5 Reasons why I love visiting Mara by November

Masai mara is one of my favourite wildlife destinations, I have travelled by both migration season and by November, here are the five reasons why I personally love visiting mara by the month of November...


1. Green and Dramatic

 While the main focus is on mammals, the green background makes the frame more pleasing...

While the main focus is on mammals, the green background makes the frame more pleasing...

By November, the water flow by the mara river will be very good, eventually it will be all greens everywhere. It will not only please your eyes but your cameras too.. 

 See how green Mara by November. A View thro' window of our Safari flight, just before landing.

See how green Mara by November. A View thro' window of our Safari flight, just before landing.

Getting a green background on your wild-portraits is a pure bliss. Where in by migration season all you get is a yellow grass with a very mild tint of green in it.


2. Less Crowded

During the wildebeest migration period (Jul - Oct), you can literally see citizens of almost every known country in the world. Being one of the largest natural history event in the planet, this will be in every nature lover's wish list, eventually this season becomes the busiest season across the year. But, by November it will be like an empty endless golf course. You need not stand behind any other vehicle to get a good angle. For example, we witnessed a cheetah hunting down a Thompson's gazelle and shot the whole sequence for an hour, It was only us with two more vehicle witnessed the whole scene. If this was by August, there would be easily thirty plus vehicles in that scene.

If you are a photographer, you would personally love the place with very less crowd with ample opportunities to frame the mammals and wild Scape as you prefer.


3. Wallet Friendly

 Happy faces... :) 

Happy faces... :) 

Like in any business, tourism also operates on system of 'Demand Vs Supply'. lesser the crowd more the offers. Package rates goes down. Availability becomes much easier. 

Right from the flight tickets to the camp charges, the overall package will be 25% to 30% less than that of high season rates. You will also have the advantage of getting your favourite camp's availability on desired dates. 


4. More opportunity to witness live hunts

 A Live hunt just in front of us, witnessed during our last trip by Nov 2017.

A Live hunt just in front of us, witnessed during our last trip by Nov 2017.

While hunting happens all through the year, the probability of witnessing a live hunt is very high during this season. During migration time the savannah will be full of prey and predators, so most of the time it's a quick catch & eat scenario. All the action will be over by the time you track down and reach the location. 


5. You get the best naturalist

 'Sons of the Soil' Our extremely knowledgable naturalists !

'Sons of the Soil' Our extremely knowledgable naturalists !

The role of a naturalist is very important while on a safari. Not just for sighting and photography purpose but, to get aware more about the African savannah and enhance your knowledge on animal behaviours. Going along with the local has so many advantages, you also get to know more about the Masai villages and their culture from the local naturalist.


Disclaimer: The statements and conclusions in this blog are purely based on my personal opinion with my own experience on visiting Africa. As you may know opinion varies person to person. So please translate it accordingly, or join for an exclusive trip to experience nature at its best !

© 2018  www.munishphotography.com

Four reasons why I chosen the 2015 MacBook pro 15"

As a photographer, the system being used is as important as camera gears. We primarily use the system for processing and back up of files. To handle heavy RAW files and 4k videos, I must use a fast and reliable system. While there are few good professional laptops, I narrowed down to MacBook pro as I feel comfortable with its workflow and like its pace.
 

Recently I decided to upgrade my 2012 model 13" MacBook pro. After doing enough research and consultation with my friends, I bought the 2015 version of 15" MacBook pro (i7, quad-core, 16gb, 256gb).

Here are the four major reasons I have chosen the 215 version against the latest 2017 version.


1. The Keyboard:

 The 2015 edition with standard keyboard 

The 2015 edition with standard keyboard 

 The Latest Model with butterfly model keyboard and a large touch pad.

The Latest Model with butterfly model keyboard and a large touch pad.


While the new version is of latest technology comes with butterfly model, I personally felt more comfortable using the original (old) version. On analysing it further I understand that the old version gives a good feedback every time you press a key, the butterfly model doesn't feel like I pressed it even and it's noisy too.. I may not feel comfortable using it in mid of a meeting or in a silent office.

Though not sure, I heard from few of my friends that there are lot of reliability issues with the new touch-bar and keyboard. I also came across few news links which says the same. I am sure Apple is internally working on this internally.
 


