Time for Orchid flowers and Sunbirds

It’s the time of the year again – starting of the lovely winters in the northern India and for the orchidkachnaar – flowers to bloom in its various pink saturations. And for the birds to feast on the nectar. It’s the same time the sweet purple sunbirds change their plumage towards eclipse and go towards deep breeding plumage over time. Many a times I confessed that I’m never tired of making an image of the purple sunbird. It’s no different this time.

Last week, one early morning, me and my lovely wife were having tea, before getting ready for the rest of the day is when she spotted one right outside the balcony. This smart male was crooning along, happy to be feasting on the various flowers in various acrobatic poses only a sunbird can do!

There were many poses which I could use for a decent frame. Here’s one that stood out which I processed. I used the 400 f/5.6 + 1.4xTC to make this shot on the 5D Mark III. There were any that had the entire bird isolate but I loved this pose which is partly the flower and the bird isolated from the rest. The blurs formed an art-brush like blurs which I loved. I cropped the photo such that it has the rule of third for the placement of the subject. Otherwise the bird was in the middle of the frame.

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.

#flower #red #muted #green #background #garden #naturephotography #nature #udaipur #rajasthan #instaudaipur #igrajasthan

A post shared by Ram Sundararaman (@rambling000) on

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!

Savanna Nightjar in flight

https://flic.kr/p/pQGSSd

This image was made during one of their trails braving the scorching heat of June last year to Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary. We had a hope of taking a peek at a mammal that could make its way to quench its thirst to a waterhole, or might chance to see the sweet whistling Indian Pitta, and of course anything else that might come our way. We were about a dozen of us in two vehicles, we trailed different tracks, some were lucky to spot the Pitta and others crested serpent eagle but all of us had full taste of the sun. While it was almost time to call it a day we even spotted a few wildbores. When it was time to pack up and head home, Sharad Agarwal heard the Nightjar’s call. All of us got out of the cars and started looking for the most difficult bird to spot.

Nightjars are known for their camouflage and only move about during the nights. They can be sitting next to you and still can not be spotted unless you’re able to see it’s blinking eyes or any tiny movement that they make. We split ourselves into three groups and each one took a direction. I was very tired and the last to exit the car and had no hopes to get a shot at it. After about 15 minutes or so, one of the team members were so close to the bird but still didn’t see it. But the bird got alarmed and took off and flew towards where I was walking in. It allowed a few good frames. I was told that there aren’t many shots that captured this bird in flight during the day.

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…

First prize for me – yes – trust me!

I think obsession is a “must have” for any one. If you’re not obsessed about it, find something or someone.

I wonder why I always start with a history – can’t help it –

One of the most colourful birds in the plains – is Small Minivet. Various oranges and yellows, the black and the rufous makes it a very very attractive bird. My first sighting of it was in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary when a friend Rishi, who was guiding a few of us along pointed to a very far away distance and said, its a beautiful bird. October 2012 it was. It took me a while to locate it through the 250mm IS II – L glass 🙂 – He had a 50-500 bigma – which all of us dreamt of owing one day. And another guy had a 70-300 bigma. All talking about shooting RAW and getting the world back in PP. Never thought the bird will come closer, and it did.

IMG_7068-small-minivet

So far away it was. All that you could see is the colour and the desire to see more of it remained an unfinished agenda then.

The second one that I clearly remember is when Sharad, my neighbour, mentioned to me about a lot of migratory birds in their field area where they work – Bhutala lake – January 2013. Off we went on a Sunday afternoon, packing sandwiches and tea to have by the lake side. My bigma had just arrived. After having had a go at some herons and kingfishers, we were walking to a different spot to get a closer look at some pelicans. “There, on top of your head”, he shouted. Before I could ask “What?”, I saw this just took off from so damn close to another branch and behind the leaves. I had forgotten the name of the bird, then. I could always ask the other Sharad when I’m home. But the best of the lot then is just this one.

IMG_9260-little-minivet-bird-crop

At one other time that I saw this a few months back was from our own terrace. But, it was close to disappointing state of affair. None of them was clear, at the eye level. So much of “habitat” frame that I almost gave up the idea of making a decent image.

Like a lot of other birds, this one is very agile. Always on the move, never returning to a same spot, like a bee-eater or a robin. One important aspect is – is the first few shots that you get it turns out the best on that day. Since it just keeps going up once you spotted it – at least that’s what it did to me except the first time but it was far away anyways.

Two or three weeks ago, someone that I befriended on Facebook – Divesh – someone with a great knowledge of birds pinged to tell me that he’s in town and wanted to go birding with me. I called Sharad, my all time go-to-guy, for “help” – he agreed and there we go. So many minivets spotted in one given day. All posing the same challenge. All going up and up. Few shots we managed. Mostly with a lot of blue sky.

Small Minivet - Pericrocotus cinnamomeus

Yes! but this was a celebrated photo, many liked it. Appreciated even the sky! All beautiful colours. About three years plus a few months to see this closer coming closer to accomplishment.

I’m close to finishing it – thanks for your patience >grin<

Last week I fielded another one from the series and to my surprise, it fetched me the first prize. The competition was organised by the Forest Department – as part of the 60 Wildlife Week events. This is my first ever award of the physical kind. I’m so excited and happy about it. So, thought I’ll write a story about it.

Here we go… with the winner!

Small Minivet - the competition winner

Kingfishers

The early days that I first started off with the 250mm lens – the white breasted kingfisher is the one that fascinated me. The one featured below was taken on Dec 16, 2011

White Breasted Kingfisher

While I was all given up about the Kingfishers after I went after the smaller birds, I happen to go to the Lake Pichola after having driven by some friends on Talon in July 1 2013. Amit Gupta accompanied me and taught me how to lay on the belly and even crawl. We tried our luck with Purple Moorhens and Peasant tailed Jacanas before we spotted this Common Kingfisher

_MG_3007-common-kingfisher

This tiny 4cm tall bird is truly a fascinating bird and I was all thrilled to have it shot from such close quarters. And after it flew off, we started heading back to the car. As luck would have it, we spotted it again and this time we could get even closer.

_MG_3153-common kf

As you can see, the sun was all about to go down and I must have fired close to 200 shots only to realize that I had my OS setting set to Off position 😦

We savored all the thrill, so what had the OS off! On the July 27 2013, I happen to go to drop my son Srijan to the school. I had carried the camera along with the newly acquired bean bag from Toehold to chance a few shots on the way back. I parked the car near the Rani road turn and went down the bank. I spotted the Pied Kingfisher and two Common Kingfishers..

Pied Kingfisher with Common Kingfisher on backdrop

Not before I saw the little common Kingfisher had caught a little fish on my left.

Common Kingfisher with its catch

What a site it was! Now it was wanting to swallow the fish which was more than a bite. The scene in which it swirled itself was amazing site to watch.

Common Kingfisher ruffling

_MG_3580-ckf-ruffle-2

Don’t miss the water drops on the image. 🙂