Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Rebel With A Focus!

Disclaimer: A personal post on cameras and photography.

Thrilled to welcome the newest member to my photography family - the Canon 500D (also known as the Rebel T1i) with the 18-55 mm kit lens, 55-250 mm telephoto lens and the 50mm f/1.8 II Prime lens!

Had been checking the mailbox at least five times a day over the past week since I placed the order and have not spent much time away from the device since the package arrived this afternoon! I have a feeling it's going to keep me very busy during my next 2 weeks of break before classes resume for the Fall quarter. Here's a closer look at the beauty.
Canon 500D with 18-55 mm lens mounted
Canon 55-250 mm Lens

Canon 50mm F/1.8 II Lens

Here's the latest family members, clicked by the Nexus S phone camera.

This follows my previous loyal Canon companion, the Canon S3 IS purchased during my first visit to the US more than four years back. That was the time I was beginning to develop a knack for photography, and generally doing a lousy job by clicking anything in sight. I must say the S3 IS has been one of the best purchases till date and I would like to believe I learnt almost everything about light, apertures, shutter speed, macro etc. from it. Given it's portability compared to the Rebel I think I will continue to carry it with me for a long time.

The Canon S3 IS

And here's a look at my very first camera, bought in August of 2005, my second month of starting on my first job. I guess most of my colleagues from Google, Hyderabad still have nightmares of me creeping up on them and going trigger happy with my Kodak Easyshare CX 7310!

Kodak Easyshare CX 7310
This post will be incomplete without mentioning the following people whose inputs where highly valuable in going for the DSLR along with the lenses, and ones I will keep pestering for some time for tips, tricks and sudden panic attacks. Also, a good idea to check their albums/blogs/sites as they all do a darn neat job of capturing moments. Thank you (in alphabetical order)

Sumodh Tharien (he's a good but lazy boy)

And finally here's the first shot taken with the 500D (Focal Length 51 mm, Shutter Speed 1/60 seconds, Aperture f/5.6, ISO:400).

Rest of my photos (all with the Canon S3 IS) available here.

P.S: Amazon has become one of my 5 most visited sites since moving to the US and especially during the camera hunt. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

KWEST - Around The World In 7 Days

The following article, capturing my first couple of months at Kellogg, was published in my Financial Times blog today. Reproducing without any edits.


In late August around 750 Kellogg students and their joint ventures (more commonly known as partners in the rest of the world) left on 35 trips to countries from Australia to Zanzibar and everywhere in between. This was a part of the annual Kellogg tradition of Kwest (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips). These trips are voluntary and although they not a part of the curriculum an overwhelming majority of students take part.
Each trip is led by about 5 second year students, following their summer internship. The idea being to help the incoming batch of students to get to know each other in an informal environment. Students have non-stop fun for a week, while at the same time helping the local community, – cleaning the streets of Florence, painting a swing in a school in Punta Cana or building homes in Nicaragua. During this period participants are not allowed to mention the country/state they are from, or their education and professional background until the ‘big reveal’ during the trip! It’s absolutely amazing seeing everyone trying their best to second guess each other’s stories and mostly failing miserably!
My wife and I were a part of the trip to the Dominican Republic and I am at a loss to know where to start and what to include in this post about one of the most memorable weeks of our lives. From the moment the 26 of us, groggy eyed at 3am boarded the bus from Evanston to Chicago Midway airport until we returned home a week later it was a blur of activities, food, parties, beaches, buggy rides, playing with school kids and what not. It was quite literally a bunch of strangers getting on a flight and going to an exotic island to come back with some friends made for life.
We stayed in Punta Cana, an eastern beach town of the Dominican Republic. The trip leaders did a fabulous job of ensuring everything was taken care of down to the minutest details. Unfortunately they couldn’t account for Hurricane Irene which decided to pass over the Dominican Republic in the middle of our trip. But we were not a bunch to be easily deterred, so when we couldn’t hit the beaches or the pools we ended up conducting a hotly contested quiz competition and a highly animated game of charades!
The week included a mini-golf tournament and of course was peppered with some of the most delicious meals available on the island of Hispaniola.
The highlight of our trip has to be the Xtreme buggy tour where we drove six, stripped to the bone Volkswagen Beetles, through the rough, wet, interiors of the island into its rural pockets and mines and quarries.

The weather was on our side and pumped up the adventure level by opening up the skies while we were in the middle of nowhere. The drive through the heart of Punta Cana in the blinding rain and the water splashing all over us was an experience of a lifetime!
We visited a small public school, run by a local, not-for-profit body and spent a day with pupils painting a newly installed swing. 
Although most of the children spoke only Spanish and most of us English, it was remarkable how quickly and effortlessly we bonded.

We all returned from our various trips and our social networking streams are brimming with updates and photos of Finland, Belize, Ecuador, Croatia and dozens of other place. There are also frequent notifications of ‘…is now friends with ….and 10 others’.