Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Khajjiar - Winter Trip to Himachal Pradesh - December 2013

04 December, 2013 - Khajjiar

It was time to leave the relaxed Dalhousie for a supposedly awesome place called Khajjiar.
We alighted the 9:30 am bus from Dalhousie and reached Khajjiar at 10:40 am , a decent bus journey priced @ INR 34 per head.


Frank was not doing so well after the bus journey because of motion sickness but he held his own; rested for a few minutes and he was good as new J



This was our first time in Khajjiar and it became quite apparent that in December it does not look like anything mini Switzerland.  However that was expected and I must say the weather and the neighboring forest cover was amazing.



We stayed at “Hotel Parul” @ INR 500 per day, got a good deal since it was off season.


The market place was shut for some time, due to protesters, as per the hotel attendant the entire of Khajjiar was illegally built, this was indeed a surprise to hear, since I was under the impression that the people of Himachal are honest and hard working.   



Khajjiar is a beautiful place, very peaceful and relaxing. It can easily be explored in a day with time to spare.

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Dalhousie - Winter Trip to Himachal Pradesh - December 2013

02 December, 2013

After spending the night at Pathankot station waiting area we decide to take a bus to Dalhousie. Since were four of us we inquired with the local cab stand located just outside the station, to our surprise they quoted about INR 3000 which was ridiculous considering it was barely 82 kilometers to Dalhousie.

After a leisurely 40 minutes morning walk to the bus stand we boarded the 6:30 am bus to Dalhousie @ INR 100 per head J


Reached Dalhousie at about 10:00 am and decided to stay at Hotel “Oak Valley” which as per our previous experience is reasonably priced and convenient being close to the bus stand. (INR 500 per day)



03 December, 2013 – Dalhousie

We did our usual walks to St. Peters church, Rajiv Chowk and Panch Pulla.



After we feasted on some Momos we came across this small shop selling all kinds of trinkets along with some fancy pickles and most interestingly some exquisite wine.
















After dinner we enjoyed an exquisite tasting wine called Rhododendron wine which is made from rhododendron flowers – these plants are local to Nepal and Himachal Pradesh

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Pathankot


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Pathankot - Winter Trip to Himachal Pradesh - December 2013

01 December, 2013 - Pathankot

We reached Pathankot at about 11:00 pm, the weather was nice and pleasant, felt good to be able to stretch after a long journey, surprising there were quite a few travelers even though it was quite late, after some chai (tea) from a stall near the station, we decided to have dinner, Dhaba style, but it was late and most of the food joints were shut, after a funny encounter between Vivek and a Dhaba guy we decided to eat some snacks from the railway canteen itself.


(Vivek went to inquire at a Punjabi Dhaba. You don’t have to be a genius to know that Punjabis use a lot of Puns. He said he was shut because he was Sikh. Vivek asked him if he could at least get some water or anything to drink. Then the Punjabi spilled a drink on his own shirt and said “this one is on me”. One pun led to another, and the whole thing ended with Vivek going Rocky on the food guy’s plums, while we chanted his name in encouragement. 
Thank you Zariab for this funny snippet J)

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Winter Trip to Himachal Pradesh - December 2013


Route: Mumbai – Punjab – Dalhousie – Khajjiar – Chamba – Bharmour – Dharamshala (McLeod Ganj) – Manali – Delhi - Mumbai

After last year’s Spiti trip it was time for a relaxed vacation filled with food, drink and lovely people and this is exactly how this trip turned out to be........


This time we were four Zariab my usual travel pal, Vivek (Zariab’s bud), Frank (my buddy) and me.


30 November, 2013 – Mumbai

Our journey begun from Mumbai @ 12:30 pm, we caught the “Vivek Express” to Punjab (Pathankot) @ INR 583, it only seemed right to travel by this train since we had Vivek travelling with us J

This was by far the longest train journey that any one of us had travelled before; it was slow and gruesome - 36 hours.

We mainly spent time eating, playing cards and sleeping, Vivek got us some delicious Rabri as soon as we reached Mt. Abu station – Rajasthan.

Zariab unknowingly posed for a funny (scary for some) picture.


There were quite a few strange beggars that we came across, one of them was this man at Hissar Station who was near the window, specifically wanted some pickle and this other young girl who had a food in her hand, looked well fed and was begging for more....  

The Journey Continues
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Pathankot

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Soloing using Chord tones Part 3 Guitar Solo: 'You are my religion' Firehouse




There is a beautiful blend of Chord tones in this solo as it is in some of the other Bill Leverty guitar solo's.

See Part 4 for the breakdown of this solo.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Soloing using Chord tones.Part 2 (Arpeggios)

This time we use the notes of the A7 Chord.

A7 includes the 1st,3rd,5th and flat 7th of the A Major scale.

The A Major scale has the notes,A B C# D E F# G# A.

By flattening the 7th degree of the scale i.e. the note G#, we get the note G ; 
which is what makes this a Dominant seventh Chord.



Created and performed by Jitendra Naik
YouTube channel  - Jitendra Naik

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Soloing using Chord tones

Creating a simple solo using notes of E7 Chord. 

