Delhi India – December 2011

Jama Masjid Mosque
Jama Masjid Mosque
Our arrival
Our arrival
Busy in a side alley
Busy in a side alley
Bicycle taxis
Bicycle taxis
Learning the ropes
Learning the ropes
Prayer inside Jama Masjid
Prayer inside Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid water source
Jama Masjid water source
Relaxing and cool
Relaxing and cool
Wash drink contemplate
Wash, drink, contemplate
Finishing the job while the customer waits
Finishing the job while the customer waits
Squirrel gather scraps in between the benches
Squirrel gather scraps in between the benches
Maybe taking dad out for the day
Taking dad out for the day
Old Delhi gathering
Old Delhi gathering
Mobile phones for all
Mobile phones for all
Old Delhi
Old Delhi times 2
Traffic suspiciously mild
Traffic suspiciously mild
Cast nets on the side
Cast nets on the side and who are you
Men are from Mars!
Men are from Mars!
Ground level
Ground level
A visit to Karim's is a must when in Delhi
A visit to Karim’s is a must when in Delhi
Sikh family
Sikh family feeding their mouths and the squirrels 
http://www.karimhoteldelhi.com
http://www.karimhoteldelhi.com 
Destitute waiting for food
Destitute waiting for food
No fare power-nap
No fare = power-nap
All and sundry use the road
All and sundry use the road
Delhi at night 1
Delhi at night 1
Careful where you eat or you will meet "Delhi Belly"
Careful where you eat or you will meet “Delhi Belly”
Delhi at night 2
Delhi at night 2
The band that patrons started throwing cash notes at
The band that patrons started throwing cash notes at – seriously
The party really got going
The party really got going big time
We only find out later that dancing was banned in this bar
We only found out later that dancing was banned in this bar, but were not sorry for getting it going
Tasty treats at Karim's in Old Delhi
Tasty treats at Karim’s in Old Delhi – fresh and original 
After playing the tunes he needed a stiff Scotch
After playing the tunes he needed a stiff Scotch
Bamboo scaffolding
Bamboo scaffolding
Lord Hanuman
Lord Hanuman
Entrance 1
Entrance 1
Entrance 2
Entrance 2
On the road
On the road
On the road 2
On the road 2
Our party animal friends we met that night
Our party animal friends we met that night
Use your "dipper"
Use your “dipper”
I was a little amused to see that a goat was also catching a ride
I was a little amused to see that a goat was also catching a ride

This post about my visit to Delhi was inspired by another blog “Shankar Market, Old Delhi and the Weekend” – click, visit and see some more lovely photos with great colours.

Also see “Where the guys gives roses” by the same author.

A mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban

I ventured out the office today shortly after midday to experiment a little and get some fresh air. 

Here are some photos I took in Kloof.

  • Their breakfasts aren’t so grand anyway

  • It’s tough being on the road all day and all night

  • Twin effort

  • Another angle – all wired out

  • Graveyard Road, Kloof

  • Parking with the birds and bees, Fields Shopping Centre

 

This post is followed by “Another mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban”.

HDR 3 (high dynamic range) final

HDR 1 was rock-bottom shocking (in a funny way)..

HDR 2 was an improvement.

Now (HDR 3) is hopefully the last time for some time that I will use this particular title (HDR).

I am a lot happier (ecstatic) with the results from my mini-expedition today.

For now the photos look good enough for my eye and that’s so important. I’m really hooked baby with these “comic book paintings” of mine!

Jayden Miller’s post on HDR, which I read before going outside, gave me just that little bit more info that I needed.

Trey Ratcliff and Photomatix website had already given me a good foundation.

Let me know which one of the following photos you like if any.

Once again, any criticism together with advice on how to improve will be appreciated.

 

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HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 2

HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 1 was a complete failure.

I went back to the drawing board and read a few paragraphs of Scott Kelby’s book. In my book, seriously, there was limited info. A lovely set of three books that I will certainly now read (been in the cupboard for 2 years untouched).

The Canon 550D camera “followed” me to work today, but it was sadly an overcast day. Not to be disheartened, I started snapping away in break-time. As soon as I got home (still overcast), I snapped some more. In the evening I went visiting and snapped much more.

Between Scott’s book and an online Canon tutorial, I discovered a number of settings I was unaware of when attempting HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 1. Little wonder I failed.

I was doomed to fail again when I tried to “HDR” my photos using the related feature in Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3.

The wrong software for my very basic knowledge.

Saved by the bell (sort of)… Enter Trey Ratcliff, who featured in These chaps can really snap 2 (and paint).

I quickly skimmed through his tutorial on HDR as my bedtime was fast approaching.

Trey said Photomatix website so I rushed there and quickly downloaded the trial version of Photomatix Pro 4.2.5.

I have not produced any masterpieces below but really believe that the results are better than my first attempt in HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 1.

