Feb 14, 2013

Grim Reaper and the Merry Mormon

Oh how lovely were the days when the sky wore azure drapes, and the soft tufts of silky clouds floated far far away... mused the merry Mormon as she fluttered about the jasmines, flaunting her vivid crimson motifs through the greens.

From morning to night, and night to morning it rained for days on end. Why? Did anyone ever do something to invoke the wrath... of the god of rain?

The jasmine trees, her favorite kind, are withering away. The lush green hues on the foliage are shrouded in a burnt brown, with big and small windows opening up here and there... everywhere. The leaves are dying, the twigs are dying... the white flowers speckled with dots of darkest black.. are also dying. Yet the merry Mormon continued to flutter until she saw not too far a bouquet of flowers. There sat on tender leaves and buds a bunch of milky whites, bundled in petals of fives, awaiting her arrival with open arms.

The merry Mormon stooped and was about to perch... in glee. But alas.. she knew not... not till the last tenth of a second... that she dived into the scythe of the Grim Reaper.. who beckoned!

"No! Let me go! oh mighty knight of the netherworld.. spare my life. Time's not right. I've lots to do..  lots to see.. lots to say... to my friends.. oh yes.. friends and family and relatives.. everyone's waiting for me.. they'll miss me.. that is.. if I am not forgotten. How terrible of me.. I lost them.. and the sight of their trail. The orchards and paddy fields.. they summoned me and I fluttered away. The lullabies of moms.. the mirth of kids... and the songs of bubbly birds and busy bees.. they summoned me.. and I fluttered away. I laughed.. and sang.. and... oh wait.. the knight of Hades.. can't you wait.. just one more day.. even one second's still fine. Please l..e..t.. m..e.. l..i..v..e..."

Her voice died... but the merry Mormon did not give up.. on her minute mortal soul.. and thus she fought.. with all her might.. until... someone heard her plea.. and intervened.

A while passed. She blinked and opened her eyes. Am I alive? Or am I dead? She couldn't tell. Everything around was glowing.. in yellows and greens. Maybe I'm in heaven, or am I in hell? Have I done good throughout my life.. or was it bad..? She couldn't tell. It was a mix.. that she knew.. she was not white.. not black.. but grey.

So where am I? She lifted her head, with all her might and looked around. The Grim Reaper was not in sight.. not another soul was in sight.

Yet there she was lying on a lush green bed.. with one wing tattered and torn.. giving unbearable pain. She breathed heavy and slow.. yet she was a merry Mormon.. which she never forgot. She was alive.. and that was enough. Alive.. for another second, a minute, a day and still more. She sighed.. a sigh of relief and closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.


The shots feature a Common Mormon that I was trying to shoot (with my cam) in mid May last year, and unexpectedly saw that a Grim Reaper a.k.a. praying mantis 'capturing' it first! I never knew these guys would attack or eat butterflies, so I snapped a couple of shots. Then again as a policy I don't interrupt meals of others - be it bugs, animals or humans. But this time I felt it wasn't fair as I assumed the mantis was a vegetarian and thought it might be eating tiny bugs occasionally for extra proteins.

And so on a whim I intervened and rescued the butterfly from the clutches of the mantis. The poor thing swirled and perched on the ground, but this time she caught the eyes of our curious cats! -__- So I had to pick it (well it hopped and got on to the yellow bell flower branch on its own, when I placed it next to her) and then I kept the branch (with the butterfly) on a jasmine tree. It rained again after sometime but I hope she managed to fly away, as her other wing was left intact.

Feb 4, 2013

Lucky shot or not?

Moments of photography... from a newbie's point of view.

A lucky shot: While snapping macro shots of flora, I found this 1cm or so sized spider 
hidden amidst yellow bell flower bud

Case #1:

I sometimes wonder what's the difference between two photographs. You see, some subjects turn out as your lucky encounters. You spot them,  you snap them, and that's all to it. Some subjects are elusive and uncommon, you need to mix more luck and hard work to track them down. There are also ones called compositions, where various settings - internal and external - ought to be arranged meticulously - for hours or days - to get one photograph just aesthetically right. And then there are shots that are meant to be post-developed, for their magic blooms within a photo lab or a photo editor.

