Weekly Photo Challenge: Fun

During the last 11 months, the most joyful, exciting, memorable and fun moments that I had, had been with my daughter, who is now 11 months old. Seeing her grow has been an amazing experience of my life. She has been a blessing for us.

In this post, I am presenting two of those fun moments.

My Daughter

This is the shot of my daughter when she was four and half months old. She looked straight look into the camera, which any photographer would love the most that their subjects look into the camera and they can capture their beautiful eyes. This makes photographs more intense, magically appealing that connects with the audience instantly. And I am thankful to her that she has given me many opportunities to hone my skills at clicking portraits of children. Otherwise, I know it is a very challenging effort to take shots of children. Here is a shot when she was just 10 days old.

My Daughter

This was the shot which my wife took while we were strolling on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis during this spring. She loves photography, and was the one who inspired me to learn the techniques of photography. When we took our daughter to the lake, she was very curious and excited looking around things, staring at people. Everything – colors, people, nature, everything and everyone in motion – was new to her, kind of first time since she had come on this earth and in our lives. She was then just seven months old. I was enjoying looking at her. Soon I started imitating her so that my wife can click photos of both of us with similar expression and action. Though I could not match her inquisitive looks, I tried playing ‘like the daughter, so the father’.

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

This is my friend running on the narrow strip of land in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. When he went on this ‘trail’ (this path was not marked as a trail), I waited for him to return back so that i can click a human soul walking in this wilderness. Due to certain adrenaline rush, i saw him instead running on the ‘trail’. When he reached back to the parking lot, i showed him this photo and he was very much excited, and surprised as well. Probably, he had not expected that i would click an action shot of him doing adventure along the edges of these cliffs.

Walking off the marked trail can often reward you with better sights and experiences in these national parks. And wildlife too! But running on these narrow strips of cliffs requires an adventurous spirit. Most certainly, walking on the edge of such cliff is not for them with fear of heights. However, from a photography perspective, I am glad that my friend walked off the trail and i was able to click a human form set against the majestic wilderness of Badlands. So, thank you my friend!

This photo is a contribution for this week’s challenge: Narrow.

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Badlands National Park at Sunset

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Do you find the ‘cherry on top‘ in this photo? Or over the top of these hills?

This is the shot of wilderness in Badlands National Park. This is a beautiful, rugged, barren country of spires, buttes, pinnacles and several picturesque geological formations that have stood tall here, though eroded with times, since millions of years in South Dakota. The unique geological formations were mesmerizing. Layers of deposits and erosion over millions of years have given these structures unique multitude and rings of colors which can be seen in this shot.

According to me, the icing on the cake in this shot is the pink color of sunset which made my trip to this National park truly memorable. I specifically wanted to take shots of sunrise and sunset in this wilderness, and i am glad i could capture it during this road trip in USA. In this centennial year of National Park Service, which maintains and manages these beautiful national parks in USA, it was exciting to visit my first National Park in USA. In the  last couple of months, i have visited three national parks in USA – Badlands, Wind Cave and Yellowstone – and there are more i plan to visit. Trips have just begun, more photos will soon trickle in.

Hope you enjoyed this shot of Badlands National Park.

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Lake Erie, Pennsylvania

Lake Erie, Presque Isle State Park

This is the photo i took during my road trip in USA on the July 4th weekend of 2016. Enroute to Niagara Falls from Detroit, I visited the beautiful shores of Lake Erie in Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania.

Submitting this shot for this week’s photo challenge: Details.

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Blood Red Supermoon Total Eclipse

Blood Red Supermoon Eclipse, Minneapolis

These are the pictures of once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon of Blood Red Supermoon Eclipse that took place last year on 27/28 September, 2015. Total eclipses of super full moons are rare. It is estimated that the next total eclipse of the Supermoon will not happen for another 17 years, until October 8th, 2033.

Blood Red Supermoon Eclipse, Minneapolis

The building that you see in the pictures is the corporate headquarter of BestBuy Inc. in Richfield, Minneapolis. Since it was difficult for me at that moment to travel to a really nice location to shoot this phenomenon, i decided to form this building as my spot. As you can see in both the pictures, the color of the moon is the unusual red color, which is in sharp contrast to the soothing white color of the usual days. Eclipse had taken place after i had shot these pictures.

This post is inspired by Weekly Photo Challenge: Look up.