2. The adapters:

 2015 edition with All required ports

2015 edition with All required ports

 The new edition with only USB-C ports

The new edition with only USB-C ports

The older version which I bought now has two USB3 ports, two thunderbolt ports, one HDMI port, one SD card slot and a MagSafe charge point. The new version has only Four USB-C ports. For now, I literally don't have any accessory with a USB-C pin.  So when I want to connect my stuffs like hard-disk, card reader, external display, I need to buy and carry a big bunch of adapters. This will not only fill my carry bag but will also empty my wallet. I need to buy adapters worth more than ₹10,000. 


3. The Look:

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For many, this may sound like a silly point, but in gadgets' aesthetic is as important as performance. Like every texture and design is important while choosing a personal garment. I personally like the backlit logo in older version against the flat non-lit logo in latest versions. The latest one looks really non-premium. Of course it's a personal choice which influenced my decision by a small percentage.
 


4. The Price:

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Probably I should have made this as first point. We are investing our hard-earned money in to this gadget. Our prime priority is to get best out of the money we spend on gadgets. On looking out alternate options, I personally felt this has the best value for money. I got an advantage of more than 30% on price tag by taking this decision, moreover I got a killer deal on this, which is equal to a 13" MacBook pro of 2016 version. You can personally message me if you want to know more on pricing.


The trade off:

Of course what I bought is not the best in today's industry, there are some trade-offs for the above mentioned advantages.. For example: the processor speed, touch pad, size, weight, etc.. are few advantages I compromised on.

Please feel free to share your personal opinions in comments below. If you feel this will be helpful for people who are looking to upgrade their gears, please do share. Thank you.


A Chaser, A Prey and An Opportunist..

I am personally excited to start this "Story Behind the Shot" series, with this one.

 There is an exciting story behind this capture..

There is an exciting story behind this capture..

It was a hazy afternoon while we were on safari by the beautiful savannah of Masai Mara, spotted two young lions sitting casually by the plains and a herd of wildebeest behind casually grazing by the fresh greens.

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While we expected some action to happen between the lions and the wildebeest, a Hyena from very far ran towards the herd. My naturalist told that hyenas will be more active after rains.

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The hyena ran straight across the herd and made smart split, gone round, did repeated splitting and ended up chasing one at last, the wildebeest made a sprint and made enough lead over the hunter, but being open land it couldn't hide or move off from hyena's view... 

The chase continued for couple of kilo-meters, while we followed from far off distance. The wildebeest reached the banks for the mara river and took a decision to cross the river...

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The chaser came close to it but not enough, the wildebeest started crossing the river, thats when the TWIST happened ! 

A huge Croc came from nowhere straight from the bottom and locked the wildebeest's head with its powerful jaws, took it down in single shot.

 Between the powerful jaws, the Prey had no choice !

Between the powerful jaws, the Prey had no choice !

Within minutes, the croc took control of the whole scene. meantime, one more croc joined the party. The wildebeest has no other option other than giving up...

 When your friend joins the party !

When your friend joins the party !

 

The hyena who chased down so long watched the whole thing happening. Gone around the river and tried to frighten off the crocs but in vain.

 A disappointing walk after a long chase...

A disappointing walk after a long chase...

 Can you see the blood off the surface..

Can you see the blood off the surface..

The crocs casually dragged off the prey. When the blood comes off to the surface the hyena decided to leave the scene. The drizzle started again.

 The Hyena walk by the banks watching his prey taken by others..

The Hyena walk by the banks watching his prey taken by others..

This whole thing happened between two consecutive drizzles, in less than 30mins. We anticipated the powerful Lions to do the job but it was the long-range runner Hyena who started.. at last it was the opportunist Crocodile who grabbed the prey.

 The final Drag off, and the drizzle starts..

The final Drag off, and the drizzle starts..

Apart from witnessing this amazing nature's event, I personally learnt a lot from this experience. Hope you also have some takeaways of your own, hence keeping my learnings without mentioning here.

Please do share your comments and views, which will fuel me further to write more. I am currently writing a blog on travel to Masai Mara.

 

© 2018 www.munishphotography.com

+91 9094015745

Getting started with motorsport photography

Wedding photography may have monopolized photographic interests in India. But just like the state of sports in this country, all it takes is a little awareness for people to look beyond and identify other forms of photography that might pique their interest.

One such interesting option is motorsports photography.

 From Asian Road racing championship @ Chennai 

From Asian Road racing championship @ Chennai 

hile fashion and commercial photography have thrived over the years, lesser-known genres like motorsports photography are slowly expanding beyond the purview of journalism.

A big challenge for motorsports photography enthusiasts is the fact that it doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as other sports, mainly cricket. There are very few international-standard race tracks in India. And it’s mostly bike makers, tyre and accessory manufacturers who sponsor these events.