The Notes of an E Major scale are E F# G# A B C# D# E.

The Chord E7 is formed using the 1st 3rd 5th and flat 7th of a major scale i.e. the notes E G# B and D.

We first play the same chord in its different positions and try to connect the notes thus forming a simple solo.




Created and performed by Jitendra Naik
YouTube channel  - Jitendra Naik


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Basics of Photography – Beginners Guide

Most of us either own or have used a D-SLR or use cameras which empower us with the ability to manually make changes to the camera settings, so it’s definitely useful to understand those setting and in time master them, while the “Auto” mode or built in presets could get you good results, learning and understanding how to use the manual functions effectively would yield you even better results and the satisfaction of being able to capture an image just the way you want it.

Let’s try and understand the three main functions Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed.

1) What is Aperture?

Aperture is the opening in the lens through which light passes and enters the body of the camera.  The larger the opening the more light gets in and inversely the smaller the opening the less light gets in.

Aperture is measured in F-Stops and determines the size of the aperture, for example f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8,f/4.0,f/5.6 etc.

It’s important to keep in mind that the small number f/1.4 is larger than f/2.8 and much larger than f/5.6.


The smaller the f-number the larger the opening the more light enters the camera body.

Your probably wondering this is good information but what about implementation, so let’s discuss that.

The size of the aperture has a direct impact on the depth of field, which is the area of the image that appears sharp. A small f-number such as f/1.4 (bigger aperture) will isolate the foreground from the background by making the foreground objects sharp and the background blurry, while a large f-number such as f/8.0, (smaller aperture) will bring all foreground and background objects in focus.

Every lens has a limit on how large or small the aperture can get.  This information is usually printed on the lens itself, for example on my Sony Nex-5 its 3.5-5.6/18-55, where 3.5 is the largest aperture and 5.6 is the smallest. 18-55 is the focal length of the lens (we could discuss the relation between aperture and focal length in another topic)

The largest aperture of the lens is much more important than the smallest, because it shows the speed of the lens. Larger maximum aperture means that the lens can pass through more light, and hence, can capture images faster in low-light situations.

Examples of apertures that is suitable for the respective kind of photography.

Landscape photographers usually use small aperture settings (large f-number) this ensures that from the foreground to the horizon the subject is relatively in focus.

Portrait photographers usually use large aperture settings (Small f-number) this insures that the subject is in focus while the rest is blurry, this emphases the subject while blurring and background distractions. 

Summary:

High Aperture - f/2.8 or lower – Shallow depth of field – Ideal for Portraits
Low Aperture – f/8.0 or Higher - Extended depth of field – Ideal for Landscape Photography

Side note – The lens is sharpest at the centre of the aperture range, for example aperture range of f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8,f/4.0,f/5.6, the lens would yield the sharpest image at f/2.8 (other effecting factors - ISO, shutter speed).

2) What is ISO?

ISO is the sensitivity of the image sensor to light.  

The lower the number (e.g. 100,200) the less sensitive the camera is to light but it produces less noise (barely visible) which means high quality pictures.

The higher the number (e.g. 12,800,25,600) the more sensitive the camera is to light but it produces more noise and relatively low quality pictures with lot of noise (grains in the photograph)

So when would you use a low or a high ISO?

Since the  lower ISO gives the best image quality we would love to use it all the time, but  since the sensitivity of the sensor is relatively low with lower ISO it would make sense to use it in situations where there is ample light available (a bright sunny day, outdoors).

However in low light situations (indoors, evenings etc) because there is hardly any light to work with, the ISO would need to be increased so that the sensor can become more sensitive to the available low light and be able to capture the subject, bumping up the ISO enables us to capture images in relatively low light situations but at the expense of introducing noise and reducing the overall quality of photographs.

Typical ISO sequence
100 200 400 800 1,600 3,200 6,400 12,800

The important thing to understand is that with each stop (e.g. from 100 to 200) the sensitivity of the sensor to light is doubled. So at ISO 12,800 the senor is 8 times as sensitive which means the time required to capture the image is reduced by 8 times. (Higher Shutter Speeds)

Summary:

As far as possible try to use the lowest ISO to yield the best image quality, try tweaking the Aperture and shutter speed accordingly, increase the ISO has a last resort.

Side note – Usually ISO up to the third last stop should yield decent workable photographs e.g.  In the above “Typical ISO sequence” ISO up to 3,200 would yield a decent photograph with some noise. (This might be different depending on the camera you use and is subjective to personal preference of image quality)

3) What is Shutter Speed?  

Shutter Speed is the length of time the camera shutter is left open to allow light to expose the camera sensor.  

Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fraction of seconds where 1/250 is faster than 1/15 while 1” is much slower then both.  Seconds are usually denoted by the symbol “.

Higher Shutter speeds are ideal for capturing still images of “motion” for example 1/500 would be fast enough to capture still images of most humans in action.  

While a Slow shutter speed of 1” would create a blurring effect, it would make flowing water look like milk. 

Some cameras also have a “bulb” mode where the shutter is left open for has long as you keep the shutter button pressed this mode makes for some interesting light painting photographs.