But if the subject is the same, like when two people snapped the sky while standing on two different points on the roundish earth, would it look the same? Or would it not? Yet the keen eye will surely note who's the veteran and who's not.

Let me take the instance of the grasshopper's case. I happen to spot a bunch of tiny green grasshoppers playing hide and seek in a grass bush. All I did was lower my cam into the bush and go clicking right and left. The cam was set to super macro mode, so it did the job for me. The pics came out cool, and I was really happy. Happy to see those tiny beings in larger than life sizes.

But then... some months later when I was browsing an online gallery of a photographer, I happen to come across a grasshopper, in fact it was the head of a grasshopper. My first thought was, oh how lucky to have a high end cam to get such fine detail. And then... I read the caption under that grasshopper's head.

You see... this photographer dared to plant himself full flat on the ground, mind you he was outdoors, with his bulky cam and remained still for several minutes to capture one tiny guy who happens to land on the ground before him, on a whim. Right when the photographer was about to snap, his model flew away... on a whim. Disappointed at his miss, the photographer stood up, but then the model flew back and sat right at the same spot. The photographer again sprawled flat on the ground and was about to click, when the model flew away... again... on a whim. And this had happened several times but the photographer never gave up and finally managed to outwit the mischievous model by a fraction of a second.. and right after the shot was taken, his model flew away and never returned again.

Case #2:

Sometimes I can't help but wonder... why people travel to far off places. Some travel thousands of miles away from their loved ones and cozy homes, just for the sake of shooting scenes that are bizarre, mysterious or magical. Like the aurora spectacle near Polar regions, or castles of stalactite and stalagmite, dizzying cliffs, volcano eruptions, giant tornadoes or even uncharted tombs where ghosts would likely patrol. And some photographers dare to stay up in jungles just to capture the elusive night crawlers, big and small, where many of them could be found easily in almost any zoo.

So why... why do they go that extra, extra mile... to capture something so momentary and ephemeral? Why stare at the sky, night after night and track the faint trail of stars, or snap frame by frame the entire sky from one horizon to another, and try to stitch them all together.. to make one photograph?

Perhaps they have witnessed what we have not. Perhaps they have observed those subtle nuances, ambiances, expressions of the subject that the ordinary eyes would fail to note.

You see... the big cat in the jungle will not yawn the same way as the one in the zoo. For the one in the jungle is never bored, and only expresses that he's ready to set off for hunting on a long sleepless night. The one back at zoo may yawn more often, drenched in a never ending boredom, where the same old scenes pop before him from morning till night.

If that's not the case, then perhaps the sky from the photographer's backyard is hindered by the lights of their neighborhood, or the smoky clouds puffed from a far away factory, or the dust that swirled up during day has weaved a hazy screen at night. But when they trek to the summit of a very high mountain, or trudge along a sand dune in a vast arid desert, or wade through the savannah with a tree not in sight... far... far away from the so called civilization... that's when the photographer begins to see the stars... the ones he's never seen before. For his vision is now clear, and his mind is free from clutter. And there before him unfurls the perfect night sky, bundled with its boundless charm, all set to be captured.

That's what I felt when I came across in another gallery, a starry sky with myriads of teeny stars glimmering in magical glows of reds and purples, how tough it must have been to capture that night sky... so beautiful and vast.

Beating the chill of the night, being under siege by armies of blood thirsty mosquitoes and ticks, patiently waiting for the right moment, breathing as softly and slowly as possible, concentrating solely on the sky and nothing else. Not even the faintest rustle, the whooshing of the wind or the creepy nightly moans of the wild beasts lurking around would scare him. Nor would he worry about the lethal critters that could pop up any moment beside him. He puts his life on the line for that one memorable moment... which made me think... how amazing it must be to become a photographer of such caliber and resolve?

I felt so intimidated, like a tiny ant confronting a giant T-Rex. But I know that one day when that tiny ant try and build an anthill... so big, bigger than anything else around him, then the ant too can relish the spectacle that the T-Rex has been relishing for all that time. Then again, what the two sees might never be the same... even at the same altitude... with the same pair of eyes. But this little ant is hopeful enough to conquer the summit of the tallest anthill one day, in future... somewhat distant.


Just felt like penning my thoughts when I browsed some breathtaking travel photographs just the other day at the NGM site.