December 30, 2010

Minolta 28-100mm

The kit lens I got with my Sony maxes out at 70mm. The 35-70mm minolta, though it gives excellent photos, is limited to the same focal length. I was on the lookout for a telescopic lens, particularly a 100-300mm or the 75-300mm "Beer can" which is quite rare now. Among the daily alerts I get for the subscribed keyword "minolta" on ebay, most are for lens caps and accessories but one day the effort paid off! A guy was selling his defunct Sony A100 alongwith a Minolta 28-100 macro lens. I PMed him asking whether he was willing to sell the lens individually. He relisted it immediately. Bhaiya came to the rescue when Dad's card failed and ordered if for me pronto.

The seller, even after selling it dirt cheap, was kind enough to throw in a Marumi UV filter and a original Minolta lens hood! A great deal indeed.

At the wide end, the equivalent focal length translates to about 42mm at f3.5 which is fine for portraits. The focal length at the other end is 150mm which should came in handy for some shooting distant objects. Will try for a larger focal length when I've saved enough.

Below are a couple of test shots:

December 24, 2010

Schooldayz: 2004 Tsunami

At the enrichment camp...

If it wasn't for one of our "petu" friends insisting on eating breakfast first, our sunday morning stroll to Kalpakkam beach would have been our last.

December 2004. Atomic Energy Central School-2, Kalpakkam. It was the last day of Enrichment camp, an annual affair where all the so-called "bright" students congregated from about 20 schools nationwide. I don't know how I made it to the team.... the scorns I got in the class reflected that pretty well. Bharat, Sandhya and I were representing Manuguru. I suppose they were the real deal and I was backup.

All was fun...

Four days went by fast and we had a real great time. Physics, Chemistry, mathematics.... science biggies were called in to lecture and inspire us. I remember how, in the mathematics class, I watched helplessly as everyone around me was having wicked fun answering questions. Physics and chemistry were ok though and I had no trouble keeping up. We skipped biology classes and
spent time in the library where I finished a Jack Higgins novel.

We even won a quiz...

On the fourth day, a quiz programme was announced and we wrote a small screening test with questions that varied from science to sports. Bharat and I made it and were to take on three more teams in the final showdown. Meanwhile, Sandhya read poetry onstage and we missed most of it. Then the quiz. My first time on stage and it had to be in Kalpakkam! The home team was there too and we were kinda sure we'd be ripped apart in minutes. Turned out, it was the best fun I ever had! After a nail biting series of rounds, the final quickfire was were we got the edge. For the last question I did something which still cracks me up... I was to name the sports personality from the picture shown. I knew the answer but not how it was pronounced.

I wrote it down for Bharat to read, to which the quiz master quipped "Are you solving it or what?". Bharat slowly read it out like it was written YE-LEE-NA ISAN-BA-YE-YA. Bingo! Right answer! We won the quiz.

The principal gave us a nice pat and handhsake when we got down stage. Sandhya and another girl congratulated too but our enigmatic Sir didn't even smile.

We went to our rooms all fired up... waiting for prize distribution the next day. The next day would be the most shocking and memorable day of my life... and no prize.

and then it happened....

It was Sunday. One of the friends I'd made, who was from Kaiga, suggested we skip breakfast and spend some time on the beach. His friend shrugged it off and settled down for his meal, which was served in the school hall. We all drew up our chairs in a circle and sat down. We were
almost finished with breakfast when a few kids ran in through the front gate screaming. They were sobbing and muttered something in tamil I couldnt quite catch. The vice principal then screamed "EVERYONE!!! UP!!!" We left our folders and bags on the chairs as we ran upstairs. Through a small window on the stircase I saw what the commotion was all about.... water. It
came with such force and in such quantity, it freaked the hell out of me. It took a mere minute to flood the whole ground floor.

The sea water had picked up the red mud from the nearby ground(from where the kids had come running). All chairs, bags, our folders and Bharat's camera were washed away. We then went into a classroom facing the sea and saw to our shock, another big wave coming in. Bikes, bicycles and scooters were floating around in what was left of the parking shelter. There was no sign of the school gate.... nothing at all. We prayed for our lives as there was only one floor and a further rise in water level meant we were done for.

I don't mean to self-pat but I told Bharat it looked like a Tsunami(I'd read about it Cussler's Dragon). My doubts were cleared when a Physics teacher confirmed, it was announced on radio that a major earthquake off the coast of Indonesia had created a massive tsunami.

the horror...

