Riaz Cader has followed his passion for wildlife from a young age. Taking his camera whenever he travelled to Sri Lanka’s wildernesses either for leisure or for work, his collection of photos has grown over the years and he felt the time was right for an exhibition of wildlife photography. His maiden effort ‘Eye on the Wild’ will take place this week.
“Through ‘Eye on the Wild’ I want to showcase the diversity of wildlife and natural landscapes of Sri Lanka,” Riaz said enthusiastically. “A diverse collection of images ranging from encounters with gigantic Blue Whales in the ocean, leopards on the white sands at Wilpattu to the elusive Sri Lanka Spurfowl in the lowland rainforests of Sinharaja to crocodile in Colombo will be on display at ‘Eye on the Wild,” he added.
Leopards, Sloth bears and elephants are Riaz’s favourite photographic subjects as he particularly enjoys travelling to the dry-zone jungles like Yala and Wilpattu. These charismatic larger iconic animals are prominently featured in the exhibition, but all the other groups of wildlife too are well represented as evident in the photographs that Riaz exclusively shared with the Sunday Times.
‘Eye on the Wild’ will also be a special treat for bird lovers as Riaz has followed the winged creatures in their different habitats. Sea bird photos are a speciality as these birds are not a particular favourite of many photographers. A difficult-to- capture Spurfowl chick with its mother too will be among the exhibits as is a mysterious Barn Owl photographed at night near Arugam Bay.
Riaz has a special interest in photographing marine mammals and says he was lucky to have a rare encounter with a pair of Killer Whales last year. ‘We were heading toward a Blue Whale when I saw a large dorsal fin emerge from the ocean’s surface. I knew it was an Orca also known as Killer Whale. It was a male and soon the female joined him to swim together giving us a spectacular show,” Riaz recalled the rare moment. Riaz was also lucky to photograph a super pod of Sperm Whales with hundreds of giants. “It was really an amazing moment to see splashing gentle giants everywhere in the ocean,” Riaz said. He has also captured a photo of a giant Blue Whale mother with her baby showing the gentler side of these true giants.
Giving advice to those who would like to photograph marine mammals, Riaz suggests keeping the camera standby on settings to capture high speed moments as the movement of the marine mammal could be sudden, unexpected and often lasts only few seconds. He also advises aiming a little bit toward the moving direction, so the delay in clicking is compensated. As the salty environment in the ocean is not good for sophisticated camera equipment, Riaz suggests keeping your camera in a dry bag when not in use.
To complete all the major wildlife groups, ‘Eye on Wild’ also features several reptiles ranging from an egg-laying Olive-Ridley turtle in Panama to common skinks looking out from a tree cavity in Wilpattu. Riaz also followed the elusive crocodile living in hiding in the Wellawatte canal in Colombo. Riaz also loves to photograph the wilderness and his landscapes of Horton Plains, Wilpattu, Wasgamuwa and Yala are quite breathtaking. A striking photograph of a rainbow above the tree line of Yala reveals his artistic eye.
There are also 10 black and white fine art prints on display at the exhibition. “I felt that these images had more impact and gave out more definition in black and white without the distraction of colour. The behaviour of the animal or the portrait (for the close-ups such as that of the leopard, elephant and sloth bear) can also be seen in greater detail in this format and it adds some variety to the images on display rather than having only colour prints,” he explains.
There will be around 100 photographs on display at ‘Eye on the Wild’. The exhibition will be open to the public at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery on May 30 and 31. Entrance is free.