Sunday, 5 October 2014

Reference frames

After fighting off a long writers block ((though I cannot call myself a writer by a long shot, I am still taking that liberty since I do not have any other valid reason from a six month absence here .Lolz)) I am writing about a little piece that has been poking in my mind since a long time.The FACE. We all face situations in life wherein we see things that always are multifaceted around us. In other words, A thing or may be sometimes a person will always be same, but our conditions, and our frame of reference as our beloved Einstein points out, changes ,our lookout towards that thing will change. A little example would be just a smart phone, you will probably love it when you get a mail about your selection in job or an application, but same device will receive your wrath when you get a mail about pending payment from bank, or imagine you expecting a call from your beau and and phone rings to a call from the call center :D. So cutting long story short, everything in your day to day world and also nature will have many faces to it depending on how you look at it. 
I always had a knack to see the things around nature a little differently. I can see some faces or shapes of it in twigs and blades of grass, or a rock stuck between the rivulet.Or may be some other forms that originally look different.Some call it abstractions, I call it eccentric sights. There is a subtle difference here that the former has a real world set where it belongs to the category of things accepted by people, latter belongs only to the mind where it first originated.It may or may not be accepted in other minds. Anyways here are some pics that hopefully will clear out my thoughts I blurted above.....

A minimalist view of Lord Ganesh ( the elephant god). The twig bent itself in an arc that looked to me like a trunk of elephant and the little new flowers resembled the crown, As I earlier said, these meaning may not be acceptable to all , but once generated in a particular mind, its hard to shift them.

Another grass twig that was bent in shape of a bald head and the twig pronged itself as a shape of spectacles. The twig appeared like gandhi to me, philosophically looking at the setting sun.I saw it that way gives me no reason to convince you to look at it the same way. Every person has his own frame of reference and his thinking will be influenced by it. Always..

A little smile from nature. Two open billed storks fly over the woods making a near face with twinkling eyes as if bidding me a farewell, meekly smiling.... 

Well, its not that only kids can be naughty isn't it ? I saw this wood grow on a tree trunk and green fungi or mushroom like thing grown up making an amalgam of comedy and horror as if ready for Halloween festivals....

A rock in the rivulet or a skull in the stream , or nothing but a simple stone in a rill.. you can view this with as many combinations as you want. Who am I to confine your thoughts ? 

Professor Dumbledore. The crags making ventral parts and the water making it for the long white hair and the beard..sigh I so wish I had something there to substitute for his hat :D. anyways for now I'll settle with a frowned old man...

A striped gold fish in the pool. I saw a tiger napping at the waterfronts in the hot summers in India. It was in deep slumbers so really didn't wanna wake up. To me the reflection edges matched and created a shape of a fish, Voila!! I had found a new species!!! jokes apart ,but yeah at that moment it did look more exciting than a tiger facing up to me and giving me a frustrated look for I disturbed his slumber....

So this is about it. For me, the things do change once I change my frame of reference, In other words as you change your way over looking at it. Some call it attitude. As you change your attitude towards certain things , they seem to look different. May be prettier or uglier, all depends on you.Many a times we hear people saying I did see a tiger with no smile on his/her face.Why? he was sitting in the bushes ,amidst clutter so no clear view and thousand reasons like this from kind of light to the number of people with whom you saw him. Here if you see tiger, saying yes it is in its real world, trust me it would make a gracious picture. What you only need is a change in the frame of reference.All depend on how we look. Single thing can be viewed in million ways if tried so.
If you click a picture with eyes open, you will get ten different frames, doing the same with eyes closed will give you probably a million  
Signing off for now and expecting to be back real soon....... :)

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A day in Grasslands , a rendezvous with elephants

After a long gap of one year I finally had a chance to break the shackles from my professional commitments and blaze my bazookas in the jungles of jim corbett national park, on occasion of wild clicks contest.The grasslands of dhikala, which form the most exotic locations of the park, and unarguably the most pristine grasslands in north India, inhabited by large herds of deer, elephants and of course the elusive striped cat is a dreamland for any photographer as these are truly blessed by light during dawn and dusk. I had exactly a day to be in the wonderland, and so I wasn't expecting much in terms of variations in light and subject.But nature always has a tendency to surprise us.
I woke up early morning, not by the chime of my mobile alarm , but by the howling of the gale winds over the forests.Not to mention the little drops of rain , and the lightening in between. The weather didn't seem to cooperate at all, but as they say bad light is the best light for photography, the norm did hold true when the sun came over the horizon. The low light, as if filtered through the cloud layers created a wonderful atmosphere.