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Tulips in Minnesota Arboretum at Sunset

Minnesota Landscape ArboretumMinnesota Landscape Arboretum, with its 1200 acres of gardens & parks, variety of plant collection, beautiful prairies, wildlife, flowers and trailing path, is one of the best places to visit in Minneapolis. This is a place which you can visit round the year and every month and season, you will be greeted with something new and exciting. Be it fall colors, or the tulips of spring, Minnesota Arboretum draws the crowd throughout the year. It has a huge collection of garden, flowers and plantations. Two weeks back when i visited the Arboretum, tulips were at its prime in the spring. There was a large collection of tulips of various variety. In this blog, i am presenting few photos of mine taken at the golden hour of the day displaying the grandeur and jubilant mood of tulips.

Tulips at Sunset in Minnesota Arboretum

Oswald Visitor center, located in the Arboretum, hosts several programs, walks and tours for all ages round the year. Andersen Horticulture Library is a great source of information for enthusiasts interested in the subject. Not only for the flower and nature lovers, Minnesota Arboretum is a wonderful place for art lovers, be it the photographers or painters. Several weddings are also planned in the Arboretum with the perfect romantic setting for the newly wed couple.

Tulips in Minnesota Arboretum

Three-mile drive is the motorable road inside the Arboretum using which one can cover all the gardens and important attractions from within the comfort of a four-wheeler. One of the best thing to do on the drive is to go really slow on this drive, enjoying the nature around you. Road is shared by the bikers and pedestrians as well. There is a shuttle service as well inside the Arboretum.  There are several trails which takes you to various nook and corner of the Arboretum. In case, you visit one of the trails around the evening, you might be lucky like me to be greeted by deer in the woods.

Location: Minnesota Arboretum is located approximately 22 miles from the downtown in the town of Chaska.

When to go: Arboretum gets its maximum footfall in the spring and fall. But you can visit any month of the year. And especially for photographers, it provides opportunities throughout the year, including the harsh winter of Minnesota. Visit here for timings.

Free Admission: Throughout the year on certain days of the month, Arboretum allows free entry. This year, in 2016, there is a free entry on every third Monday of the month, noon to 6 pm, from April to October. This is when i visited the Arboretum two weeks back to shoot these tulips when they were swaying with pride and jubilant in their colorful attire. Otherwise, there is a fee for visiting the Arboretum. It is free for children of and under 12 years of age. On sites like Groupon, you might find good deals on the admission ticket price and annual membership, which we made use of last fall season.

This post is part of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant.

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Lake Calhoun at Sunrise

Lake Calhoun at Sunrise

This post is part of the weekly photo challenge: Half-Light.

Here is another shot of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.

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Barong Dance – Bali’s Traditional Lion Dance

Balinese Dancers

Bali is well-known for its cultural heritage – its temples, music and dance forms. One of the intricate dance forms you simply cannot miss when in Bali is the lion dance or locally known as the Barong dance. When we had visited Bali in the August of 2013, we watched the Barong dance on one morning and were completely enthralled by the performance. While i was writing this post today, my wife mentioned to me that Barong dance was probably one of the best things she had seen in Bali. Such is the charm of this dance form. Read the guest post on Bali here.

Barong Dance

Barong, the Balinese Lion

According to the Balinese, Barong is the mythological a lion-like creature, considered to be a good king. In traditional Balinese tradition, Barong, representing good, fights against the evil spirit, Rangda, and defeats it. The fight between the good and evil is the common folklore story of Barong dance across the island of Bali. Dancer wear the mask of lion, depicting Barong. (More photos of Balinese traditions here)

Rangda the Evil Spirit

Rangda the Evil Spirit

Performance generally begins with two mischievous monkeys teasing Barong in the forest. In next few scenes, popularly known as Keris dance, the evil spirit of Rangda casts its black magic over the male dancers and finally, these soldiers commit suicide by stabbing themselves. This is a wonderful act by the soldiers in trance. When the wrath of Rangda exceeds, Barong the king appears on the scene to protect the kingdom and its citizens from the evil spirit of Rangda. In the final scene of dance, fierce battle occurs between Barong and Rangda, resulting in the victory of good over evil. Defeated, Rangda runs away from the kingdom.

Barong Dance in Bali

Often there is good amount of humor in between the acts when buffoons appear on the stage. They are dressed colorfully with traditional Balinese dress and make-up. Female dancers are dressed elegantly and perform charming dance steps.

