

A fantastic day and the enthusiasm of the people was unmatchable. I am sure everyone watching them would have been overwhelmed by it and would have felt like running with them.

Do put in your comments if you like something or disliked something or felt that any facet was missed out through this.

Warm Regards,
Saurabh Mittal,