As the gypsy kept taking rounds of the grasslands, in search of a subject to shoot in this light, we saw a huge herd of deer near the ramganga river bed. The soft little fog over the huge expanse of trees in the backdrop and the turquoise blue shade of the river made a perfect recipe of an ideal habitat for the herd of deer.The herd oblivious of any predator around, continued to graze their heart out and seemed to enjoy an undisturbed reunion.

Moving deeper into the jungles bought us closer to the herd of my much awaited and favorite subject to  photograph, an animal which is said to have evoked the fascination of human beings since centuries when it comes to strength, personality and emotions, the wonderful Elephants. The light remained amazing, the rays of sun fell on the elephants as if blessing them and the combination was magical. 
I'd like to mention a little about elephants here, as no matter how much I speak about them, its less.Such a magnificent animal it is. 
Elephants live in parade and their numbers can vary depending on terrain and family size.The herd has a very well established linear social order with males and females living different lives. Females live in closely knit group with other females like daughters, aunts and inlaws ;) usually led by the eldest female, the matriarch.
Seen below is a female elephant with little family.

The female elephant takes care of its baby for a large period of its life till it has been weaned off from its mothers milk completely. Elephant calves are totally dependent on its mother till 5 yrs of life for all nutrition,migration,health and hygiene.She teaches its calf everything needed they need to know about the herd, communication, use of its trunk for eating, drinking and bathing, and all necessary things about surviving alone. It is therefore rightfully said about elephants that when it comes to emotions, elephant is closest related mammal to humans.

An elephant calf comes to life after a gestation period of whopping 22 months, also the litter size is mostly 1 and twins very rare.A calf is taken utmost care by the females in herd. It takes an appreciable period for the calf to completely wean off and is frequently seen suckling.

Males in contrast to females live a solitary life spending more and more time on outskirts of herd first for hours, then days and weeks and eventually leaving the group generally after age of fourteen to make his own life. There they may form bachelor herds or wander alone. They do return back to herd time to time in pursuit of a partner and again wander off.

Elephants use their strong trunk not only for picking up food and water but also play an important role in communication. They display affection by continuously fondling and caressing by trunks between elephants in herds and also during courting ,bull elephant will plait its trunk with that of cow as indication of affection.

A wandering elephant in grasslands near the ramganga river bed...

The elephant herd in itself is a very beautiful and soothing group to eyes. The camaraderie between them and the concentration in their mundane chores is worthwhile to notice as ever.

Returning back to the day so well spent with the gentle giants, it was time to return back to the world of two legged creatures.The light too had dramatically changed and cloud cover had disappeared. It was time of wait and watch more than clicking. On far of distance , near same river bed  i could see the same deer herd grazing around and with the change of light, color and ambiance had totally changed. Just to have an idea how light matters here is a high key of the deer herd.

 As I was going out of the jungles, we saw a adolescent elephant male happily playing with the tree trunks on the road out of the jungles. The dusk had just about started to settle in and the huge canopy of the trees prevented the last rays to reach the ground. Though it had signaled the end of my day there, the animals were sure of an amazing dusk as ever. The elephant meanwhile kept enjoying his stroll as I was immersed in my thoughts.... 

As the elephant crossed over into the canopy , we proceeded to way out of the amazing lands. A sense of dejavu still lingers in the mind as I see the pics of the elephant mother and it calf again and again. I wonder when will I again be in the grasslands to see the elephants again. Will I able to see the same elephants again, even if I see will I be able to identify them. May be that the reason we call this natural history moments.Sadly they never tend to repeat themselves. They happen once and gets etched in ones memories.. Forever....