What do you fellow bloggers think? Same or a little better?

Bit like comic book photos but I love them.

Any hints and advice will also be appreciated.

The last photo is my least favourite but Raven did advise me to stick to daylight.

 

HDR (High dynamic range imaging)

OK so it’s taken me 4 hours to discover that HDR is not as simple as throwing a few photos into a software app, pressing a “one-stop process” button and out comes this amazing photo.

I failed dismally at both attempts but did learn a few things along the way

  1. I actually have a software app that can help with this sort of thing
  2. I need to read a few manuals and talk to some knowledgeable photographers
  3. This HDR stuff is really going to keep me amused for a long time
  4. I will try again and again and again and…
  5. The view over Durban: Berea and the harbour towards the Bluff is beautiful and serene

The thought of “hiding” these two photos did cross my mind, but why waste all those hours of effort.

One day I will look at my first two “HDR” photos and have a good chuckle!

The next attempt produced a slightly different result

 

I am not going to give up on HDR and here are 22 reasons why not – click here

Have a lovely week at work and if the going gets a little tough remember: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

These chaps can really snap 2 (and paint)

Some fellow bloggers really enjoyed These chaps can really snap. This got me thinking:

“Hmm… let me showcase some more hot-shot photographers (and one painter) in These chaps can really snap 2!”

As with the previous blog, I have attached links to the artists’ profiles (below their photos) so you can see more of their cool work and talent.

I obviously take no credit for their work and am happily advertising what is freely available for all to view (gloat over) on the net.

Keith McInnes

Fabrizio Musacchio

 

Peter From

 

Lincoln Park Zoo

 

The Forester Artist

 

Stephanie Borcard

 

Wolfgang Staudt

 

Trey Ratcliff

The next two photos are from Ben Myburgh who previously featured in this blog as “The local telephone man”

 

And now I must read up about HDR and what it might do for my pics!

Also click on the artist’s links as some of them offer online tutorials.

Instead of ending off right here; let me be cheeky and add one of my own favourite photos. Ben Myburgh helped me edit it.

 

Andrew Harvard

Varanasi

Whilst  reading THE CULTUREUR this afternoon, I came across the post SPIRITUAL CHAOS ON THE HARIDWAR GHATS ALONG THE GANGES RIVER.

I immediately thought of Varansi (calm and chaos) and this inspired me to pull out some photos I recorded there during my last trip to India in 2011/2012.

I first went to India in 2009/10: see related blog here and some other photos here.

I have inserted my photos above, below and in between the comment by Wikipedia that enlightens us as follows “Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi] (listen)), also commonly known as BenaresBanaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs] (listen)) or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi] (listen)), is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of the state capital Lucknow.

It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus and Jains, and holiest of the seven most sacred Hindu cities (Sapta Puri), of its ancient historic, cultural and religious heritage. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi can bring salvation.

Body being transported to a ghat for cremation

It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.

Unfortunately many of its temples were subject to plundering and destruction by Mohammad Ghauri in the 12th century. The temples and religious institutions seen now in the city are mostly of the 18th century vintage.

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations.

The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance.

The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years and is one of the world’s most important religious centres with a history which transcends and unites most of the major world religions.

The Benares Gharanaform of the Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi.

Varanasi is today considered to be the spiritual capital of India.Here scholarly books have been written.

Ramcharitmanas was composed by Tulsidas here while there is the temple Tulsi Manas Mandir that is famous here.

In addition to this, the largest residential University of Asia, Benares Hindu University is located here.

People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.”

Ghats in Varanasi are an integral complimentary to the concept of divinity represented in physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements.

All the ghats are locations on “the divine cosmic road,” indicative of “its manifest transcendental dimension.” Varanasi has at least 84 ghats.

Steps in the ghats (ghats are embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions) lead to the banks of River Ganges, including the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat (where Hindus cremate their dead).

Many ghats are associated with legends and several are now privately owned.Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control.

Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwas stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi.

Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitors attraction. The miles and miles of ghats makes for the lovely river front with multitude of shrines, temples and palaces built “tier on tier above the water’s edge”.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main and probably the oldest ghat of Varansi located on the Ganges, close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

It is believed that the god Brahma created it to welcome Shiva and he also sacrificed ten horses during Dasa -Ashwamedha yajna performed here.

Above the ghat and close to it, there are also temples dedicated to Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi which are part of important pilgrimage journeys.

A group of priests perform “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) daily in the evening at this ghat as a dedication to Shiva, Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.

Special aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. The Manikarnika Ghat is the Mahasmasana (meaning: “great cremation ground”) and is the primary site for Hindu cremation in the city. Adjoining the ghat, there are raised platforms that are used for death anniversary rituals.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

It is said that an ear-ring (Manikarnika) of Shiva or his wife Sati fell here. According to a myth related to the Tarakesvara Temple, a Shiva temple at the ghat, Shiva whispers the Taraka mantra (“Prayer of the crossing”) in the ear of the dead.

