Monthly Archives: November 2010

Death Valley

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Death Valley National Park reminds me so much of Ladakh. The same barren, bleak landscape. It’s not for everyone, certainly not for those who want ‘activities’. This is down-to-basics. Cold nights, warm days (even during winters), sparse accommodation and few modern facilities. Overpriced accommodation and large distances of emptiness between areas of interest. No cars to be seen for miles, and endless fields of thorny shrubs for you to hike on wherever you look.

But in between this desolation lie patches of nature’s brilliance. The canyons, sand dunes, salt flats, craters, moving stones, high peaks, all in one place. One of the highest points in the continental US  (Telescope Peak – at over 11000 ft. high) is viewable here, as is the lowest at -282 ft. It’s not a valley of flowers, or mushroom clouds wafting over green blooming forests, or snow on tree branches. It’s different, it’s harsh, but it’s oh so beautiful.

Happy Birthday to me! :)

Loch Lomond

Remembering Phase I

Balloch Castle Country Park

An eventful one month has come to an end. Spending the time that I did in Scotland was a beautiful experience. Spending day and night in a land as enchanting as the highlands was probably something I  should’ve done a long time ago. It’s sometimes hard to believe how simply standing alone among trees, listening to the wind rustling leaves on branches and on the ground, and the water flowing over roots and rocks along the shore can leave you in a figurative existential vacuum, so that the only thing you’re aware of is all your troubles being replaced by a calmness you’d never known possible.

Of unannounced exigencies

The Nikon D50 is dead. During my photography-centric travel. In the middle of a great place for shooting. The only good thing is that it didn’t happen during the workshop earlier last week!

It happened on an overcast day in a setting fit for a final farewell. The river Greta flowed by the stony banks, autumn leaves dipping into the cold waters and branches ruffled by the steady current while the path of the river took it under a bridge of stone. It was going so well, and then it just stopped. Not the river, dummy! The camera. It was on the tripod, and I’d made an exposure only seconds ago. Decided to try out a few changes and pressed the shutter button, waiting to hear the sound of the exposure being initiated. Nothing. Thought I might have not pressed the button properly, as is fairly common when you’re wearing winter gloves with ample padding. Pressed it again, but this time I noticed there was nothing being displayed on the top info LCD. That’s strange, I thought. The battery had seemed fine and I hadn’t seen any low-charge flashing symbol in the viewfinder either. Looked through the viewfinder and it was dark black, the way it is when there is no battery inserted, only darker. Nothing worked. Tried everything, including changing the battery, the memory card, cleaning the camera-lens contacts, switching it off and on repeatedly. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

The guys at Jessops say it will take two weeks for Nikon to tell them what the problem is and if any repairs are possible. Unfortunately, I neither have two weeks here, nor am I convinced it will be reasonably cheap. The second point is debatable, but I could check the same when I land in Boston, and I’m certain it will be easier on the wallet there. Guess I’ll have to make do with the LX3 till then. I’m sure if Henk (one of the workshop participants) were to read this he’d think about the discussion we were having at Starbucks last week when he suggested I could use grads on the LX3 with the 52mm adapter. Guess that’s what I’ll have to do now!

I think the D50 is dead. Long live the D50. Bad timing, but you’ve been a great friend and I’ve learnt so much from you. I will see if there is any chance of your being revived, but if that doesn’t happen then know that we have a lot of great memories and they will always be kept alive, at least till the time the hard drives they are on don’t die! Au revoir (just in case!)

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