Daily Life

Bohemian Rhapsody

»Posted by in Daily Life, Photo Session

Bohemian Rhapsody

Traveling around the world, you come across some of the most incredible sights and if you’re like me, you want to catch every possible moment on your camera. We all know that it’s not feasible but it’s also not for want of trying. After visiting some 20 countries over the past 6 years, I have a collection of more than 6000 photographs. My biggest problem is cataloging them and giving them titles. Can you imagine what these photos would have cost in the old days before digital? 250 rolls of film plus development costs would equal what you would pay for a car today!

The group I traveled to Prague with included my partner and 2 other couples, one in their late thirties and the other in their mid-fifties. The age difference doesn’t really matter to travelers does it? You have the same love of adventure and excitement at seeing new things and that was a common thread through our group.

We all had kids too. Mine were adults while the youngest ones had teenagers. The other couple had a son who was married with children and a daughter at high school. Quite a mix because I also had 5 grandchildren. This part of our journey saw us in the Bohemian capital of the Czech Republic. Prague has come a long way since World War II and it is a vibrant city filled with restaurants, beer gardens, performers, and architecture that can take your breath away with its beauty.

We were on the Charles Bridge that crosses the Vltava River and the bridge was absolutely packed with people. Artists were drawing and painting portraits and local scenes, artisans were selling their homemade wares of jewellery and leather goods and it was just a real eclectic mix of sellers, buyers, and sightseers. Quite exciting really.

At the old township end of the bridge, we came across a musical group. A cellist, 2 violinists, and a guitarist. One member of the group said that her daughter played the violin, an electric violin, which she had checked out online. She said her daughter loved the sound of the instrument and even at 9 years old she had an ear for music. The group on the bridge started playing a tune and would you believe it was Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody?! We recorded it with iPads and Smartphones because it was a beautiful performance.

Having a beer later, it was a sweltering day, end of July, Eastern Europe, we were still talking about the band we had just heard on the bridge. They were obviously superb because they were selling CD’s of their work as well and I had bought one. Jack said he would think that buying a musical instrument for a child would make a wonderful gift, especially if they took the time to learn it. Samantha, whose daughter plays the violin, gave Jack the violin website she used  http://violinio.com/ and told him to take a look when he got back home. She stated that the site had everything on there he would want to know to make an informed decision. I just wanted another cold beer!

read more

My Visit To The Museum

»Posted by in Daily Life

My Visit To The MuseumI had a museum photography assignment recently. I had to take interesting pictures of wood wind instruments used in the medieval period. The instruments were on display in a museum, which was planning to open the musical instrument section in a few days’ time and wanted the photos for advertising the inaugural function. While I was snapping the shots of the instruments, I was intrigued by them and the curator noticing my interest enlightened me on the history of the instruments.

Medieval age musical instruments were used by musicians belonging to the period of Minstrels, Troubadours or Waits. The musical instruments were broadly divided into three categories during the Middle Ages namely string, woodwind and percussion instruments. The loud musical instruments where the loudness indicated the volume and not the pitch were called as Haut and were used only for outdoors. Many of the woodwind instruments like sackbut, pipe, shawm, flute, tabor and bagpipe come under the Haut type of instruments. Most of these instruments later evolved into the modern day musical instruments that we use now.

Wood wind instruments

These are a category of instruments, which need air to create music, and were mostly made using wood. Hence, the name woodwind emerged. The instruments are created in such a manner that the column of air blown into them vibrates inside because of the little holes carved in the wood. This controls the sound wave length that is formed by the air vibration. There are various different techniques used to create the musical sound like for instance, in a flute air is blown through the mouth or blowing through the mouthpiece that has a double or single reed.

Woodwind musical instruments

The medieval ages used many woodwind instruments and most of them had some very attractive and exotic shapes. Here are some of the commonly used instruments.

  • The flute is very much similar to the present day flutes and was played by Middle Age flute minstrels
  • Trumpet- This is made of metal like the nowaday models and had four integral parts. This was mostly associated with happy occasion like pageants and fanfares
  • Pipe is a basic instrument with just three holes
  • Shawm is a reed instrument having vent holes in it
  • Recorder is a simple wood wind instrument with melody holes
  • Bagpipe is an ancient popular instrument used by even the poorest of the people. It is made of sheep or goatskin and has a reed pipe attached.
  • Crumhorn is a curved horn shaped instrument used in 1400s and uses double reed
  • Flageolet is a tiny fipple flute that has two thumbholes and four holes for the fingers.
  • English horn is identical to an oboe
  • Oboe is a derivative of Shawm
  • Trombone is an elongated tube and the length can be adjusted by means of a U shaped slide.