So, it does take patience and a diligent pursuit of opportunities to be successful as a motorsports photographer. Not that technique is easy—on the contrary, it takes a lot of practice and a creative eye to make pictures that stand out.

 Indian Racer Rajini Krishnan at Chennai track.

Indian Racer Rajini Krishnan at Chennai track.

 

So, how does one start with motorsports photography?

Choosing the right equipment (telephoto lenses, cameras with high fps, etc.) is just part of the big picture. To shoot at a racetrack, you’ll need prior permission from the officials. Usually, only approved media representatives and official photographers of the race club (like the Madras Motor Sports Club, MMSC, in Chennai) are allowed to take photographs.

Once you’ve managed to gain access and necessary permissions to shoot, what you need to focus on is technique. Two of the most common techniques employed are: panning and freezing. Of course, all other composition, light, and framing rules also apply.

Panning

Panning is one of my favourite composition techniques, mostly so because it requires immense skill and practice. 

 A Panning Shot, from Malaysia SuperBike Championship. 2017

A Panning Shot, from Malaysia SuperBike Championship. 2017

Panning emphasizes the speed of the racer, by making sure the moving subject or the racer is tack sharp while the other elements in the frame are blurry (usually blurry lines).

 

At comparatively lower shutter speeds, the synchronized alignment of the lens and the moving subject is key to a successful panning shot. The composition usually involves a single racer, so you know what your frame is exactly and work towards building a story out of that.

 When Narain karthikeyan took on the track in Chennai.

When Narain karthikeyan took on the track in Chennai.

 

  1. Shutter speed settings of 1/60s  to 1/200s are common, and it depends on the speed of the racer at that point in time.
  2. Recommended aperture is one stop lesser than the native wide-open setting of the lens. I usually choose F6.3 with a 400mm focal length.
  3. ISO depends on the existing lighting conditions—as always, the lower the better. But since shutter speeds are typically low, ISO 100 is quite easily achieved.
  4. Manual selection of a single focus point is always recommended. In case multiple points are selected, focusing on the helmet and the headlight lamp can make a huge difference while viewing the picture big.
  5. AI Servo is a thumb rule. Because the subject moves at 150+ km/h, the difference in time between focusing and exposure matters a lot. At the same time, freezing the focus point with AI Servo is critical; I usually select an area with high contrast to keep my lens focusing system predictable.

 

Freezing

Freezing is more in tune with framing and focusing. The placement of the subject in the frame when it is zipping through at 150+ km/h is the challenge here.

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Ideally, you can efficiently freeze the subject at decisive moments like negotiating a curve, touch and go situations, and so on.

Unlike panning, in this technique, the background plays a major role. It might be a challenge, but I usually find that branding boards make for a good background.

Typical challenges you’ll face at the racetrack

Racetracks are dusty and hot, and you might spend a full day under the sun. It takes passion and high endurance levels to keep yourself going.

Besides, you’ll also need to be proactive—running from one corner of the track to another is the only way you can get good angles and capture defining moments.

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Some tips

Usually, I attempt freezing motion shots in the first few laps in at least two corners, so that I capture a small group of racers negotiating the corner.

Mid-race is when I focus on panning shots and choose a few leading racers to make good pictures.

The time of race matters much, because harsh light can lead to dark shadows and unusable images. This means you might have to compromise on better angles for good light.

 Jorge  Lorenzo  @ Sentul Racing Track, Indonesia

Jorge Lorenzo @ Sentul Racing Track, Indonesia

Motorsport photography is not about planning and executing. It is about capturing the moment with skill and knowledge that you have acquired through practice and experience. But know that the rewards are fulfilling, if you can overcome the challenges.

 

Top 5 questions people asked, after I quit my job

It has been more than a year since I quit my 9 to 5 job and started being on my own. 

In this period, I have travelled a lot both personally and professionally. While I covered length and breath of the country for various assignments, I also travelled to Africa and South East during this period. In this period, I have met so many people including professionals, artists, sportsmen, event managers, corporate heads, business people etc.. I consider the interaction with such diversified personalities is one of the best things I earned by being on my own. During the interaction there will be at-least one question relevant to the subject of 'quitting job and perusing passion' and that's when the discussion gets interesting !

