Friday, February 22, 2013

Nikon D7100

Nikon announced the launch of their new "flagship" DX camera the D7100 to replace the D7000 and the D300s as well. This new DX body has a 24 MP sensor , an EXPEED 3 image processor, 2 SD cards, 51 focus points, 3.2 inch LCD and a lighter camera body at 675 grams. The  street price of the camera (body only) is $1196.95.

For the full specifications of the new camera please do visit

Let's wait for the hands on reviews!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trekking Gear in Kolkata

This is a list prepared by a fellow trekker Projjwal Das which mentions  the stores selling trekking and mountaineering gear in Kolkata. It should be useful to most trekkers and climbers who go to the mountains.

Contact #: +91-9830194296
Address: 18/6, Ballygunge Place (East), Jamini Roy Sarani, Kolkata 700 019 (Behind Dey's Medical)
Timings: 1 pm to 7 pm, Sunday and Monday Closed

Contact #: (033) 2360-7970
Address: 34, M. G. Road, Sealdah,, Kolkata(near puravi cinema hall), Kolkata - 700009
Timings: Monday - Friday 1.30am to 6pm & Saturday 12noon to 6pm

Contact #: +91-9830022010
Address: Devi Market, #33, 83 S.P. Mukherjee Road, Kolkata – 700026
E-mail: ,

Contact #: (033) 2416-0155 / +91-9433279318
Address: A/70 Canal South Road, East Rajapur, Santoshpur, Kolkata - 700 005

Contact #: +91-9432669894
Address: 4/2A, Waterloo Street, 2nd Floor, Kolkata - 700069
Timings: Monday – Saturday, after 11am

Contact #: +91-9231581177 / +91-9830392103
Address: 40B, Gokul Baral Street, Kolkata – 700012 (Near Raja Subodh Mullick Sqaure Jagannath Bari)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh

The Markha Valley is one of the most popular treks in Ladakh. It is relatively short, located close to Leh, the walking is mostly below 4000 metres with  night stops around 3500 metres and has the best of Ladakh thrown in: Sculpted canyons and fantastic rock formations, medieval villages,  Buddhist gompas and snow-peaks. When approached from Chilling there is only one pass to cross the Kongmaru La which comes on Day 8 of the trek by which time most trekkers are properly acclimatised. The cost of the trek is Rs 44,500 ( USD 825) Leh to Leh - exclusions apply. For further details please do e-mail us at or check our web site at Markha Valley trek.

      Day 01 Delhi to Leh   
We take the  spectacular one hour flight over the Himalayas to Leh. Be prepared to sit on the left hand window seat for the best views. The rest of the day is spent acclimatizing in Leh.
Day 02 Acclimatization day in and around Leh
We take the opportunity to visit some of the splendid monasteries in and around Leh like Shey, Thikse, Hemis etc.
Day 03 Leh to Chilling by road and then walk to Skiu 3400m (4 hours)
We leave Leh in the morning after an early breakfast and then drive to Chilling in around  two and a half hours. We meet our pony man and support team in Chilling.  From Chilling we start our four hour walk to Skiu  and reach by later afternoon.

      Day 04   Skiu to Tunespa 3600 m ( 4 hours)  
The trail is mostly flat following the Markha river. After around three hours the trail crosses a bridge and then traverses some steep slopes before entering the hamlet of Chaluk. From Chaluk there is a short walk to Tunespa which is small village with cultivated fields. 
      Day 05 Tunespa to Markha 3700 meters 3 hrs  &  then Markha to Hankar 3900 metres 3 hrs           
The trail from Tunespa climbs up to some chortens from where there is a good view of the valley. It continues to follow the river until it enters Markha where we have lunch. From Markha it is a gentle climb past Umlung to Hankar where we stop for the night.
Day 06  Hankar to Tahungtse 4150 metres 3 hours   and the  Tahungtse to the Tea Tent (lake) 3 hours
From Hankar the trail climbs to reach the walled pastures of Tahungtse. We stop for an early lunch here and then proceed after lunch to reach the small tarn with excellent mountain views. There is a small tea tent here in season for refreshments
 Day 07   Tea Tent to Nimaling ( 4720 meters) 2 hours uphill  
The  trail climbs to Nimaling which is a large valley where yaks, sheep and goats are grazed by the villagers of Markha. We do a short day to Nimaling as the next day has a pass crossing and a stiff downhill! It is beautiful campsite but can often be cold and windy! 

Day 08 Nimaling to Kongmaru La 5100 meters 2 hours and then down to Chukirmo 4050 meters four hours
The trail then climbs to the pass of Kongmaru La from where there are good views over the Zanskar mountains and the peak of Kang Yaze. From the pass the trail drops steeply for about 1000 metres to the settlement of Chukirmo where we camp for the night.
Day 09  Chukirmo to Shang Sumdo 31/2 hours and then drive to Leh two hours
The trail continues to drop but more gradually now to  Chogdo and then passes a school and finally enters Shang Sumdo. We have our packed lunch in Shang Sumdo and then drive  back to Leh.
Day 10   Leh to
We can avail the morning flight from Leh to Delhi and be back in civilization in an hour!  In case you wish to stay on in Leh further please do inform us for hotel bookings and onward reservations.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mountain Photography at Night

92 sec f 6.3 ISO  800
On a recent South Col trek to Nepal I was able to  experiment with a lot of mountain photography at dusk and at night.  I am sharing some tips in this post:

It goes without saying that the first requirement for night photography of mountains is a strong rock steady tripod. Monopods and table top tripods are not real substitute to a good tripod. I know this means lugging up and down the mountain another 1 to 2 kgs of weight but if you need to shoot long exposures then you need the tripod.

If your camera is on a tripod set VR or IS off - you dont need any vibration reduction as the tripod is supposed to be rock steady!

Please do set autofocus off and focus your lens manually - my experience is that with autofocus on the camera hunts for a correct focus point at night!

The newer generation of DSLRs have pushed high ISO performance to 3200 and 6400 with some amazingly good results but I am conservative in this regard – if I can put my camera on a tripod I still prefer the lower ISO settings 200-800 with longer exposures.

I would usually select a middle of the range aperture like f5.6 , f6.3 or f8 unless I need depth of field from foreground right up to infinity. In that case I may even stop down to f16!

After setting the ISO and aperture the balancing factor would be the shutter speed. It is hard to select the shutter speed in low light and make a perfect exposure. There is a lot of black and deep shadows in the photograph and usually the metering is fooled by this resulting in some over exposure. As a rule of thumb setting the exposure compensation to -0.7 and bracketing two stops around the meter reading usually gives one good shot! Speeds can be as low as 15 sec, 30 sec and sometimes even one minute using this bracketing technique.  Most DSLRs wont go below 30 sec so you would have to switch to bulb mode  fire the shutter with a remote release and then close it again. 
30 sec, f7.1 ISO 200 
I usally set the white balance to Auto and keep it that way - in case there is any extraordinary colour shift I would correct it in processing. but this is not usual.

Oh and finally do shoot raw - makes a huge difference to the final image!

For more night photos please do visit   


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