There were many other instruments, which not only looked appealing but also produced pleasing sounds. The tuba, cor anglais, bombard, horns and houtboy are other instruments, which I photographed. Overall, I had a great time photographing the instruments and the photos looked beautiful, and were talked about on the same level as the instruments themselves.

read more

Making Shots at MMA Event

»Posted by in Daily Life, Photography

Making Shots at MMA EventI never would have imagined my hobby as an amateur photographer would take me around the world.  It has provided me an opportunity to witness some of the largest sporting events in the world.   I learned long ago in photography that photographs are snapshots in time, and as is the case with photography, your equipment is everything and is the reason why I was able to snap photo after photo, snapshots of action in time momentarily frozen by the shuttering of a lens, snapping some of  my best pictures. This was the first time I attended an MMA or an event like this and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly was prepared for this event.

I was growing impatient as I sat ringside, as a fan of MMA it was difficult for me to hold in my enthusiasm and as a photographer I couldn’t help but think and take notice how participants in events like this rely on their equipment; like the boxing gloves of a boxer or the MMA gloves of a fighter, without their equipment they are defenseless and at a distinct disadvantage, much like the photographer without the right camera, wholly unprepared.

Snapping these photos presented a challenge as I was not expecting the lighting to be as sophisticated as it was, shifting patterns, brightness and glare, but I was prepared for the unexpected and knew that my lens filter would be enough to overcome that challenge.

I focused next on how to capture the action.  I needed to produce great photos while considering the angle I would be photographing from, the position of possible shadows from the lighting and choosing the correct camera lens would be critical in developing great action shots.

The photos turned out to be my best yet.  I knew that my zoom lens and filter would provide tight body shots without having to worry about shadows or angles too much.  Being a fan of MMA I was able to predict with some certainty their next moves, and the knowledge of being an amateur photographer provided me insight on the right kind of photos to snap.

I remembered that good photos is seen through the eyes, but great photography comes from the lens.  My biggest investment was in camera lens; there is a lens for just about any occasion.  Purchasing the right lens filters was also an important purchase, by refracting the light away from the camera great photos were not lost to stray light or sunshine.

Different scenarios create situations and this is where my knowledge on shutter speeds became useful.  Shutter speeds, or exposure time is the length of time a camera’s shutter is open when taking a photograph.  Shutter speeds vary, 1/4000 of a second is used for extremely fast movement, whereas 1 second or lower gives a “milky” water effect, knowing the varying shutter speeds and the kind of shots that are captured by these speeds provided me the information that I needed to snap great pictures.

My hobby in photography has provided me opportunities I never could have imagined and at first it seemed so technical to me; angles, shadows, shutter speed, but realized my approach to photography should be looked at from an artistic side, after that it wasn’t so overwhelming and great photographs was the final result.

read more

Photo Tour of Data Center

»Posted by in Daily Life

Photo Tour of Data CenterAs a photographer, I’m always looking for interesting things to capture with my camera. I’m talking about events, people, places, pretty much anything I can photograph. You can imagine how pleased I was then, when I got a call from a fairly distant relative. Well it wasn’t really a call, since the rates from the Baltic region where he lives would have been murderous – he contacted me through some online profile or another, I can’t recall which. That’s not really the important thing here, either.

When he contacted me and told me he had something really amazing for me to photograph, I honestly couldn’t think of what it might be off the top of my head. My heart surprisingly light with a sense of anticipation, I hopped a plane and headed out as soon as I was able to clear up a few days. Upon arrival, my relative (a young lad, that one) dragged me to a data center to show off his new position and the offices where he worked. Apparently it was a Tier III data center, which means it is highly advanced data center. I was too caught up on the sights to catch everything he said.

Pipes, that’s all I can say. Pipes everywhere.Wide pipes, narrow pipes, pipes of all colors and shapes and sizes, running all over the building. It was a little different from the data centers I’d heard of before, which were really banks of servers in warehouses or basements or something like that. I’m going to guess that part was down in a basement or somewhere we couldn’t go. The pipes, he explained, carried data, cold air and hot exhaust all around the building, getting everything where it needed to go.

The place looked like some kind of octopus with a hundred different arms – all the wires and pipes were stretching in different directions. The data center was designed, constructed and certified by Citrus Solutions, he said, and they are a leading data center builder in Europe. I just trusted him on this, since it’s really more his line of work than my own, but upon later review of Citrus Solutions, I saw they really were a rather substantial data center company, with numerous clients all over the European continent. They’re centered somewhere on the north end of Europe, according to my cousin.

It was certainly a unique experience, I’ll give it that. I got enough cool and colorful shots to add a bunch of new material to my portfolio as well, so I was understandably happy with the trip. I’m glad my cousin is doing well for himself too, naturally. All in all, my Baltic visit was a very positive experience, and I might even be tempted to go back again some other time if new things worth photographing should show up between now and then. No more warehouses full of pipes for me though, not if I can help it. As fun as the place was to see, I don’t think I’ve been so confused in a long time.

read more

Splash! A pool party for Children

»Posted by in Daily Life, Photo Session

Splash! A pool party for ChildrenParties are great occasions that cheer up even the most desolate person. The lively and vibrant atmosphere chases away your worries and what I love about parties is the chance I get to chill out with my pals. When the party is a poolside one, the fun quotient is much more and both kids and adults have a wonderful time.