Barong Dance Bali

Spectator dressed up for the Barong Dance

There is a small team of musicians playing the classical Balinese music, called Gamelan, which is a variant of the Indonesian Gamelan music. Balinese instruments include the cymbals, bells, drums, bamboo xylophones, gongs, bamboo flute and other traditional instruments.

Balinese Music Gamelan

Where to see Barong dance in Bali?

We saw the Barong dance in Batubulan village in the morning 9:30 am. Usually, performances last for an hour. Most of the time, Barong dance is covered during the Ubud tour, either full day tour of Ubud or morning trip to Ubud.

Bali's Lion Dance Barong Dance

With Barong, the Lion in Bali

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This post is inspired by Weekly Photo Challenge – Dance.

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Sunset at Normandale Lake, Bloomington

Sunset at Lake Normandale Minnesota

Currently, apart from my six month old daughter and my family, i am also in love with nature these days. With the cold wintry weather of Minnesota giving way to spring, i am excited now, and continue to imagine and plan my next sojourn. This weekend, expecting a partly cloudy sunset, i headed out to Lake Normandale in Bloomington, Minnesota. A partly cloudy sunset is always more dramatic since it adds more variety of colors to the sky and the earth. I waited after the sun had receded to its abode and what i observed is captured in this shot. Content with my shot and filled with joy, i had a brisk walk covering the entire 1.9 mile trail around the lake.

The magic of nature is incomprehensible and will be always an enigma to mankind. It is this enigma which lures people like me to chase it, again and again. Today’s post is inspired by this week’s photo challenge: One Love.

Hope you enjoyed this one. Here are few more shots of mine during sunrise and sunset. Enjoy!!!

Boom Island Lighthouse at Sunrise

Woodlake Nature Center

Giant Wheel at Sunset

Washington DC at Sunset & Potomac River in Washington DC at Sunset

Sunset in Bali

Centennial Lake, Edina, at Sunset

Darjeeling covered in Morning mist

Sunset on the Banks of River Ganges

New York in Twilight

Sunset in Madrid

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Boom Island Lighthouse on Mississippi River, Minneapolis

Boom Island Lighthouse Minneapolis

How often do you find a beautiful lighthouse close to the downtown of a major city? Not very often, i would say. Few days back, i got to know about the Boom Island Lighthouse near Minneapolis downtown, and as usual, i could not resist my temptation to visit it. You might be aware that winter in Minneapolis is often very harsh and extreme. But this year, i must say winter has been phenomenally good and warm comparatively, if i can say so.

With this state of mind, in the last week of January, i decided to wake up early morning on a Saturday and shoot the Boom Island Lighthouse around sunrise. I was not expecting a clear sunrise though but i took my chance. Though i would have loved to shoot the Lighthouse against the background of colorful skies of the sunrise, i am quite content with the shots i got that day.

Boom Island Lighthouse is closed now but you can visit the site though. It is located in the Boom Island Park on the east banks of majestic Mississippi River in Minneapolis downtown. Till a century back, this piece of land existed as an island but no more now. Today it is a beautiful and historic Mississippi riverfront with picturesque views of the stunning Minneapolis skyline. There are only a few lighthouses existing today on the Mississippi river, and Boom Island Lighthouse is one of the historic lighthouses.

Boom Island Lighthouse Minneapolis

Boom Island Park offers plenty of activities for everyone. It is one of the merging spots for two trails – Heritage Trail (south) and the Mississippi River Regional Trail (north). There is a landing site for river cruise ships and Lighthouse stands at the entrance of the site.

When i had visited the Lighthouse, Mississippi river was almost frozen with thick sheets of ice as you can see in the photo. Park was covered in snow. Only in one of the shots, i could get a slight tinge of sunrise colors. It was cloudy for most of the time, Hence, i decided to convert it into a black & white to add little more drama into the shot. One of the better locations to shoot this Lighthouse with the downtown skyline in background is by positioning yourself at the close-by bridge on Plymouth Avenue North.

I am now waiting for the spring and summer which does not seem to be far away as the temperature has improved drastically in last one week. Forecast bodes better temperature in coming days, which is so unlikely for the months of February and March in this part of USA. I am all excited to welcome spring and plan my summer trips and sojourns.

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