The water subsided in about 20 minutes leaving behind a trail of destruction everywhere. The principal's office, the record room, the library... all were ruined beyond repair. Rescue buses were called in which took us to Anupuram colony where we were given a classroom for refuge. Most of the the kalpkkam residents were there. I borrowed a cellphone and sent an sms home that I was safe. We left for Chennai the next day at dawn and stayed at Sir's place before catching the train back home. I didn't take my Kodak to the camp(I still can't figure out why) and Bharat's camera was washed away in that big devastating wave that killed thousands...

Near the End

Near the End by Mat Zo. Now that's trance!!! Only speakers with good low frequencies can get this one right. Non subwoofer configs needn't even bother.

December 14, 2010

I saw 19

I recently came across this list by Visual Effects Society of what they think are the Top 50 visual effects films of all time. Indeed, many of the movies are timeless classics... though I'm not too sure about the pre 50s ones. The one's I've seen are in bold. 19 in all :-)

50 most influential VFX films of all time:

1. Star Wars (1977)
2. Blade Runner (1982)
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
3. The Matrix (1999)
5. Jurassic Park (1993)
6. Tron (1982)
7. King Kong (1933)
8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
9. Alien (1979)
10. The Abyss (1989)
11. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
12. Metropolis (1927)
13. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
14. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
15. The Wizard of Oz (1939) 16. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
18. Titanic (1997)
19. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
20. Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
20. E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982)
22. Toy Story (1995)
23. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
24. The Ten Commandments (1956)
25. The War of the Worlds (1953)
25. Forrest Gump (1994)
25. Citizen Kane (1941)
25 The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
25. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
30. The Terminator (1984)
31. Aliens (1986)
32. Mary Poppins (1964)
33. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
34. Forbidden Planet (1956)
35. Babe (1995)
36. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
36. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
38. King Kong (2005)
39. Planet of the Apes (1968)
40. Fantastic Voyage (1966)
41. Jaws (1975)
41. Ghostbusters (1984)
43. Sin City (2005)
44. Superman: The Movie (1978)
45. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
46. The Lost World (1925)
46. Return of the Jedi (1983)
48. What Dreams May Come (1998)
49. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
50. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1958)
50. The Fifth Element (1997)

I never got around to watching Star Wars...don't know why. Will watch it in full HD glory on my new Benq G2220HD and Creative 4.1 !
In picture: From Blade Runner, this scene will remain my favorite for a long long time. Beautiful, poetic, chill inducing, sombre... I'm running out of words.

December 9, 2010

Speed of Light

Too many trance posts, I know. I have nothing else to write about now.

Speed of light by Alphawezen from Lounge Couture vol. 2

Touch me
I am losing shape
Look I am invisible
Can you say my name

If there's a perfect sky that we came from
We'll be like stars forever shining on

Catch me
I am almost there
How can I be near
I am highspeed
I am everywhere

I couldn't catch your smile
You are blinded by another side
I couldn't say goodbye
You are traveling at the speed of light

You and me
We never cross the boundary
That's how I know you
I can hear you say

You and me
We never unweil mysteries
Once you are shining
We never tried again

You and me
We never cross the boundary
That's how I know you
I can hear you say

You and me
Always traveling separately
When I try to reach you
You are miles away

You and me
We never unweil mysteries

Touch me
I am losing shape
Look I am invisible
Can you say my name

If there's a perfect sky that we came from
We'll be like stars forever shining on

Catch me
I am almost there
How can I be near
I am highspeed
I am everywhere

You couldn't read my mind
How I wanted you to hold me tight
I couldn't save that night
I was passing by at the speed of light

You and me
We never cross the boundary
That's how I know you
I can hear you say

You and me
We never unweil mysteries
Once you are shining
We never tried again

We are flesh and we are free
Wa are drift wood in the sea
From the distance we are stars
Like there is a face on Mars

Wa are lost and we are one
We are neighbours to the Sun
Slowly drifting out of sight
Traveling at the speed of light

December 4, 2010

I am

I am by Chakra(vox remix)

I am your truth, I am your destiny.
I am desire and despair.
I am your glow inside, your beating heart.
I am the love that leads you there.

I am your soul.

I am the darkness where you disappear.
I am the light that leads you safe.
I am the shepherd of your laughter and your tears.
I am your pleasure and your pain.

I am your soul.

I am the faith that keeps your spirit strong.
I am the sunlight in the rain.
I am the universe inside your mind.
I am your pleasure and your pain.

I am your soul.

I am the courage that inspires you.
I am the knowledge that you gained.
I am the people you will choose to be.
I am your pleasure and your pain.