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As most of you may have same or similar questions in your mind, I would like to share with you the TOP FIVE questions I have been asked in the past one year. While there are no correct answers, I just answered straight from mind with absolutely no filters... here are those interesting questions :

1. When did you decide on this move, any planning involved?

It's not a over-night decision, a target fixed when I started my career couple of decades ago. It was my wish to get retired before turning 40. To answer precisely, I started executing my plans one year before quitting my job, followed the same process as I would follow in work related projects with milestone tracker, risk analysis and contingency plan. 

Pre-Preparation and syncing our internal mind set is the key for a smooth switch over. I made a project plan for quitting my job, created a page long action items, completed one after the other till the last line item and quit my job three months a head of schedule.

As a part of this project, I have invested on a franchise business with my savings. Have chosen the kind of business where I get the freedom of time. Whenever I am not on photography trip / assignment I spend time on the business and add some value. While on travel for photography works, I remotely monitor and control the same. This gives a greater flexibility for the kind of work i am engaged with. Thats how I have planned and executed my dream plan. 

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2. Was your job Bad / weren't you happy on your job ?

To answer in short, its a big 'NO'
I loved my job right from day one till the day I left the office. My engagement with my career took me to various levels of management with three big corporates Ashok Leyland, Caterpillar and John Deere. These experiences not only moulded me on engineering but also on the business part. I consider myself lucky to have worked under some great bosses, even now I am personally in touch with them. Like any other professionals, I also had difficult times during my tenure but, that didn’t had any influence on my decision. As I always say people who ask for guidance, if you want to start your business because you weren’t happy on your current job… nothing much is going to change in future except getting worser than what you are today.

 With colleagues, on a business meeting at Tokyo, Japan

With colleagues, on a business meeting at Tokyo, Japan

3. How did you convince your family and how they support your decision ?

I have started making them aware of my plan a year before I quit. Slowly in between discussions I would mix my wishes and dreams. That's half done... when I was at the cliff before the jump, I made some clear commitments to them on my work process and financial points. 

Convincing spouse is one part, it depends on various factors. The most important among that is your spouse’s knowledge on the business you are going to pursue. If not, making them understand should be a part of your project. thats exactly what I did. It was quite easy for me as my wife was very well aware of my wish and she was confident that I will handle this. 

But convincing parents is a mammoth task. Being earlier generation with parental nature, they always care for you a little too much and always want you to be comfortable. In my case, I still couldn’t believe that I convinced my dad who was an employee of a single organisation all through his carrier for 40 yrs. 

End of the day all the commitments you gave become a part of your business targets, I am personally feeling lucky that my spouse and parents supports my decision all through…

 Taking long vacation is key to Work Life balance. 

Taking long vacation is key to Work Life balance. 

4. How is your financial status now, are you earning the same which you were while on 9-5 job ?

I have two answers for this question. YES and NO

YES, I am earning more than I earn as an employee of an organisation.

NO, I am not earning the same money with the passion I am working on. 

You will understand my answer if you read it again. Balancing the income opportunity and contingency planning is very important to keep the financial status in comfortable zone. I did some considerable investments for a sustainable income before taking up my passion on track, this gave me comfort zone to keep my passion alive without any need to deviate. 

Right from day-one, I kept my expectations high on my business where I have invested and kept very low expectations from my passion turned profession. Hence, I need not bend much to make money through my passion, I am very happy with whatever earned through it.  So to tell the answer again, YES I am earning good enough then what I would have.

 My Current Workstation by like...

My Current Workstation by like...

5. I also want to do so, whats your say on this ?

Turning out passion as profession is great, the problem starts when you expect the passion to earn as much money as you were earning earlier. If you are looking forward to get rid of all the issues you have in your existing job, there is a very big disappointment awaits you. If running own business is going to be a cakewalk with all good times, everyone around us would have done it by now… 

On a 9 to 5 job, if you engage yourself for 60% of your time, you will be the best performer of the organisation. Where in this world, you need to carry the work inside head all through the day (and night). Still you will fall short…. and you will come across so many characters you don’t like.. 

Having said that, this world gives a real feel of independence. Our time, our priorities our own rules determines the way forward and growth. If you are ready to carry your business in heart and mind all through the day, week and year… godhead and start writing your own story !

Others than these most popular questions, a casual one by end of the discussion would be "How is life now?" , My usual one word answer for this would be "AMAZING". Turning around the next page in book of life is an unexplainable feel of excitement…and I am loving it !

PS: Feel free to give your comments below. I am currently writing a photo-bolg shooting motorsports at the worlds highest motorsport, If you are interested, you may please checkout this space / subscribe to my blog posts.