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Bengaluru, India

Bengaluru, India

Taj West End

I had the privilege of visiting Bangalore for two weeks. When I wasn’t working with my colleagues at their office in Manyata Park, had the opportunity to explore the city and make a day trip to Mysore.

Manyata Tech Park

Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka and commercial hub of the Deccan (Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh states). According to National Geographic, the city is the “world’s third most important IT city… a more international city than even Mumbai.”

Bangalore is indeed an amazing place; a combination of high-tech and old world. It is the third largest city in India and the fastest growing city in Asia, increasing in population from just over 1 million people in 1970 to nearly 8 million today.

Commercial Street, Bangalore

One of the most incredible things about Bangalore is the population density. Bangalore has ~8k people per square kilometer, or about 4 times that of New York City. Mumbai weighs in at over 20k/km^2, roughly ten times more people per area than in the most dense American cities. Density exceeds even Hong Kong by a factor of 3.

Lal Bagh Rock

Formerly known as the “Garden City”, a few signs of Bangalore’s greener past still remain. One is Lal Bagh, a 240 acre garden near the city center which has hundreds of species of plants and many massive ancient trees. The park also features Kempegowda tower, built on the surface of Lal Bagh Rock, one of the oldest rock formations on earth, dating from 3 billion years ago.

Bangalore to Mysore

Approximately 150km outside of Bangalore is the city of Mysore. It served as the capital of the region through the reign of the Wodeyar dynasty and until 1947 when administrative power was shifted to Bangalore.

Ambivalas Palace at Mysore

The Ambivalas Palace built by the ruling Wodeyars is one of the most popular tourist attractions in India.

“The architectural style of the palace is commonly described as Indo-Saracenic, and blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles of architecture. It is a three-storied stone structure, with marble domes and a 145 ft five-storied tower.” The palace contains a wooden ‘howda’ (elephant sadle) decorated with 84kg(!) of gold.

Mysore to Chamundi Hill

The palace also contains many images of Durga (aka Chamundeshwari), the goddess, who according to Hindu mythology, killed the demon Mahishasura, allowing good to triumph over evil. The Chamundi temple which sits atop nearby hills on the outskirts of the city was built in honor of the goddess.

Chamundi Temple

The road to Mysore from Bangalore passes through the towns of Channaputna, known for its wooden crafts and toys, Maddur and Mandya. It also cuts across numerous sugar cane fields from which “jaggery” is extracted.

Jaggery Factory

Jaggery is made by boiling raw sugarcane juice in large shallow vessels. Jaggery is used in a variety of sweet dishes in India; it can also be added to curries. Jaggery is considered to be healthier than other sweeteners because it is prepared without the use of chemicals and it contains minerals not found in sugar. It has also been found to prevent lung damage from “particulate matter such as coal and silica dust”.. potentially quite useful when spending any time riding an auto-rickshaw on the streets of central Bangalore.

Bullock Cart Sharing the Road

Speaking of, one of my colleagues treated me to a ride on the back of his motorbike through Bangalore’s notorious traffic where it isn’t uncommon to see three cars side-by-side, jockeying for two lanes along side bull carts, pedestrians, autorickshaws and the occasional wayward cow or stray dog.

The video can be found here: Bangalore Motorbike Ride

The Law

If you are watching the video thinking “well, that isn’t nearly as cool as the Evel-Knievel vid I just watched yesterday”… Please! The driver was going easy on me. Thankfully, as I was holding the iphone in one hand, clutching an umbrella and the edge of the seat in the other, all the while trying not to lose my Nikon and the lense collection dangling from my shoulder. For some reason, I thought I’d be able to shoot some stills and video. Maybe not.

On the Cell

One of the mysteries of Bangalore is why they need so many traffic cops (literally dozens of them at some intersections) to enforce so few traffic laws. Driving is absolute and total chaos. Out of the chaos, though, some semblance of order seems to emerge from the honking, flashing lights and arm waving.

Brigade Road

I’m not talking about the occasional honk or flash. I’m talking about continuous honking and sometimes frantic dimming of the lights. I initially thought it might be morse code. Meanwhile, everyone seems to maintain perfect composure.

