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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Photography Club

I'd promised I would be back and here I am. After duly agonizing over what to write, ending up with writer's block (blockheadedness) and generally feeling lazy about doing anything that even remotely resembled work, I decided, I had better get back to writing. At least the blog to start with. Now, I've got some focus.

I recently joined a photography club - Pixetra - which is attached to a camera and photo store. The first workshop I signed up for was a nature photography workshop at Bannerghatta National Park.

Dawn saw me sleepily join nine others in a little van at 6 a.m. and driving off. Early nervousness beset me and I attempted some judiciously decent conversation with my neighbour. Amoghavarsha is a talented nature photographer and naturalist besides a programmer or something of the sort in the IT industry. This workshop was being conducted by him and moderated by Sethu, Pixetra Club's founding father.

Turning off the road at Shivanahalli and climbing into Ragihalli the first stirrings of excitement began to wake us all up. The fog was rising off the forest floor below us and Amogh decided we needed a sunrise to wake us up. Cameras were brought out and I began to understand the principles of underexposure and the neutrals for the first time since I fell in love with the camera.

We reached camp and settled down to a breakfast. The place simply abounded in an explosion of birdsong. Bulbuls flitted among the leaves while a paradise flycatcher managed to give us a tantalizing glimpse of his long tail before disappearing.
We walked along a sunlit path finding innumerable birds and butterflies. Sunlight and shadows made for inspiring compositions and everyone was soon busy clicking away. A plum-headed parakeet refused to allow us the liberty of getting a good picture and made life even more difficult for us by moving across a steep gorge into a tree where we could see him but photographs weren't even worth talking about.
A lizard darted across the sun-baked rocks into the cool of a sheltering one and each of us peered into the opening we could see just to glimpse him. Deciding not to disturb him we returned to our labours - that of taking pictures.
Our guide, Shivu, decided we were too soft and swept us, one and all, into the thorny brush of the forest promising to show us a slender loris. What seemed to be a plunge into the jungle turned out to be a bruising for us. Thorns plucked at our clothes and skin while we sweated through an unrelenting afternoon sun. Suddenly, Shivu stopped and gestured upwards. There, blinking down at us was an adult slender loris. He disdainfully turned his back on us and regally made his way up the tree fromwhere only his fat, furry bottom was visible to us.
Lunch was a lazy, companionable affair with good-natured bantering exchanged across tables. The food wasn't bad. Perhaps, the long walk made us hungry as well.
Amogh was kind enough, along with Sethu, to critique selected four pictures from each of us. While it wasn't quite encouraging, it wasn't discouraging either. It felt good to hear that I could blame my 100-400mm lens for all the bad pictures I had taken. Well, all right, not all, but some of them all right.
I can hardly wait now for the next workshop. Pictures are all on my photoblog here.