While choosing the shutter speed it’s important to know that anything slower that 1/60 would introduce blur in your photographs due to hand shake. The immediate solution would be to use a Tripod of use a lens or camera with image stabilization.

The safe shutter speed for hand-holding the camera would be to choose a shutter speed with a denominator that is larger than the focal length of the lens.

For example if you use a lens with a focal length of 55 mm a shutter speed of 1/60, 1/125 or higher would be ideal.

Summary:

Higher shutter speeds 1/250 and above are ideal for capturing still pictures of motion (humans, birds, objects etc)

Shutter speeds between 1/125 and 1/60 would best for capturing regular human movement and would not require a tripod.

Slower shutter speeds of 1/15 and below would introduce motion blur and would require a tripod.

Side note – When the shutter speed is changed, you would also need to pay attention to the Aperture and ISO. Let’s say the shutter speed is changed from 1/60 to 1/125 this would result in half has much light entering the camera, so to compensate you would either need to increase the ISO (e.g. from 100 to 200) or increase the Aperture (e.g. f/4.0 to f/8.0)

Summary - Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed

Changing Aperture changes depth of field.

Changing ISO changes the image noise

Changing Shutter Speed changes how motion is captured

Taking a Great picture is a balancing act between these three elements of photography.  


The best way to learn and get better at photography would be to master the basics and then combine that knowledge with your Artistic side.  Just keep on exploring the world around you and your camera and take great pictures J   

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

How to choose a Good Headphone and what do the Specifications mean?

I recently purchased a Headphone and spent some time researching and understanding what the specifications meant; so that I could get the one that best fit my needs.  I hope the below mentioned details helps you in buying the right headphone and saves you time by not having to look elsewhere.   
Before we get into specifications that would usually be mentioned on the packaging or on the manufactures web page, let’s talk about the different types of headphones and choose the one that best suits your requirements.

Open Headphones – On-the-ear Headset also called as Supra-aural Headset.
These types of headphones are designed to allow some ambient noise to mix with the headphones output creating a much better Bass and slightly better sound quality overall.
They are lighter and sound natural, however people around you may be able to hear what you are listening to. You might also need to increase the volume if you are outdoors or in an area with substantial ambient noise.

Closed Headphones – Also called as Circum-aural Headphones.  
These types of headphones are excellent with blocking ambient noise either through sound isolation or active noise cancellation; they are a good choice for monitoring your live recordings and for gaming too so that the sound coming from the cups (headphones) does not interfere with your microphone.

Specifications:  Based on the manufacture the mentioned specification would vary, listed are some of the common ones.

Headset Driver Units (Denoted by mm) - The size of the driver does not matter it’s the construction of the cup and how it’s tuned that matters.  Usually 40 mm to 50 mm drivers should be sufficient to provide a good dynamic range.

Headset Impedance (Denoted by Ohms - Ω) - The higher the impedance the harder the computer sound card, phone, mp3 player etc has to work to attain any particular volume. 
Most high quality headphones that have low electronic interference levels (that’s the hissing sound) usually have high impedance levels as a by-product.
Impedance up to 32 Ω is considered as a safe limit for most portable players. Anything higher would require a portable amplifier in order to properly power them.
To get the best out of your headset, you should match the impedance of the headphones to the audio equipment you are using.

Headset Sensitivity (Denoted by dB/mW) - In plain terms it simply means how loud the headset would sound. For example if two headsets with the same impedance are alternately used with the same headphone amplifier, the headphone that is the loudest has a higher Sensitivity.      

Headset Frequency Response (Denoted by Hz ) – This is the range of bass, mids and treble, for example Human hearing is usually between 20 - 20000 Hz, where 20 Hz is the bass end and 20000 Hz is the treble.  
The Headset frequency response could vary from the actual range due to factors like dynamic range and harmonic distortion, the lower the distortion the better the sound quality.
It is good to have headphones that covers as much of the frequency range as possible however it shouldn’t be a major concern as long has it’s in the human hearing spectrum J

Total Harmonic Distortion (Denoted by THD - 1 kHz/100 dB SPL) - This is that crackling or hissing sound. When using headphones at higher volumes, the speaker inside the headphone needs to move fast enough to produce sound, failing to do so leads to distortion.
It’s best to get headphones with as low total harmonic distortion (THD) level as possible.

Misc: Based upon preference or requirement one might also want to consider;
Weight, size, cable length, wired or wireless headphones, connectivity – either 3.5 mm or USB 


Finally, this basic knowledge should help you get the headset with the performance and aesthetics that suits you.  All the Best!!!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

How to Install SKSE for Skyrim

A quick tutorial on how to install SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender) to your Skyrim game using NMM (Nexus Mod manager)

SKSE is a requirement for some of the best mods that are available, it facilitates the use of custom script threads which can be used to create complex quests, interactive User interfaces, real time mod customization etc..

NMM is a mod manager that has been created by Nexus it helps to install, un-install and manage mods effectively and seamlessly.


Latest Version of SKSE -  http://skse.silverlock.org/
Latest Version of Skyrim -   1.9.32.0.8
NMM -  http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/modmanager