One Lane, Many Vehicles

When I say hand gestures, I’m talking about waves of the arm to allow or warn of a merge. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere, if not for Boston drivers, perhaps for a research paper on chaos theory or self-organizing systems.

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Fowler-Hilliard Photographs

Fowler-Hilliard Photographs

Attached are some photos from a trip to Fowler-Hilliard, a 10th mountain division hut near Minturn.

I shot these pics with a Nikon D100, a 6 megapixel camera which takes SLR lenses.

The original images are 3008×2000. Click for higher detail.

Shot with a 105mm macro lense plus extension tube to allow extreme closup and high magnification. The big sphere is a dew drop on a small leaf measuring about 1/2 centimeter long. If you look closely at the surface of the droplet, you can see the faint reflection of the whole plant.

Backlit shot of an ‘Indian Paintbrush’, using the same 105mm macro lense without extension tube.


Moon at sunrise with a 300mm telephoto. Overexposing the image by several stops ‘blows out’ the details you’d normally see in the bright crescent but makes it possible to capture detail in the ‘dark’ part of the moon which is normally only faintly visible.

The hazy streak in the lower left is a lense flare.


Sunrise over the 10-mile range shot from the top of Resolution peak with a 17mm wide angle.




Winter Workshop Photography

Winter Workshop Photography

Last weekend, my father and I went to a three day photography workshop hosted by John Fielder. Fielder is considered to be one of the premier nature photographers in the US.

The original images, which were too large to link to, scanned at 2400dpi from 35mm slides. At full resolution, works out to ~4000×2500.

Day One

Took 4×4 vehicles to an area near Wolcott (west of Vail). From there, we snowshoed to a place called Bellyache Ridge. There were lots of nice aspen tree stands in the area.
One nice thing about shooting with an analog camera is lense selection. With a consumer digital device, wouldn’t be able to capture as large a field of view as with a 17mm focal length.

By default, a camera will automatically set the exposure time such that the average intensity across the whole image, as detected by the light meter, is equal to 18% gray. In bright white snowy conditions where the sun is reflecting off the ground, the camera can be fooled into underexposing an image. Oops. I didn’t learn until the second day to compensate a full stop in order to capture the details of darker objects surrounded by snow. Makes for nice silhouettes sometimes, though.

Day Two

Took snowmobiles from Camp Hale on an eight mile journey to the top of Ptarmigan pass. Along the way, we traversed the valley floor on snowshoes to an old abandoned ranch.

A couple of hours of narrow trails and switch backs on the snowmobiles, and we were near the top of Ptarmigan. The last 1/4 mile isn’t possible on the machines because the mountain ridge is too narrow to turn around.
From the top, there were awesome views of the surrounding ten mile range of mountains. Everybody (well, most everybody) was careful not to get too close to the cornice edge. Slide through, and it is a 2000 ft plunge to the valley floor.

Night fell while we were still at the summit of Ptarmigan pass. At night at 12,500 ft, it gets cold fast!

At below 0F degrees, film can become very brittle and even break. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to me while trying to rewind my Nikon FE. Fortunately, the film lab was able to take the camera body into the lab and extract the film in the dark room, recovering the photos.


At extreme high altitude, a phenomenon known as the “shadow of the earth” is clearly visible. As the sun recedes, the colors of sunset are obscured along the the opposite (eastern) horizon by a dark band caused by the eclipsing of diffuse sunlight by the earth itself. To the east, ‘Sky’ mountain (where the avalanche chutes adjacent to Copper Mountain Ski resort appear to spell out the word sky) looks tiny in the distance.

By changing the aperture of a lense to let in as little light as possible, the distance from one edge of the lense to the other where light traverses is minimized. This requires a longer exposure time, but makes it possible to take pictures with extreme depth of focus. Notice how exposed granite less than two feet away from the camera, as well as mountains peaks fifteen miles in the distance, are simultaneously in clear focus.

This effect seemed to work best before sunset, when it was possible to capture some color that highlighted the texture and patterns in the snow.


Day Three

Half day hike on a walking trail near Vail.
The concept of “Intimite Landscapes” is about capturing interesting details in nature rather than always shooting for the grandiose scenes. I gave it a try, with some mixed results.