What could be more satisfying than a photography walk with a couple of good friends who also happen to be photographers? That is what I did on this Sunday morning. I initially planned to meet up with a friend at the break of dawn and then visit a nearby river for photography. The plan was just a simple outing with a chance to do some photography.
I was hoping to find some boats, maybe a few washed up branches and hopefully a few fishermen trying their luck. I packed my gear accordingly. I took along a 35mm Nikon DSLR with a Nikkor 50mm lens and a Nikkor 200mm lens. This 200mm lens is quite a compact piece and easily fits in the smallest of my camera bag’s compartments (Nikkor 200 mm f/4 AI). I mounted the 50mm Nikkor and kept the 200mm along with it. No other lenses were there. I always recommend carrying fewer lenses than what you feel are required.
With the bag in my car, I picked up my friend. He is a Canon user. He had mounted a 70-300mm lens on his Canon. After meeting up, I drove down to the river. It is hardly a few minutes’ drive and we were there soon. Things were not going to be as smooth as we had planned. It seems that the city administration had closed down the entry to that side of the river. No point risking it since we had been to that river countless times earlier. I started to turn my car around while he called up another of our photographer friend, an avid birder. This fellow had planned a trip to a nearby forest where there’s a small lake and our feathered friends keep visiting it. Phone not reachable! That’s it, no more wasting time. We also headed out to the same forest patch.
(A stone pathway on the edge of the forest to help occasional visitors like us.)
Soon, we were there. The weather was fine. It is now end of winters. The wind was cool. When we started walking towards the water body, we met two others. One of them was the birder friend of ours whose phone was switched off and other was an accomplished ornithologist. Quietly we walked on towards the lake. Once in a while we chatted about the light conditions. The sky was overcast. What more could we photographers ask for? The diffused light does wonders. Once in a while the rising sun would peep out of the cloudy sky, forming beautiful streaks of lights. Click, click, click…. the shutter sound was starting to fill the silence of the forest.
After a short walk, we reached the edge of the lake. Our birding friends got busy with their long lenses. Birds in flight, water-birds, some of the birds perched on trees around the lake. Couple of floating logs were visible in the far off distance, which turned out to be crocodiles. Thankfully we were on a high ground and it seems that the crocodiles too are afraid of people. (More about photographing birds, including a short incident with a crocodile at the same lake – Photographing Birds)
With my Nikkor 200mm lens, my reach was limited when it came to birds but I did find a lot of interesting subjects. There were dry branches, logs with their patterns, even the stone pathway at the edge of the forest was intriguing. There were wild flowers growing all around and occasionally butterflies would flutter by. I had a lens on my camera that was neither meant for birds nor for macro work. I could still find subjects that interested me.
(A fallen tree in the forest. The light colored tree contrasted well with the foliage growing around.)
One of friends commented after sometime that his pictures were not fine somehow. The exposure was incorrect. My first suggestion was to shift to evaluative metering. Later it turned out that he was shooting in manual mode, thinking that he had set aperture priority. Quite a common mistake, as far as I have come across. This is the first thing that I tell photographers to check. Wrong settings are a major reason for spoilt photographs at the beginning of a photography session. Coming back to his photographs, they were not that badly exposed. The results were fine and with a bit of post-processing the damage would be minimal. Thankfully he was clicking raw. (Common Mistakes in Photography)
Our birding companions also returned to meet us after capturing wonderful images of birds in flight. Though overcast, the weather was clear. There was very little haze. This resulted in nice and contrasty bird photographs.
(I took the above photograph just to show to my family the number of feathered friends.)
Every once in a while, there were discussions, interesting discussions! Everyone discussed photography. One of us remembered the good ole film days when we push-processed the rolls to get some specific effects. This brought us to the topic of Lomography. Lomographers have really got some of their things right. Capturing the moment as it should be done. (Lomography)
Our discussions moved on to a notorious long lens that sucks in huge amount of air (and also dust). My friend with his Canon wondered about which long lens to buy. We all gave our suggestions. It was a serious discussion with every photographer pitching in their choice. The best part, he is a street photographer. He then said that lenses do attract him but for his genre of photography, long lenses are too prohibitive.
Interesting when I saw his photographs later, he had captured some really good candid moments when other photographers including me were busy with our cameras. Wonderful imaging of some fallen leaves as well, including one that had got stuck in a metallic net.
The birders too showed me their photographs on the preview screen. Some photos had wonderful use of panning. Photographers usually keep away from panning but when it comes to bird photographers, they are the champions in this technique. Beautiful photographs! (Panning)
(Nothing special in this photograph except that it pained me to see another tree that had been chopped down. Regardless of what the people say, we are still loosing our forests. These precious trees are reducing in numbers day by day.)
Click, click, click… once again everyone got busy in their photography. Once in a while someone would exclaim about the low flying bird and the contrasting background or about the photograph that got away. I also noticed another chopped down tree. It pained me a lot. Sometimes I wonder how dumb humans can be that they themselves are the biggest threat to their very own existence on this planet.
The sun was fast coming up. It was starting to get hot under the sun. We said goodbye to our birding friends and started our walk back to the parked car. It had been a productive day. I was happy in my mind. I had some of the photographs in my camera that I was already visualizing how they would look when printed. A photography trip turned into a photowalk and hours of fun, in the lap of nature. (Photowalks)