Nest photos – the madness

It sure is a cakewalk to get a good shot of the birds if you happen to get them near the nests. You can tell your good friends of it so they can go get some good shots for themselves. Eventually, it gets messy. Reportedly the birds feel threatened. They leave the nest abruptly thereby resulting in the death of young ones. So, in principle, you don’t do it. The forums cry foul when you do them – some – very loud. But every photographer has nest photos. Some birds like Baya Weaver, it is next to impossible to get shots without a nest. And most birds are at a certain location mostly when they breed.

I wouldn’t want to disturb these beautiful fairies. I would advocate, no one should. But it is nothing short of madness to cry foul as if the hell is broken loose.

Birds are smart. They scout thoroughly and put up their nests. I’ve been observing them for a few years now. At home, we have put up some nests for Magpie Robins and House Sparrows. We have seen many birds nesting in the trees, fences and even unused corners of our house. We’ve had Purple Rumped Sunbirds, Indian Robins, White-naped Tits, Brahminy Starlings, Ashy Prinias, Common Tailorbirds etc nest right here. The point I’m trying to make is, they are not threatened as long as you haven’t threatened them.

Here’s a nest of Red Vented Bulbul right at the end of cloth-drying line. It pulled off the material from the bamboo chairs that were lying on the terrace. It also has supply of fresh bugs from the wasps right across! 😀

This brings me to the recent series I posted on a new bird to our household – White browed Fantail – which had nested right across one of the windows. It even chased away our maid who was cleaning that area below the tree not knowing that the nest was in the making. These were taken from inside the house. The bird did not even have a chance to see if someone was taking a photo.

Go ahead and enjoy these. All of them flew off the next day!

Another Seven day Nature Challenge

Around the same time, couple of years ago, my neighbour Anjali Gupte nominated me to this one on Facebook. As luck would have it, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I just noticed my last post was also a compilation of another challenge. Anyways, a post in a while is better than no post at all. So, here we go –

Let me know what y’all think!

Hope – good, bad or unclassified

The other day I was playing with distortion effects on the photos till I dropped. I had to decide that I had enough of it but one of the images that I did had to be put up. So I decided to add a quote to it from Shawshank Redemption

Interesting conversation that propped up off that!

The Jewel Beetle experience

I would now admit that I’m slowly getting back to photos. It finally feels good to see a subject, run for the camera, whine about the wrong lens and so on and so forth. I’m glad to be able to do this.

This weekend it started while we were having tea at the rear balcony. I was on the lookout for the purple-rumped sunbird to show up. I still need a good shot of that beauty. The camera didn’t make it with me yet though. It didn’t take me too long to spot the beetle in the neem tree. The other counter part blister beetle was hovering around too. At that time, I didn’t know the actual name but decided I’ll call this a bee. I wasn’t even interested in making a photo of it yet. And then it started to move about and the shine was something that you can not ignore.

OK! Time to get the camera. Luckily, I had the 1.4x on 400 – where I was sitting was close to the minimal focal distance. Took a few shots and checked – the spot metering that was hitting the various spots was showing variations upto 3 stops. Oh boy! I turned to Auto ISO and started shooting at 500th of a second. And there were some keepers for sure.

The muted green background from the monsoon is always a big one for me – I just love this green more than anything else.

Twirls experiment

I’m not sure if I really liked this but looking more at this and trying different options might make me to.

While post-processing can be a cumbersome, long process – you can’t really help it to make sure that your photos look good. I’m going to try making this chore a little interesting by cranking up the process to come up with something line this

The twirl experiment

Another Tiger Hills Sunrise
The original photo that was made to this is

Found the steps in this photo that was edited in Photoshop CS6

  • Adjustments were – Filter – Pixelate – Mezzotint 100% + (medium lines) OK
  • Filter – Blur – Radial Blur (Amount 100%, Blur Method set to Zoom, Quality set to Best) OK
  • Select filter and at the top of the drop menu, you want to select Radial Blur again and then do that one more time by selecting Filter and choosing Radial blur again.
  • Then you want to copy the layer by dragging it downwards into the symbol that says create a new layer. This icon is on the left of the small trash can in the layers pane.
  • Once you have a copy, select the top layer and just above it in the layers pane you will see the NORMAL drop down, select this and then click on lighten on the drop down menu.
  • Still on the top layer, select Filter – Distort – Twirl
  • Change the angle to whatever you like, I started with -100 and changed it slightly, you can see it change when you change the percentage and decide what percentage looks best.

Upload photos to Instagram from Dropbox

Everybody’s posting to Instagram and some even asked – “Oh! You don’t use it?” – so I had to bite the bullet and went about signing up for it.

Here’s a flower photo that I did sometime ago!

Immediate next issue I ran into is how do I get to transfer my photos to the phone because Instagram is a very mobile based app and I use my DSLR to take photos, process and publish – not to say the occasional cellphone photos. I looked around for options, one was emailing it to me which was very cumbersome. You download the photo on your phone and share it from thereon. I looked around the internet and found using Dropbox being a great option. The references I could find so far had obsolete screenshots and I often tend to miss the method – so writing it down here for reference.

