It’s 5:45 AM in the morning. I get woken up by the melodious song of a Blue Whistling Thrush. This one had made a nest near my roof last year. The call is just in time to wake me up for early morning light on the Himalayan peaks.
(An old photograph of another blue-whistling thrush. Its color varies from grey-blue to deep blue depending on the type of lighting)
This bird is quite a busy one. It wakes up my neighbors at 5:35, then it flies up to my place to wake me up 10 minutes later. As far as I know it visits most of the homes in this neighborhood, waking each one up. Today, me and my neighbors had planned a forest-walk after visiting a nearby temple, early in the morning. I didn’t have to set an alarm. Before sunrise, I was already wide awake and getting ready for the trek. I had also planned on capturing some photographs of the peaks in early morning light.
By the time, I stepped out, the early morning light was starting to light up the top of snow-peaks. Orange-pink colored peaks looked quite similar to the late evening alpenglow but had a more pastel touch to it.
(Everything was still dark while the first rays of sunlight lit up the Trishul peak. Nikon Df with Zeiss 135mm lens at f/5.6, shutter speed 1/125 sec, 100 ISO, mounted on a tripod. Post-processed in Affinity Photo.)
The light was changing fast. Maybe the trek could wait a little. The mountain range is spread across and so capturing a panorama is always an attraction. With such an interesting scene in front, I planned a panorama too.
For the pano, I captured multiple shots in manual mode. For those interested in the details, do check out this article too – Panoramas, Snow, & Coffee.
I clicked just another series of shots. The problem with Panoramas occurs when any one of the shots in the series is not well defined. Just a small focusing error or a camera movement can spoil the whole panorama. So, it’s always better to make double sure and capture just one extra series of images.Even with mild errors, today’s programs can work wonders but why risk it?
The song of the blue whistling thrush could be heard again. Somewhere far off, another one of it started a new melody. Another bird had answered!
Maybe they were trying to tell me that my friend was already waiting for me near the temple. I had to pack-up. I just took the camera off the tripod and left the tripod there. Maybe, I could spot something interesting on our trek.
The meeting point or the temple is located just a short walk from my place. When I reached there, I was early. Maybe, I could have captured yet another series of shots before leaving for the temple. Anyway, I was at the temple now and there was no time to go back. The sun was starting to light up the smaller peaks too. While I waited for my friend, I captured yet another shot of Panchachuli peaks. These are five peaks that are quite low in height compared to Nanda-Devi and Trishul peaks that I had photographed from my place. It was a single shot and even at 1/125 seconds, I had not held the camera steady. The image was blurred. Though I always preach it, I myself forget to capture a second ‘just in case’ shot at times. Maybe, a left-over habit from film days, when I had to economize my clicks!
My friend reached the temple in a few minutes. Though he is a neighbor, his house is located about 200 meters away from mine towards the valley. To reach the temple, he had to take a much longer route. That’s how things are in the hills. Once he reached the place, we sat down in the warm sun and meditated a little. Yes, that’s something I have recently started.
By the time, we finished meditation, the sun was quite up. The sky was blue and the snow-peaks were shimmering in their full white glory.
(Trishul peak in early morning light, visible in a gap between an old pine and an oak.)
The light was getting stronger. Once again, there was a long melodious call of the blue whistling thrush. Maybe someone was still asleep in our little village. Was it like a substitute for roosters, that work like morning alarms in other villages? We do have some roosters in the village but they are lazier than even some of the humans.
Something interesting that always happens in the hills is that once when you focus on the call of one particular bird, it will keep coming back to you all the time. Even in the symphony of various other bird calls, that one particular voice will always stand out. Today, it was the day for this bird.
I told my friend about this and he nodded in comprehension. Did the bird wake him up too today morning? He once again nodded. Everyday at 5:35, like clockwork! Birds can be quite interesting to observe. Maybe I should have carried a long tele lens. The lens mounted on camera is always the wrong one. (Murphy’s Laws in Photography). Anyway, the 135mm was good for landscapes and hills.
When we started for the trek, the forest got denser and denser. The snow-peaks were no longer visible. The air had the crisp winter smell. If you want to know how winter smells like in forest, do plan a walk with me. We trekked for about an hour though the forest. My friend is quiet elder to me and yet he packs a lot of energy. He walked fast and I had to manage his pace. There were mushrooms growing here and there, a hare jumped in front and hurried to the bushes nearby, a parakeet flew by… but I was too busy keeping up with him to photography anything.
After about an hour, we reached another hill top, with a good view of the snow-peaks again. He sat down on a rock and took out his small tiffin box. Time for some morning snacks for him, and an opportunity for me to capture some more photographs.
(Just another snapshot of the hills. The forest in the foreground is the one that we had trekked)
The photographs in this article are just fillers. It was more of a wonderful experience than a photowalk. These early morning treks are wonderful. Next time, I’ll carry a long lens and capture some birds. It has been a long time since I indulged in bird photography.