Smack in the middle of Maui’s tourist district, there exists a beautiful beach that is usually swarmed by wedding photographers for its foreground rocks laid in plaids against picturesque backdrops. When Rishabh and I got there after grappling our way through Maui’s dusk traffic, western clouds were recriminating the sunless orange horizon with their dark violets. The sea was up, the surf was not. The low tide rode the peachy sand beach in psychedelia – back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. Following the child-like water-line that didn't know how to stay still, Rishabh cyclically chased and ran away from the sea. Seeing him engrossed in the moment wrapped in his boyhood innocence gave me a sense of stolen time – moment after moment after moment. As the mild wind – perhaps laden with Ayahuasca – weaved tenderly through my nostrils and my sense of now, I came to realize that certain places at certain times have an inherent ability to exemplify life at its fullest.
Tags: Maui Hawai'i Po‘Olenalena RamenSaha Sea Ocean Beach Rock Po‘OlenalenaBeach Wailea SandyBeach PaipuBeach MakenaAlanui Sunset
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Mountain streams and brooks are nature’s flowing veins. Attending them with a bit of cavernous perceptibility allows one to feel the pulsating throb of our planet. Here, come with me… Stand next to the lazy stream and focus your senses on what you see and hear. You will likely hear soft gurgling of water as it flows past those rocks and invisibly mends them in shape. You will see the turmoil in the water body, where everything is in flux and the only constant is the flow. Let’s be a little adventurous… go ahead, dip a part of your person in the flowing water. You will feel it is cold and your instinct will be to withdraw yourself from the chill. However, if you give yourself and the rivulet some time, you will become friends. The water will not be cold and withdrawn anymore. Instead, you will feel it rubbing your skin like a down feather. Softly, tenderly… as if it is in love with you. Next, try to smell the water. It is very likely, you will first smell the damp – mingling odors of algal, fungal and decomposing matter that hang loose in the wet air. But with time and your friendship with the stream, you will slowly smell the musty sweat of earth. Now, pay close auditory attention to your new friend and you will soon know that the river’s gurgling is structured in an octave; she is singing a never-written hymn. And she is talking to you.
If you haven’t realized already, all this while, you have been in the company of an oracle, who in her autumn attire, is silently conveying you an eternal prophecy: despite all odds, seasons, reasons, pains, and elation… all we can do is flow. Just flow.
Tags: RockyMountainNationalPark RockyMountain NationalPark BigThompsonRiver River Rock Fall Water Ramen Saha Colorado
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Stillness… how strange it is. How strange it can be.
We all return ultimately to stillness, but in the pursuit of ‘life’, we abhor it. Yet, when life stalls, paradoxically at least for me, it is the stillness of the wilderness that hinges it back to bearable. Such stillness is quaint. They don’t have a name. But, they shroud us like clouds when in fading lights we require, like mountains, reassurances against forces of erosion.
Let me share two such moments of stillness from our recent Colorado trip with you.
In the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park, the Alpine visitor center has a glass-wall that looks down from 11,796 feet into the stunning Fall river basin to the east. NPS has put in a couple of couches/benches by these walls that are seldom used by hasty visitors. When we were there after driving up the nostalgic one-way Old Fall river road, Rishabh sat on one of those benches while I habitually chatted up the park ranger. After my conversation with the ranger ended, Rishabh asked me to sit next to him on the couch by the glass wall. I did and leaned back on the comfortable couch. In front of us, the blue sky was busy passing an armada of puffy, overweight cloud-balls to nowhere, whereas the land beneath – the cirque – was grossly overdressed in her autumn attire. Looking straight into this scene, Rishabh calmly rested his head on my shoulder. I felt his leaning and the father in me teared up a soupçon inside. Joy erupted into stillness of the hinging kind and despite pressing talons of my realities, everything felt peaceful in the world past that huge glass-wall.
The second such moment happened later in the day, when Rishabh and I stood next to each other at the gorgeous Gore Range overlook at about twelve thousand feet and watched the fading light play with mountains and their cloud curtains like kittens play with wool-balls. He showed me the panaroma he had captured on my iPhone. When I praised his image and told him I was going to replicate his frame, he smiled ear to ear. Joy spurted again, but this time, the stillness borrowed heavily from those mountains and filled me with – in Peter Matthiessen's words – 'a light-filled immanence, shimmering and breathing, and yet so fleeting that it left me breathless and in pain'. Sweet pain.
Tags: RockyMountainNationalPark NationalPark EstesPark TrailRidgeRoad RamenSaha GoreRange AlpineVisitorCenter Colorado ContinentalDivide
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The Windows section is arguably the most scenic section in the Arches National Park and houses three popular arches very close to each other. The smallest among these three arches is the Turret Arch – the one that somehow looks like a half-made castle with a circular arrowslit and a whimsical castle-lord who chose not to install the portcullis. The most common/famous view of this arch is looking through the North Window and that is for a good reason. The North arch provides a lovely frame – especially during dawn hours. It’s a very likeable visual and therefore, photographers flock to the little hill past the North Window for that precious view.
On the evening of our visit, we veered clear of the crowd and scrambled up underneath the 65 feet high Turret arch to reach a little narrow rock on the west. There I set up my camera to look back at the partially visible North Window through the arch. Rishabh took a seat on the rock next to me and fiddled with my phone. The sun had set and we were in the blue hour by now. The first star had just emerged from the blue (visible in the image if you zoom in), and the beautiful Turret arch tower caught the alpenglow. In this flux of the evening’s orange and dusk’s purple, the unwary crimson of the sandstone castle faded into a striking scarlet at the top. All along, a mild breeze settled in the nothingness and invigorated calm.
Next to me, quietly typing in dusk’s voice, Rishabh wrote (in my phone), “My light streaks the beautiful blue sky. As I slowly dissipate, my personality comes to life. When I finally fade, my soft colors will illuminate the world above for millennia to come.”
Tags: TurretArch ArchesNationalPark NationalPark Utah Dusk Ramen Saha Sandstone Arch WindowsSection
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This image is a significant departure from two hackneyed aspects of photography.
One, shooting the picturesque but the usual. This image is from my beloved Sequoia national park, but is not about those Brobdingnagian trees. Try a google search with 'Sequoia national park' and you will be squashed with a million variation of the same thing: Sequoia trees. While I love those trees and would like to present them in an unique way some day (working on it!), but for now, let me leave you with a river scene from the park that intrigued me in broad daylight.
Two, talking about daylight, many photographers (including yours truly, sometimes) gripe about shooting in flat light of the high sun. The monotonous light, as all of you know, washes away intricacies and mischievous details of color and texture from a scene. These details, which conveniently emerge in soft low light of dawn/dusk, is the language that our subconscious understands the best and is therefore the dormant code for us to like an image. This image – after trial and error in post-processing for more than an year – is my attempt at rescuing those wily subliminal attributes from a scene shot in broad daylight.
Tell me, how did I do? Do you like any of these departures?
Tags: NationalPark SequoiaNationalPark Sequoia KaweahRiver MarbleFork MarbleForkOfKaweahRiver RamenSaha California Rocks River Water Fern
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