I went on a photowalk with some of my photographer friends from photostrophe to this place called Alamparai fort. It’s a place more than a 100kms away from Chennai. We went to photograph some ruins of an old fort, do some landscape and architecture shots. That is all we expected. But we also got the chance to enjoy a long drive, a boat ride, macro shots of some crustaceans, some street shots, and some bird shots (my friends did some amazing bird shots). It turned out to be more of a photo adventure.
We started off from Chennai at around 4.30 am. It was a very long ride through the ECR road. At 7am, not very far away from the fort, we saw a back-water lake shore. Fishermen had docked their boats there. The sight of colourful boats, open sky, the lake under the early morning sun was just beautiful. We parked the car, took out our photo gear and started shooting.
FISHING BOATS DOCK:
When we stepped down towards the boats, our eyes caught the sight of these sand dunes. Never I had seen such a sight. It was a miniature dessert right next to the lake. The ripples on the sand surface were lit really well under the early morning sun.
Then I went on to shooting the boats, the main reason that made us stop our car and start shooting. I loved the colours. Also patches of dry land here and there in the lake created a pretty contrast on the over all frame.
It didn’t take much time for people to start noticing us. I was not surprised. A fat bald guy, with a camera mounted on a tripod (and I was carrying it on my shoulder like how Inuyasha would carry his sword. Only and obvious difference, he looks way cooler than I do in that pose), sunglasses, and me shifting here and there with the tripod in robotic movements, trying to get the right frame, was sure to attract attention. These kids came up to me and were asking what was I up to. I was explaining what I was doing there and so we got into conversation. Soon I switched my self to street mode, after all, it’s what I love to do.
THE BOAT RIDE:
Turns out that those boats were not just for fishing. Apparently the back waters lead to the Alamparai fort. And as a part-time business, these fishing boats are available for boat riding and reaching the fort. And so we hopped into one fo these boats and started out towards the fort.
ENTER – ALAMPARAI FORT:
After around half an hour of riding, we finally reached the shores of the Alamparai fort. For a moment I kind of felt like the Prince of Persia, when the game begins on the shore of the island in warrior within.
MACRO SHOTS AT THE LAKE SHORE:
The fort was the only thing on our mind. But thanks to raj, a lot of crustaceans that he found caught our attention. Macro is not something that I normally do, but some of these creatures looked magnificent. I thought I’ll give it a shot too.
TOMB OF THE NAWAB:
I wanted to see more of the fort. All I had seen so far was a tsunami ravaged wall. We walked in through the broken wall. There was not much of the fort left. A lot had been destroyed long ago. The major part of the fort that existed was the huge boundary wall which ran across the fort, which is now pretty much an open field with trees, bushes, sand and some excavation pits dug here and there. In the midst the filed I saw this tomb. It was odd to see the tomb alone still preserved. It was covered with a cloth made of some synthetic material (I doubt it was silk). There were some flowers and some incense sticks near it. It was like some one was there some time just before we had arrived there.
Sometime later, Dilip found a board that had some info about this fort. Apparently, this fort belonged to a Nawab (not sure of the name). Later it was used by the french as a mint. Further down the line the British colonists used this fort, and since then it had been abandoned.
MORE OF ALAMPARAI:
I walked further and found that the big boundary wall can be climbed. There were these stairs built. They were steep and uneven. Some bricks were shaky. I scaled them, balancing the tripod which had my camera mounted in one hand and my life in another. I reached the top and did some shots from there.
But It was not the landscape alone that caught my attention. Tell you what, you must’ve heard of beach volley ball. Ever head of beach cricket? Well, it happens only in India. 😉 I saw these kids there playing it.
After all that shooting, we planned to leave. We were tired, walking in the hot sun, surviving only on a few biscuits, some water, awake from 4am, no breakfast, and it was around 10.30am already. We got back to the boat and our captain started the boat to take us back to the docks. On the way back we spotted these beautiful birds. I’m not sure what they are called. I think they’re gulls. Despite all that tiredness I thought “Ooohh bird photography…? Hell yeah!!” I took some shots when the boat was in motion. They weren’t that impressive. Our captain was kind enough to slowly steer towards the birds and then kill the engine. That helped a lot to take the shot of these birds.
And so ended a wonderful photo-adventure. We reached the docks, paid the captain, and started back to Chennai. On our way back, we stopped at Mamalla, a restaurant, for a breakfast of dosas, pongal-vadas, and hot chocolate.
I shot my images using my Nikon L120. I shoot 5 exposures for HDR processing. -2, -1, 0, 1, 2. I don’t bother about the rest of the Exif because I shoot most of my shots in the auto mode of my camera. And occasionally shift to macro, night portrait or the night landscape setting depending on the necessity.
I processed my images in photoshop using nik hdr efex for my hdr shots, and nik silver efex on my black and white shots. I have a tutorial on how to use both of them in my tutorial section. And for after effects like vignetting, sharpening, contrast and other tweaks, I used Nik colour efex and topaz adjust on all of them.