Sunday, March 27, 2011

Making of Super Moon, A Trip Report

Super Moo
My new lens was still virgin & was impatiently seeking a photography trip after it was unpacked. It was yet to feel a walkthrough in forest, & getting anxious to focus chirping birds on trees. But my demanding office schedules had trapped me confined into the Surat city. What a paradox it was; this winter was dry in terms of wild-life activities, alas.
Somehow I could bunk a day from the office & quickly made a plan for Dang trip to make some pre-decided images of ‘Super Moon’. Shaival Desai, a keen Mountain-biker & a very good friend; was asking me for a trip since a long time & thus readily available to join me. Abhishek Patel, a master of long-exposure is always prepared with camera in his bag, to join any photography trips; lucky fellow to get so much time.
An Idea emerged when we saw this tree lines
 It was Saturday afternoon leading towards a Super Moon Night; I switched off my office cell phone and rushed back to home. Shaival reached home at 13:30 with his car & cycle suspended on a carrier. Abhishek reached after 15 minutes on his bike, & without delay we were on the way to Kilad Village via Vansda National Park. As soon as we entered the forest we started searching proper location to include some interesting subjects to get along with Moon-rise and Moon-set. Abhishek was not aware of an idea struggling to get executed in our mind, as he decided to drive his bike and was not there in the car. Some 20 km before the National Park area, one of the mountain varieties clutched my eyes. It was a wonderful range with leafless trees lined hand to hand, sky light was getting filtered through the summer effected branches at top of it, & the target was locked. We stopped there & I asked Shaival to start GPS application to understand Moon-rise direction.

Now it was 17:15 and we crossed the bridge near Kilad Village & parked our vehicles flanking the road. Our eye-balls were bouncing here & there to find appropriate location for Moon-rise. We decided to climb a small hill and reached there in 15 minutes, opened GPS application and found ourselves on wrong place. Still I managed to click some images with prinning Night Heron. Without losing much time we came down & climb another hill through farms and bushes, it was stiff enough to get along with tri-pod and the mammoth 300mm/f2.8 mounted on 7D with 2X II converter.
A Heron-scape from the first hill


We set ourselves in lined with a tall tree at a far far distance on the other hill, where we predicted Super Moon Rise. (By the time we made some warm up images with Sun-set and Egrets, returning to their roosting places) 
Warm up image with Sun-set

Egrets returning to the rusting place

But you know what, prediction was right, the ‘gentle man’ piped out through the hills at correct time; very punctual. As soon as we saw the orange reflection of Moon, we overcooked our sensor like anything. The silence of a calm evening was now broken with rapid sounds of 8 frames per second. It was fun enjoying Super Moon rise via our view finder at 600mm. 
Super Moon Rise

The orange ball started turning into white within few minutes, & we started chattering about what we clicked.
Full Super Moon
Hey, where is my lens cap? I asked, a very common question once you finish the shoot.
They said, No idea. I did not want to climb the first peak once again to find my lens-cap, but I had no choice. It exhausted my lungs in full.
After having tummy-tight dinner at Vijay Hotel, we drew our vehicles at the old bridge on the Ambika river. Narrow water stream was finding its way through gang of rocks, 2 men were performing prayer near orange rock with 2 eyes painted on it, sluggish sound of people dancing around the fire to warship the Goddess Holika was satisfying the mood & all was happening in blue ‘Moon-light’. What else we need now.

Villagers performing prayer on the river side

 By the time I realized that I should make some images in moon light, Abhishek was all set with his camera mounted on tripod & started taking long exposures. I also managed to create some decent exposures there. 
I tried my hands on Long Exposure in Moonlight

It was now 24:00, we packed our bodies in sleeping bags and tried to take a nap.
We tried to sleep, photo by Abhishek Patel
 Get up, Abhishek, get up-get up, we shall get late, its 4:00 in the morning and the Moon will wait for us. We left the biker alone on the river side, got into the car and drew back to the destination & climbed the hill. The moon was 30 degree away from the horizon. Summer wind was difficult to withstand an hour to wait till the Moon reached the horizon, but we did not have an option. 

Waiting for Moon to touch the Horizon, photo by Abhishek Patel
After an hour, the Moon organized the plan & was all set to melt between the dry branches a far distance. It hardly took a minute to cross the horizon, but it was enough to smack the display. What a moment it was.
Super Moon Set
Moon slept and Sun woke up. We went back to the river side, Shaival was enjoying biking on challenging rock patterns. We shared our excitement with him & got packed into the car for a birding trip to Vansda National Park, reached main gate & paid the entry fees.
Shaival Enjoying Biking on Ambika River, Photo By Abhishek Patel
The targeted bird I wanted to see was Malabar Trogon & White Rumped Shama. We walked and walked, searched and searched. But its nature, you have to take what you get or remain unclicked. We returned with empty flash cards. No birding at all except some few common  familiar species. 

Looking for Bird

Scanning bushes

 At 11:00 we started our return journey to Surat & reached at 15:00.
Started return journe
After a long long time it was a fantastic day in Dang.
Thanks to Shaival & Abhishek for accompanying me on this trip.
-Saurabh Desai
-Creative Mind is the Busiest Bug

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