A really simple entry

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Mobile Blogging – Dubai

In this, our last post abroad, we will explain the titles of our blogs: “Mobile Blogging” – followed by a description. We have been taking all pictures for this blog using our mobile phones (cell phones) and writing/posting 95% of the blogs themselves, on our mobile phones. It has been a great trip and in a few hours we get on the plane to come home, back to Canada.

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Mobile Blogging – Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Today we got video footage of the last sunset of 2013! We set up the GoPro at the beach as the sun set over the Indian Ocean. Then Laura went to put her feet in the water and a big wave came while she was posing for a picture! She got her shoes and shorts wet so we went back to the heritage home accommodation before heading to the bus to go in to town for dinner. We loved dinner so much last night that we went to the same place again.

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Mobile Blogging – Backwaters and Beaches

After our trip to Munnar and our stay at Ela Ecoland, we spent two nights at Green Palace, near Alleppey Beach, which is close to the coast so the weather is warmer and more humid, and doesn’t get cold in the evening/night, like it did in Munnar. The only way to Green Palace is by boat! It is off the beaten path therefore it was relaxing and quiet – just what we wanted. The view was beautiful and the staff were very helpful. We met the owner on a boat ride from the hotel to the shore and he helped us book a houseboat for the day after new years.

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Mobile Blogging – Ela Ecoland and the Elephant ride

We stayed at Ela Ecoland for three nights while in the Munnar area. We had breakfast and dinner in their small dining room, off the kitchen. The food was fresh and delicious. The chef, named Muttu, was skilled and friendly. His wife helped him in the kitchen and because it is Christmas time, his two sons were home and they helped out around the kitchen and accommodation.

We had a driver and he took us to many sightseeing destinations. Tea plantations, spice plantations, waterfalls, viewpoints and my favourite – an elephant ride! We waited forty minutes for our half hour ride on Unni. He answered to commands in Malyali after three years of training with his handler. When we asked his handler if Unni understood English, he said no. He explained that he trained Unni, and used his language: Malyali. He went on to say if we trained an elephant, it would understand our language: English.

Inside the Rock House. It was a good 5 minute walk from the kitchen, which was about 50 metres below following a rocky and rustic trail.

A few from Ela Ecolands kitchen/dining room.

Made a friend with a frog on our way from the Rock House to the kitchen. Lit the little guy with a flashlight from above in case you’re wondering.

Uni posing with us.

Uni our ride. Amazing fellow with majestic tusks.

Riding Uni. An amazing experience.


Mobile Blogging – Elephants on Christmas Day

It was the best Christmas present Purazar could have given me. On our journey inland from Kochi to Munnar region, on Christmas day, we stopped at an elephant training center. The handlers only work with their elephants for three years to build a rapport. We watched them take their elephant down to the river and bathe them.

The eldest female in the group. She knew her daily routine so needed just the occasional polite instruction from her handler.

Elephant handlers bathing and creating a bond with their beasts. They issue commands in Malyali.

The elephants brought along their own food to their resting spots. The handler prepares a pile of branches and leaves the the Elephant will drag over.

Handlers taking their Elephant for a walk after the bath.

Video taping the elephant bathing.


Mobile Blogging – Our first 3 days in Pune, India

Purazar and Laura posing with their baggage outside Mumbai Airport

We got off the plane from London and took a four hour cab ride to Amar Nagari, which is the name of a laneway of apartments, off a busy road in Pune, India. If you don’t hear honking it, means you have gotten used to the sound. We believe honking means: don’t get in my way; I’m passing you; get out of my way; turn already; you’re not supposed to stop there; you are too slow; and my favourite: I haven’t honked in a while, so I’m just satisfying that itch.

Archway and palm tree leading to apartment

Apartment buildings next door, colourful just like the rest of India.

Looking up at the apartment, with Laura on the second floor stairway.

The apartment has two rooms, each with a bathroom and a large open space in between that acts as the living room and dining room. The kitchen is also of the large space. Some apartments have open style elevators, but this one does not. It does have a pool!

Swimming pool at the apartment complex. Great way to cool off in the 28 degree heat.

Open style elevator in a family member’s apartment

Mornings we get up and eat toast, fruit and drink tea. Then we slowly get ready and spend the afternoon out of the house. Friday was a market downtown that spans many blocks and is outdoors – busy with people and vendors. There was barely room to walk either because the space was packed with people selling or with people buying.

Dinner at a Rajisthani Restaurant in the mall. This is known as a thali – each small bowl has a different dish including desert. All the food is vegetarian.

Yesterday was the opposite, to the extreme. We went to a mall that reminded me of the huge malls in California. Lots of space and outdoor sections but indoor stores. But this mall seemed to have more employees than shoppers; there were not many shoppers, especially considering it was Saturday. Purazar’s cousin Kushnuma came with us, and brought her 2 year old son, Ruvir (roo-veer, but we call him roo-vi).

Both places had great food and lots to buy. The mall did not have fruits and veggies like the market, but the mall did have ice cream 🙂 Canadian/American brands as well as brands from India.

