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Sathish Jothikumar
Photographer, Traveler, and an occasional engineer in lovely California
Photographer, Traveler, and an occasional engineer in lovely California


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As the cruise boat rounded the corner and revved up for its final sprint back to the dock, the mighty mountains that lined up the Milford Sound came into view. From sea level, the vegetation-encrusted rugged slopes reached upwards of 4800ft into the sky. While snow-capped peaks smothered with clouds beckoned me in the distance, the glistening blue waters of the fjords and the glowing slopes of the fjord caught my eyes.

And at that opportune moment, another tourist boat floated into view, putting the entire scene in perspective - the boat was but a tiny speck of dusk against the backdrop of the mighty mountains of the Milford sound. And it was then that I began to appreciate the sheer size of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, and the desire to return back and shoot this beautiful fjord under differing light conditions increased exponentially. Hopefully I get to revisit this unforgettable fjord once again.

This was shot from the deck of the cruise boat at F11, at 85mm and 1/160s at ISO 800.

Milford Sound
Southland NZ

#newzealand #southisland #milfordsound #southland #fjord

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A spring a very long time ago, I wandered onto the rolling landscape atop Table Mountain in the heart of California Wildflower country. And here, I experienced what it would have been like before California got cultivated: acres of beautiful green grass draped by a patchwork of yellow, purple and orange blooms gently swaying under a warm afternoon sun. Puffy white clouds floated in gently from the horizon, making for a great backdrop for the few farmsteads dotting the scene.

Every nook and cranny I explore atop that butte had wildflowers of varying shapes and sizes, from tiny goldfields on the green meadows to giant irises and poppies in the shade. While the park played host to hundreds of people on that weekend morning, it was easy to get away from the crowds and find my own place of solitude. As I wandered around, the scattered oak trees provided great points of focus in this beautiful pastoral scene that spring morning. I shot one of those oak trees at ISO 400 for 1/60s at F11, with a polarizer helping to add contrast to the scene.

Table Mountain Ecological Reserve

#wildflowers #spring #california #tablemountain #oroville #getoutdoors

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The sweeping arc of the onramp races below me to merge onto the busy deck of an expressway, which, in the distance, leads to the gleaming lights of downtown Seattle. The tendrils of automotive traffic snakes its way through the concrete network carrying commuters home after a long day and bringing tourists in to enjoy a beautiful summer weekend. The pulse of the city can be easily measured by the traffic patterns on this busy arterial thoroughfare for Seattle.

I had always wanted to shoot from this location, a bridge connecting Capital Hill and Beacon Hill overlooking the busy junction of I-90 and I-5, and over the last week, I finally managed to. While the sunset was less than spectacular, it was worth waiting until twilight for the lights of the skyscrapers to turn on. While the viewpoint was great, I am not entirely satisfied with the location, and I need to find another vantage point that avoids the emptiness on the right side of the image. I hope to return back to try out other compositions under more colorful sunsets. This particular shot was an 8s exposure at F11 and ISO 400


#seattle #pacificnorthwest #washington #twilight #downtown #longexposure

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It was easy to see why this resort village, the Altyn Arashan, situated at the heart of the Central Tien Shan mountains, was purported to have restorative powers. It was partly the breath-taking surroundings of this pastoral camp, and partly due to the smattering of natural hot-water springs fed by the mineral rich waters of the region. But for me, it was the setting that took my breath away

Dramatic mountain ranges hemmed in V-shaped canyons draped with a patchwork lush green meadows and pristine coniferous forests that crept up the steep slopes on either side. A rough tumbling mud-track paralleled a narrow river carrying gurgling glacial-melt down the mountains, along which lay many traditional yurts and rustic lodges. Hiking and climbing opportunities were abound in this region, with every peak and every valley presenting new adventures.

It was indeed so breathtaking that I chose to spend an extra day here (and would have spent more time here exploring the beautiful landscape were it not for other constraints). And once I got out, I longed to go back to this paradise. And as a farewell, the sky presented this beautiful thunderstorm cell lighting up during sunset. I used a graduated ND filter in this single-exposure image shot at F11 at ISO 200 for 1.3s

Altyn Arashan

#kyrgyzstan #centralasia #karakol #tienshan #altynarashan

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It was 9pm in eastern Montana. Miles and miles of nothingness stretched all around me. And piercing through it towards the western horizon was the long silvery snake of pavement. Interspersed between undulating hayfields and cattle ranches were tiny farmsteads and rolling hills, gradually leading to the snow-capped massif of the Rockies, the spine of the country.

I had a couple of hours of driving left, but the sun was already taking its last glance at the landscape all around me. But as the road rose above a small hill, the scene opened up, and I finally reached a vantage point that captured the essense of the pastoral scene so characteristic of eastern Montana. A tight crop with a telephoto lens captured the rolling landscape with bales of hay randomly scattered on the fields. At ISO 3200 and 1/80mm at F9, it was a noisy shot, but it did allow me to capture the colors well.

Great Falls

#hayfield #montana #rollinghills #farmland #usa #sunset

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The gentle breeze brushed against my face as I turned towards the eastern horizon. Down below, the sleep villages of Cappadocia had barely woken up on this cloudy dawn, and the windy roads that threaded their ways through the unique formations remained fairly empty. While up here, in the domain of the clouds, the beautiful vista of the still morning was occasionally interrupted by the gush of burning propane, reminding me that I had not transformed into a bird, but that I was merely a passenger in a giant balloon, drifting over the landscape and catching the directional winds.