I’d the opportunity to shoot a pool party recently. The pool was great to look at and the guests had such an exciting time splashing out and having fun that I got curious on how the hosts arranged for the pool. They said, ‘We looked through Pool Mania Website and found a decent above ground pool ‘.

The pool party, which was held for celebrating the host’s son’s first birthday, was just the right summer treat for the guests. The slides, beach balls and squirt guns made a lovely picture, which I delightedly captured in my camera. The theme and other arrangements made, pleased the guest to no end and they were all praises for the host. Here are some wonderful and exciting pool party tips that would come in handy for your party arrangement.

Poolside items

Bright colored beach balls, bubbles, sunglasses, sand pails, squirt guns with lively music in the background are just the things you need to keep the atmosphere vibrant and splashy. The balls however are the best attraction, as kids love to throw the balls inside the pool and at each other having fun all around. Make sure you get the right sized balls, so kids can hold them easily. There are also balls shaped like animals or sea water creatures, which make the fun even more jubilant.

Decorations keep up the enthusiasm

Thematic decorations give a better look. If you’re not into elaborate themed décor, using a uniform color theme will suffice. For instance, the unique beach color of blue with some white stripes can bring the beach atmosphere aptly. Adding a splash of white and orange colors either as polka dots or in the balls, ribbons and other items can make the venue look cheerful and lively.

boy and girl at the pool

Planning the menu

Since poolside parties invariably involve kids, choosing foods that they love is important. Burgers, French fries and other delicacies like jellies, cheese noodles, goldfish crackers etc. keep them sated and active. As refreshers you can include fruit crush with decoration on top and a straw shaped like fish to go with the beach theme. Bringing in the color theme to the foods, drinks and the table cloth décor will complete the look.

Party favors

No party is complete without the favors. Some of the things you can include as favors are tiny sand pails with squirt guns, sun glasses, and bubbles, little fish toys that squirt water or you can just let the kids take the fish straw and the beach ball they’d played with.

Planning games in the pool gives the kids more time to spend in water and have the time of their life. Suggesting the guests to dress in the same color theme as the party also increases the attractiveness and would look wonderful in the shots too. If you wish to have an amazing pool party, you are now very well prepared with the given tips. Also, you can compare the best above ground pools here.

read more

It’s Shooting Time!

»Posted by in Daily Life, Photography

It’s Shooting Time!Rifle and pistol shooting is one of the many recreational sports that I’m quite fond of. You don’t have that many shooting ranges as you did before. The indiscriminate use of the shooting ranges and encroachment of forest areas have reduced the number of natural shooting ranges. There are clubs, which offer shooting ranges as recreational sport.

Imagine my delight, when I got invited over to one such recreational shooting range. Well, not for shooting with pistol and rifle of course. A client of mine was attending the recreational club and taking part in the shooting. He wanted me to take shots of his skill with the pistols and rifles. I took lots of photos and even managed to get myself invited to try my hand at the shooting. I was given one of the rapid fire rifle air guns. Wow, the feel was somewhat strange, but my overall experience was awesome.

A shooting range is complete with several options that help you hone your talent. From different varieties of shooting styles to skill levels there are many choices open to you.  All you need to excel at the shooting range is a steady and strong hand, eagle sharp eyes and strong nerves. When you possess the required stamina, you can hit the target accurately.

There are air pistols and air rifles given initially to test how much accurate your aim is. I was given a Webley Typhoon 0.177 caliber air pistol and a Crossman m4-177 air rifle with spring load.

First I got a short briefing on the safety rules to be followed, while using the shooting range. This was followed by a short lesson on shooting from the experienced instructors present. They gave us time to get familiar with the weapons we had and the practice shooting was then started. Once we had the sufficient practice at shooting required by us, the instructors made us enter the competition round.

The shooting basically involved activities like hitting the targets placed at approximately 10 meters. Each weapon system had different targets for drop down and scoring. To be declared as a winner and get the medals advertised, we were required to have a cool mind and stress free disposition, which I’d found quite difficult to come up with. But with some steady practice and some focus I managed to get rid of the tension that was plaguing me, when I took hold of the rifle.

The time limit given was about 30 minutes, within which time we had to use both guns and the first three marksmen to score the highest will have the honor of standing up at the podium, when the day ended. All the shooting took place in an outdoor area and in case the weather took a turn for worse they’d a sheltered shooting area too. Facilities for shooting after sunset were also present with the area being lit up with flood lights.

All in all the rifle and pistol shooting I’d done was really an amazing and enjoyable experience that I vowed to repeat as soon as possible. The shooting range also had gift vouchers, which you can give out to your friends and family, so they’ll also have a wonderful experience.

read more