Evenings are visiting family and waiting for dinner. Dinner is always late (between 9 and 10am) and Purazar says it is because drinks, sharing stories, and having a laugh are just as important as having a meal together. There are always more than 4-5 different dishes that are cooked by the host, plus rice and roti are a staple.

That’s all for now!

Mobile Blogging – 10 hours in England

On the journey to India, we had a layover of 12 hours at Heathrow Airport, London, UK. We had 2 options – stay in the airport and catch up on sleep OR continue staying awake and explore London.

The choice was obvious, so we took the Tube from the airport terminal to Westminster station. Total cost of that trip – 19£ for both of us. We were given other options by the attendant at the travel desk, but this was by far the most adventurous and much cheaper.

South Ealing Station on the Underground in London. We love the different vernacular used in different parts of the world. Way Out instead of Exit. On the Jet Airways plane (airline based in India) the Hindi translation for Exit was “Outside”.

Taking the Tube instead of the Heathrow Express (34£/person) meant that we were on the subway twice as long but this gave us a great opportunity to travel with the locals and see more of the city as the tracks wound themselves through neighbourhoods and over busy streets. Once we got to London we decided to walk the streets instead of taking the Big Bus Tour (hop on and hop off service – 32£/person). We brought along some walking maps which helps is plan out routes and subway stops.

Tiny snap shot of the awesome subway system in London. We switched subway lines at Hammersmith to get to Westminster. (Cities of Ottawa and Toronto, please take note: this sort of infrastructure will keep tourists happy and coming back for more)

After having spent 7 hours on a red eye flight, we were both grumpy and groggy buy the view we saw when we stepped out of Westminster station put a huge smile on our faces. We were greeted by Big Ben. An iconic landmark where pictures just don’t it any justice. But here are a few anyways…


After walking past the parliament buildings and over the Westminster Bridge, we took a few pictures of the London Eye and had a lunch at a cute French Bakery. The food was delicious but quite pricy. 20£ for two small meals and two drinks – tasty none the less.

Having fueled up with some carbs we walked along the Thames where there was a lively atmosphere filled with Christmas music, food, and lots of laughter. The weather was great and Buskers made the most of it by keeping everyone entertained.

We then walked over the millennium Bridge and around St Paul’s square where we hopped back into the Underground to see the sights of the Oxford shopping district. Buy this point we were thoroughly exhausted so after a quick walk through Carnaby Circus we got back on the Tube one last time to head back to the airport.


Next blog post from a busy and vibrant India.

Sneak peek of our next blog post. Can you guess where we are?


KindAwesome Photo Contest Winner

While shooting the CHEO BBQ Tournament in June, I took a picture of a player who was running to grab the disc. This was a classic instance of being in the right place at the right time. Since then I’ve received numerous compliments and this image has been published in a number of different places including the cover photo of Ultimate Canada’s Facebook page. It also won third place in the KindAwesome Photo Contest.

Thanks to Kind bars for sending me the prize – the bars are delicious.

Ultimate Pictures, Ultimate Frisbee Pictures, Kind Bars, Photo Contests, Photos of Determination, Black and White, KindAwesome Photo Contest

KindAwesome Photo Contest Winning image and price pack

Why is my D300s shutter speed so slow?

We all know what happens when you get a new (replacement) for something; suddenly the older product just feels so inferior, so outdated? You immediately relegate it to a corner, let it collect dust and try to forget about the investment you had made, which now is surely obsolete. Well, that’s what happened to my Nikon D300s when I bought the new Nikon D600. It sat on my shelf, looking lonely, without a lens or battery, until one day I rediscovered why I had loved it so much. It’s because it JUST WORKS! No AF problems, no dust issues, etc – accept I could only get 2-3FPS out of it, even on Continuous High Speed Mode. Why was the D300 shutter speed so slow?

This was a case of blame the user, not the equipment. Sometime in the past, I must have changed the Raw File Bit Rate from 12-bits to 14-bits. This setting taxes the processor more and isn’t able to give you the high burst rate.  Once I changed it back to 12-bits, and I was shooting at a happy 6fps. Having done reading about the real world benefits of 12-bit vs. 14-bit, I’ve decided that when I’m using my D300s as part of my dynamic duo package, speed is more to me than theoretical dynamic range.

If you’re having this issue and you’ve already set it to shoot at 12-bit Raw files, it might be that your SD/CF card is too slow, try a faster one.

Now I’m debating whether I should add a battery grip to this old beauty to get 8fps, but I really haven’t felt that I’ve missed a moment and needed those 2 extra frames – the upgrade would purely be for the machine-gun sound. In the mean time, here are some shots that my old, but as good as gold D300s produces.

American Herring Gull - Shot with the D300s and 70-200mm f4

American Herring Gull - Shot with the D300s and 70-200mm f4

American Herring Gull – Shot with the D300s and 70-200mm f4

American Herring Gull - Shot with the D300s and 70-200mm f4

American Herring Gull – Shot with the D300s and 70-200mm f4

Fall colours in Ontario - Maple Tree in Autumn

Fall colours in Ontario – Maple Tree in Autumn