Whilst past sunrise, the dense patch of clouds had obscured the sun, leaving behind silhouettes and shadows of the unique topography of the region. From my vantage point, I could make out volcanic cones, twisted canyons, ragged cliffs, and smooth farmland all set in a very complex and folded landscape. And all around, dozens of balloons swirled around and bobbed up and down depending on the vagaries of the present air current.

This experience was a dream come true, and I did not want the ride to end. But alas, all good things must. Touchdown was a mere 30 minutes later, but the hour-long sojourn into the sky felt like eternity. This image was shot with a 3-stop Grad ND filter at F11, ISO 1600 at 1/80s

Cappadocia Turkey

#goreme #turkey #cappadocia #sunrise #hotairballoon

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I turned around the corner on a hot and dusty day in the city of Samarkhand in Uzbekistan. And the ensemble of madrasas came into view, carrying the impressive name Registan, meaning the "Sandy Place". And I had to pause a moment, nay many, to admire the scene that unfolded in front of me.

As I was working my way from West to East along the Silk Route, the historical monuments I had visited became more impressive with each new one. It, however, truly culminated in the Registan, the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand of the Timurid dynasty, which dated back to the 14th-16th century. The trifecta of three madrasas, the Ulugh Bek Madrasah, the Tilya Kori Madrasa, and the Sher-Dor Madrasa, suffered heavily from a lack of maintenance over the last few centuries, and it was the heavy-handed Soviet-era restoration that brought these beautiful edifices back to their former glories.

I returned back to the Registan during a summer evening, and I was surprised to see rare cloud formations take over the sky. As the sun slowly set and lent a bit of color to the sky, the lights of the Registan turned on, and provided it with its nightly attire. It was this that I had hoped to capture. And even with a wide field of view of the 16mm lens, the grand scene in front of me was hard to capture completely.

This image is a 3-image HDR composite shot at 17mm and F11 at ISO 100

Samarkand Uzbekistan

#registan #samarkand #uzbekistan #centralasia #travelphotography

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Deep in the heart of mystical Kyoto lies the Fushimi Inari shrine, made famous by the thousands of vermilion torii that line the various concrete pathways that snake up the hill. Perhaps they serve as an object of devotion, or perhaps as objects of donations by wealthy patrons. Whatever it may be, walking through the hallowed portals, each one just slightly different from the next, but all in the brilliant vermilion, was quite an experience.

There were some sections so dense with the torii that the world outside barely peeped in, whereas there were others where the soft glint of the warm afternoon sun highlighted the vibrant colors of the torii. Every turn presented a new composition or a new perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the different nooks and crannies of this beautiful shinto shrine.

Shot at ISO 3200, F9 at 1/13s (handheld). I had to edit to remove a person from the scene as well.

Fushimi Inari-taisha
Kyoto Japan

#japan #asia #fushimiinari #torii #kyoto #temple

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Kyrgyzstan is a Colorado-sized country with mountains run amok, with giant lakes nestled wherever there is space. It is a truly unique travel destination with no other parallels.

One of the unique destinations I visited was the Song-kol lake, a 25km by 40km lake at 3000m surround by snow-capped peaks all over. Driving around the lake, I spotted a viewpoint that provided an eagle's eye view of a landscape, that rose from a steep river canyon that formed the outflow of the Songkol Lake, all the way to the 12000ft towering snow-capped peaks and glacier-carved valleys lined with just a carpet of lush green grass.

Standing on that vista point and admiring this jaw-dropping view with absolutely no sign of civilization anywhere sans the sinous road that made its way down, I felt lost in the sheer magnificence of this place. But I was snapped back into reality by a pelting hailstorm (whose beginnings you see above). This was ensued by a mad dash back to the car and a hair-raising drive down the sharp hair-pins to escape the brunt of impending storm. Nevertheless, that image was forever etched in my mind.

This was a single frame exposure at F11, ISO 800, 1/400s with a Graduated ND filter to control the exposure.


#kyrgyzstan #centralasia #songkol #travelphotography #asia

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As I get ready to pack up and leave from the mid-west, I looked back to see what my photographic journey over the last 18 months has been. While the process of getting another graduate degree has occupied much of my time, I have realized that I have managed to sneak in a few photography trips in the Midwest, apart from the grand travel adventures that have spanned multiple continents.

Perhaps one of my most memorable ones was a trip to the Michigan Upper Peninsula during the tail end of Fall of 2016. While the foliage in many parts of the Upper Peninsula had progressed too far to make for worthwhile imagery, there were certain locations which would remain forever indelible, including a drive in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

As I drove around the curve, a long straight stretch of tarmac appeared, lined on either side by the vibrant golds and yellows of peak fall foliage. A gentle fog added a sense of aura and mystery to the colorful forest punctuated only by the blue tarmac and matching yellow lines snaking through the middle of the highway. While I never made the connection then, this long line of Yellow and Blue stretching to the horizon portends my long relationship with the maize and blue of the University of Michigan.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

#picturedrocks #fallfoliage #michigan
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