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A House Boat Ride in Kerala

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While in Fort Kochi, Kerala, we took a day trip over to Alleppey and did a house boat ride for the day. With a not-quite-2 year old, we declined to do an overnight ride.

Also called Allapuzha, Alleppey is the oldest planned town in the region and the 6th largest in Kerala. Its backwaters are very popular with tourists and they have a big boat racing festival each year. It is covered in lagoons, rivers, canals, and lakes. Water plays a very big role in this region! 

It was very pleasant watching the other boats and people on the shore. Boats provide most of the transportation here—you had school kids using boats as school buses, boats taking people from one side to the other, boats transporting goods, and of course, houseboats with tourists. Much of what we saw were narrow strips of land with houses right up against the rivers or canals or lakes with watery rice paddies behind them. There were roads and bridges in a long strip by the houses, but I didn’t see many cars. Most used boats, or perhaps bikes.

Every house had steps leading down from the wall to the water. People went in the water to bathe (women fully clothed, men were shirtless) and do laundry. Kids splashed and played in the water. We also saw a lot of people fishing from shore.

We also saw a massive school structure and churches and temples. Some buildings were obviously shops, including one where we stopped at to buy the most massive Tiger prawns I have ever seen. Three prawns were 1 kg (about 2.2 lbs)!!

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Black and White vs Color

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One decision you need to make when editing is whether the image works better in color or black and white. This is mostly a personal preference and not everyone will pick the same option. In the shot above from a house boat ride near Alleppey, Kerala, India I prefer the black and white version. The trees stand out against a pale sky and draw attention to themselves. High contrast photos tend to work well as black and white. If you find that a photo has too much noise or grain in it, it might work better as black and white. I also will convert to black and white if I ended up with too many blown highlights (aka the light or white parts of the image got too bright to fix as the details are lost and you see pure white). Blown highlights don’t stand out as much in a black and white image.

So which image do you prefer above? The black and white or the color? Do you ever convert to black and white?

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Chinese Fishing Nets of Kerala

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These are the Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort Kochi, Kerala, India. They are massive nets that are lowered into the water and brought up several minutes later, hopefully with fish. They use massive poles (traditionally wood, but now metal is used more often) and a rope/rock pulley system. It takes about 5-6 men to operate the net. They divvy up 60-70% of the profits and the remaining goes to the owner of the net. The ones we went to are mainly operated for the tourists now, as there are not many fish. But they let us come out on the pier, take photos, watch them pull up the net, and then we get to try it ourselves. I then paid a tip (rs 100-or about $1.50) for the experience.

Kerala likes to call itself “God’s Own Country” and you see it on signs all over the place. Kerala is a state in the southwest part of India. Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu border it, along with the Arabian Sea. The people there speak Malayalam and most speak English as well. Hindi is not used in Southern India—people generally learn their local language and possibly English. Kerala has a 91% literacy rate (highest in India) and the lowest rate of population growth. It also has done a lot to eradicate some of the issues of lower castes and women historically have had more rights and access to more things, like education.

Kerala’s coastline is 371 miles long-it is a long, skinny state. You have the coast on one side and green hills on the other. There are hundreds of streams and several large rivers, which makes water a very important part of Kerala’s life and makes the state very green. The Western Ghats have a lot of biodiversity. Kerala has three climate regions—rugged and cool mountains, rolling hills, and coastal plains.