I signed up for an exclusive dropbox account, just for this purpose. I use another one for work and didn’t want to mess it up. I use the Web interface to upload the files – photos for the current sake – but have the Dropbox app installed on my Android phone. You could get it for an iPhone too. Instagram itself doesn’t look great on Tablets, it’s a Phone only app.

Here’s how you post directly from Dropbox to Instagram

Once you upload files to Dropbox from your computer, you can open the app on your mobile and see them listed right away. Tap on the downward point arrow in the list to open the context popup.

Dropbox to Instagram - Step 1
Step 1 – Open the context popup

Tap on the Context Menu – marked as 2 in the screenshot above – and drag it upwards till you see Export.

Step 2 - Select Export
Step 2 – Select Export

As a last step, you just need to select Instagram from the Export list pop-up and you’ll see the photo in the Instagram app.

Step 3 - Select Instagram and you're on your way!
Step 3 – Select Instagram and you’re on your way!

While I don’t use an iPhone, it should be much similar to it. Let me know if you want me to look it up for you!

in Explore… another first

2014-12-17_12-54-44-common-teal-flickr-exploreYesterday I was surprised to note my common teal photo made it to Flickr’s explore. I used to wonder how this happened and still do 🙂

Common Teal - female - EXPLORED

The last that I checked, which is now, the view count was nearing 7.5k and favourited by more than 110 folks. Given that I know very few in Flickr, it’s a huge number for me. And here, I take the opportunity to thank them and the ones that are going to follow. Who doesn’t love a bit of Flickr currency >grin<

This photo was shot on the same day that a few of the others that you may have noticed on the Flickr stream. As it usually happens with water birds, they just fly away as you get in. This new location didn’t have much to hide so I had to get stealth only by crawling and waiting lying down. As the clothes started to get wet, the November cold started to feel in. I had to turn to the side and lift the legs up occasionally to stay a little drier and waited for the birds to get closer. The firsts to show up were a couple of Black-winged Stilts, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover and Common Snipe. Some of them are already posted and the other await some processing. All of these, as you know are, shore birds and are obviously nearer to me.

The Snipe was a lifer for me and I was already very happy to have had some good shots of it. The ducks, which have been a difficult ones for me, essentially because, I’ve never been as patient as I could get on this day. The first round of shots when the Teal was passing by faraway with a splash was already a reward.

Common Teal

It was already well over an hour and I wasn’t able to bear the chill. So stood up and walked back to the car. While I was reviewing the shot with a friend, one of the Stilts was coming closer to us. He jokingly mentioned that the stilt wanted some better shots. I took it with more seriousness. This time when I crawled in, it was much more mud and wetness. And more time too.

The Teal did arrive closer but never believed that it could make it to Explore..

We couldn’t have had a better day and not to forget the Milan Restorent‘s snacks…

The Opensource playing tricks?

By the time it was 5:30am there’s a flurry of notification beeps from the tablet and phone. Last time it happened a few weeks ago, there was a flickr user who chose to favourite most of the stream – it brought me a smile! I’d sent him a thank you note!

Purple Sunbird

It’s usually UTC 0:00 hours when some automated hackers decide bombard servers with Denial of Services (DoS) attacks. And it’s the turn to one of our servers. So the notifications were of the email alerts! Time to call it Happy Friday and go about it.


Nobody provides support for >geek<ily configured servers and sysadmins would sneer at you if you have custom ports to access systems. But the first thing that you’ll hear “You should think of adding Load Balancers and they start only at $10 a month!”. So, to cater to a DDOS attack, the first thing that we need is a load balancer. And the capacity that you’ve built it is running at 98% idle overall – at all times!

I had to drop the plans of dropping my son to the school and I’ll be automatically voided of the small conversation that I could have with him. The rest of day, anyways, goes into meting out the problems that the world is facing!

So it takes three hours of fighting with the text prompts, google searches, teas, having to ignore the sunbirds that have turned extremely purple to find a new route that people have taken to take me for a ride. Maybe it was the same last time but I wasn’t aware. So each time it’s a new type of attack and I have to learn and add to my notes.

Turns out it’s a WordPress vulnerability that’s been discovered and supposedly fixed, has surfaced again. And it seems to be on the surfacing mode all the time – at least 4th time per people’s rambles. I really wonder if WordPress is really bothered about fixing these. For I see a lot of folks moving to their premium hosted solution and is there some strings attached?

At least, I ended feeling good having gotten over it at 9:30am – a flat 3 hours of Hollywood movie time, much like The Matrix. Back in the balcony, we had an army of tailorbirds that came to wish me for the good recovery. I’ve never seen more than two till then. The usual bulbuls testing the waters of the bird bath. The sunbirds whom I can only hear out of the windows a few moments ago, sticking out their tongues.. The magpie robins and white eyes. Wow, it was just all of them. I decided against running for the camera and continued to sip the tea which my better half got for me. All of it brought me the smile. Did you wonder why I had that Sunbird up there?

All that matters!