Fourth-century Gupta period inscriptions mention this ghat. However, the current ghat as a permanent river side embankment was built in the 1302 and has been renovated at least thrice.”

I also found out that kite flying (or fighting) was important in Varanasi ; but even more so in Jaipur where the youngsters and adults ran around madly after fallen kites.

Emergency repairs

Fun in the afternoon

Rooftops were a hive of activity 

She “shared” her puppies with me (rooftop of Suraj Guest House; the owner’s daughter)

Suraj Guest House is a good bet when looking for somewhere to stay

The owner was very helpful and accommodating – visit Suraj website here

No post about Varanasi would be complete if Ganga Fuji Restaurant was not mentioned. The owner Kailash asks that you design a “country of origin” poster for his wall

Lovely non-oily food and great entertainment 

Some uninformed person called the food bland. The owner cooks exactly what you ask for i.e. freaking hot spicy or mild like a cucumber

Free entertainment 

Bhai on drums!

Ganga Fuji was recommended by the owner of Suraj: good contacts usually recommend good contacts

Impromptu hair appointment 

Roadside food stall

Outskirts of Varanasi – Chinese Buddhist temple at Sarnath

Sarnath is where Buddha gave his first sermon.

It was a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, but we will leave all of that for another day & post.

Some related posts you may be interested in:

Durga Puja, the Worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, Returns to Calcutta, India (part 1) 

A World of Prayer

A must watch documentary filmed at Varanasi:

Beyond

New Barns Farm & the trip into London

In the last post we were off to see the Queen.

After landing at Birmingham Airport, which we found to be really user-friendly, we went to the Avis kiosk to collect our car.

The sales person knew I wouldn’t be able to resist the upgrade he offered for a few more GBP.

After all it was a BMW 1-series red in colour. Lucky he told me how to start it otherwise I would still be looking for the keyhole; door and ignition.

 

We rented a Tom Tom GPS, inserted the post code of New Barns Farm and before you knew it, we were there.

Amazing stuff – no long address or getting lost. All one needs is the post code.

 

It was a little chilly when we arrived and getting dark so Mr Canon 550 stayed indoors in his bag most of the time.

 

The drive to the farm was very interesting and, had we stayed longer, we would have gone crazy taking pictures of cows, old buildings, churches, pubs, horses, the local inhabitants and dogs.

The underfloor heating and wireless inside New Barns was a bonus.

The company that evening was superb – we shared food, wines, laughter and tales with a couple that were due to get married, as well as other guests.

 

The next morning we drove from New Barns to Wimbledon where we left the car in a parking garage.

The pic above was part of another discovery called “services”, well signposted on the road. Garages for fuel, toilets, shops, restaurants, accommodation and so on.

We loved the free wireless and Upper Crust Baguettes. Their takeaway stores seemed to be all over the place.

Upon entering Wimbledon station we bought a 24 hour travel card for trains & buses.

I only managed one pic (shown above) on the train from Wimbledon to Waterloo station.

 

The trains were very clean and on time.

 

Mind the Gap!

 

 

 

It was not long before we reached Waterloo and I was soon reminded how snobbish and rude some Londoners can be.

We hadn’t even left the station before one information kiosk chap showed us “unfriendly”. This happened later in the day inside a famous store.

Maybe they were just having a bad day or decade.

Or it could be that us South Africans are just so friendly.

The Queen of England (off to see her)

On 3 November 2012 we were sure we could smell Turkey.

The plan was: a little stop in the UK on a farm, two weddings and then off to Istanbul.

On 16 November I disclosed that the visit to Turkey was “cold” and would just have to wait.

Despite this “setback”, Timol and I still had lots of fun in the few days on land and in air.

A little snack at Durban International Airport (King Shaka) was in order before we left.

I hadn’t been to Mugg & Bean in a while and was pleasantly surprised by what was served up and at a fair price.

 

I initially wasn’t going to eat but was soon tucking into everyone meals.

Didn’t have too much to eat as I was hoping to taste the yummy food on Emirates.

 

We were loaded up not too long after the air-hostesses who speak a multitude of languages.

I made sure that the meals were being loaded by Sky Chefs before I took my seat.

Up into the air we flew; bound for Dubai then the UK.

A good meal with some red wine helped settle us into the evening.

The selection of movies was vast and I had enough leg-room.

I watched three movies in a row before I got all “movied-out”.

Flying from Durban to India via Dubai on Emirates is OK, but the flight from Dubai to the UK (BHX) on this trip was a bit too long at 7 hours 50 min (Durban to Dubai is 8 hours 40 min). That’s over 16 hours of flying in a row.

I would rather fly direct next time thank you.

In the next post we will have a peep at the farm outside Birmingham where we stayed for one night.

And when I really get energetic, I will show some pics of London and the food inside Harrods.