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

I , Me , Myself

When we see an animal, we kind of make out an idea of the kind of presence and the aura it has in its surrounding.Every animal has been associated with an emotion and a power,something like in chess,where animals like knight, bishop and rook are animals. We easily know about that particular animal when we see it.Sadly, an animal doesn't have a control on what humans got to feel when we see it. It plays along in its own way. It has its own personality, a character, a demeanor which goes along itself, be it any kind of animal. Of course it all depends on the conditions where an animal is, factors like human interventions, its position in the food chains and its inner flamboyance. A leopard in Sri Lanka (yala) will have a totally different personality than that of one in India. Simple reason being that the former doesn't have tiger, a stronger animal in food chain. So Indian leopard will be found mostly on high trees. Similar can be said about African and Asian elephants. Size is a matter in personality there. Also different individuals in groups have altogether different ways of reacting. As seen in packs of hyenas and wild dogs.
Anyways, the reason I came up with all these rantings are some amazing movies like Eight below, life of pi,and myriad movies dedicated to animals and birds. There really is something amazing in portraying animal emotions, or imbibing emotions in them; take for instance the lion king series. Here is below a series of pictures about the personalities and expressions.

Probably the most sought after avian, when it comes to exemplify courage, stealth , power, high position,eyesight,attitude and many more positive traits. I have never heard more maxims about these virtues being related to any other animal apart from this one.Such is the might of this amazing animal that even neil armstrong said "Houston, tranquility base here, the eagle has landed" , lunar eagle being the name of his shuttle. Here is a pic of a mighty eagle in forests, ever alert with its great eye.

The most flamboyant personality of the jungle, the Tiger. Be it a cud, an adolescent or an adult tiger, anything written about them falls short of compliments.Tiger is always metaphored as a warrior, a powerful person, leading a life of a king and many more.And why not, the flamboyance of tiger is reflected in every step it takes, every sound it makes. Its sheer presence knocks the calmness of the forests off and converts it into a place of terror for a while. Of course its a fact that forests cannot exist without tiger for the obvious reasons. No wonder the most elusive animal of the forests is the king , the amazing tiger.Here is a pic showing a adolescent and adult tiger with calm expressions

Jackal, this animal for some reason reminds me of the joker in playing cards, considered to be a cunning owing to their opportunistic behavior and being scavengers.One finds all these traits in jackal. It has been accurately portrayed as someone shrewd but not a powerful character.

The Bison or indian gaur represents brute strength. Its said that more powerful a person becomes, his approach towards life becomes calmer. Bisons show exactly that. Its the tallest of all wild cattle and its size is too intimidating.It is mostly a silent animal, unless triggered similar to most animals.The horn as shown in the pic is a sign of strength and are more spectacular in males. Gaurs are among the most heavy animals of the world and yet once of the very calm customer too.

 Coming to the most common denizen, who is most cautious, agile and most alert , the deer. You see the deer and immediately you remember yourself the way you used to be in primary school and being summoned by the principle of the school. That said, since they are so alert , I feel they are the most sincere individuals in forests.They are simple, down to earth, polite, and always ready to face dangers.
This famished deer, walking in swamps to search food , and the clouds over it , apparently show the tough times hovering on it. Deer looks up to the clouds, may be asking something , and its skinny body indicates the tough times it had in past....

Another picture of a sambar deer below, shows its alertness, via its ears.As if setting its antenna to get info about the approaching enemy.

Langurs are one of the most eloquent bunch of animals in forests. Its very rare to find them silent, or alone. They are one temperamental animals. Resembling the most naughtiest, but also helping nature of animals. They are always reflected so , in many adaptations and movies. Here is a pic of a angry , raged langur.

Its always said that if there is an animals whose emotional quotient matches very close to humans is the elephant. They have to be the most feared animals , if their cub is disturbed. Emotional attachment of an elephant with its herd is a very deep relation. The way a cub is taught the ways of life is just exemplary. The bond between the female elephant and her cub is so overwhelming that they are heartbreakingly close to us. 

Elephants are also seen wandering alone. Most male elephants are alone as they approach puberty. They are very aggressive and irritable at the same time. Its known to take fights with any other male elephants and behavior is highly erratic.
The expressions and the personalities of animals are too visible to know them well. Over a period of time they get acquainted and adjust themselves to their surroundings be it jungles or zoos. The problem occurs when human wants to change something that animals is used to. This is nature isnt it , no one wants to be shifted from comfort zones.And when shift occurs, their has to be a repercussion. And sadly its always the animal that has to pay.
I just hope someday,we all would understand the welfare of animals , treat them as personalities and not just animals, that would be the day we will certify our race to be called humans..... hope soon..